Mac disciples reluctant to embrace Intel

Mac disciples reluctant to embrace Intel

Summary: For some in the Mac community, it will take longer than others to undo a decade's worth of brainwashing by Steve Jobs and Company that the PowerPC is a superior CPU.  Had I dared to suggest, just one week ago, that their precious G4 and G5 was inferior to Intel's Pentium 4 and the current Pentium M technology, I would have had flame for weeks.

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TOPICS: Apple
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For some in the Mac community, it will take longer than others to undo a decade's worth of brainwashing by Steve Jobs and Company that the PowerPC is a superior CPU.  Had I dared to suggest, just one week ago, that their precious G4 and G5 was inferior to Intel's Pentium 4 and the current Pentium M technology, I would have had flame for weeks.  Steve Jobs, whose word is gospel in the Mac world, is the only man in the universe that can possibly sell Intel to the Mac community without an outright revolt.  This is all so ironic given that Jobs was the one leading the charge to demonize Intel all these years.  It all raises that old court room question of was Jobs lying then or is he lying now.  Our own Paul Murphy thinks Jobs is lying now about Intel's performance and that Apple should really jump to Sun's Niagara processing technology, although no one can actually talk about the test units because they're under NDA.  I personally can't comment on Sun's offerings since I would only be speculating and the few who are in the know can't talk about it.

What I do know is that Steve Jobs isn't stupid. He's known all along that the PowerPC was keeping Apple a step behind the PC in performance.  Jobs was simply the best at spinning it in the best light for Apple by cherry-picking benchmarking results from the G4 to show it in its best possible light.  But the reality was, even the top-of-the-line dual 1.25 GHz G4 CPU Mac was being slaughtered by a single CPU Pentium 4 3.06 GHz Dell PC for mainstream professional video and image processing applications.  Apple put on their best face and waited painfully for the arrival of the G5 processor from IBM.  When the G5 finally arrived, it brought Apple's performance in line with Intel based PCs although Steve Jobs paid VeriTest to blatantly fudge the SPECint and SPECfp numbers to Apple's advantage.  In current real-world tests, Apple has managed to at least stay neck and neck with the best offerings from Intel and AMD by winning on some applications but losing on most others.  While that may sound at least neutral for the G5 processor, two more factors had to have played a deciding role in Jobs' decision to move to Intel.

  • The G5 processors can't be used in notebooks since its power consumption is too high.  Considering the fact that laptop sales have for the first time exceeded desktop sales, power consumption is more critical an issue than ever.
  • The new Intel Pentium M CPUs are not only extremely power efficient in the range of 5 to 27 watts for peak energy consumption, but they can even beat the top-of-the-line AMD and Intel desktop processors while consuming 4 to 8 times less power in almost every test.  Once the SSE3 instruction set is added to the next generation Pentium M, it will probably win hands down.  Since the G5s can barely keep up with Intel and AMD desktop processors now, it doesn't stand a chance against Intel's Pentium M architecture.  The newest Pentium M processor -- code-named Yonah and due first quarter of 2006 -- will have two cores and still operate around 25 watts.  So far, AMD and IBM have nothing to compare against Intel's Pentium M technology.

What is surprising is that with all these facts staring them in the face, I still see a lot of Mac commentary floating around that suggests that the Intel Pentium M is an inferior chip with hot and noisy characteristics.  I guess you just can't change brainwashing over night and even Steve Jobs will have a tough time undoing his own handy work.  My question for Jobs is, why didn't you do this when you made the conversion to OS X five years ago?  You could have done the entire conversion once but now you'll subject the entire Mac world to undergo a third painful migration in a decade.

Topic: Apple

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45 comments
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  • Mac Zealots

    Just an FYI, processors are not noisy. This is probably due to the cheap design of many pc cases with cheap fans etc. Im pretty sure the intel macs will not be like this at all. Contrary to popular belief intel does make good processors.
    richman555
    • Who cares about the processor,,,it's OS X INSIDE

      Mac Zealots only make up 2 to 3 % of the millions of Apple
      users, just like the Gate's Clones in the MS CAMP. So it doesn't
      supprise me that they are noisy little G3 users saying how fast a
      G3 still runs, etc, comparing it to a new Intel. The fact is that the
      970 is a good chip, it's a server chip used by IBM itself.
      Scientifically advanced and keeps up with the Opteron, but the
      chip(970/fx) is a fireball at high speeds and not good for
      laptops. The cream of Apple sales.

