'Intel Based Mac' Rumor Roundup...

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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An Intel based Macintosh?

Rumors of Apple switching to an Intel based processor pre-date the existence of this site. The earliest reference in our archives comes from March 15, 2000 (this site was founded in Feb 2000). For some perspective... a rumor roundup for WWDC 2000 (5 years ago) included rumors of "Intel-based Macs".

Analysts also "urged Apple to move to microchips from Intel Corp" back in July 2002. Steve Jobs replied that they had to finish the OS 9 -> OS X transition first but "Then we'll have options, and we like to have options. But right now, between Motorola and IBM, the roadmap looks pretty decent."

After the transition to Mac OS X, Apple was reported to have kept an OS X on x86 side-project known as Marklar. The original article described Marklar as a "fall back plan" should the PowerPC fail to deliver.

The PowerPC was undergoing slow development during that time, until IBM took over development and Apple announced PowerPC G5 based PowerMacs in the summer on 2003.

In fact, IBM bragged in an internal memo that while Apple considered moving to Intel at that time they went with IBM's PowerPC G5 (970) because Apple felt the transition would be too difficult:

While Intel is aggressive in achieving its performance and speed goals, Apple believed that using Intel would deeply affect its current customer base. Using an Intel architecture might solve Apple's short-term megahertz dilemma, but customers would have to suffer through a slow transition from PowerPC over the long term. Every existing Mac program would potentially have to be recompiled to work on an Intel platform. These massive software changes were something that Apple wanted to avoid, and IBM had the solution."
Despite this, Apple/Intel rumors continued to surface (Sept 2003).

Most recently, The Wall Street Journal posted rumors citing "two industry executives" that Apple will agree to use Intel chips. Due to the long history of this topic, this rumor was largely dismissed. However, on Friday, CNet posted a report claiming that Apple will be announcing a plan to switch its computers to Intel based microprocessors on Monday at WWDC. The gradual transition would take place starting in mid-2006 and last until mid-2007.

So what's different this time?

The most striking aspect is the origination of rumors from more traditional news sources (CNet and the Wall Street Journal). In the hierarchy of rumor sources, these news sites are traditionally highly accurate as they tend to be more selective about their stories than dedicated rumor sites. As a result, the likelihood that these rumors are true is high. By our records, CNet has only made one major rumor misstep in Jan 2003 claiming the release of new Digital Media Device at MWSF 2003.

That being said, it doesn't answer the many other questions that stem from such a transition. Questions such as emulation layers, current PowerPC Mac sales, developer migration, end user confusion and more. As well, Steve Jobs was recently asked about the possibility of switching to Intel and reportedly "Jobs basically said no."

Stay tuned to the WWDC Keynote on Monday, June 6th at 10am. We will provide live coverage of the event and have dramatically expanded our delivery resources to provide the best Keynote coverage experience possible.
 

narco

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2003
1,155
0
California.
Yeah, I'm curious. All this talk is further proof that I don't know as much about computers as I thought. All I hope is that I continue to get the same reliability out of my Mac, and that they keep getting faster. Oh, and that my G5 doesn't drop in value too much once I go to sell it.

Fishes,
narco.
 

evilbert420

macrumors member
Jul 22, 2002
71
0
ZDNet has several articles on it now too.

It's not just CNET, so I'm guessing it's true, unless it's a huge ploy and Steve's going to come out and announce a huge breakthrough on the PowerPC platform.

Hmmm... maybe the CHUD tools indicating 4-way processing were in anticipation of dual dual-core intels?
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
14,092
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evilbert420 said:
ZDNet has several articles on it now too.

It's not just CNET, so I'm guessing it's true, unless it's a huge ploy and Steve's going to come out and announce a huge breakthrough on the PowerPC platform.
ZDnet's articles are based on CNet's articles... so it is still "just CNET" (and WSJ)

arn
 

Earendil

macrumors 68000
Oct 27, 2003
1,546
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Washington
Can someone clear this up for me...
With all the talk of having to emulate and recompile programs for x86 chips such as Intel, I'm starting to wonder something.
Does this mean that OSX would run on any x86 based chip, or would Apple be able to (effectively) lock out any computer except for Apple computers using an Intel chip?
 

