Buying New Systems & Intel Transition (long)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Kelson, Nov 12, 2005.

  1. Kelson macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    Alright, I've done alot of thinking about this and wanted to make a few points.

    First, concerning the decision of when to buy a new system, especially when you frequent the rumor sites. The best way to do it is to set requirements, when those requirements are met, you buy. My requirements for example:

    Powerbook - 2Ghz G4, or 1.8Ghz Dual Core G4, Radeon 9800 Mobility or better, Optional Req...HD Display.

    I knew that if those requirements were met, I would be satisfied with the system, but if I sold out and got one with less, as soon as a system with those requirements was released, I would be unsatisfied with whatever I had.

    Now, with the transition to Intel, I've had to reset my requirements....

    Powerbook - Merom based processor, 2Ghz+, Radeon 9800 or better (preferably PCIe based (x800), but lack of upgradability in a laptop makes the AGP/PCIe a non-issue, HD Display

    I may go w/ a Yonah processor, but that would only be if it becomes a MUST UPGRADE scenario for me, but that would be satisfactory. When the system described above is released, I'll put my order in, without a second thought. Until then, I'll continue w/ my TiBook 1Ghz. My TiBook won't be any slower in August than it is now, and it is acceptable now.

    So, how do you set requirements to receive the most satisfaction? Look at major inflection points in the technology.

    Examples: Yonah's Dothan based architecture vs Merom's next gen architecture, PCI/PCI-X vs PCI Express

    When you plan around major technology inflection points, you are satisfied for longer, because the future upgrades are seem evolutionary, not revolutionary.

    Example: If I buy a Yonah based system, then when Merom comes out, I have an old architecture. But, if I wait 6 months, get the Merom architecture, I've got 3-5 years before the next architecture is released. This means everything in between is just speed bumps, say from 2.26ghz to 2.76ghz, yes the later processor is faster, but only evolutionary.

    Second, on Revision A systems:

    I'm much less concerned about the Intel based revision A systems, because Intel provides a platform. Intel has already done all of the logic board design, Apple just pops in the Intel CPU, Chipset, on the Intel logic board and packages it in their world class casing. This is not the same as when Apple released PPC based systems, where the hardware was much more custom, which is where you run into problems.

    Third Transition Timelines:

    Keep in mind. At this point, Apple's intention is to transition the entire line to Intel, not pick and choose which processors are fastest from Intel and PPC. They have specific CPU targets for each system, and each systems migration will be timed with CPU availability and target market's application requirements.

    Powerbook - The last upgrade here seemed to be a last hurrah for the PPC folks. A bump in battery life, and a nice new HD screen. The lack of a CPU speed boost is probably the most telling. If Apple thought they could get a faster processor in there, they would have delayed a few weeks and done it. If Apple transitions the Powerbook here in early 2006 (Jan-Feb), they will probably continue to sell the PPC model along side it. This is because of the application requirements of the Prosumer market segment. Many will want the last PPC revision because of the timeline for their required applications to be x86 native.

    Expect Yonah announced at MWSF, shipping in Feb, unless Apple delays for Merom, which we can expect announcement at WWDC, and shipping in Aug probably.

    Mac Mini - Very likely for MWSF, expect Yonah, single core (SSE3 support). Many Mac Mini customers use only Apple software (iLife, iWork, Mail, Safari, etc) They don't have the same dependency on 3rd party software.

    iMac - Could delay due to the G5, but would expect to see dual core Yonah in the system, the 32-bit vs 64-bit really doesn't matter for this system. A major portion of the iMac customer base relies on Apple Software, with less focus on 3rd party, mainly MS Office. Acceptable performance for 3rd party software through Rosetta.

    iBook - I would expect to see this as a single core Yonah (To get SSE3 support), with the transition to dual core at the time Powerbook goes to Merom. iBook falls into the same class as iMac and Mac Mini with the application requirements, most of it Apple software, with MS Office probably, which does not require Altivec for acceptable performance.

    Power Mac - This will not transition until Conroe is released. Expect to see PPC & Intel based Power Macs available side by side through 2007, especially until all of the major Pro-Apps are converted (Adobe & Quark).

    Additional Thoughts:

    I do see some major motivation for transitioning the Powerbook, Mac Mini, and iBook at MWSF. This entirely cuts Freescale out as a supplier, which make supply chain management easier. The only problem is, the Powerbook will have to ship in PPC for a while longer, just based on the market segment.

    Concerning Apple Apps:

    While they may not be included in the Developer systems, every Apple application compiles for PPC & Intel. Apple could throw Tiger out there tomorrow to run on white box x86 systems, with every Apple Application being supported natively if they wanted to. Don't fool yourself, there is no way Jobs let a single one of those Apps be built w/o having dual architecture support.

    - Kelson
  2. denial macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2005
    You make some interesting points. Which machine (based on your predictions) would you prefer?
  3. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Not every Apple application. I expect AppleWorks will never have a universal binary. Although I wouldn't be surpirsed if all the other Apple applications had universal binaries available, or will by June 2006.
  4. Kelson thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Dallas, TX

    I'm on a plane 30%-40% of the time. The only system that matters to me is a fully loaded 15" Powerbook. I'm seriously hoping that I'm able to hold out until the Merom based Powerbooks hit the shelves. I'll be first in line to buy.

    - Kelson
  5. Kelson thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Dallas, TX

    Honestly....I usually forget that Appleworks even exists. It could probably exist as a universal binary w/ a simple recompile, as I doubt that Apple has even touched it since Altivec became available! :)

    - Kelson
  6. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    Very nice post Kelson! :)

    A very good look at the upcoming transition to intel processors/architecture.

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