Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in June, 2005

WWDC: winding up

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It’s been a memorable, tiring, interesting, productive week. My stay at The Mosser Hotel has been enjoyable; the service is excellent, the rooms are OK though a little cramped, and the location can’t be beat. Only a block from Moscone and even nearer to Market Street and the SFO Apple Store. Many thanks also to the Hyperjeff, my courteous and forgiving roommate.

I’m now back at the South Airport Travelodge, spent the morning day getting packed and lugging my brand new iMac G5 around; a heavy beast, but worth it! And in the afternoon visited my old haunts at Berkeley. So now that that’s done, I’ll have the Sunday to rest up, organize my writings, and get set for the trip back to Brazil around Monday noon. More anon.

The dust is slowly settling, Apple stock is behaving normally, and everybody and their dog have emitted opinions about the MacIntel story. So who may win, and who may lose in the next 12 months?

Winners:

  • Apple, of course. As I commented below, they’re free (or will be, in a year) of the CPU-architecture-as-a-religion meme. They get a literally cool CPU/chipset for their PowerBooks; although I suppose they won’t use that name in the future; how about IBook icon_wink.gif? They get dual-core CPUs right now, and a 64-bit version in the future. Even the stock analysts are liking this, though for mostly the wrong reasons. Also, switching processors did establish a precedent for Apple: Intel knows they’re not captive clients, and they’ll have to treat Steve Jobs with kid gloves lest he switches away again. Finally, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) will come out simultaneously, or even some weeks before, Longhorn, and with smaller minimum requirements. The new low-end Intel Macs may even take a goodly part of the low-end market away from Microsoft.
  • Intel. They were certainly getting tired of being perceived as just the evil tail end of the evil Wintel dragon. Intel’s not very pleased with Microsoft these days and they were being pressed on other fronts. Getting Apple’s business is a glamorous endorsement which has far more weight than Apple’s smaller marketshare leads outsiders to believe. They’ll certainly be pleased to have a partner which actually will insist on getting the latest and greatest stuff, without being concerned about backwards compatibility issues like, say, legacy BIOS support. By the way, Intel will now be free to cut away, say, the 50% of the Pentium that still support all those legacy modes and compatibility instructions, and supply Apple with an optimized-for-Mac OS X chip. With all the silicon saved, they could double the number of cores, put in more cache, support Altivec instructions or whatever they fancy; after all, it won’t really have to boot Windows anyway, right? Finally, Intel’s attempts to produce new PC designs were, let’s be charitable, not much good. They now have the best design team in the industry to showcase their new technology.
  • Developers. At least the Cocoa developers, the Open Source developers, and the Carbon developers that already were using Xcode. For most vanilla apps, it’s just a recompile and some tweaking. The added discipline will be good for people, and the market will grow a lot. This is a great time to be a Cocoa developer, and I for one intend to take advantage of it.
  • Stockholders. Both Apple and Intel stock will benefit from the new synergy between the two companies. I’m an Apple stockholder, and I’ll be looking at Intel stock very carefully soon.
  • Gamers. Let’s face it, most full-screen games usually push aside the underlying OS when they come in, have their own user interface, talk directly to the graphics card and deign to let the OS do something only for mundane stuff like saving scores files. So many developers didn’t even bother to port to the Mac. When Virtual PC or a similar product comes out, gamers will have access to all Windows games at full speed; and it’s almost certain that the Intel Macs will have some virtualization facility built in, but won’t dual-boot. As long as Mac OS X will be whatever the new machines boot into, Apple will certainly allow other OSes to run under its control; that way, the user will always have the Mac OS X GUI visible somewhere. The effect of this on game developers is debatable. Some will be relieved not to have to do dual versions anymore. Mac-only developers will lose the Altivec advantage, so this may have some impact.

Losers:

  • Metrowerks. CodeWarrior has, unfortunately, been going downhill since they were acquired by Motorola, and is now officially dead. Apparently their Intel compilers have been bought by Nokia, a move so outside my field of expertise that I’m not going to comment further on it, but they’re out of the picture now. Apparently they’re concentrating on the embedded market now, where they may still do well.
  • Microsoft. Or at least partially. Windows is the new Classic; Windows apps will run in a “Red Box” and will look quaint and old-fashioned. As I said above, Leopard may well eat into Microsoft’s low-end marketshare. And the Wintel meme is dead; people now know that there are alternatives to Microsoft, and are actively looking for them. Defecting to the Mac will now appear easier and more natural for non-techies. Yes, Microsoft will keep a finger in the pie; their sales of Office won’t go down, as any Windows sale lost will be compensated by a Mac sale, and they’ll certainly be selling much more copies of Virtual PC, if they can bring the cost down. Still, this is a philosophical defeat for Microsoft in several aspects.
  • Adobe et al. Adobe are publicly committed to port their stuff to Xcode and Intel. From what I heard from inside sources, the Xcode transition will take several times as much effort and time as the Intel transition per se. Adobe and other companies with huge codebases that used CodeWarrior have their own software workflow and converting this may take up much, maybe all, of the next 12 months. What this will do to the apps they bought from MacroMedia is anyone’s guess; I’ll say that some of them may not survive. From past experiences the move may be altogether too much for Quark, who’ve taken years to do a not-so-good Carbon port.
  • AMD. The consensus seems to be that AMD, even though they might seem at first glance a better fit to Apple than Intel, apparently didn’t have the necessary product line depth to fit the new Apple. Still, nothing says they couldn’t supply chips for future high-end Apple products.
  • AV developers. Apple’s Pro AV products already had the market pretty well sewn up, and now they’ll be running well-optimized on the new Macs from day one. Competitors will be at least a year behind; not an enviable position.
  • Cluster users. The whole G5/Altivec hype was really justified for these guys; Xserve clusters have been building a well-deserved reputation for very high-end scientific computing. I don’t see a comparable Intel-based machine coming out from Apple before 2007. The same applies to 64-bit computing. Steve Jobs hinted that new PowerPC machines are still in the pipeline, so this may be moot, but the folks I’ve talked to here are quite nervous.

