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Apple/Intel Roundup and Commentary

As unlikely as it seems, Steve Jobs has thrown caution to the wind and dumped IBM for Intel with Intel-based Macs coming this time next year. This switch brings many questions like “Mac OS X on a machine from Wal-Mart?”, “Every virus in existence now works on Macs?” and “Steve Jobs didn’t wear blue jeans at the keynote, what the hell?” so we’ll give-in to speculation and try and shell some information.

Will Mac OS X Now Run on Every PC?

According to Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior VP:

“We will not allow running Mac OS X on anything other than an Apple Mac.” — Phil Schiller

This means that there will be certain Digital Rights Management protections developed into Macintosh-bound Intel chips to make sure that Mac OS X is run only on a Macintosh and not an eMachine found in the trash. However, it won’t be a one-way encryption, for Schiller also said that running Windows on a Mac (natively) would not be difficult, but wouldn’t be supported. In my mind, I see this as an enormous positive — buy a kick-ass, top-of-the-line Macintosh and run Windows and Mac OS X on it without any fudging. We’ll see if this actually happens.

All Viruses Will Simultaneously Attack Safari and Render It Useless

Viruses attack Windows not because it runs on an x86 processor, but because the operating system is flogged with security holes. Linux can run on x86 processors, but you don’t see wide-scale Redhat viruses getting coverage on CNN, do you? Mac OS X is a quality operating system with UNIX underpinnings that will be solid regardless of the processor it tears up. The move to Intel-based x86 processors will not cause all viruses to start working on Macs all-of-a-sudden, so don’t worry.

Jobs in Black?

Usually he wears a black turtleneck with blue jeans, but reports came in saying he was wearing all-black today. Remember, “back in black” is not a bad thing.

Apple Cheated on IBM and Was Dumped?

Our friend John Rhodes has a great counterpoint to the generic “Apple dumped IBM” argument — John thinks that maybe IBM dumped Apple. Think about it, IBM has now secured processor production for the next three huge gaming systems (Xbox 360, Nintendo Revolution, and Playstation 3) and is the king of the hill in that multi-billion dollar industry. Maybe Steve Jobs was a little too public with his IBM criticizing, and IBM told him to do some self-copulation. Or even more interesting, what if IBM never knew that Steve had been working with Intel on x86-based Macs for the past 5 years, and after the cat left the bag IBM couldn’t deal with the infidelity. Sure makes for some interesting pillow talk.

Steve’s Ace Up His Sleeve

If IBM couldn’t deliver, and Jobs took his company and went elsewhere, this could be a sign to Intel that says “step up, deliver, or be replaced” … with AMD. AMDs latest dual-core processors whip Intel’s silicon ass with a leather strap, so if Intel doesn’t meet Apple’s high standards for processor production and speed, what would stop Apple from moving to AMD? All the applications for the Mac, by that time, would have been recompiled to work on the Mac’s x86 processors, so if Macs make another switch to AMD down the line there would be no recompiling, but just faster speeds. Jobs effectively has Intel by the cojones, and if Intel doesn’t make good on their technology, Apple now has the freedom to jump ship and use something else that’s better, and you can bet, cheaper. Think Steve would jump to Intel if the deal wasn’t sweeter than with Big Blue? Hell no.

“Wave of the Future”

But in general, I think this is a revolutionary and positive move for Apple. Hardware sales the next year might go down because of this announcement, but who cares, Apple’s making a mint with the iPod and iPod-related goodies so it’s not as though they’re dead in the water until the first Intel Mac comes out. Personally, I can’t wait until a raging 4.0Ghz Intel-based Power Mac is ready to ship because I’ll be the first one in line to snatch one up.

About Mike Rundle

Comments

  1. hudson says:

    Intel’s chips won’t have DRM to make sure that only MacOS runs on a Mac. That’s handled– as it always has been even during the Mac Clones days — by custom boot roms, and unique mobos. Without the rom image, the machine won’t boot. Period. Apple will aggressively ensure their roms are not included with any OEM package from a wintel provider.

