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Apple Macs: Intel vs. IBM


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#1
Tomovich

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After the storm has passed (announcement of the first Intel products) I would like to know your opinions about the switch Apple has made in May last year.

Do you think this was is a positive (and maybe necessary) development or not? I'm talking only about the processors, not about the market share. Purely processors: Intel vs. PPC. Is the Intel one (or maybe later AMD) a improvement? I'm talking about processor structure (RISC - CISC), performances and performance per watt (which is very popular right now).

I'm excited to know your opinions!

Greetz

#2
Metrogirl

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This is purely my opinion (forget the forum staff hat for a moment) :-

Apple have gained very little in the immediate term by switching. The top G5s are a match for anything they've got on the stocks right now. The notebooks should be better than the G4 range, but the Mac notebook market is limited.

In the medium term it was a very smart move. The new Intel (and potentially AMD) chips planned for release will (or should) take performance per watt consumed way ahead of anything the PPC has to offer or will for a while. So we will see smarter, faster Macs and for laptops, longer battery life. Apple - and the consumer - will be very pleased.

In the long term it might backfire. IBM's Cell processor is literally blasting all the competition in the internal tests and the performance is going to be stunning. It's optimised for graphics rather than pure computing power but a lot of Mac use is graphics based. Sony will benefit from this technology enormously when it comes on stream. I predict - and this I emphasise is only my view - that the Cell will take the computing world by storm and cause a lot of rethinking. Apple might find they've backed the faster horse only to discover it has less stamina.

I've always liked RISC processors, I was an RS/6000 girl for some time and still have good IBM contacts (hence my comments on the Cell are not just speculation) but ultimately what's under the hood isn't a huge selling point except to geeks or techno-kiddies. It's how it performs in the real world. The jury is still out on the Intel Mac for now.

... Now I can put my forum staff hat back on and moderate myself :)

#3
Urbz

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absolutely, it was a great move.

Just from a processor point of view, PPC simply wasn't evolving inside macs.
PPCs have ended up mainly in gaming machines, but this is not beneficial for the mac because the computer gaming industry is already well established on x86 in windows.
PPCs also didn't deliver the things IBM promised they would. Mobile g5 anyone? Granted, there would not have been much of difference, simply because there ISN'T much of a difference between the G4 and the G5. And that's an important issue: With our new intel processors, we are seeing large improvements over a simple p4 with ht, for example.

And when a new processor is realeased, especially when the processor isn't updated as frequently as intel updates its processors, it should be a significant change.

That, i think, was the main problem with IBM: they were not dedicated enough to establish and follow a real roadmap of the future, and going off-road when they DID promise things.

I don't really think the architecture was the issue: the mac experience is unique no matter the processor. But for other buisness decisions, such as gaming, or assimilating windows games and apps into mac, the switch was definetly worth it.

All in all, this new platform gives apple a definite plan of the future and i'm sure that intel will stick to that plan. Thus, apple will be able to better use new technologies which are constantly being invented for their computers and offer a better, more powerful mac experience, as well as offer them brilliant openings in so-far closed off sections of the industry where no windows meant to deal.

-Urby

#4
DeathChill

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In the long term it might backfire. IBM's Cell processor is literally blasting all the competition in the internal tests and the performance is going to be stunning. It's optimised for graphics rather than pure computing power but a lot of Mac use is graphics based. Sony will benefit from this technology enormously when it comes on stream. I predict - and this I emphasise is only my view - that the Cell will take the computing world by storm and cause a lot of rethinking. Apple might find they've backed the faster horse only to discover it has less stamina.

Have you read anything about Cell? It requires that programs be specifically optimized for it to even run acceptably and is never going to advance the way x86 does and will. Specific optimizations just to get a program to run properly are NOT something any processor should require, so there'd be no multi-architecture code for Cell.

#5
Metrogirl

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Have you read anything about Cell? It requires that programs be specifically optimized for it to even run acceptably and is never going to advance the way x86 does and will. Specific optimizations just to get a program to run properly are NOT something any processor should require, so there'd be no multi-architecture code for Cell.


For those who are interested in the Cell, the following public article is worth reading:

http://www.research..../494/kahle.html

Or lighter reading (no IBM bias)-
"PlayStation 3 chip goes easy on developers -you won't have to be a rocket scientist to program it. "

A practical application -
"PowerBlock 200 box will deliver as much horsepower as 20 PowerPC processors or 45 of Intel's Pentium 4 chips"

Open design (article is a year old - predates present production)
"Feb. 07, 2005-IBM, Sony, and Toshiba disclosed the architectural design of a jointly developed, multi-core "Cell" processor claimed to feature supercomputer-like floating-point performance and clock speeds in excess of 4 GHz

Deathchill, you may be right. I was only stating my personal opinion as I said several times. But Linux cell machines have already been built, so I wouldn't use terms such as never.

#6
crazymonkeypants

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The notebooks should be better than the G4 range, but the Mac notebook market is limited.


You should check Apple's more recent sales figures. Laptop sales numbers passed desktops late in 2004 as I recall, and they haven't looked back.

See this old discssion for example.

#7
ripoflive

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I think its a smart move, well for the notebooks anyway. The intel cpu used is based on the famous "Penitum M" which in terms of speed and energy consumtion dominated all other notebook cpus (AMD isnt even a challenge) as a matter of fact a lot of people thought it was SO good that they wanted a desktop equivalent.....and thats where Apple comes in. The only thing I believe the intel chip is missing is 64 bit technology......

BTW, heres some benchmarks to compare pentium M with other desktops cpus: http://www.digit-lif...-m-desktop.html

#8
aldimeneira

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Lowly Mac Mini, Intel made 64 bit processors. Wait for Merom ;P

#9
Doug the Impaler

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Bottom line, the user should never have to know what hardware they're running (Intel or PPC). It's going to be an interesting transition because if you buy a shiny new x86 iMac or MBP, you're going to KNOW what hardware you're running; the majority of your apps are going to run like molasses uphill in January at the North Pole when compared to universal binaries. That's not to say they'll run poorly (unless it's an OpenGL app, which will run poorly no questions asked), it's just to say they won't be as good as the rest. Once we're over this little hump, things will change for the better. The laptop line will be back to where it should be and the desktop line will be marginally faster (iMac excluded; the second CPU will help with a ton of stuff; most of Apple's apps are SMP-aware and will use that second CPU core)

MetroGirl, according to recent sales stuff, the Mac notebook market is approximately half their Mac sales. So half the Macs being sold are G4's. That's not cool at all, nor is it really as "limited" as you said. Ripoflive beat me to it





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