Re: [NTLK] [OT] Concerning Apple's Switch to Intel Chips...

From: Joel M. Sciamma (
Date: Thu Jun 16 2005 - 07:42:13 PDT

I have been following the posts regarding this topic and it seems to me that
the move to Intel CPUs is an entirely logical one, though as someone who
rather liked the PPC architecture, a slightly sad one.

I believe that Apple have realised that processing speed has reached the
stage where the vast majority of users are pretty happy with what they have
- there is no battle to be fought there anymore. For the more geeky and
demanding of us, other metrics will be studied to choose the most suitable
kit. In the end, the HW is just a commodity that supports the OS and if that
HW is an architecture that many more engineers are familiar with then it's
obviously a bonus.

More importantly, I suspect they would like to create many more portable
devices that run OS X and for that they require a range of chip sets that
feature low power while preserving sufficient performance to handle the
designated tasks. Intel's Xscale ARM chips (Newton, iPod) are all part of
that equation.

IBM appeared not to be in a position to satisfy this requirement at a volume
discount now or in the near future and it also seems that they were not
ready to supply chips just for Apple - much greater riches await in the
gaming arena.

Intel, on the other hand, have been pretty pissed with Microsoft for some
time and the opportunity to work with Apple is seen as a way to both put
pressure on MS and get some independent feedback on the design of future
chipsets that makes Intel more technically creative. That they sell a few
more parts is nice too.

The main purpose of Mac OS X, it seems to me, is not to be the standout
operating system experience per se (too geeky) but as a platform for current
and future Apple services and so can be considered itself, like the HW, as a
tool to advance a bigger scheme. There's nothing new about a widget being
used to sell a service, it's just that we're used to considering the
computer not as a widget but as being the universe. So 20th Century dahling.

From a typical Mac user's POV I can't see that switching to Intel makes any
difference other than the usual hassles of new application binaries at some
stage. Mac HW will continue to reflect the sort of innovation and design it
has always done and Apple will do things with the buffet of Intel components
that make them a bit special.

If Apple can show that Mac OS X on the same hardware is better
optimised/faster/more secure/less hassle than the equivalent Windows
release, it could be a potential win for them also.

The presence of an Intel chip in a Mac brings the whole experience not one
millimeter closer to Windows than it has been - Apple have bigger schemes to
make it not worth getting all sanctimonious about piddly CPUs.


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