Nobody pulls a bigger rabbit out of a smaller hat than Steve Jobs. Apple’s CEO stuns the computer world yet again with a long-planned switch to Intel chips, dumping IBM’s PowerPC chips by 2007. Really, truth is much stranger than fiction.
Many of the prognosticators appear to be correct. Very correct. Dvorak. Thurrott. The Wall Street Journal. They got right what Apple Insider and Think Secrect did not. Apple is switching from IBM’s speedy, powerful, and incredibly HOT PowerPC chips, to a new breed of chip manufactured by half the Wintel juggernaut, to go Intel Inside.
Macs with Intel chips? Yes, Virginia, it’s true.
Steve Jobs announced the culmination of a secret five-year plan to make sure Mac OS X could run on both IBM’s PowerPC chips and Intel’s dominant chip architecture. The next step is a two year plan to put Mac OS X and thousands of applications on new Macs. Macs with Intel chips inside.
The “Intel Inside” secret has been announced numerous times in recent years, particularly as IBM failed to produce chips at speeds, quantities, and sufficiently cool to handle Apple’s requirements. In recent months, the rumors began circulating again.
Then, in recent weeks and days, a small chorus of “Intel Inside Macs” began. Dvorak. Thurrott. cNet. WSJ. Jobs’ stunning announcement at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco brought down the house.
Why? Steve said Apple wants to build the best computers for their customers and Intel wants to build the best chips. No mention of IBM’s PowerPC efforts, though it’s obvious that Apple is more than miffed that IBM couldn’t reach the 3ghz level promised a year ago.
Apple and Intel can’t be happy that Microsoft chose IBM’s PowerPC architecture for the upcoming Xbox360. As did Sony for the new PlayStation. That made Apple a small player in the PowerPC chip world.
So, Apple moves from IBM chips to Intel chips. Intel Inside. What’s the world coming to?
At the WWDC announcement, Steve brought in Paul Otellini, Intel’s CEO. What did Paul do? He played the famous “Bunny” TV commercial where Apple set fire to Intel’s old Bunny mascot. The crowd loved it.
Otellini even called Apple the “most innovative computer company in the world.” The crowd cheered.
Also on stage was Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen who said Adobe wouldn’t exist if it were not for Apple. Roz Ho, the Mac Business Unit General Manager for Microsoft, said they’ve been working with Apple and plan to have the universal binaries available to support Mac OS X applications on both Intel and PowerPC chips.
How easy will it be for Mac developers to port their applications to the new Intel chips on Macs? Theo Grey of Wolfram Research, the makers of the complex application, Mathematica, was asked to come to Apple in secret and port Mathematica to the Intel version of Mac OS X.
He did in two hours.
Steve’s demonstrations included working version of Photoshop, Quicken, Excel—all running on Mac OS X on a Mac with an Intel chip.
Stunned? Got questions? Yes, and more yes.
For example, when will all this happen? By 2007. Will Mac applications for PowerPC Macs run on the new Intel machines? The answer is “yes” by using a special emulation layer called “Rosetta,” after the Rosetta Stone.
What’s the next version of Mac OS X to be called? Leopard. My preference is “SaberTooth” but I guess it’s not to be. Oh, Leopard will show up at the end of 2006, early 2007. That’s about the same time as Microsoft’s Longhorn is scheduled to debut.
Sometime in the next 18 months you can expect to see new Macs shipping with Intel chips inside. Developers will now be required to port their applications to a new universal binary so Mac apps can run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.
If you’re like me, you have a lot LOT more questions that don’t have answers. Cheaper Macs? Mac OS X running on non-Apple Intel boxes? Will Mac apps run faster than current Macs? You get the idea.
Oh, one more thing. Yes, early this morning, hell froze over.