Infoworld’s Yager runs hot and cold about Apple’s move to Intel

“I have run hot and cold about Apple’s move to Intel. Apple’s got world-class software, tools, and docs. As long as it keeps these assets polished, it’ll stay on my leaderboard. But I do have real concerns. Readers wrote to point out that the comfort I drew from Apple’s sure selection of the Pentium 4 was false. Intel is transitioning Pentium 4 out of its lineup, choosing Pentium M, the mathematically challenged, non-Hyper-Thread Centrino CPU, as the base for desktop designs. My first reaction to the Intel announcement was to say aloud and in polite company, ‘A (bleep)ing Centrino PowerBook? I can’t even imagine a (bleep)ing Centrino Power Mac,'” Tom Yager writes for InfoWorld.

“Readers wrote me to ask whether Apple was quietly keeping the AMD option open. Good question. I wouldn’t expect to see the word ‘Intel’ used where any company with its options open would write ‘x86.’ All of AMD’s press releases and developer documentation refer to Intel-based, not x86-based, Macs. Xcode 2.1, Apple’s latest IDE — which has filled out beautifully, by the way — puts up only two checkboxes for target architectures: PowerPC and Intel. I think we’re stuck,” Yager writes.

“I can’t help but wonder how this move will affect Apple’s server business. More than any other sector Apple has attacked, Apple has gotten its server hardware and software right. A one-page catalog of Unix servers and FC (Fibre Channel) arrays covers everything an SMB or cluster needs. Steve Jobs said zip about servers at the 2005 Worldwide Developers Conference, a fact that I found unsettling. The unofficial word from Apple people I respect is that servers are business as usual, which gives me hope that Xserve is not transitioning from PowerPC to PowerEdge,” Yager writes. “Seriously, I wish that Apple would exempt Xserve and Power Mac from this improvement program. I’d like to be reassured that something better than what Intel is selling to Dell today will replace G5.”

Full article here.

18 Comments

  1. this whole Intel/PowerPC debate is not only confusing but it’s becoming downright annoying. will someone please honestly explain how, in the grand scheme of things, how this processor switch is really going to make a noticeable, tangible difference to my Mac experience?

    isnt really about the software?

  2. Tempus – Computers are like a monkey riding a bike.

    User is a monkey.

    Software is handlebars & pedals.

    Hardware is chain and wheels.

    Good pedals and handlebars make it easy to move and steer, but that little monkey isn’t getting anywhere if the chain is weak or the tires are flat. Likewise, big wheels will take him farther with less effort, and different chains will allow him to go faster. Four wheels are less likely to fall over than two, and that monkey is on his way to the zoo.

    Make sense now?

    –Monkey Apologist

  3. We don’t know, of course, what Steve Jobs got out of the Intel negotiations, but I would have been more comfortable if Apple had gone to AMD for it’s desktop processors and to Intel for its portable processors.

    They would have both been satisfied to have Apple at least ‘half’ on board and would have ‘behaved’ themselves in the future – Apple being then able to play one off against the other.

  4. Tempus:

    Since no one – besides Apple engineers and the WWDC attendies – has used an Intel based Mac, there’s no way to answer your question. We’re all at the mercy of the time it will take getting something closer to market.

    The author’s stated concern isn’t about how well the everyday Mac experience in the present context will hold up. It’s about a] which CPU is best to be basing the future Mac experience on, and b] which CPU will be best for the heavy lifting that PowerMacs and XServes routinely do. To that I woud add c] if the Mac experience ISN’T actually improved, and PPC turns out to be the better horse – long term – to bet on, won’t this have been alot of sound and fury (hence wated time and money) that ultimately will signify nothing but lost sales momentum for the next year or so. Maybe, if the lost technological advantage is real – and really noticable – it will even cost sales beyond that time frame.

    I don’t think the author’s concerns, or many others I’ve heard discussed elsewhere, are idle worries.

  5. hmmm. you got me there. dead to rights. wont argue with you…
    just didnt realise that this has become common practice. ergo, shall refrain from stating obvious.

    “…And yet it moves…”
    -Galileo

  6. so what does this say about the state of all that big Apple Iron out there that’s used for “heavy lifting”?

    like System X at Virginia Tech and the COLSA Corp. supercomputers? the hardware gives these machines the speed and raw power to be classed as supercomputers. with this switch… hasn’t Tech just been given the raspberry?

  7. Tempus-

    It’s important to remember that FOR NOW, the ppc is where it’s at. Apple is changing to Intel because of what they see in the roadmap. They know that a future power PC chip will not stand up to Dual Core (or quad-core, as long as we’re talking future) Intel chip. No matter how you feel about this “switch”, you have to applaud Apple for it’s forward thinking. I’d rather support a company who makes a major change to something that will obviously be better then fight the change and defend a weaker option.

    It’s not ALL about software but for the basic user who’s not interested in “what’s under the hood” … YES, it’s about software. the mac experience is a hardware/software combo…but down the line, I’m sure apple will do everything possible to make this transition smoothly and pretty much without-notice to the basic user.

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