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Thread: Macs, Intel chips...

  1. #1
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    Default Macs, Intel chips...

    So apple has announced that they will be moving to intel chips in the next few years. I am sure the decision is wise, what with the difficulty they were having getting the G5 chip cool enough to go in a powerbook and all.

    But it raises the question of whether I should buy the 15" powerbook I had been planning on. It would be through the government aided computer scheme, where you pay for it over three years and make tax savings. My problem is, that half way through this time I know that it will have been superceded. I don't really need it either (I have a PC laptop that is barely 18 months old), but have long been tempted to get a mac for music reasons.

    Is it likely that the current IBM chip will be better in line with apples for music, rather than an intel? The whole history of apple suggests a better alignment with chip manufacture opposed to intel & microsoft with their individual development. Surely with apple going to intel this is going to reverse the perceived benefit they had on running music / design software. So...what to do?

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    Yeah but whatever happens, "half way through this time I know that it will have been superceded". That's just the inbuilt obsolescence of computers.

    It's not at all clear yet whether OSX on Intel will work better than OSX on PowerPC. Better music performance on Intel requires good hooks between the OS and the chip's facilities for hyperthreading and front side bus, and in particular the OS' provision for multiprocessing, which is now at the centre of Intel's chip strategy. None of these are trivial issues and noone knows yet how well Apple's engineers will be able to address them.

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    I read a bit on Wired News about Hollywood pushing for the switch because the new Intel chips will have anti-piracy features loaded in the firmware or hard-coded or something. It'll be interesting to see what the actual repercussions are...

    But why would Apple do this? Because Apple wants Intel's new Pentium D chips.

    Released just few days ago, the dual-core chips include a hardware copy protection scheme that prevents "unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted materials from the motherboard," according to PC World.

    Apple -- or rather, Hollywood -- wants the Pentium D to secure an online movie store (iFlicks if you will), that will allow consumers to buy or rent new movies on demand, over the internet.

    According to News.com, the Intel transition will occur first in the summer with the Mac mini, which I'll bet will become a mini-Tivo-cum-home-server.

    Hooked to the internet, it will allow movies to be ordered and stored, and if this News.com piece is correct, loaded onto the video iPod that's in the works.

    Intel's DRM scheme has been kept under wraps -- to prevent giving clues to crackers -- but the company has said it will allow content to be moved around a home network, and onto suitably-equipped portable devices.

    And that's why the whole Mac platform has to shift to Intel. Consumers will want to move content from one device to another -- or one computer to another -- and Intel's DRM scheme will keep it all nicely locked down.
    http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,67749,00.html
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    Apple's use of Intel chips has been a regular rumour for at least ten years and it always seemed like it would only happen for living room appliances, so I can definitely believe that the first fruit of this union would be a Mac-mini style PVR. Which could be very nice...
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  5. #5
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    Looks like Linux on AMD chipset is the only future. Apple have signed their death warrant.

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    i understand why they had to do it. the annoying thing is that it'll be ANOTHER step in the quickfire succession of major platform overhauls:

    PowerPC>OS9>Mac OSX>IntelMac

    the maya community on the mac is basically quite frustrated. everyone's anticipating have to pay for an especially expensive set of upgrades.

    also people are saying the AMD chip is far superior, but once we're Intel (the argument goes) theres no reason why we can't swap over to AMD as the same OS will handle both (you dont need and AMD and Intel differentiated Windoze)

    i think its another step in Apple getting a larger market share...

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    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    also people are saying the AMD chip is far superior, but once we're Intel (the argument goes) theres no reason why we can't swap over to AMD as the same OS will handle both (you dont need and AMD and Intel differentiated Windoze)
    Right, I guess it's really x86 OS X, not Intel OS X. I read somewhere this morning that a developer build of x86 OS X is already on P2P. I wonder if that's true. The AMD question may have already been answered and all of Intel's draconian DRM will be in vain.

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    x86 OSX will have hooks that tie into Apples hardware. They've said that you'll be able to install Windows onto the Mac x86 hardware, but not OSX onto standard PC hardware.

    Not that it will be uncrackable, but if you have to do hardware mods ala a PS2 or whatever, then whos going to bother, assuming the new Apples are competitively priced.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleep
    x86 OSX will have hooks that tie into Apples hardware. They've said that you'll be able to install Windows onto the Mac x86 hardware, but not OSX onto standard PC hardware.

    Not that it will be uncrackable, but if you have to do hardware mods ala a PS2 or whatever, then whos going to bother, assuming the new Apples are competitively priced.

    no not unhackable...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    i understand why they had to do it. the annoying thing is that it'll be ANOTHER step in the quickfire succession of major platform overhauls:

    PowerPC>OS9>Mac OSX>IntelMac
    I don't think that's an especially rapid turnover of architectural changes. There have been two big shifts, from 680x0 to PowerPC, which was handled with aplomb a very long time ago, and the shift to OSX, which has turned out to be an enormous relief. (I stuck with OS9 for a long time but there's really no comparison.) But they haven't shifted processors and OSes simultaneously, nor will they this time.

