What is 'Universal'?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Twilight Elk, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. Twilight Elk macrumors regular

    Twilight Elk

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    Location:
    Arizona
    #1
    Hey everyone. I've been hanging out at the MacBook Pro thread waiting for an update. I haven't used Mac's very much and I am hoping for a MacBook Pro soon. One question I have is what is Universal?

    What does it mean and is it something to watch out for in software?

    Thanks :)
    -Elk
     
  2. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #2
    It means it compatible with Intel Macs and PPC Macs.
     
  3. Pees330 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #3
    Universal programs mean that they can be run both on Intel and PPC machines. It came about when Apple made the switch to Intel.
     
  4. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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    Apr 1, 2005
    Location:
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    #4
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #5
    Macs in the recent era have used two kinds of processors -- ones that are part of the PowerPC family (G3, G4, G5) and ones that are made by Intel (Core Solo, Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme, Xeon, etc). All the current Macs use Intel.

    The Intel macs have the ability to run most but not all software written for the PowerPCs, but it is generally somewhat slower and uses more memory. PowerPCs basically cannot run any Intel software.

    So three kinds of binaries exist:

    PowerPC only -- runs on both, but slower / ram hogging on computers with Intel like the Macbook Pro.

    Intel only -- only runs on Intel processors.

    Universal -- runs on both at full speed, but is larger than either a PPC only or Intel only binary because both are included.

    For the most part, few things outside of games exist in Intel only format yet. Basically, you want Universal or Intel only as much as possible, and/or you need to budget more memory for PPC apps and also make sure they can work on Intel macs (some that use certain features cannot, although they're a small minority).

    Hope that helps. :)
     
  6. Twilight Elk thread starter macrumors regular

    Twilight Elk

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    Location:
    Arizona

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