How Apple could switch to AMD

Discussion in 'Hardware Rumors' started by chicagdan, Apr 12, 2002.

  1. chicagdan macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    The assumption on this board is that if there ever was an OS-X port to Intel/AMD hardware, the clones would kill Apple. But what if Apple simply locked them out?

    They do that now with pre-G3 Apple Computers on OS-X, even if equipped with upgrade processors. How hard would it be for Apple to create an install program that would only allow OS-X to be installed on a Apple branded AMD machines? Sure, Sonnet provides a workaround for installing the software anyway, but I'm sure Apple could come up with a way to truly lock the door to clones running OS-X.

    And that way, Apple could continue to maintain quality control over the peripherals (not to mention their sales margins), but would gain the speed and price-performance advantages of the AMD Hammer processors.

    At the very least, it would make sense for Apple to port an AMD version just in case Motorola continues to be a pain in the ass who can't deliver any processor speed bump in sufficient quantities.
     
  2. Geert macrumors 6502a

    Geert

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    #2
    Never! That is what Steve would say, if people want to be running OS X, let them buy a Mac!
     
  3. chicagdan thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Again, you miss my point ... it WOULD be a Mac, it just would use an AMD processor instead of a Motorola or IBM processor. Why does Apple necessarily have to mean PowerPC? It doesn't and it's foolish for Apple to sell it's soul to one of the worst run corporations in the world (Motorola.)
     
  4. Biggles macrumors member

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    #4
    bah! dont you guys see that it there's nothing "technically" stopping Apple from porting to x86? It would only cripple Apple as a company. Just imagine Apple going out to all their developers and saying, "hey guys! nice job on carbonizing all that software so it would work on OS X....but now we need you to rebuild everything so it works on the x86 platform. So how 'bout it buddies?"

    See what I mean?

    You cant just switch chips and everything will be alright. None of the software would work. Absolutely none of it. Sure you could provide an emulator, but it wouldnt be fast enough. Well i guess it could be benificial in the long run, but most likely it would cause Apple to go bankrupt before the benifits start coming in.
     
  5. MacManiac1224 macrumors regular

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  6. DakotaGuy macrumors 68040

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    #6
    I don't care what anybody else thinks, but I am sticking by my opinion that the PowerPC is still the best processor out there. Sure they are up on us right now on Mega-Hertz, but not on technology. Everyone thinks the AMD is a great processor and it is good, but just think what a G4 could do if it was running at 1.7 GHz... I agree Motorola needs to get more speed packed in, but it will come, and when it does, the whole idea of switching to AMD or worse yet Intel will be a mute point...
     
  7. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #7
    Re: How Apple could switch to AMD

    I'm so sick of all this x86 talk.


    There is no way to truly "lock the door." Ask Sony, ask Nintendo, ask Microsoft. No matter how good the protection is, some Taiwanese kid will be smart enough to break it. If not some Taiwanese kid, then some Taiwanese semiconductor megacorportation full of brilliant engineers and piles of cash. The DMCA does not apply outside the U.S., and I'm not sure it would apply even inside the U.S. in this situation anyway.

    Even if this were unlikely, which it isn't, imagine the consequences. Apple shifts its entire focus over to x86 (because this is what it would have to do if it wanted to enter the x86 world - jump in headfirst), and everything is going well for Apple for a while (relative to everything going well for Enron in the months before its demise, anyway), and then, what's this? Tom's Hardware is reporting that some shop in Hong Kong has broken Apple's protection scheme! Well, game over. Apple gets a place in the cemetary across from Be. Apple is finished, all because they tried to appease the demands of a small group of pizza-faced Slashdot-reading nerdboy virgins who want more fps in Unreal Tournament.


    Yes, they could. And by doing so, they would also:
    - Backstab their millions of loyal PPC Mac users who have no software or hardware upgrade path
    - Backstab their thousands of loyal PPC Mac software developers who have just finished, or are still working on, huge projects to port their software from Classic to OS X
    - Divert resources away from the PPC architecture, essentially killing its use in their machines
    - Kill AltiVec, a major selling point for one of Apple's primary target markets
    - Be on the same playing field as Dell, Gateway, IBM, Compaq, etc., and forced to play by the same rules in terms of pricing, thus eliminating any chance of the kind of profits they are making now


    SGI thought that, and look at them now. They had a perfectly good software and hardware architecture, and they were doing quite well financially (the myriad news reports of their demise failed to take into consideration their substantial classified government sales, for which earnings were not reported). But they were not content. They decided to dump MIPS and embrace the "future" - x86 and Itanium. Bigger markets, more money to be made, right? SGI got eaten alive. Absolutely skewered. They pissed off their customers, they pissed off their developers, and look at them now. X86 is a cauldron of death.