    The Intel chips may have another sort of DRM, however– one that makes sure the movies and music purchased on your Mac stay on your Mac… but it has nothing to do with stopping OSX from running on white boxes.

  2. Mike Rundle says:

    But at least they’ll be something stopping it. You’re right, probably not DRM, but something else.

    Ofcourse it’s just a matter of time until that’s cracked as well lol.

  3. Mike, you obviously know very little about AMDs hilarious business practices :) It’s very unlikely that Apple would ever move to AMD as a supplier.

    You should slap “site:overclockers.com amd stupid” into Google for some good reads.

  4. Mike Rundle says:

    Haha, good call David. The “other” problem with Apple switching to Intel processors is that it makes us Apple fanatics and one-time Apple tech know-it-alls look dumb :)

    This article proved damn helpful and now I understand what you’re talking about!

  5. Excellent write-up. This covers all the speculation still running rampant on Slashdot. I’ll be sure to bookmark this on del.icio.us

  6. I just want my G5 17 inch powerbook. Please please please.=)

    c

  7. Bradley says:

    Comment to further the AMD argument:

    Apple’s main public stance on moving to Intel is more bang-per-watt. Low power consumption and low heat emission isn’t exactly AMD’s forte.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love and use AMD chips. But they’ve always run hotter and sucked more power. For desktops, it’s not so much of an issue, but Steve Jobs wants to see a G5 or something fast in a PowerBook, where power & heat is a problem. That’s Intel’s main game right now. They’ve proven themselves cabable in the existing laptop PC market.

    My two cents. :)

    Oh, and…
    Hopefully we won’t have any long order-to-ship times with Intel as the core. I remember my company ordering a G5 tower and waiting 5 weeks for it to arrive… people were dogging the company and the machine before it even entered the building. True or not, Jobs blamed it on IBM, and I bet he doesn’t want to be in that spot again.

  8. Mike D. says:

    Small correction: IBM cheated on Apple and got dumped. Not the other way around.

  9. Brent Weber says:

    I think it is great. I have never worked on an Apple (except in grade school). Switching to Intel with the possibility of dual-booting Windoze and OS-X is just enough to get me to move to Mac.

    Hardcore Mac fans might not like the idea of sharing architecture with the MS guys, but I think it is going to push Apple into the mainstream and finally offer a viable alternative to Windows. Linux is making huge strides in that area, but OS-X is the ticket.

    Anxiously waiting…

  10. Jeremy says:

    It’s still all speculation at this point for most of us, but the most likely issues here are:

    1 – Portables: the IBM roadmap on the G5 doesn’t look promising in terms of reducing power consumption and heat output, the two prohibiting factors to putting a G5 in a laptop. Freescale hasn’t been make the performance inroads on the G4 that’d be necessary to make that chipset viable long-term. Apple has needed to do something to the portable line for a while now, and with the Pentium-M, Intel chips are a lot more attractive.

    2 – Production delays: the 5-week wait someone mentioned on his G5 was very much an IBM production issue (though there are those that argue Apple should have waited until they’d built up more inventory on the G5s, but they really couldn’t afford to do that…). IBM simply couldn’t produce the G5s fast enough to meet demand initially (and there have been several issues with this over the lifespan of the G5). In addition, to a certain degree IBM needed Apple to validate the PPC product line as much as Apple needed IBM. However, as others have pointed out, IBM is no longer dependent on Apple as the #1 client for IBM’s PPC line.

    In that sense, it’s a relationship whose time had passed.

    The big hue and cry I hear (aside from “Intel is the anti-christ”) comes from those that argue that this has immeditely made the current hardware obsolete (thereby killing hardware sales until the Mintel machines start shipping), and those that claim that this makes all current applications obsolete until new versions are released (since Apple’s track record with emulation is mixed at best).