    Don't forget, MacIntel is really about two markets: the living room, which is the main event, and laptops, where Apple is fucked. Desktop does not need much fixing: both Macs and PCs are topping out their performance curves, because the chips are now running so hot, so there's not that much differentiation between them in terms of compute power. (Though I accept that Mac Maya users will feel whatever delta there is in performance between Mac and PC more than anyone else.)

    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    the maya community on the mac is basically quite frustrated. everyone's anticipating have to pay for an especially expensive set of upgrades.
    Well, it'll be a while before it's an issue, i.e. before you need to choose between a MacIntel box and a Windoze box for desktop animation. If you really need more compute horsepower today, you're probably going to have to go for an MP Xeon-based workstation -- and spend upwards of 4K on it. And switch OSes.

    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    also people are saying the AMD chip is far superior, but once we're Intel (the argument goes) theres no reason why we can't swap over to AMD as the same OS will handle both (you dont need and AMD and Intel differentiated Windoze)
    Yes, AMD has made the running on chip performance and made the right calls on chip design for the last year. This situation could change -- Intel's R&D is still much greater than AMD's. And I'm not sure it's true that MacIntel users will be able to switch to AMD. I think Apple can and will make OSX Intel-specific, though I don't think it's a certainty. I also think Apple can, as mentioned, make hacking OSX to run on PCs without a trusted computing chip so inconvenient it's not an option for anyone who's not a dyed in the wool geek.

    Quote Originally Posted by WOEBOT
    i think its another step in Apple getting a larger market share...
    Yes, of course, but which market? This is really all about living room PVRs, digital hifi, and home hubs. Apple has been trying to partner up with SOny to do digital consumer electronics since 1988 but could never quite get them to play ball. Now they want to eat their dinner and surprisingly, they're pretty well positioned.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2stepfan
    It's not at all clear yet whether OSX on Intel will work better than OSX on PowerPC. Better music performance on Intel requires good hooks between the OS and the chip's facilities for hyperthreading and front side bus, and in particular the OS' provision for multiprocessing, which is now at the centre of Intel's chip strategy. None of these are trivial issues and noone knows yet how well Apple's engineers will be able to address them.
    i was thinking of getting a mac laptop to use primarily with ableton - but i've heard that the number of active vsts supported (or at least able to run comfortably) is significantly less than you'd get with intel.

    when paul autonomic and myself exchange ableton live projects, hes using a mac and i'm on a pc. he says that his processer utilisation leaps to 250%, grinding his machine to a halt. i'm using 7 or 8 vsts at a time (and some are heavier than others, for instance i like to use minimoog for bass which is a great synth but very heavy on resources). i've started rendering vsts to samples, but obviously this reduces flexibility when remixing.

    so how do you find this with macs? i'm wondering whether its just ableton, and maybe logic is ok. i'm fairly agnostic these days platform wise, just want to get the best tools for production and was curious about your experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bassnation
    when paul autonomic and myself exchange ableton live projects,
    I didn't know you were doing that!
    Quote Originally Posted by bassnation
    hes using a mac and i'm on a pc. he says that his processer utilisation leaps to 250%, grinding his machine to a halt... i'm wondering whether its just ableton, and maybe logic is ok. i'm fairly agnostic these days platform wise, just want to get the best tools for production and was curious about your experiences.
    I seem to remember Dub mentioning this when he -- briefly -- bought his PowerBook. Ableton is IIRC not coded well for Mac and is much more resource intensive. He went back to a PC for it and found it did the business for him. Logic works fine on Mac. SX3 works great too, for track counts, VSTis, FX etc, though its graphics engine isn't up to speed -- much slower redrawing than SX1 or 2 -- because it's not using Quartz, I believe.

    Personally I think Mac laptops are a bit underpowered compared to new Centrinos, though you don't notice it much with OSX. And I am tempted by one -- even if only cos it would mean that I could work on mixes when I'm down in London. Or, indeed, while watching telly at home. I really need a hack of SX for my PC laptop...
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    I've got a short list of DRM background reading here.

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    Well - they have arrived. Now I have to decide whether I get one of the first generation models...

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    I enjoyed Jobs' demo.

    The iMac looked bitching. I think it will CREAM my dual 1.8 G5 and it's not even a pro machine. But my G5 is more than fast enough for anything I want to do.

    The laptop... well I hate the name. Performance wise, well obviously it's fab by Mac laptop standards (though OSX lappies always seemed to perform better than their spec suggested).

    But for me, they're too heavy -- I travel a lot and I need one under 2 kilos, ideally around 1 kilo. And there's no news on battery power, which is also very important to me. Most of all, there's no news, that I can find on how well they run XP, if at all. Running windows apps for work and OSX apps for play on one machine, ideally via fast user switching, is what I really, really want...
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