I don't know how to delete my other posts on this, but i thought i'd start a new topic about the contents of the dev box. I ran into this while perusing the world wide web and thought it was interesting. What do you think is inside those boxes?
And Matt, I don't know what the developer NDA covers, so I won't go into too much detail on this, but I have a source who has provided me with some details on the IA-32 machines that are going to start shipping to ISVs in a couple of weeks. They're Power Mac G5s with almost totally stock system boards and new, air-cooled IA-32 PMUs. The U3H memory controller and bridge ASIC has been altered to match the bus timing of the IA-32 processor, but that's all. Everything else on the system board is exactly the same. The internal components are all still connected via Hyper Transport through the K2 ASIC and the PCI-X bridge chip. The PMUs have 3.6 GHz Pentium 4 processors on them, but these will definitely not be the processors that Apple ships next year. The processors will be IA-32-instruction-set-compatible, but they will not be Pentium chips. They're going to be specially designed processors that Intel delivers to Apple but to no other customers, binary compatible with the Pentium family but not identical to any off-the-shelf microprocessor. For lack of a better name, I've taken to calling them "G6," but that's totally my own invention and not meant to be in any way authentic. It's just my own shorthand.
All that information comes from a source that I trust, and one that I'll protect by not saying anything more about him. Hell, I won't even swear to you that it's a him.
Bottom line: Just as Apple has been planning for half a decade to make Mac OS X microprocessor-agnostic, the design of the Power Mac G5 system was based around the idea of isolating the processors from the other components on their own bus, making it possible to swap out CPUs with only minimal changes to the other chips on the board. In this case, only one chip has to be changed, and those changes are slight.
All indications at this point are that Apple has no intention of changing its business model one iota. They're simply going to a different microprocessor vendor. In that way, this transition is no more drastic than the switch from Motorola to IBM when they went from the G4 to the G5. And it's only slightly more drastic than that to the developers. The whole porting guide is only about a hundred pages long, and it's crammed full of detailed examples.