Superhob

macrumors regular
Jan 8, 2004
136
0
evilbert420 said:
ZDNet has several articles on it now too.

It's not just CNET...

ZDnet and Cnet are the same thing!

On a side note: I'm looking forward to Monday morning and I hope the upgraded capacity of Macrumors live coverage will hold up to the [unprecedented] anticipation...

This is very exciting! :)

ARN beat me to it!
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
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Earendil said:
Can someone clear this up for me...
With all the talk of having to emulate and recompile programs for x86 chips such as Intel, I'm starting to wonder something.
Does this mean that OSX would run on any x86 based chip, or would Apple be able to (effectively) lock out any computer except for Apple computers using an Intel chip?
They could do it either way... but presumably, Apple would create their own proprietary hardware. So that you could NOT run OS X on any PC. You'd have to buy a "Mac"

arn
 

iriejedi

macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2000
807
116
Nor Cal
perfect timing!

mkrishnan said:
Nice overview. Thank you for putting it together! :)

Finally I bought a mac with perfect timing - no upgrade with a week and by the time the dust all settles in 2007-ish... I'll be ready for an upgrade....my apple care runs out Oct 2007.... perfect! :p
 

zach

macrumors 65816
Feb 14, 2003
1,205
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Medford
Nice roundup, arn.. Thanks for putting it together.

I've now become 100% convinced SOMETHING will happen between Apple and Intel at WWDC.

Whether it's something as mundane as Apple having Intel produce their mobo chipsets, or actual switch to Pentiums.. we'll see.
 

swissmann

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2003
781
28
The Utah Alps
The transition to OS X was long and messy enough. I think this would be even worse. Would we have a PPC classic shell to run all our current apps until everything was rewritten? That would be an emulation and we know how slow that is. Can't IBM just come out with a PPC chip that kicks butt and continue to do so? Or maybe Intel will come out with a PPC chip that does the same. If we did go to x86 I can see the advantages of better windows emulation (or maybe just native), faster processors, maybe reduced costs. But what a mess to get there!
 

MacTruck

macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
1,242
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One Endless Loop
Earendil said:
Can someone clear this up for me...
With all the talk of having to emulate and recompile programs for x86 chips such as Intel, I'm starting to wonder something.
Does this mean that OSX would run on any x86 based chip, or would Apple be able to (effectively) lock out any computer except for Apple computers using an Intel chip?


You could run it on any x86 computer if the following conditions are met.

1. The company that created your hardware has device drivers ready for you to install.
2. Apple allows you to install it there. Apple has been known for not allowing this.

I would love to run osx on my thinkpad T42p. Its already got the 2ghz dothan with 2mb cache and runs way cool. We shall see Monday. Oh the suspense.

I will say one thing, if apple doesn't announce move to intel on monday it will be the biggest hoax in history.
 

MacTruck

macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
1,242
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One Endless Loop
Also important to note is how much egg will be on Jobs' face as he announces this move. He has for so long put intel down as being slow. This is really unbelievable.
 

Superhob

macrumors regular
Jan 8, 2004
136
0
arn said:
They could do it either way... but presumably, Apple would create their own proprietary hardware. So that you could NOT run OS X on any PC. You'd have to buy a "Mac"

arn
Question: Why wouldn't Apple want other companies to be able to use OSX?

