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Dvorak: I'm smoking crack
March 21, 2003 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Apple to switch to Intel processors, at least according to John Dvorak in a brief article over at PC Magazine. No mention in the article of the massive amount of effort required to re-write every piece of mac-compatible software for x86 architecture, or the unlikeliness of developers to be willing to do so having just optimized for OSX, but then, this piece seems to be mostly just bold, unsupported predictions.
posted by jonson (33 comments total)

 
So if the piece os all bold unsupported predictions, was the point if the fpp here just to point out that Dvorak is an idiot? Or was there something more to it?

Either way, Dvorak is an idiot. :-)
posted by twiggy at 10:01 AM on March 21, 2003


sounds like hooey to me
posted by zekinskia at 10:01 AM on March 21, 2003


bold, unsupported predictions.

you've just described dvorak.
posted by quonsar at 10:02 AM on March 21, 2003


Gimme a break...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:05 AM on March 21, 2003


Dvorak also failed to mention the upcoming 64-bit powerpcs from IBM that are all but earmarked for Apple consumer use. That 'transition machine' sounds like something out of a SF novel, and a bad one at that. My god, the memory access alone! The byte-swapping due to endianness problems! Unless the intel is connected over some gigabit IP transport, which wouldn't be screaming power potential.
posted by neustile at 10:05 AM on March 21, 2003


Ugh.

Plleeeeease don't support that nutjob's plea for page views.

He says this every 5-6 months just to rile up us raging Mac fanatics.

If OS X for Intel exists, it's a backup plan and/or a nice little evil trump card to lay down right when confidence in Microsoft is at it's lowest point (yes, it can go lower!) and Palladium is unleashed on the unsuspecting consumers.

It's an opinion piece. Dvorak is apparently jealous of OS X.
posted by cinderful at 10:06 AM on March 21, 2003


Dvorak shoots his mouth off about the mac whenever his ratings start to hover around "insignificant". It's a handy way to drive a lot of hits on one's site. What a publicity whore...
posted by clevershark at 10:07 AM on March 21, 2003


Jobs was at the Intel keynote last month because Pixar just switched their rendering farm to linux on Intel.

While Apple could very well have kept OSX running on an X86 instruction set in parallel, there hasn't been one leak from peripheral vendors about an SDK for intel based device drivers. Moving Aqua, Quicktime, Quartz and Cocoa to Intel seems feasible. Expecting it to work with Billy Bob's scanner and SCSI card he got three years ago does not.
posted by machaus at 10:08 AM on March 21, 2003


It's not as hard to port to Intel as people think. Mac OS X is built on the Mach microkernel, and all you'd really need to do is port some hardware drivers to work on an Intel Mach microkernel. I'd bet money that Apple has a working and up-to-date Mac OS X port on Intel already, and has for some time. The PowerPC supply is just too flakey to depend on, and the performance gap between the G4 and the x86 world is just getting wider and wider.
posted by mrmanley at 10:10 AM on March 21, 2003


Twiggy - yes, that was kind of the point of the FPP, although I'm hedging my bets in case it turns out to be true, that way I can claim cool points by being the one who first mentioned it!
posted by jonson at 10:11 AM on March 21, 2003


Am I the only one that's heard of OSX/i386 ? Apple reportedly has kept an up-to-date x86 codebase for OS X for a while now, just as a trump card to pull if the PowerPC market's bottom falls out. (which has been happening slowly for years)
posted by shadow45 at 10:16 AM on March 21, 2003


Mmmm... yeah... no.

There are no cool points in posting Dvorak columns on MeFi.

So sorry. Buh bye.
posted by scarabic at 10:18 AM on March 21, 2003


holy shit, cinderful. i didnt see your post, and almost had it word for word :)
posted by shadow45 at 10:19 AM on March 21, 2003


It's not that hard to port the OS itself to the x86 architecture, mrmanley, but Apple would have to convince every single developer to port their drivers and applications. In some cases, this might be as simple as a recompile, but in most cases the developers would have to find and change all the places where endian issues mattered. (The PowerPC and x86 architectures use opposite formats for storing numbers in memory, and any code that makes assumptions about the format in use would have to be changed. This is not too hard in itself, but finding all the places that make these assumptions is tough.)

Besides, I work for one of the (rather small handful of) Mac programming tools vendors, and if something like this were in the works we'd have heard about it already. Unfortunately, I can't talk about what *is* in the works...

