Why Intel?

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mudogramx's picture
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Just a warning, this has probably been covered many times. I was just glancing through Freescale's website. I am all for a switch in technology if its going to make a product better. The MacBook Pro looks like a stud, don't get me wrong. You just have to wonder why Apple didn't go with the new dual-core PowerPC processor from Freescale. Apple seemed to jump ship midstream, especially with the introduction of the quad G5 and the PowerBook revision a few months back. Check out this link: http://www.freescale.com/webapp/sps/site/overview.jsp?code=DRPPCDUALCORE

A dual-core G4 with a 533+mHz FSB sounds pretty awesome to me. Plus, it has very low power consumption. The intel chips look impressive. It just seems strange that Apple would go through a long and very costly transition period if the technology already existed with PPC architecture. Maybe its because non-Mac users are more likely to buy a computer advertised with the intel logo? Most of Apple's income comes from hardware sales, so maybe thats the reason. I still prefer the PPC architecture. I'm kind of rambling here but if anyone hasn't seen the new dual-core G4s you should check the links out.

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Jon's picture
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The point of the Apple change

The point of the Apple change was, where do they go after those chips? How long has Apple been waiting for a decent upgrade to the single core G4 that's been powering PowerBooks since early 2001? They've gotten speed increases, but where is the 64-bit, multi core, with a viable future? The new Intel chip isn't just a souped up Pentium M. It is designed from it, but it's a whole leap forward in design. Just the addition of fast FSB and large caches will do much for the chip.

The G5 was the advance from the G4, but there is nothing like it for mobile uses. Without PowerBook sales, Apple would be hard pressed for income, as would many manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Toshiba.

The transition is easier than you think, because Apple has had builds of OS X running on x86 since they started writing it. Most of their work has been getting Rosetta and other compatibility features working, and designing specs for the new machines. It appears that they've saved alot of money by having Intel do much of the actual design for them.

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mudogramx's picture
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You have a point.

I guess the G4 platform is really starting to show its age in light of the fact that all we have seen since '01 are clock increases here and there. By "costly" I meant the loss in sales of existing PPC Macs. Of course Apple probably already knew that in retrospect. The 68k to PPC transition was similar I suppose. I know Apple has been secretly making x86 versions of OS X. It makes sense. OS X is a wonderful OS. The FreeBSD core allows it to function in any processor if Apple wanted it to. The G5s are energy hogs. The less tech-savy crowd would probably begin to wonder why the flagship CPU wasn't in the mobile Macs after a 3 year existence. I also guess Apple figured that partnering with intel was a move for the better since intel has changed its game plan. Intel finally admitted to the "megahertz myth". Their new CEO is showing some promise, too. The chips will be more plentiful and probably cheaper. I just saw the dual-core G4s and began thinking about all of this. Its just a tough idea for me to grasp after all of the intel bashing in years past. Onward, I suppose!

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With Intel's recent announcem

With Intel's recent announcement of quad-core chips, Apple's gameplan for systems over the next year or so is becoming pretty clear. They'll likely use the dual-core chips for the midrange machines and high-end laptops (iMac and MacBook Pro), the Core Solo for the low-end machines (Mac mini and iBook), and likely the quad-core for what will replace the Power Mac and XServe. This kind of flexibility is something the PowerPC just couldn't offer them -- there was no way Apple could use the G5 in a laptop or the Mac mini -- and will ultimately save Apple money too.

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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Re: The point of the Apple change

Jon wrote:

They've gotten speed increases, but where is the 64-bit, multi core, with a viable future?

Core Duo, 64 bit? That's news to me.

Anyway, I still think this is all horse-hockey. They did *not* switch because Intel makes "better" CPUs. They switched so they don't have to design motherboard chipsets and because neither FreeScale nor IBM wants to put up with Apple's prima-donna attitude anymore.

As to why those dual-core "G4" chips never showed up in Powerbooks (they've been around for quite a while), the problem with them is they include a lot of onboard hardware features designed for embedded applications that isn't necessary for nor compatible with Macintoshes. If Apple were *nice* to FreeScale and had a market share closer to 20% then 2% FreeScale would have undoubtably have a Macintosh-compatible version of that chip, but as it is Apple would have to design a whole new motherboard chipset to use it.

