Mac disciples reluctant to embrace Intel

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.

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.