What if apple goes back to PowerPC?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by steviem, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #1
    I know this kind of speculation belongs buried upon a personal blog, but I want my illogical musings to actually get some people reading them and expressing their opinions as well!

    I've been thinking for a while now. Apple changed cpu architecture to intel because at the time IBM didn't have anything in their roadmap for a fast CPU that would both fit in and be cool enough for a laptop computer. There may have been other factors, but the power/watt ratio wasn't good enough.

    Apple has several markets:
    -Mobile phones
    -MIDs (iPod touch, iPad)
    -Laptops
    -Desktops
    -Workstations
    -Servers

    I'm probably missing out on some areas, but these are the general ones.

    They use intel processors for everything except for the small mobile devices.

    What if apple could get a 2ghz quad core arm processor developed?

    They could have their mobile devices all running on ARM. The size of the iPad dissipates heat so well that I never feel it get hot.

    Imagine a Macbook or Macbook pro that doesn't scorch your thighs. The best way to do this is not use intel processors.

    What if Apple uses a future Cell processor for the mac pro? It is a workstation dealing with processing graphics, video and audio, these are all areas that the cell processor excels in and would make sense.

    Maybe with iOS being rebranded, we might be seeing the end of the Mac as we know it, but would that be such a bad thing? The only thing modern Macs have in common with the Macs of the 90s is the name. If it kills the 'hackintosh' scene, then so be it. I happily buy apple products when I know it isn't possible to build something that may better fit my needs whilst still using their OS.
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    Who will make the chips? One of the main problems with PPC for apple was that both moto and ibm failed to provide chips that kept pace with intel's offering, remember the 3Ghz promise Jobs made with the G5. Heck ibm was unable provide a G5 that could run in a laptop.

    Plus given the maturity of the platform, it doesn't make sense in making any wholesale platform changes that will lock out other users, i.e., windows users.

    PPC platform on the computer line is dead, heck, anything other then intel is dead
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #3
    IBM's offerings are meant for high-end servers and supercomputers, not for Mac Pro or any other Mac. They cost a fortune.

    Cores and frequency aren't the only thing in processor's performance, the architecture plays an important role. ARM looks potential but I doubt it can deliver performance that is needed
     
  4. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #4
    If you really want a PowerPC, you can always buy one from IBM :

    http://ibmtvdemo.edgesuite.net/servers/power/demos/power_520_express_deskside/index.html

    But really, what is the point ? Intel processors can churn out instructions as fast if not faster than any other architecture. Sure they are more complicated (you could draw a map to a MIPS on a blackboard) but that's Intel's problem. They are also tons cheaper. Not to mention all the software that is optimized for the architecture and in some places, hard coded for it (it's not just a simple matter of recompiling the source). That would leave a gaping hole in available software for the platform and it's not clear that everyone would be on-board to go back to PPC.

    It makes no sense to sell consumer computers with anything but amd64 architecture processors right now. ARM is good on the low end, things like SPARC, IA-64 and POWER make sense for specialized applications.
     
  5. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #5
    Apple isn't going to switch platforms again. Going Intel (with the ability to run Windows) was a big factor in the Macs growth over the past few years.
     
  6. steviem thread starter macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #6
    But they switched before, why wouldn't they again?

    Designing their own processors is a big step. Why didn't they go with an atom for the iPad?

    The power architecture was never designed with the sole intention of being used for home computing.

    I feel like apple wants to change up their computer business at some point, and part of that will be to use whichever architecture suits them best for that 5 to 10 years. I'm not saying I want a PowerPC mac again or that steve will walk out tomorrow and say 'we're bringing out a new Mac Pro, and this one is really magical, we have put in our own processor, the A8, based on the Cell processor, and I think you guys will be really blown away by it'.

    Although I would like a Powerbook G5 on Tuesday...
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    They switched because they had too. Their Mac line up was not keeping up with intel, on the performance side. Both Moto and IBM were not dedicating large amount of resources to make improvements in the PPC platform for apple's sake. Moto had a long track record of product shortages, ibm's g5 sucked too much power and generated too much heat.

    That is why they switched.

    What economic advantage would there be to switch platforms and force developers to recode their programs again? Apple's desire to make a profit, changing platforms is a recipe for disaster. People who buy Macs to run windows will stop, people who need to run both windows and osx will consider switching to windows since win7 is a big improvement over prior windows versions.

    It makes no sense, especially since intel cpus are much faster, cooler and cheaper then a PPC chip
     
  8. trule macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Cell Processor is not broadly suitable for a desktop computer. There are many many reasons why.
     