      IBM can't deliver. MS should be worried!

      P.S. Zealots, APPLE needs to move ahead and Intel supplies! Just
      stick with your G3's for another 6 years. I'm sure you were like
      this when Apple moved ahead in the Mid-90s with MS support at
      JOb's Keynote.
      sp29
    • I know, I was quoting others

      I didn't say "processors were hot and noisy". I said that others were saying it.

      But yes you're right. They were merely implying that the processor requires powerful fans. I personally use Zalman fans on all my systems and it's whisper quiet.
      george_ou
  • Jobs should have investigated the Turion 64

    AMD makes superior chips.. period.

    Jobs is a fool to team up with part of the evil Wintel duopoly.

    I can't wait for the Intel OSX to be hacked to work with "real" x86_64 (AMD64) products. Only a matter of time..
    Xunil_Sierutuf
    • You're the fool

      AMD wouldn't be able to meet Apple's demand. Apple's already
      had a taste of what happens when your processor vendor can't
      meet your demand-- back in '99 or '00, they had to downgrade
      their G4 offerings because of Motorola. Apple needs to be able
      to meet the growing demand for their products, that's the main
      reason why they chose Intel.

      OS X will not be hacked to run on non-Apple machines. iPods
      and iTMS aside, Apple is a HARDWARE company. Most of their
      revenue comes from sales of PowerBooks, iMacs, G5s, etc. If
      overnight OS X could be run on every garden variety, $300 POS
      PC on the planet, Apple's revenue would therefore quickly
      evaporate and they'd disappear in about a year or so.

      It is therefore in Apple's interest to work extremely hard at
      preventing the hacking of OS X, via both technical means and by
      using their attack lawyers on any poor schmucks who actually
      figure it out and post how to do it on some website.

      Perhaps after the Intel transition is over, Apple will gradually
      alter their business model so software eventually becomes their
      primary source of revenue. For the next 18 months, though,
      they've got bigger fish to fry.
      20075880200550981536805084989909-zdavis
      • Considering the amount the sell, AMD would have been fine.

        We're talking Apple here..

        So now, they'll definitely be known as second-rate performance..!
        Xunil_Sierutuf
      • Remember how long the p2p software...

        ... was posted by people working for AOL on WinAmp? A few hours, wasn't it?

        If someone is able to put OSX onto non-Apple pc's and publishes the result, game over. That genie is too smart to go back in the bottle.

        It is therefore in Apple's interest to work extremely hard at preventing the hacking of OS X, via both technical means and by using their attack lawyers on any poor schmucks who actually figure it out and post how to do it on some website.
        Anton Philidor
    • Isn't G4/5 64-bit?

      Isn't the PPC chip ALREADY 64bit? If this is true, then how will OS/X HANDLE the DOWNGRADE to 32bit?
      Roger Ramjet
      • PPC to x86...

        I know the G5 was 64-bit. If the G4 is 64-bit, I don't remember having heard about it. And I actually have a G4 Powerbook.

        As for the 64-to-32 scenario, I imagine that the x86 chips that are out by that time will very likely be 64-bit. I imagine this because whatever one could call Steve Jobs--egomaniacal, vindictive. or even a control freak--one would be hard-pressed to call him stupid. Also, many of the other versions of OS/X (I think Panther was the first one with 64-bit support) were 32-bit capable. And he mentioned that he'd had Intel as a plan B (though maybe not in those specific terms) since 10.0 came out. So I can only guess that he has all the possible hurdles worked out in his head by now.

        In the end, I think that Jobs is doing what he did with IBM and Motorola--making the decision based on the information he has available to him at the time. Of course, we saw what happened with Motorola and then IBM, so I hope for his sake that he keeps in mind an old saying--"Hope for the best, but plan for the worst."
        Third of Five
      • Theoretically...

        ....Intel will have a 64 bit chip out in the next year or two that will
        suffice. It's tough to know, since Apple has been completely vague
        about what sort of chips they'll be using.
        tic swayback
        • Intel has 64bit chips now!(nt)

          .
          ShadeTree
      • Oh 64 Bit!!!