    I’d argue that for (nearly) every sale that gets put off until the new hardware arrives, someone else will invest in a new PPC machine earlier than they might otherwise have, so as to continue to have native support for applications they can’t or don’t want to upgrade. And future releases into the foreseeable future will almost assuredly be fat binaries (meaning both PPC and x86 code), so current hardware will continue to run as well. So existing users will not be left in the dust (though I may finally have to retire my 500MHz G3 iMac, but it’s getting to be about time anyway…).

    There’s no doubt it’s a gamble on Apple’s part, but there’s also no question that this move had to come at some point. Now it’s just a matter of spinning the move (something Apple’s generally pretty good at) without over-spinning it (which is one of Apple’s weaknesses…).

  11. Pretty good article, layed everything out nicely.

    One thing I’ve been curious about that I haven’t really seen… when are we going to see the first Intel-based Mac? I know over the next 2 years will be the transition, but when do we get to see the first one?

  12. Jeremy says:

    I’d bet we see posts / pics of the leased development machines in the next month, if not sooner. Actual production machines? I’m guessing Macworld in January will herald new Intel-based portables. I’m in the market for a new laptop, so I’d rather see it sooner, but I doubt it. Apple’s saying 2006, and they don’t have the best track record for “underpromise, overdeliver”.

  13. Apple’s saying 2006, and they don’t have the best track record for “underpromise, overdeliver”

    Ain’t that the truth.

  14. John Whittet says:

    The reason why this is such big news, and why a lot of Mac users are up-in-arms about it, is not because Apple is switching chip manufacturers, but because Apple has seemingly “given in” to literally years of (false) speculation, and — primarily — because it’s going over to the dark side.

    If the manufacturer was AMD instead of Intel, it wouldn’t even be an issue. But the fact of the matter is that Apple is still their own company. As discussed, K-Mart isn’t going to be selling beige boxes running OS X, and Apple advertisements aren’t going to be sporting the obnoxious “bum bu bum bo” Intel tune.

  15. Overclockers.com are doing a good roundup of Apple news.

    I love that site. Ed is a legend.

  16. Mukund says:

    I wish Intel say No to Apple or Apple Say no to Apple. I like Mac on mac Machines and Pc has its own charm.

    I hated G4s but I was in love with my G5 untill I decided to sell it and get A P4 which I am in Love with again.

    And I don’t think Tiger will run on PC. Its a wild thing. It needs a Jungle. PC is a Civilized Poor Human being. I don’t think it’ll provide the power which is required to ride a tiger. What say?

  17. Dat Nguyen says:

    I could see this as the slow death for slow software porters like QuarkXpress if Universal Binaries aren’t as easy as Steve Jobs demonstrated at WWDC. Quark loss a lot of momentum with the switch from OS 9 to OS X, and can’t afford to lose anymore ground. There are issues with Rosetta not supporting AltiVec and code that depend on kernel extensions, but hopefully a year will be enough for a smooth transition.

  18. Kev says:

    A good article, but I disagree with the part that “Steve has Intel by the Cojones”.

    Think about it. What can AMD provide? Processors, yes, but what else? Not much. And what can they provide that Intel can’t? Faster chips perhaps, but raw speed isn’t the be-all and end-all.

    Intel are a massive company, and while that’s not to say AMD are “small fry”, they don’t have the resources that Intel do.

    Intel can provide a “platform” – Centrino, for example, is a CPU/Chipset, and this platformization approach makes much more sense. Apple are a hardware/software company – they provide “the whole widget” (I read that quote today – very apt), and Intel can provide them with the same thing. A competitive CPU/Chipset(/motherboard?), and do it in volumes and at prices that AMD will never be able to.

    The last point, and the icing on the cake, are Intel’s superior mobile offerings. A dual-core Pentium-M Powerbook in 2006? Helloooo! :D

    So, rather than either side having each other “by the Cojones”, this could be an extremely mutually beneficial partnership. Apple needed a supplier that wouldn’t let them down and Intel can pretty much guarantee it. And, from what I can gather, Intel has been courting Apple’s business for years.

