Mac intel based. Intel-based Macs could be a thing of the past as Apple pivots to homegrown chip

Macs With Intel Processors?

Apple users are used to transitions, having moved from 68k-based Macs to Power PC processors, and the classic Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. Now it’s time for the third and most shocking transition of all: the move to Macs with Intel processors.

There’s one word on the lips of most Mac users at the moment, and that word is Intel. After more rumours than usual over the weekend preceding Steve Jobs’ keynote at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), this time concerning the company moving away from the Power PC processor architecture to Intel’s x86, the Apple CEO confirmed that the rumours were, indeed, true. What this means is that, starting from 2006, Apple will ship Macintosh computers powered by x86 Intel processors, the same processors used by computers running Windows today. Intel will not be manufacturing any Power PC variant for Apple.

Let’s Talk About Transitions.

Jobs introduced the topic of Macs with Intel processors by saying let’s talk about transitions. He went on to describe the two main transitions of the Mac’s 21-year history. Firstly, the move from 68k processors to Power PC-based designs during 1994-96, which the Apple CEO described as having set Apple up for the next decade, calling it a good move and, secondly, the more recent brain transplant from Mac OS 9 to X during 2001-03. The change from Power PC to Intel marks the third major transition for the Mac, and while Jobs commented that Apple have great products right now and some great Power PC products in the pipeline, he conceded that the company didn’t know how to make the products they were envisaging with the current Power PC ‘road map’.

Acknowledging that two years ago he stood on the same stage when introducing the Power Mac G5 and promised a 3GHz G5 within a year, Jobs was admirably candid about the fact that Apple hadn’t been able to deliver either a 3GHz Power Mac G5 or a Power Book G5. According to Jobs, Intel will be able to help Apple in both of these departments: great performance is assured by utilising Intel’s Pentium D dual-core desktop processors or a couple of dual-core Xeon processors for future desktop and server machines, but where Intel have really succeeded in recent years is in the mobile market. The Pentium M has been a huge success for Intel, as part of the Centrino brand, and in his keynote Jobs mentioned that Intel’s projected performance per watt for mid-2006 was over four times higher than that of the Power PC.

Towards the end of the keynote, Jobs invited Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini onto the stage. The latter said of the Apple/Intel arrangement: The world’s most innovative computer company and the world’s most innovative chip company have finally teamed up.

Mac OS X For Intel

Building a computer with Intel’s technology shouldn’t prove too difficult for Apple’s engineers, but one of the most important factors in the transition to Intel-based Macs will be, as Jobs himself put it, making Mac OS X sing on Intel processors. And here’s where more rumours that have been floating around for a while turn out to be true, as the Apple CEO confirmed that Mac OS X has been leading a secret double life for the past five years, and that every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for both Power PC and Intel. This should really be no surprise, since OS X’s heritage is Nextstep, the operating system for which Apple effectively acquired Next, which ran on Intel processors.

Jobs mentioned an Apple internal guideline stating that designs must be processor independent and projects must be built for both Power PC and Intel processors, before revealing that the machine he’d previously used in the keynote to demonstrate Dashboard widgets had, in fact, been running Mac OS 10.4 on an Intel processor. It seemed to be working pretty well — although, in many ways, there’s no reason it shouldn’t. Most modern operating systems, including UNIX, Linux and Windows NT, were either designed or have evolved to run on multiple architectures through modular designs and hardware abstraction. So getting OS X to sing on Intel processors turns out not to be such a big deal, since Apple always had the ‘just in case’ scenario in mind. What is a big deal is the way in which third-party developers will deal with the Power PC-to-Intel transition, especially since they’ve only just got through the move to OS X.

This third transition finds Mac users and developers in pretty much the same situation they were in 10 years ago, during the move from 68k to Power PC, which many reading this column will remember. The biggest problem, in my opinion, isn’t just getting the developers to port their code to the new platform: it’s leaving them in a situation where they have to support two different architectures for the same operating system. In the first transition, Apple created what was termed a ‘fat binary’ that bound together 68k and Power PC binaries into a single package, so that developers could deliver one application to any Mac user. This time Apple have the same idea, except that the package containing both Power PC and Intel versions will be known as a Universal Binary. Developers may remember that porting 68k code to Power PC wasn’t always straightforward, but (coming back to the present) Apple have released a new 2.1 update to the company’s own Xcode developer tools, to make it simple to both port and maintain Mac OS X applications under two architectures.

The Universal Binary concept will really be important to you if you’ve just purchased a new Mac and want to be confident that it will be supported by Apple and third-party developers. Analysts and news reporters initially questioned whether the Mac platform could deal with another major shift; to counter this doubt, Apple are doing their best to convince everyone that it won’t be too difficult for applications to be ported.

During the keynote, Jobs invited Wolfram Research co-founder Theo Gray on to the stage to describe how it had taken one of Wolfram’s engineers only around two hours, a couple of days before the keynote, to make the Power PC-based Mac OS X version of Mathematica into a Universal Binary that could run under Mac OS X on the Intel platform. And since the keynote many other developers have commented on the speed with which they’ve got their applications running on Apple’s Intel-based development systems. One such developer is Luxology, who managed to port their flagship surface-modelling application, Modo, in just 20 minutes. Apple are, of course, to be praised for making it easy for developers, but it’s also worth remembering that, with the majority of applications being cross-platform, the source code should already be highly portable.

Rosetta: Translating The Code

No matter how easy Apple makes the process of creating Universal Binaries (see main text), it’s unlikely that every application you run will be available with Intel-native code by the time Intel-based Macs are shipping, especially if one app you rely on is no longer supported or developed, for example. When Apple moved from 68k processors to the Power PC, the Power PC-based Macs included an emulator that could enable 68k applications to run if a ‘fat binary’ (again, see main text) wasn’t available. This worked well for general-purpose software.