It seems to me that if they want to go after Microsoft's customers, Apple should allow other PC makers such as Dell and HP to offer operating systems choices to their customers. It can be a build-to-order option between OSX and XP. Just a thought...
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
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MacTruck said:
Also important to note is how much egg will be on Jobs' face as he announces this move. He has for so long put intel down as being slow. This is really unbelievable.
true, but "Big Brother" in the 1984 Commercial was supposed to represent IBM.

arn
 

hodgjy

macrumors 6502
Apr 15, 2005
423
0
Earendil said:
Can someone clear this up for me...
With all the talk of having to emulate and recompile programs for x86 chips such as Intel, I'm starting to wonder something.
Does this mean that OSX would run on any x86 based chip, or would Apple be able to (effectively) lock out any computer except for Apple computers using an Intel chip?
Intel can put information on the cpu (sold exclusively to Apple and not OEM vendors) and lock it to a certain chipset. Likely, OS X would be bound to this info and won't run without it.
 

MacTruck

macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
1,242
0
One Endless Loop
Here is proof that its true, Think Secret still has not reported it. They are scared to death to report yet another release since they are still being sued for the last one.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
zach said:
Whether it's something as mundane as Apple having Intel produce their mobo chipsets, or actual switch to Pentiums.. we'll see.
AFAIK, Apple already sources a couple of minor MB parts from Intel...I think this is something that came up here a while ago in another context. Who knows? There could be all kinds of areas of collaboration between the two.

I personally am not overly thrilled about the amount of churn a transition would create if the main rumor is actually true. In principle, Apple could get the entire API working in its exact present form for OS X on an Intel chip, and the compilers could soak up all the work, so that developers of stuff outside the regime of system mods would just need to recompile. But I'm not holding my breath for that to happen....
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
14,092
1,428
Superhob said:
Question: Why wouldn't Apple want other companies to be able to use OSX?

It seems to me that if they want to go after Microsoft's customers, Apple should allow other PC makers such as Dell and HP to offer operating systems choices to their customers. It can be a build-to-order option between OSX and XP. Just a thought...
Historically, Apple makes most of its money on hardware.

That being said there's no reason that Apple couldn't decide to try to beat Windows or even coexist with Windows on the PC platform... but so far, no one has been able to (OS/2, NextSTEP, BeOS).

there's linux, but it's not a commercial product.

arn
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
BTW, for everyone asking if this automatically means that all x86 machines could run OS X.... don't forget OpenFirmware. Apple need not necessarily implement a Wintel BIOS, even if they go to an Intel processor. Without the appropriate BIOS/Firmware, a computer would not be able to install OS X.
 

Superhob

macrumors regular
Jan 8, 2004
136
0
MacTruck said:
Here is proof that its true, Think Secret still has not reported it. They are scared to death to report yet another release since they are still being sued for the last one.
Very true! Thinksecret has been conspicuous by their absence. Either they know nothing or the fear of god has been put into them by the legal powers at Apple.
 

MacTruck

macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
1,242
0
One Endless Loop
mkrishnan said:
BTW, for everyone asking if this automatically means that all x86 machines could run OS X.... don't forget OpenFirmware. Apple need not necessarily implement a Wintel BIOS, even if they go to an Intel processor. Without the appropriate BIOS/Firmware, a computer would not be able to install OS X.

Yes but now we will have the intel script kiddies on our side. I bet a fix for this is written the first week these systems come out.
 

Metatron

macrumors 6502
Jul 2, 2002
383
47
Hey, God knows I would rather have AMD if we went x86, but the truth is that I want OS X, and will take it wrapped around any processor Apple deleivers. Personally, the thought of a Pentium M in a PowerBook just gets me tingly.

Benchmarks show that clock for clock against the new AMD 64, the Pentium M can hold it's own and even take the crown for fastest chip. Of course the same was always true also for the Pentium 3 to the Pentium 4. The P4 was a horrible chip and always has been. To my knowledge heat was the only reason the P3 left the market. But with new technology, and the Pent. M just being a revamped P3, it can really scream.

The new dual core version of the pentium M coming soon, called Yonah could take the crown as fastest chip when it comes out, and if I had to choose G4 from Yonah then I choose intel.

All you guys that are getting all upset about switching to intel, chill out. You bought an apple for OS X, not the 970 (unless you were upgrading of couse). No matter what processor is in our Mac, it will always be a Mac.

Plus we get PCI-Express and it is cheaper on us.