    Alex
     
  8. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #8
    Fair enough...
    How is Apple selling its soul? They're raking it in! Jobs is wiping his ass with thousand dollar bills! Show me another computer company in the same market as Apple who is doing as well as Apple is, who can sell a notebook computer with a *550* MHz processor and still have it sell like hotcakes. Apple is having it ****ing large, man, and you are proposing that they do away with this and shoot themselves in the head. I'm glad you're not running the company, mate, or I'd be stuck on a Compaq.

    Alex
     
  9. Nipsy macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Many million man hours. Figure those man hour at $40 per.

    Let's say ten million man hours (500 developers, working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, over the last 10 years), which is pretty damn conservative in my opinion.

    10,000,000 x 40 = 400,000,000M USD

    Now if Apple were to make up this effort alone, they would need to hire 5,000 developers, and put them on it for a solid year. They would also have to hire 500 managers, and 500 administrative staff.

    Now Apple has doubled in size overnight, so they need a new building, which will take a year to build, etc.

    And when this enormous process is over, PPC programs including OSX will run on a processor which has spent at least 50 million man hours become Windows' b i t c h.

    Why not just throw that 400 million at Motorola as a bid for the IP, and the workstation staff for the G*, and get the ball rolling right?
     
  10. alex_ant macrumors 68020

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    #10
    Abercrombieboy, In terms of bang-per-MHz, there are several processors superior to even the PPC, but I will agree with you in spirit. The PPC seems to offer just the right combination of speed, cost, and power consumption. (Well, okay, maybe not speed at the moment.)

    Alex
     
  11. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #11
    Re: How Apple could switch to AMD

    There are workarounds out there besides the Sonnet...here's a pic of X running a 604e my friend set up: http://homepage.mac.com/robin_martin/images/604e.jpg

    Please stop these posts everyone...I'm really sick of seeing this pop up every few days. I have heard Apple employees respond directly to people asking this question, their answer: Why?

    Apple has no reason to port OS X to the x86 platform...now or ever...
     
  12. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #12
    Oh come on, in theory it's a better processor... some company *coughmoterolacough* is just dragging it's feet a bit. a lot. If the speed actually increased a lot, and not just enough to get by, there'd be none of this talk...

    I really don't see what switching processors, if it were even feasible, would accomplish. On the positive side, the PPC speed lag is challenging Apple to produce an OS that runs smoothly and quickly, and feels responsive, even on low MHz chips... I'd love to see M$ do that...

    pnw
     
  13. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

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    #13
    Didn't you read any of my other posts in this thread? I think I'm on your side here.

    Alex
     
  14. AlphaTech macrumors 601

    AlphaTech

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    #14
    IF Apple was to ever port over to the peecee hardware, it would take all the hardware makers to support OS X. They would have to make drivers work for OS X, which can take more then a little time. Consider how long those hardware companies work on their product. It has taken them years to get the drivers to work right under windblows, and now you want them to do the same for the Mac OS??? You will have them rolling all over the place laughing. Not gonna happen.... no matter how much you want it, still not gonna happen. Consider how long OS X was in public beta version, and that was for use on Apple hardware. How long has Apple been working on OS X?? How many years??? And you want them to spend that much time, porting over to the x86 architecture??

    Before you even THINK about it, there is NO WAY you will be able to use ANY x86 chip on Apple hardware/motherboards. It would be like sending someone that only spoke Russian to the middle of the South American rain forest, and expect them to be able to communicate. It would take YEARS to get that to work too. If the guy didn't become dinner before then (for someone or some animal).

    Let the peecee porting die as it should... when m$ ****'s the bed, many will flock to the Mac, and see what they have been missing for all those years. :D
     
  15. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #15
    Ah, forgive me, I realize that... just wanted to offer my opinion and took this point to jump in :) i do that far too often...

    pnw
     
  16. eirik macrumors regular

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    #16
    general CPU migration questions

    First, I am NOT an x86 advocate!!! At least not until the performance advantage were to get incredibly huge.

    This is something of an academic question: what is actually done to migrate to another CPU?

    The OS (Mach and Darwin) is rumored to be totally portable.