  9. iMacmatician macrumors 601

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    #9
    Power consumption and probably size.
     
  10. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #10
    About as likely as Microsoft making a revolutionary mobile device.
     
  11. blunderboy macrumors 6502

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    #11
    It wouldn't be in Apple's best interests to return to the PowerPC. There are a lot of advantages to using Intel processors, including compatibility with Wintel machines, so it wouldn't make any sense.
     
  12. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #12
    Because all iPhone software was compiled for ARM ? Imagine having to ask every developer out there to recompile their stuff for x86 and make changes were incompatible code is found ?

    At least, as an ARM based platform, the iPad was compatible with every iPhone app out there already (except those that used hardware features not found on iPad).

    Why the PPC fetish anyway ? What difference does it make ? Are the pixels that show up on-screen any different because they were rendered by amd64 or SPARC or PPC or MIPS or Alpha ? Aside from nerd porn, processor architecture doesn't mean a whole lot.
     
  13. Stella macrumors 604

    Stella

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    #13
    Going back to PPC is a step backwards:
    * PPC at the end of their Mac days were garbage anyway - not suitable for laptops. The PPC suitable for laptops were slow.
    * Having x86 ( i.e., Intel ) on Macs is a selling point for switchers.

    There are no suitable PPC processors to fit the entire Mac range.
     
  14. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #14
    Yes, apple switched before, but are very very unlikely to do so again. If they went to another new architecture, it would require a new OS, or at least a major update, all new software, more money, possibly less power, and thousands of angry consumers. They are now using x86, by far the most common architecture in consumer/professional computers, and by doing so, have gained a significant amount in market share. It not only runs OS X, Apple's own highly polished operating system, but also Windows, and just about any flavor of Linux imaginable. That huge versatility is also a huge selling point. I wouldn't have gotten a Mac had I not been able to use windows too, as I needed it for windows only software. So it would just be an all around bad decision for apple to switch architectures again.
     
  15. tunerX Suspended

    tunerX

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    #15
    If apple went back to PPC then you would get fanboys stating that Intel processors suck...

    Like they were sticking to those guns back when RISC chip development and architecture could not keep up with the sheer speed of Intels CISC offerings.
     
  16. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #16
    ARM is kind of slow-ish, but it makes up the difference with a strong coprocessor architecture. In that light, given the fact that they now have their own pet fab and design company, it is conceivable that the whole
    lineup could go ARM-ish with an ia-64 code-morphing CP to maintain windows/backward compatibility. If such a scenario were to develop, I would expect it sometime within the next 5 to 7 years, which is fairly consistent with the CPU change cycle for the company. The whole OS would not have to be retooled since iPhone/iPod-Touch/iPad already run a fairly complete, extended version of it anyway. Hardware consolidation would be to their advantage, I would imagine.
     
  17. blunderboy macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Hahaha, yeah. That was actually true at one point, but it definitely wasn't when Apple weren't able to come out with the PowerBook G5. It is pretty true that some of the older PPC Macs WERE faster than their Intel equivalents—I've had iBooks that have run circles around WinTel PCs when it comes to speed and stability. It wouldn't be viable for Apple to switch back to PPC NOW, though, now that Intel and AMD have caught up and have even surpassed PPC when it comes to chip speed in end-user computers.
     
  18. Little Endian macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Apple will never go back to Power PC and the Mac is overall in a better situation since the switch to Intel. With that said though, I must point out that the PowerPC was great from a performance perspective. Depending on the timeframe the PowerPC was actually a better performing chip compared to Intel offerings.

    Namely when the first Generation PowerPC 601 and 604 chips arrived in 95 they ran circles around the original Pentium. The G3 when introduced in 97 ran circles around the PII and even PIII chips from Intel. The G4 was also good at least in the beginning but by 2002-03 the G4 started to fall behind in performance compared to the ever increasing clock speeds of the Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon processors. This is the sore point that forced Apple to transition to Intel because the notebook line was still straddled with the G4 all the way up to 2006.

    It should be noted though that on the Desktop and Particularly with the PowerMac line performance was far from lacking with the introduction of the PowerPC 970 G5 back in 2003. The G5 when first introduced outperformed all the consumer offerings available from Intel and AMD at the time. Only the top of the line Xeon and Opteron workstation CPUs could reach roughly equivalent performance parity. The G5 outclassed most of Intel's offerings up until it's discontinuation in 2006. The first Generation Intel Mac Pro wasn't much faster in real world performance compared to the previous top of the line PowerMac G5s.

