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Apple Moves to Intel Processors
July 12, 2005
Mark Rittman

I guess the big news last week from a tech point of view was Apple's announcement that they were moving to Intel processors from 2006, starting with the Mac Mini. It's a decision that of course was particularly interesting given the previous pronouncements that the PowerPC architecture (with the Altivec enhancements) was architecturally superior to the Intel architecture, and it's an interesting turn of events for IBM as the major customer for their PowerPC chips is now Microsoft with the XBox360. Funny how things change.

I guess from an Oracle perspective it's got to mean that support for Oracle RDBMS running on OS X on the PowerPC architecture has got to be a lower priority now, but with future Macs running on an Intel architecture perhaps Apple will become a more mainstream/volume platform in the future - especially with OS X's Unix roots. From a personal perspective, I've always hankered after a Mac, but have always stopped short of buying one because of the price premium. Apple's plans are apparently to use the standard Intel architecture but to add some means by which you have to use Apple hardware to run OS X - perhaps by a special BIOS chip that needs to be on the motherboard to enable OS X to boot; given the speed with which Playstations and XBoxes were "modded" to allow unsigned code to run, it wouldn't surprise me at all to find that there were ways of "modding" standard Intel architecture motherboards to allow OS X within a few weeks of Intel-based Macs appearing. Another interesting thought is that these Intel-based Macs will naturally allow Windows to run natively on them - you can imagine a situation where a standard Dell PC costs 500 to buy, or you can buy an Intel-based Mac for 800, which allows you to run OS X or Windows (or indeed Linux or any other Intel-based OS). The final interesting thought is that this is the obvious way that OS X will go 64-bit - the latest Pentium IVs have 64-bit support and of course "Intel support" may instead be referring to a cheaper version of the Itanium 64-bit processor. All very interesting stuff.


 

 
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