    Interesting times are ahead, for sure.

  19. Fred says:

    Agree. Also, I haven’t seen any figures but I would think that the Apple contract is fairly small in the big scheme of things for Intel too.

    On a similar note. SUN moved some of their servers over to x86 a year or so ago if I remeber correctly. Who got that contract, Intel too?

  20. Ganesh says:

    Well, i would have wished if Apple signed up with AMD instead of Intel. Its like a God send gift for Intel to be the powerhouse behing Mac PCs as Intel is finding it tough fighting with AMD. AMD has improved very well from those frying processor to the powerful 64-bit cool processing. The problem now is Intel is finding it difficult to lower the heat of its new P4 processor, whilst AMD is great at it now. I am happy that Apple is considering x86 platform, but would have been more happier had it chose AMD.

    Ganesh Sathyanathan
    IT Consultant, Hotel Mowbrays Inn – Alwarpet Chennai. http://www.mowbraysinn.com

  21. Danica X says:

    AMD was not an option for Apple. AMD has nothing to offer Apple, likewise Apple has nothing to offer AMD. Apple’s own custom Dual 1.35Ghz 64bit bidirectional DDR FSBC (FrontSide Bus Controller) will benefit Intel. AMD has no interest in this technology, further AMD has no reason to work with Apple to improve their Processor’s ability to maximize the FSB speeds, PC Boards FSB speeds are only currently 400 – 800 Mhz typical (for processors with FSB speed in the Ghz range you would need to buy an Intel Extreme Classed Processor). Intel on the other hand designs and makes PC boards. They’re struggling to keep pace with Boards being designed by other manufactures, Except in the area of laptop PC Boards where Apple needs cooler designs (not kewler designs). It’s my feeling that Intel is looking to work with Apple to learn how to increase their processor and PC Board FSB speeds over all. Intel’s Extreme Classed processors are only created in very small numbers by Intel (FSB speeds of 1.0 to 1.25Ghz typical). One of the big points of the G5 is it’s FSB bandwidth. In the non-PPC world this class of processor is rare and expensive.
    While both AMD and Intel are pushing the CPU speeds the PC board architecture is still years behind Apple’s architecture. PC Boards have PS2, Serial, Parallel port, ISA and Floppy Disk Controllers on the board even if the board does not have the corresponding port/device. All of this out dated and extra hardware slow PC Board throughput. Further IRQ dependent PC Board architectures further reduce PC Boards throughput.
    AMD does not have the resources and they have no interest in delivering Processor FSB speeds or the throughput that Apple will want or, will certainly need, in the future. While, Intel has the resources and I believe, with Apple’s help, can deliver processors with FSB speeds equal to the speeds of the processors. So, (2) 64bit Xeon or P4 @ 3.5Ghz will have a 64bit bidirectional processor FSB of 3.5Ghz. A Mac Intel 3.5Ghz system with the Apple Dual 3.5Ghz 64bit bidirectional DDR FSBC would smoke any PC using the standard PC architecture with the typical FSBC of 800Mhz on a typical designed PC Board no matter how fast the processor. But, If Intel produced a board with an Apple style Architecture (stripped of all the slow unneeded, unused bits, with just (USB2, Firewire, SATA, PCI-X, AGP 8X-Pro with DVI only)) and Apple’s FSBController for MS Windows then Intel would once again lead the PC Board market for best performance and design. And, only Intel has the clout that will be a must to get Microsoft to release a Windows update to support such a fundamental hardware architecture change.

  22. Dave says:

    Hmm just means a huge boost in sales next year. Although i think i’m still going to buy mine this year.. can’t wait a whole year

  23. hector says:

    hey danica x: you get smartest guy award. you work for apple or intel???

  24. ahayes says:

    Danica X: Have you ever heard of hypertransport? Y’now, it’s the thing that makes AMD run much smoother than a P4.

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