Apple will have Intel inside: Jobs makes it official

Following my post about Apple/Intel rumours it’s now possible to confirm that the rumours are true:

Steve Jobs made it official at the keynote to the Apple World Wide Developers Conference today. Apple will be using Intel CPUs starting June 2006, and a complete transition will be done by 2007. Steve confirmed that for the past 5 years, Mac OS X for Intel has been in development, and Steve even did the whole keynote using an Intel-based system. As for Mac apps, Coca apps will require small tweaks; Carbon apps will require more tweaks; Metrowerks apps need to be recompiled using Xcode (version 2.1 was released today). Developers can then create a “universal binary” that can run on both PowerPC and Intel. Apple will also ship Rosetta, which will allow users to run PowerPC apps on Intel Macs. – MacAddict

The move marks a major shift for Apple, which has long relied on PowerPC chips from IBM to drive its computers. To help with the switch, Apple also announced the availability of a Developer Transition Kit, consisting of an Intel-based Mac development system along with preview versions of Apple’s software, which will allow developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with the best personal computers in the world, and looking ahead Intel has the strongest processor roadmap by far,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It’s been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel’s technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years.”

“We are thrilled to have the world’s most innovative personal computer company as a customer,” said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel. “Apple helped found the PC industry and throughout the years has been known for fresh ideas and new approaches. We look forward to providing advanced chip technologies, and to collaborating on new initiatives, to help Apple continue to deliver innovative products for years to come.” MacWorld

The move is being seen as a big gamble for Apple strategy, and a boost to Intel at the expense of IBM.

It ends a decade-long relationship between Apple and IBM, which have recently wrangled over supply problems. BBC News Online

So, it’s official. I guess Mac and PC users can both join in on whether Intel chips are the best. What’s next? Would AMD ever get a look in? Is there any way back for IBM? Ironic, that they are making chips for Microsoft now?

What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “Apple will have Intel inside: Jobs makes it official

  1. daniel

    From the Apple OS guys point of view, they’ll have a heap of work gearing up to get OS XI (or whatever it’s called) running on Intel.

    But from a higher level developer (eg anybody above the compilers) point of view, probably not much difference, since compilers and interpreters will take care of all the messy stuff. Still, every software vendor will have to re-build their stuff.

    From an end user point of view, we could hope to see Apple’s OS running on new cheaper smaller cooler devices thanks to the Intel chips.

    From current users’ point of view…. hmmmm… does this put a limited lifespan on those with PowerPC setups? Is OS X the end of the line? Apple’s never been afraid to jump ship onto the latest greatest technology, but have tended to leave people behind in the process. Not that it matters so much, since their legendary stability and rich features means people don’t feel so compelled to keep upgrading as those of us in the Microsoft camp tend to.

    Naturally anybody making the jump will have to be sure whatever third party software they have is available on the new platform.

    What they’re not actually saying yet is what the Intel CPUs will be. Intel doesn’t necessarily mean Pentium compatible, so the idea I saw somewhere of running Windows on a Mac, or MacOS on a PC clone may not be possible. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

  2. andy Post author

    A few points, as I understand it:

    OS X is still very much alive and strong, and isn’t about to be superseded by a change in chip architecture. It already effectively runs on two different chips – one in laptops (Motorola) and one in desktops (IBM)
    Various reports say that OS X has already been running on Intel platforms for over 5 years.
    The technology behind OS X should be a lot easier to port to any chip architecture.
    Various software add-ons should enable the switch to happen relatively easier – far easier than the jump from 68000 to PowerPC processors?
    Apple is well-versed in creating ‘FAT’ binaries so there should be easy and ample support for both platforms for a good few years yet
    Mac OS X is the unifying factor here – if third-party software is written to work in OS X then I don’t see how it will stop working.
    By the time the rollout is complete, many people may be ready to upgrade machines in any case, and there will be plenty of time for the rest to do so

    I don’t agree that Apple just leave people behind – things are gradually phased out far later than in other camps.

    It will be interesting to see what happens – given that Apple are still rolling out G5 desktops and G4 laptops, I don’t see support ending for at least 5 years after everything goes Intel.

  3. daniel

    Sounds good. And yeah, “leave people behind” made it sound harsher than I think it really is.

    What would be great is to see the momentum of the iPod and the Mac Mini continue, with Apple picking up more market share, particularly of the consumer “plug in and it works” market, for whom their products seem much better suited than Windows.

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