Intel inside… the Mac

So the rumours I found unbelievable were true: Apple will dump the PowerPC and move to Intel processors. Not a PowerPC chip produced by Intel, but x86 Intel CPUs. Amazing. Good or bad? No idea. Interesting? Yes, very.

Update: The official press release from Apple: Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006.

Posted on June 6, 2005 in Mac, Quicklinks


  1. I dunno. I mean, Apple can no longer claim that its Powermacs are faster than PCs. If they use the same processors, nobody has the advantage now. On the other hand, if I can install OSX on my Dell I think that Windows will lose its installed base very quickly.

  2. Oh, I think Apple will still do a marvellous job of claiming its PowerMacs are faster than other PCs. Processor speed (i.e. the number of times it spins round in a second, or the number of calculations it performs every second) does not equal the speed with which a computer completes tasks. The latter is what benchmarks measure, and every computer manufacturer always picks the benchmarks that suits its machine.

    One thing though: I don’t think you’ll be able to install OSX on your Dell. I could be wrong, but I don’t think you will.

  3. I just got off the phone with Jon Sharp. We’ve been talking about this for the last 20 minutes or so.

    He (being a hardware guy, a Mac guy, and having experience with the OpenDarwin project) tells me that installing OSX on your Dell will be trivially easy if Apple wants it to be. Whether Apple chooses to market it this way is the question. (Descriptions from the WWDC keynote even say the demonstration machine looked like a Dell.)

    I (as a PC person) am very excited about the possibilities.

    Another interesting thing to consider: What are Apple’s motivations?

    • Cheaper hardware to lower price points into competition with PCs?
    • Engineering G5 Powerbooks has proven very difficult. Saving the Powerbook line(Jobs supported this with talk of performance per watt)?
    • Attracting PC owners away from Windows? iPod halo effect, the Mini, and now this…

    It’s all going to be very interesting.

  4. I left here and immediately found this:

    1. Apple is not going into the software business, their operating system will not run on other vendor’s hardware. So you won’t be running the Mac OS on Dell, HP or IBM, for example.
  5. June 6, 2005 by mateo

    I think it really comes down the powerbooks; laptops are now outselling desktops, and jobs’ comment about the PowerPC roadmap having no future makes it pretty clear that G5 powerbooks were still a (very) long way off. Dual core G4s may have been the solution to that, but apple’s gotten burned by their chip suppliers twice now, so in hindsight this move isn’t all that surprising.

  6. June 6, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    David: I doubt prices will be lowered. It’s only the CPU we’re talking about. But then, who knows.

  7. I think it’s odd that Apple’s public reasoning behind the shift was given as the performance to Watt ratio being so much better on Intel x86 than the PowerPC architecture. Have they not bothered to look at AMD, which is far superior to Intel in this area?

    At any rate, seems to me to be a good way of developing a tried and tested OS-X which, in a few years perhaps, might instal on the average ‘built it myself’ home PC, and not just on a Mac. The possibility of Apple bringing their OS to the PC might prove to be very interesting.

  8. Hmm, turns out that OS-X has been Intel ready for the last 5yrs: AnAndTech report

    Also, PowerPC architecture is often not as fast as x86 counterparts. AMD seem to be faster than Intel. AnAndTech’s recent comparison article

  9. June 7, 2005 by Maarten van Soest

    I do think Apple will drop prices a bit after changing to Intel processors. They are going to use Pentium4 3.6ghz processors if i’m not mistaken. Intel mass produces these chips to a broader market then IBM ever could with their PowerPC chips.
    Mass production usually drops prices.

  10. June 7, 2005 by HippySkippy

    Now this is interesting.

    There has been rumours/ideas that Microsoft are looking at producing “longhorn” on its own hardware. An idea is that the xbox / xbox360 is Microsoft testing the market and introducing the public to “Microsoft hardware and software” company. I don’t think I need to explain the pros and cons of this.

    Another idea is that Apple have spotted this move and are moving in to pick the PC users that might get left behind if Microsoft do the “own hardware/software thing”. Itunes etc has been seen as a little test to see how well an OS X App can be cross platformed.

    With these rumours/ideas around, and Apples move to switch to intel chips, one could now sit back and think … “hmmmmm”

  11. If Mac OS X could be installed on any PC it would be awesome. I myself would pick up a copy, and I know many, many people who also would.

    It would also give windows some actual competition, which is direly needed.

    Thing is, it’s not gonna happen. They make too much money off their hardware, and part of their stability and security is the controlled hardware.

    They can always save it for the day their hardware sales plummit too low for them to handle.

  12. Well, things are getting interesting now…

  13. Re: cost - Tim Bray noted that an IBM executive, who he had just met, looked smugly at his PowerBook and said that IBM make more money off each of those than Apple does.

    So I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple hardware continued to get cheaper.

    In terms of why Apple is doing this, note also that Intels chips come with a mysterious (well, ish) DRM technology baked right in. iFlicks Movie Store?

  14. Mac OS X will not run on standard PC hardware without a lot of unsupported jiggery-pockery (intentionally spelt that wrong because your filter didn’t like the gambling sounding word).

    Quite frankly though, OS X is only have the experience with a Mac - the hardware and design is also very important.

    Personally, I’d be much more interested in buying a Mac and dual booting Windows on it - now that would be useful!

  15. Well, hasn’t Darwin been running on the x86 platform for quite some time now? I mean, version 8.1 (which is the same as 10.4.1) binaries sit out on the Apple Developer web site as we speak:

  16. It would be nice if you could install OSX and Windows on the same machine.

  17. Traductor: Apple have said that they won’t support Windows on Mactels, but they won’t do anything to stop users installing it. So you might just get your wish.

  18. June 11, 2005 by Oli

    Just thought it was worth pointing out that as I understand it and contrary to what everyone keeps on stating, Apple will NOT be using 3.6 GHz P4’s. That stuff is purely for the developer boxes. If they were intending to use those and talking about performance/watt then they’d surely have a lot of people laughing at them. As I understand it Apple are first going to grab the dual-core Yonah chip (which is a Pentium-M), and then by 2007 they will be using serious chips for the PowerMacs, by this time Intel intend to have their desktop chips based around the Pentium-M. When you look at it this way it doesn’t seem as crazy that they didn’t go for AMD. If Intel do what they should, then they will actually have a chip that kicks AMD into dust for the first time in ages…I’m not saying this will happen but it is definitely something they have the technology, expertise and money to do.

    As for Microsoft looking at producing Longhorn on its own hardware…although I’m definitely not saying it won’t happen, it would seem unlikely. It’s a nice idea, but MS have been obsessed with compatibility, Bill Gates has made several gibes at Linux systems for breaking binary compatibility every generation and if they become a mature OS they’ll understand you can’t do that….so it does seem unlikely. Still, it’s all very interesting, all this maneuvering :)


  19. June 13, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Wow, this turned into a much longer discussion than I thought it would. Very interesting stuff though.

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