        As of today there are no 64 bit pure CPU for the
        consumer user. Current cpu are at least 32/64.

        G4 is 32/64
        G5 is 32/64
        Intel Pentiun D is 32/64 (Trought something called
        Intel? Extended Memory 64 Technology req.)
        AMD 64 is 32/64

        CPU makers and SW (OS, App makers) have
        strugled and tossed the coin on who is the one laging behind 64 bit wave. One thing is true, re-compile
        is a must to take full advantege of 64 bit.

        How many developers have embraced full re-compile? don't know.
        mabricen
      • 64 bit does not matter--for now

        Interesting piece over at Ars Technica, looking at the Intel roadmap
        and how it will be used by Apple. Essentially, the first Mactel
        machines will be 32 bit, because they'll be low end machines where
        it won't matter (the Mini is a G4, which is a 32 bit chip, so replacing
        that with another 32 bit chip doesn't make much difference). The
        64 bit chips will come along later with the more powerful machines
        where they'll be replacing the G5, a 64 bit chip:

        http://arstechnica.com/columns/mac/mac-20050608.ars/1
        tic swayback
    • Who is this man ?

      Where does ZDnet get these people from ?

      AMD64 is in a class of it's own - PERIOD !

      ...Anyone who doesn't understand this must have been in hybernation for the last 4 years.

      Jobs moving to Intel has obviously nothing to do with technology, but with marketing and hype IMO!
      AMDClassCPUs
  • What a concept...

    Maybe, just maybe, Jobs is telling the truth about Intel's road map and Apple's future hardware plans. In any case, I'll bet he got a helluva deal from Intel because this is a big public relations coup for them. Of course, supplying Apple will probably transfer Apple's processor jinx to Intel. It sure worked on Motorola and IBM.
    gfeier
    • It is only a big public relations coup if your are ...

      ... a "Cult of the Mac" person. Apple is so small time it will barely make a splash!
      ShadeTree
      • Uhhh, hate to point this out...

        ...but your presence here kind of proves that mindshare trumps market share every time. Besides, Apple is making actual money these days. Except for Dell, who else is doing that with PCs?
        gfeier
        • Actually not!

          My presence hear can be explained more simply it is the news of the day. Is it significant because of it's market impact? Not hardly! It is news because Steve Jobs who has constantly touted the inferiority of Intels processors just inked a deal with them. It is significant because Steve said GHZ don't translate into performance but states one of the reason for changing is IBM didn't deliver a 3GHZ G5. It is the fact that just last year Steve was preaching the superiority of the G5 and now has reversed himself. Mostly it is significant because of the smug arrogance of Apple fans!
          ShadeTree
  • Excuse Me

    The P4 design is QUITE INFERIOR in many ways over just about ANY other chip out there. The lack of registers, the quaint 20bit offset addressing, the CISC architecture, and MANY others all conspire to make this chip a basket case (Check out Tom's Hardware page on this one). The ONLY reason that its fast is because of clock speed! Imagine an Athlon chip that ran at 3.6Ghz! It would BLOW THE FREAKING DOORS OFF of that P4. Even then, a G5 running at 3.6Ghz would blow BOTH of those other chips away!

    InHell HAD to keep backward compatibility in its Pentium chips, and had no "wiggle room" to reduce the instruction set - THAT'S why the P4 is a basket case in terms of design "elligance". Apple has no such needs for backward compatability (at least x86 compatability), so "shoehorning" OS/X onto this processor is NON-OPTIMAL.

    In any event, a regular garden-variety PC clone will NOT be able to run OS/X. You will STILL have to buy a Mac from Apple. My guess is that they will split the cost benefit 50/50 between the customer and corporate so a new iMac would cost about $800, instead of $1200 - even though a PC clone with the same parts could be had for 500 bucks or less.
    Roger Ramjet
    • Wishful Thinking

      You write: "Even then, a G5 running at 3.6Ghz would blow BOTH of those other chips away!" Hello world!
      Welcome to reality. The reason why Jobs is switching is because a G5 running at 3.6 Ghz CANNOT be manufactured without turning it into a heat reactor.

      It's just a fantasy. Here's one of mine: "Even then, a triple chip G5 running at 18Ghz would blow both of those other chips away! It's fun to write stuff like this, but it ain't real.

      Sorry.
      crescentdave