    Actually it's only been in the past year that Apple/Intel managed to make consumer desktops and for that matter portables that clearly outclass the best G5 based PowerMacs. Namely only with the introduction of Core 2 Duos running at 3Ghz+ and the introduction of the i5, i7, have we seen Performance available in notebooks and consumer desktops like the imac/mini that absolutely crush the best G5 based machines.

    I often wonder what things would have been like if Apple had held out just a little while longer to the PowerPC at least on the Workstation and server side of the product line.
     
  19. RawBert macrumors 68000

    RawBert

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    #19
    Back to PPC? No way. They're sticking with Intel for at least the next several years. The only possible successor would be Apple's own chips (like the A4). But even that has a looooong way to go before it can compete with Intel. Not even AMD is a likely possibility IMO.
     
  20. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #20
    Big parts of OS X (and Windows 7 I imagine) are off-loaded from the CPU to the GPU. Given that, the performance advantage of Intel over ARM is really fairly small. A multi-core version could very possibly be on a par with multi-core Intel chips. With in-house control over CPU design, Apple would have the ability to completely squash any type of unsupported hardware competition: the OS would eventually no longer be able to run on any PC, but hackers would still be able to get a taste of older versions.

    The only really big hurdle for ARM and Mac OS is 64-bit.
     
  21. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

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    #21
    I'd like to see a PPC based Mac come out, I personally think that it was a bad idea to bring Windows in the picture.

    Who cares about Windows, honestly? You don't buy a Mac to sit there and override it with Windows. Heck, you don't even need that copy of Linux. I think this was the worst idea Apple ever came up with, they basically let Microsoft win.

    I'd rather have a good PPC with 4GB of RAM that can let me EMULATE Windows 7 and give it 2GB to use, aswell as letting me switch through the two like Spaces lets us switch through applications. Better yet, we need a Classic Environment like setup, but for Windows. Crossover built in, except better support for .NET, etc.

    I did a test yesterday, my iBook 466MHz/192 MB RAM with 10.4.11 starts/shuts down 1 minute faster than my Core Duo 2/1GB RAM MacBook Pro. Not only that, but it doesn't overheat after 5 minutes of just sitting there. That, and there's no paint smudges from the keyboard while using it. What's wrong with this picture?

    Apple gave into Windows, you have to see that. People fell for the gimmick, run all the same programs on your Mac aswell as your Windows partition with Boot Camp! And you know what the funny thing is? Once the next Mac version comes out and it DOESN'T run on your machine, the Windows release that year will probably STILL be supported.

    I at least hope they bring the new iPhone 4 design to the newer MacBook Pro's, aluminum is awful and the less we have of it, the better. I want an iPad screen/elements of current keyboard (maybe just black/silver too), like double the width of the iPad with a port for USB/card/video in/out and a headphone/microphone adapter - I COULD SEE THAT NOW actually!
     
  22. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #22

    The problem you run into is windows run on x86. Emulating x86 on a PPC is not very good.

    It was a HUGE improvement on the emulation software when it no longer hand to emulate another processor architecture. Instead it could virtual everything.

    You also have to remember there is not any software that is OSX only that there is no Window equivalent that is close enough but there is a lot of Windows ONLY software that there is nothing that can run on OSX that is equivalent. I can think of a fair amount of software in the civil engineering field that is windows only. There is not any OSX software that is accepted.
    The emulators would have way to much of a performance decrees to be worth anything. Running native I can think of some runs that engineers let run over night because it takes that long on modern equipment. Now over night runs are rare but often they will hope between computers because one is tied up for 10 min or so in doing calculations. Now if you were using PPC computer emulating x86 that 10 min would translate into HOURS.
     
  23. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

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    #23
    If you can run game systems in emulation on a computer, I'm pretty sure we can create technology that can emulate any structure, including Intel. Might take another 10 years, but it's possible, especially when we have XBOX 360 and the Wii that are computers themselves.
     
  24. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #24

    Ah but there is a key fact their that you are missing. Those game system are much weaker compared to a desktop. The desktop CPU are have so much more power over the game system that inefficiency in the emulations never show up since the emulated game system is able to be at least as fast if not faster than the native game system even though it is taking lets say 10x more processing power to run the same game.

    Emulating hardware is HORRIBLE in efficiency.
     
  25. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #25
    None of your post has anything at all to do with PPC vs x86. You do know Linux ran on PPC too ? (and SPARC, and MIPS, and Alpha, and ... but I disgress). :rolleyes:

    You need to read a few things on processor architecture to even understand what it is you're proning.
     

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