Nivardo Cavalcante wrote:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050609.html icon_sad.gif icon_redface.gif

Intel buying Apple? Not very likely in my opinion, unless they ask Steve Jobs to become CEO of Intel too… even more unlikely is the other acquisition rumor I read, of Apple buying FreeScale. No, a collaboration makes more sense for both companies.

Posted by Nivardo Cavalcante:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050609.html icon_sad.gif icon_redface.gif

Re: CELL

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Ibis Itiberê S Luzia wrote:

So what about CELL? Did you hear something related in WWDC?

Nothing… too soon, I think.

CELL

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Posted by Ibis Itiberê S Luzia:
Rainer:

So what about CELL? Did you hear something related in WWDC?

I don’t want really to conduct a long discussion here, but…

Ibis Itiberê S Luzia wrote:

“The soul of the Mac is the CPU”. What is the meanning of the therm “Mac”? If I’m not wrong a “Mac” is a computer and not a software. The software is called “Operational System” which in this case can be System 7,8,9 or X. And at least what differentiated a Mac from an ordinary PC? Was the CPU, wasn’t? We were able to get experiences that ordinary PC users didn’t accomplished. We were able to run programs that they could’nt. The great difference was that Apple had a CPU that it helped to develop together with IBM and Motorola. They had the “difference” and this maked Apple so different.

I think that may have been more applicable in the past. In 1984 I bought my first Mac. The Macintosh was the user experience, the Mac operating system, the 68K CPU, the SCSI interface, the NuBus boards, the ADB Keyboard and mouse, the 3.5″ floppies. All these components enabled something extra in the user experience.

This is quantum physics in that it really needs someone operating the computer to have the “experience”. All of the components I’ve listed above have been changed: the operating system is now Unix and NeXT based, the CPU migrated to the PowerPC, SCSI, NuBus, ADB and floppies were replaced by new technologies. But people agree, when they sit down at an iMac G5, that it’s still a Mac – although a completely different Mac from the 1984 Mac 128K.

So, I’m actually writing this at an Intel Mac. It’s still a Mac. Everybody here at WWDC agrees with me, as far as I can tell. The user experience has evolved, but the essence has remained. It’s faster for some things, it’s slower for other things. This is irrelevant; it’s a different model, that’s all. It uses other chips inside. That’s irrelevant too.

Let’s move on. There’s tons of new stuff to do and write about.

Posted by Ibis Itiberê S Luzia:
Reiner:

God knows the respect I have for your words but I can’t be convinced that Apple done what was right thing to do.

People make great confusions all the time. Who said “Think different”? Was I? No. Was Apple and Steve Jobs. Who said: “Switch”. Was I? No. Was Apple and Steve Jobs. Who said “Gigahertz is a myth”. Was I? No. Now they are “thinking evenly” , switching and accepting the fact that “gigahertz was the matter”. They lied? I think so. They lied and betrayed. Why think different if Apple says one thing and do other completely different? “Do what I say you to do not what I do” And if I’m not wrong “Think different” is not a single ad campaign but Apple’s Company main rule ! They’re stepping over the companie’s main theme and still asking us to accept that !? A processor is much more than a “graphics board” or a “mouse” or an “ethernet board”. A processor is the computer brain. And a change in a processor takes “years” to be accomplished contrary to other components that can be changed and “voila” you have your computer running the same way as you correctly stated below.

“The soul of the Mac is the CPU”. What is the meanning of the therm “Mac”? If I’m not wrong a “Mac” is a computer and not a software. The software is called “Operational System” which in this case can be System 7,8,9 or X. And at least what differentiated a Mac from an ordinary PC? Was the CPU, wasn’t? We were able to get experiences that ordinary PC users didn’t accomplished. We were able to run programs that they could’nt. The great difference was that Apple had a CPU that it helped to develop together with IBM and Motorola. They had the “difference” and this maked Apple so different. Now Apple is an ordinary PC (luxury PCs actually) like any other brand. With few modifications we will be able to run Mac OS X on a grey PC maden in Taiwan or Hong Kong like Windows and Linux. Is this “thinking different”? What makes Apple different now? Mac OS X is a Unix, like Linux. It’s not so different. We are only “one else” now, we are PC users, not Mac users anymore. Thanks Steve.

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