    Quartz and other Apple enhancements to the OS would have to be recompiled. However, wouldn't some code have to be completely re-written?

    The Cocoa API's are said to be totally ported. But, the Carbon API's are said to not be ported. So, is porting the Carbon API's simply a matter of recompiling? Or, as I suspect, some code needs to be re-written. Well, can any one cite any specific examples in programming speak? I'm just curious.

    As for the 3rd party applications, if the OS and its API's are ported, don't the 3rd party folk just have to recompile? No, well, would one of you programming gurus please share with us an example of three to illustrate the dilemma?

    Again, I'm not advocating this here. Yet, in a way, it really is more than just an academic query. Maybe the x86 is a bad, bad choice. But as LowEndMac recently wrote, there are a number of other CPU alternatives. Hell, in this article, it asserts that a few engineers even managed to get OS X to run on a GeForce4 alone. If Apple concludes that it must move to a superior CPU, all of these migration issues would have to be addressed. So, am I the only one curious about what actually be required to make it happen. I don't care for the generalities that have thus far been posted in this and other threads. Come on Gurus, please grace us with your knowledge and wisdom!!!

    Eirik
     
  17. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #17

    now just convince investors and then we will be fine;)
     
  18. gbojim macrumors 6502

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    #18
    A brief answer to porting to another CPU...

    Darwin is pretty much running on x86. This is actually the easiest thing to port since there are few devices that have to be supported.

    There have been all kinds of rumors regarding what other code has been ported to x86, and I would not be surprised if most if not all of them are true. When you are a company like Apple, the R&D teams generally "try" all kinds of things to see how easy or difficult it is to get them to work, including getting your code to work on different platforms.

    In many cases, you do not have to do a lot more than recompile to get it "to work". The problem is that there is a big difference between getting it to work and creating a product that can be sold and works well.

    One of the biggest issues is device drivers and we know how many thousands of devices would have to be supported to switch. I know that Apple could come out and say OS X runs on x86 and here is a limited set of devices that are support. I can't imagine the bad press they would get if they did not support almost everything. Not to mention the complaining we see every day because there is some device or other that we want to use with OS X and we can't because there is no driver.

    One of the other big issues is performance. Many people complain about OS X being slow. Apple has been optimizing OS X now for over a year - mostly the GUI. We're finally starting to see some good results from that effort. A great many of those improvements are due to utilizing Altivec. We all know from the Photoshop demos that there is nothing in the x86 world that can hold a candle to Altivec. Imagine the amount of time it would take them to re-optimize for X86.

    Then consider the apps. The apps that don't take advantage of Altivec could be ported pretty easily. But the apps that are optimized for Altivec like Photoshop, FCP, etc. would have to have all of the Altivec specific code replaced, and that is a big job. Most likely result - many key app developers say enough is enough and they no longer support the Mac.

    So - it can be done and the work is not all that hard. There is just a lot of it and it is very time consuming. Most likely to the point that it is not practical.
     
  19. j763 macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    I have a friend who works for apple who is on a project porting darwin to x86...

    ...but don't expect to see the whole OS X for x86, cos it isn't going to happen... And don't hold out for Darwin to be publicly available for a little while yet.
     
  20. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

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    #20
    Yeah, and my Grandma is working on the G5...:rolleyes:
     
  21. AlphaTech macrumors 601

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    #21
    Cool... I would be more inclined to believe that then someone working at Apple to port OS X to the x86 architecture.
     
  22. Gelfin macrumors 68020

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    #22
    Erm, Darwin for x86 is available now. It has been available at the same revision level as the PPC version for a long time now. You can download an ISO from http://www.darwin.org/projects/darwin/1.4/release.html .
     
  23. AlphaTech macrumors 601

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    #23
    Only one issue... "Known to not be supported: All AMD and VIA based systems." That is found at http://www.darwin.org/projects/darwin/1.4/x86_install_notes.txt

    I believe that with how narrow the compatibility list is, it won't be practical for some time to come, if ever.

    Since I have an AMD powered peecee, and it won't work on it, it doesn't do me any good. I also don't have an intel ethernet controller (using 3com). IF it ever comes out for the hardware that I do have, I will snag it in a heartbeat, if not less.
     
  24. Gelfin macrumors 68020

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    #24
    Hey, the title of the thread notwithstanding, you guys just said "x86." Besides which, Darwin is open source, after all. You want it to work on AMD, you fix it. ;)
     
  25. krossfyter macrumors 601

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