As to Yonah being a "whole leap forward" in design, well, that's vastly overstating the case. It's a "whole leap forward" because Apple's using it. Not to say it's not a nice CPU.

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I know the Core doesn't do 64

I know the Core doesn't do 64-bit, but Apple stuck a 64-bit CPU in it' desktop in 2003, and they'v stuck with the low power 32-bit chips in portables for the time after. Of course they still don't have 64-bit, but it might be a more likely scenario in the future, with Merom.

I don't think it's over stating it to say that 65-nm process, dual-core, SSE3, XD-bit, independent power scaling for each core is a whole leap forward... Wink Of couse when Merom does hit, that'll be a giant leap forward with the use of Intel NGM.

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Re: I know the Core doesn't do 64

Jon wrote:

I don't think it's over stating it to say that 65-nm process, dual-core, SSE3, XD-bit, independent power scaling for each core is a whole leap forward... Wink Of couse when Merom does hit, that'll be a giant leap forward with the use of Intel NGM.

A "leap forward" is an architecture change in my book. Yonah is a nice *evolutionary* step. But, well, SSE3 is a small-potatoes change from SSE2, the XD bit's a trivial enhancement, and "independant power scaling for each core" doesn't apply with a single-CPU design, so it's a nonsequitor. ;^>

I know it's splitting hairs, but I'm annoyed how people are trying *so* hard to justify the switch by implying Intel CPUs up to now were utter cr*p, and they've suddenly become earth-shatteringly better. That's just *not* true. The advent of multi-core packaging aside the difference between Yonah and Pentium M is about as big as, well, slightly less then, the difference between Pentium II and Pentium III. I suppose if Apple had jumped architectures in 1998 we'd have a bunch of historical crowing about what a revolution that was...

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Re: The point of the Apple change

Eudimorphodon wrote:

Core Duo, 64 bit? That's news to me.

The Core Duo and Core Solo actually *are* 64-bit. It turns out that Intel locked the chips down to 32-bit to keep them from competing with some of their higher-end offerings.

A little more info: http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=4604

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I've generally liked the P2/3

I've generally liked the P2/3 line. I've got a P3-800 as my main Linux machine... But for some reason I've never cared much for the P4. I've though AMD had quite a lead on Intel for some time, and the P4 in hindsight looks like a wrong turn in the race forward. I still think the PPC is a nice arch, and I'd still like to see new machines with PPC chips being made for consumers. From a business standpoint, having a stagnated chip in your flagship portable line is a ery bad position, so the switchmakes some sense. I've tried to convice my father-in-law to wait to buy a new machine for a few more months so he could get a nice Core system. He was getting tided of his old eMachines celery stick and went ahead and had me help him choose and config a Dell XPS 400 (Pentium D 820 - 2.8GHz dual core). I'd told him that the Core offers similar performance, he'd not be paying the premium for the P4 dual core and it'd be the next ge line of chips. Oh well. They've alredy got a PowerEdge 400SC (2.4GHz HT P4) that they use too, but I don't think they make full use of it's powers now anyway. I don't think a mid/high end P4 is the way to go for a web and accounting mchie right now, but it's not my money.

I just don't see the premium of the P4 dual cores as being worth it for most any user with just basic computing needs. Now, a Core Duo as a system price equivalent replacement to a G5? Maybe. A Core Duo/Solo as an upgrade for a G4? Of course.

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Why Intel?

Excellent question! Why not a choice of processor/processors? 32/64/128-bit, multi-core/massively multi-core, low-power/high-power, no noisy fan/liquid cooled. Intel, AMD, Freescale/IBM/Motorola, Western Design Center Wink, Rockwell, Synertek, NEC, Mitsubishi, or maybe new general purpose entries from a graphics chip maker or three.

There is no reason Apple couldn't sell Macs in different "flavours" of CPUs. MacOS X was designed from the ground up to use either intel or powerpc chips. It would not be much of a leap to make computers plug compatible with a variety of CPUs.