Dvorak is just making stuff up.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:24 AM on March 21, 2003


I would just like to point out that it is universally accepted that Dvorak is an idiot. A few years ago I tried to determine if he had ever been right about *anything* and failed to find even a single prediction which had been correct.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:31 AM on March 21, 2003


Well, there is already the Darwin codebase for x86. But that and Aqua are two different things. I really doubt that this is anything but a remote possibility.

Sure a lot of Linux and BSD tools are being ported over and it would be fairly easy to recompile those onto an Intel processor. But we've just got most of the large MacOS app vendors shipping actual OS X products instead of using classic *quark*, making them now jump to another processor would be shooting themselves in the foot.
posted by mkelley at 10:37 AM on March 21, 2003


Well there was that keyboard layout of his that we all use now. Oh, no wait...
posted by jonson at 10:38 AM on March 21, 2003


Mars.

Give up the goods, dammit.

Tell me about how much ass the 970 kicks.
posted by cinderful at 10:38 AM on March 21, 2003


Whatever happened to Risc processors -- they seemed very fast in the old Acorn Achimedes machines ... even faster than my AMD 1.7 does now ...
posted by feelinglistless at 10:40 AM on March 21, 2003


Apple will announce its Intel initiative ... under the code name Marklar.

He just has to be making that up...
posted by bshort at 10:42 AM on March 21, 2003


y6, I do remember one thing he was right about. DVDs. He talked about a couple of years after the DVD launched, they would be cheap enough that they would be in happy meals and cereal boxes. I've seen a couple of DVDs taped to Cereal boxes and I believe McD had a couple of promotions that gave away DVDs. He started talking about this in 97, but then again it could have been a fluke.
posted by mkelley at 10:43 AM on March 21, 2003


1) Apple has X86 based "Rhapsody"-> Mac OS X. What stops Apple is all the odd-ball hardware floating around in X86 land. 'this card works with windows but not OSX' is not what Apple would need for press.
2) Apple's software is the lock to its hardware. Going to X86 unlocks the hardware.
3) Jobs at one time told off Motorola - It will be great in 2 years when we are not on your processor. Motorola has no desire to make the PPC a good general processor, but have focused it on embedded work.
4) DVorak has a habbit of saying wild shit to get page hits. This is another one of his wild-ass statements.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2003


Noooooooooooo!

Bring back Atari!
posted by Macboy at 11:08 AM on March 21, 2003


Does anyone have any links about the other things they've mentioned, or is all of this just hoo-haw?
posted by password at 11:19 AM on March 21, 2003


Well, I think he's crazy, but there has been talk about Marklar before: http://www.eweek.com/print_article/0,3668,a=30554,00.asp
posted by Phatbank at 11:23 AM on March 21, 2003


so, does it mean that I'd better not buy that cool new little PowerBook I like so much?
posted by matteo at 11:35 AM on March 21, 2003


Whatever happened to the Apple/AMD processor switch rumour?
posted by troutfishing at 11:53 AM on March 21, 2003


Whatever happened to Risc processors

Well the RISC descendants are in virtually everything these days, except PCs. Pretty much every embedded processor is a RISC derivative.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:53 AM on March 21, 2003


These days even Intel chips are RISC processors at heart, with an in-silicon bytecode interpreter for the x86 instruction set. The term isn't really useful anymore; today's processor architectures are all RISC, or none of them are RISC, depending on how you look at it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:27 PM on March 21, 2003


Bad link. Great title.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:28 PM on March 21, 2003


rough_ashlar: switching to the x86 does not, in any way, remove their lock on the hardware. After all, there's no rule that says that they have to use standard PC motherboards, just because they're using standard PC processors.

That being said, I've heard this rumor for about a decade now. I'll believe it when I see it, in the mean time, the IBM chips look like a far more likely possibility.
posted by mosch at 2:25 PM on March 21, 2003


the fact that Apple eschews long-term backward compatibility.

Hmmmmm. I'm typing this from a Lombard Powerbook g3, a four year old model. Running OS X 10.1.5. It will run OS X 10.2, I just haven't dropped the money on it yet.

I have an SE/30 that was released in 1989 that comfortably runs system and other software released up through 1995.

"Long-term" is, of course, a relative term, but 4-6 years seems like an eternity in the tech world to me....
posted by namespan at 4:06 PM on March 21, 2003


namespan: you're right about Apple supporting their hardware for quite a long while.

My secondary desktop machine is a G4 cube which is about 2 1/2 years old, runs Jaguar without an issue, and gives us no complaints. The ternary desktop is a blue and white G3 that also runs jaguar, and has to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 years old.

I also fail to see the lack of long-term backwards compatibility.
posted by mosch at 8:22 PM on March 21, 2003


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