Did Apple Court Other PPC Vendors Before Intel Switch?

Discussion in 'MacRumors News Discussion (archive)' started by MacRumors, May 22, 2006.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The Register is reporting that Apple actively courted at least one Power-based vendor before deciding to switch to Intel last year.

    PA Semi is a silicon-valley startup that boasts having lead designers of the DEC Alpha and StrongARM chips, as well as designers from the Opteron, Itanium, and UltraSparc. It currently plans on quad-core versions of its chips to ship by late 2007, and an eight-core version in 2008.

    PA Semi's first chip is a dual-core Altivec-compatible chip with 2 MB of L2 cache, support for DDR2 and PCI-Express. In addition, when running at 2 Ghz, the chip consumes only 7 watts of power according to PA Semi. Comparatively, Intel's Core Duo consumes between 21 and 25 watts.

    Despite the startup's impressive portfolio, with the chip sampling in 2006 and shipping in volume by 2007, it may have arrived too late for Apple to consider further. Also, with Intel's Kentfield quad-core chip rumored to arrive by Q1 2007, it appears as though PA Semi is about 9 months behind Intel.
  2. Quartz Extreme macrumors regular

    Quartz Extreme

    Jun 9, 2005
    Outside of the box
    Interesting. Possibly Sonnet and others will make upgrades utilizing these chips.
  3. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    At least we can say that Apple looked at their options pretty thoroughly, and didn't just rush into anything.
  4. JDOG_ macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2003
    watts watts watts...

    It's obviously more about the architecture of these core chips that would just blow those PPC chips away anyways. Too bad for them, but it's just better tech.
  5. Belly-laughs macrumors 6502a


    Jun 8, 2003
    you wish
  6. peharri macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    This isn't completely new news, Ars has more information (read the linked-to article too, from 2005)

    It's sad Apple went the Intel route. It ceased producing interesting hardware on the computer side (it's nice looking, but everyone who's anyone sells the same stuff, albiet sans webcam or remote), which even when it wasn't desirable was part way responsible for creating innovation in the computer space. And the arguments that Intel somehow was "price-per-watt" efficient never made much sense either. The nadir was the announcement of the Intel iMac, with attempts to suggest it was "twice as fast" as its predecessor. Why? Because the iMac G5 never got the dual core G5 that was put in the PowerMacs. They were comparing latest Intel vs year old G5s. Nice. Isn't marketing great? Cripple your last generation of machines so the replacement technology looks like some great advance.

    The last year or so has been one big "Apple: we're just as bad as Dell" fiasco, at least when it comes to computers. Only Mac OS X and Job's RDF are still holding the fort.

    And I agree with Hannibal. Apple are doing this because they're seeing their eventual focus being their music/multimedia business. The Mac seems to be a platform for saying to the rest of the industry "This is how we want our widgets to work, you better make your PCs interoperate with our hardware just as well or our computers will compete with yours.", and that's assuming the end game doesn't involve them selling the Mac side of the business to a PC manufacturer anyway.
  7. spetznatz macrumors regular


    Jan 5, 2006
    Very Interesting...so, G5 PowerBooks next Tuesday, then? :D

    Still, the question this begs is: was the non-appearance of a comparable-spec chip from IBM due to technical incompetence or bloody-minded unwillingness?
  8. w_parietti22 macrumors 68020

    Apr 16, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Wouldn't it be G6? ;)
  9. hob macrumors 68020


    Oct 4, 2003
    London, UK
    What do you mean by "Widgets"? Surely not dashboard :confused:

    Submitted this to Macbytes a few hours back, can i get some credit pleeeeeeeaaaasssse? :p
  10. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
  11. UberMac macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2005
    7 watts?! 7 WATTS?! :eek: That's rather impressive. Ah well we went Intel. We should be happy. I am happy.

    *druel* Macbook ... although a Macbook with 3x longer battery...mmmm 18 hour battery life...mmm

  12. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Unwillingness. Apple as a customer was small change. Microsoft and Sony will sell many more PPC processors in their gaming consoles than Apple could even hope to sell.

    IBM simply made a business decision to slow down development of the PPC chip Apple were using to save money for R&D into the one MS and Sony want.
  13. peharri macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    Do we actually know anything about what IBM's 2007 plans were? According to Ars, IBM was pushing Cell and Broadway as Desktop and Laptop CPUs respectively before the Intel announcement, covering the period until 2007. (Broadway is the forthcoming Wii's CPU, presumably Apple would have clocked it at a better rate, and/or IBM would have come up with versions that were multicore, as if used in exactly the same way as the Wii does it wouldn't have been a good G4 replacement) What IBM had planned for the longer term though is open to question.