I'd really like to see CPUs sold as a commodity like RAM. CPU's need to come with at least eight cores on a tiny board that can plugged into computers like RAM. The CPUs could also come with huge amounts of RAM and/or cache memory built in.

The Duo reportedly has lots of cache memory -- one could practically run an entire system just in the cache memory! The thing I don't like about Intel is the high price for a new chip. For the price of one new Intel chip (1 x $500) you could instead purchase massive numbers of older chips (100 x $5.)

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Re: Why Intel?

mmphosis wrote:

There is no reason Apple couldn't sell Macs in different "flavours" of CPUs.

Well, yes there is. Macintosh software is sold in binary pre-compiled format, and vendors need to support said software. That's a *strong* motivation to stick to a single ISA. (Instruction Set Architecture.)

If abstractions like Java bytecode or P-System had caught in it'd be a different story.

Quote:

MacOS X was designed from the ground up to use either intel or powerpc chips. It would not be much of a leap to make computers plug compatible with a variety of CPUs.

(successful and inexpensive) Motherboard chipsets tend to be tightly interwoven with the bus architecture of the CPUs they need to support. A box which could support any arbitrary CPU would by necessity require a fair amount of performance-killing abstraction to interface with said CPUs.

--Peace

zmatt's picture
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not exactly true thr ECS PF88

not exactly true the ECS PF88 is an intel compatible mobo that comes with a daughter board that fits into its first pcie slot (this board is sli) that has a 939 socket and its own ram slots this allows you to run with a p4 or athlon cpu on the same board, it would be more complex for an x86 and ppc cpu but this kinda thing could be carried out in the power mac. just a thought.

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Re: not exactly true thr ECS PF88

zmatt wrote:

not exactly true the ECS PF88 is an intel compatible mobo that comes with a daughter board that fits into its first pcie slot (this board is sli) that has a 939 socket and its own ram slots this allows you to run with a p4 or athlon cpu on the same board, it would be more complex for an x86 and ppc cpu but this kinda thing could be carried out in the power mac. just a thought.

Wow. That's amazingly pointless.

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ECS/PF88

It is worth noting that the only reason this "works" is the SiS chipset it uses is broken into two pieces, a "North bridge" containing the memory controller and whatnot, and a "South Bridge" housing all the other onboard items. If you add that CPU card the onboard Pentium IV nortthbridge is disabled, along with the memory slot, essentially turning the whole motherboard into a peripheral for the "half a motherboard" stuck in the slot.

Doing this with totally different CPU architectures would be "possible", I suppose, but similarly pointless and substantially harder. (You'd need to design the peripherals on the Southbridge to work properly in both little-endian and big-endian mode, the BIOS issues would be nontrivial, you still couldn't *mix* CPUs, at least in a shared-memory OS environment, etc.)

--Peace

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SBCs. That'd be the way to g

SBCs. That'd be the way to go. You'd keep all the standard interfaces slots PCI, PCIe, etc, and have the whole CPU/RAM/controller complex on a singl card. If you want a different system, just swap the SBC. It's worked (kinda) in the industrial computer market. Now, if they applied some mre design to the basic boxes that industrial machines use, it might pass for an Apple... Wink

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zmatt's picture
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i never said it was practical

i never said it was practical, just possible. its a neat idea that could help with ppc compatibility, although it would cost a fortune i also could see its usefulness as a developer kit so that ppc software can beeasuly ported, why have two machines to work with when its all right there on one board.

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Re: I know the Core doesn't do 64

Eudimorphodon wrote:
Jon wrote:

I don't think it's over stating it to say that 65-nm process, dual-core, SSE3, XD-bit, independent power scaling for each core is a whole leap forward... Wink Of couse when Merom does hit, that'll be a giant leap forward with the use of Intel NGM.

...Yonah is a nice *evolutionary* step...

This is the precise reason why I am waiting for as long as it takes for a Merom Probook. Merom, when it comes 'later this year', should be such a dramatic change in efficiency that today's Yonah will not compete.

If it turns out to be a dud, though, I can always buy one of the Yonah Probooks for even less than I would pay now. I don't need a new computer right now, so I come out a winner in the end. (Well, Apple makes off pretty well with my money, too!)

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