OT: [OS X TeX] PPC to Intel

Gerben Wierda Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl
Thu Jun 9 14:06:21 CEST 2005

> I don't know, but maybe Intel is pushing the envelope and maybe IBM
> has lost its edge. I used to work for IBM. At the time (1980-89) a
> lot of the staff were star trek-ish futuristic smart---I mean one of
> my colleagues programmed the fuel flow simulator for the Saturn V in
> assembly language and fortran---and it was not unusual to work with
> this caliber of people in both hardware and software. I get the
> impression that is not the case any longer. They appear to be
> becoming sort of a software service company. I really don't know what
> happens at IBM these days when it comes to hardware development, but
> Apple is obviously not impressed.

IBM is doing fine work for instance with the Cell processor. But that
beast has a target which quite differs from PC or Server-like systems
(e.g. it has "lossy behaviour" which is fine for getting pixels to a
screen in a playstation but not so fine for data integrity on PC's or
servers). The PPC is also doing fine as far as being able to build really
powerful computing with it (Big Mac, Blue/Gene), but at a terrible price
in terms of power consumption (and heat). Both processors do very fine
when it comes to support for multi-processor etc. And the G4 from
Freescale (formerly Motorola) is not going anywhere too (Where is the
7448? And if it comes will it even reach 2GHz?)

My personal guess is that next to the power consumption issue Steve
mentioned, the big issue is Office:Mac. With an Intel CPU, running the
Windows version of Office becomes a viable alternative. Microsoft is under
pressure to cut cost (profits are not increasing anymore). Maybe Steve
knows something we don't?

I think it is a missed opportunity that they have not chosen to do a
dual-architecture strategy. Customer: whatever is inside your Mac: Intel
or PPC, the user experience will be the same. CPU architecture doesn't
matter. That would have prevented an Osborne on coming PPC sales as well
as the option to keep things like XServe's and such G5, something science
likes a lot (Big Mac).

I guess that they have not done this because it might have led to
lackluster efforts by developers to support Intel and confusion for some.
But the dual-CPU-architecture option will remain open to them and given
their road map they will in fact have a period of multiple-architecture,
something they could keep up for a long time (and in the labs they
definitely will). But the Osborne worry remains.


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