    I honestly find it impossible, knowing all the innovation IBM has been doing with the PowerPC in the last three years, to believe Apple's decision to switch to Intel had anything to do with "power-per-watt" or any other aspect of the PowerPC roadmap. I think this had 100% to do with ix86 compatibility.
  14. blouis79 macrumors member

    Jun 7, 2005
    Maybe there's still hope for a fast low-power Power chip for a MacPad tablet???

    Adobe users will still be demading PowerPC machines for at least a year until universal binaries are available, since Intel Macs with Rosetta seriously underperform G4 macs on published benchmarks. So what G5 upgrades will we see over that period???

    Or was the switch to Intel just Steve having a go at Bill for buying Connectix (virtual PC)???
  15. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
  16. peharri macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    No, not Dashboard. I'm confused as to why you're confused, widgets is a very common term, it wasn't invented by Apple to describe desk accessories.
  17. intrepkid21 macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2004
    Long Island, New York
    Also important to note that would it really be feasible for these startup companies to maintain a steady supply of chips for Apple? And also, I heard Merom is supposed to use less power than Yonah. What kind of power does it draw in comparison to the current core duo?
  18. LEgregius macrumors member


    Jun 13, 2003
    Too bad.

    I knew that the PA-Semi people weren't going to get there fast enough when we first heard about them. 2007? Come on. It' sad because I was actually hoping that most of the computing world could some day dump x86 and go with an architechture that's a bit more reasonable to program and use. Consider how well IBM and previously Motorola did with a minute fraction of the money Intel has thrown at x86. And the vector units and floating point on the x86's are still inferior.

    With Apple going x86, that doesn't seem as likely that x86 could go away any time soon. At least the consoles are going PPC, but I seriously doubt apple switch back to PPC. The best I could hope is that would consider doing both. I know they got some business from people who bought the machines BECAUSE they were PPC.

    Anyway, that's a bunch of ramblings. For the record, I do agree that Apple made the right decision to go with Intel. I'm just sad it had to be that way.
  19. rockthecasbah macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2005
    Moorestown, NJ
    I'm sure that Apple had tried to look at other options other than just switching platform altogether. But at the end of the day, Intel suited Apple's needs moreso than other PPC vendors or AMD.

    I'm happy with the switch, It was a better long term decision for Apple.
  20. hob macrumors 68020


    Oct 4, 2003
    London, UK
    Maybe it's a language barrier, I don't hear widgets used very often in day to day conversation - would you say "widgets" is interchangable with "stuff"?
  21. dr_lha macrumors 68000

    Oct 8, 2003
    The big problem with holding out for PA-Semi's currently vaporware chips, is that can you imagine still having G4 Powerbooks into mid 2007? Apple needed to get up to speed fast, and with a volume manufacturer. Small Silicon Valley start-ups would not be good enough to meet demand.

    However, if Apple keeps pushing the idea of "Universal Binaries" (i.e. PPC and Intel code, not just Intel), then perhaps Apple could produce a low power laptop based on one of PA-Semi's chips in the future. I doubt it, but its possible.
  22. peharri macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    It's not a language barrier, we're both British. If you're serious, and not trolling, look up the word "widgets" in a dictionary, look at the context in which I used the word (specifically referring to widgets as hardware, and related to multimedia), and work out what I would be referring to that Apple sells that constitutes hardware, is something to do with multimedia, and conforms to the definition "widgets".
  23. galstaph macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2002
    The Great White North Eh
    interesting developments that company had.. too bad they could'nt get to development/production quick enough to beat out intel.
  24. peharri macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2003
    G4 Powerbooks through the rest of 2006 would have essentially been "9 more months of Powerbooks". And you're also assuming nothing new IBM was producing could have gone into a Powerbook in 2005. I think the notion that IBM was withholding low power high performance PowerPC designs from Apple is absurd on the face of it, even if Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo were competing for attention.

    The example I keep going back to is the iMac G5. Apple could have put the dual core version of the G5 in the iMac G5 six months before Apple released the Intel iMac. They didn't, because it would have made the Intel iMac a poor replacement model, one that ran the majority of programs already on sale slower than its predecessor, and one that would have run UBs no faster. In other words, after the Intel switch, Apple deliberately eschewed the upgraded CPUs IBM and Motorola were offering, except where absolutely necessary (such as in the PowerMac, where Intel is still months away from releasing a replacement.) The only evidence we have that IBM didn't have the chip Apple needed is that they didn't use it. But we can see they'll refuse to use a chip for political reasons, so that's not evidence. The PowerPC option is deliberately being made to look bad.
  25. KEL9000 macrumors member

    May 19, 2003

    You should rent "Back to school" with Rodney Dangerfield, there is a good part about "widgets".

    cheers mate.

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