For the Power PC-to-Intel transition, Jobs introduced a technology called ‘Rosetta’, to bridge the gap between Power PC and Intel-based Macs. It allows Power PC binaries to be translated at ‘runtime’ and be executed on Intel-based Macs. An application running via Rosetta will never be quite as fast as if it were running natively, since the translation process itself entails some processing overhead. This means that those requiring high performance from music and audio software aren’t going to find Rosetta too useful, but Jobs showed Adobe’s Photoshop and Microsoft’s Word running pretty successfully with Rosetta during his demonstration.

According to Apple’s Universal Binaries guidelines, available publicly at, Rosetta is capable of translating applications that can run on a G3 Mac with OS X, and the major restrictions are that it will not run OS 8 or 9 applications, or any code with Altivec or any other G4 or G5-specific instructions.

Mac, Music Intel

So what does all of this mean for those running audio and music software on the Mac? Actually, it’s probably mostly good news. It’s no secret that, in terms of performance and battery life, Apple’s current line of Power Books lags behind their Intel-based counterparts, so finally we should get Power Books that can once again live up to their name. And while the current high-end Power Mac offers good performance, as Intel and AMD-based machines move to faster and multiple cores it will be necessary for Apple to keep up with performance, since the hardware will now largely be the same.

In terms of music and audio software companies releasing Universal Binaries, this shouldn’t be quite as bad as the process of ‘carbonisation’ required to port OS 9 applications to OS X. The general application code, such as the user interface and so on, isn’t likely to pose a problem, but performance and optimisation are likely to be bigger tasks in some cases, as optimisations for the Power PC — and specifically the Altivec instructions — will require rewriting for the Intel and SSE (Altivec equivalent) instruction sets. Fortunately this isn’t so difficult, as Apple provide information regarding SSE equivalents for Altivec instructions in the freely available Universal Binary guidelines.

Many of the major music and audio applications are already cross-platform, so it’s likely that optimisations and other processor-specific instructions can simply be adjusted from code that already exists. This should definitely help in companies like Steinberg, Ableton, Propellerhead and Digidesign. And Logic ‘s developers at Apple have plenty of experience in developing Intel-based code! The bottom line is that, with most software being developed on portable cross-platform frameworks these days, Apple are perhaps right in claiming that this transition will be a relatively painless one.

The Mactel Future

In the short term, Apple’s move to Intel processors will not have a major effect on Mac users. Analysts have speculated that it might slow Mac sales until the newer Intel models appear, but Steve Jobs made it clear that this is not going to be a transition that happens overnight. And that’s probably a good thing. If you buy a Mac now, you’re probably going to have a few good years of use from it before needing to upgrade to an Intel-based Mac. A year from now, Jobs said that Intel-based Macs would be shipping, and they’re likely to be Macs that can benefit from the Pentium M chip, such as the Mac Mini, Power Book and iMac. But by the end of 2007 Apple expect the transition to be complete, and the thought of a new Power Mac based on multiple cores using x86 processors is pretty intriguing.

Intel-based Macs could be a thing of the past as Apple pivots to ‘homegrown’ chip

Before Apple launched its M-series of processors and announced the transition to its chips in 2020, Intel was Apple’s sole supplier.

Right: Apple announced the new Mac Studio and Mac Pro, the two most powerful Macs ever made. Left: M2 Ultra is the largest and most capable chip Apple has ever created.

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At Apple’s biggest event of the year, the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference(WWDC 2023), it did more than announce its most anticipated product. the mixed-reality headset Vision Pro. The Cupertino-based company unveiled multiple new computers that were not powered by Intel like its predecessors but by the next generation of Apple silicon. the M2 chip.

Before Apple launched its M-series of processors and announced the transition to its chips in 2020, Intel was Apple’s sole supplier. The American chipmaker is now facing the heat after Apple announced the completion of the transition.

Apple already uses its self-designed chips in its popular iPhones. The move to incorporate them into computers is expected to bring more efficiency into Apple’s Mac lineup, increasing their efficiency under heavy workloads while also extracting more juice from the batteries, a report from Bloomberg said.

Apple unveils next-generation silicon

Not only is Apple using the M2 chip on its newer 15-inch MacBook Air, but also it will be available in just about a week from today. The computer is only 11.5 mm thin, giving Apple bragging rights for the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop.

Apple has minced no words to claim that the device is 12 times faster than the previous MacBook Air, which was powered by an Intel processor. The M2 chip gives the new MacBook Air an eight-core CPU, 10-core GPU, and 16-core Neural engine.

For the Mac Studio and Mac Pro — claimed to be the most powerful Macs made to date — Apple has used the Max and Ultra versions of the M2 chips. The M2 Max makes the Mac Studio four times faster than the Intel-powered iMac, thanks to the 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU.

For the Mac Pro, Apple’s M2 Ultra offers a 24-core CPU to begin with, unlike the eight-core option available with Intel-powered predecessors. The 76-core GPU is supported by seven Afterburner cards which can play 22 streams of 8k ProRes videos, the company claims on its website.

The chip wars get more intense

Apple’s entry into chip-making puts a lot of pressure on Intel, even though it is unlikely that Apple will use the tech to power anything other than its own devices. Markets reacted negatively to Apple’s unveiling of new chips and sent Intel’s stock price tumbling by nearly five percent, CNBC reported.

Intel has also been at the receiving end of shrinking PC shipments globally. After the peak in demand during the pandemic, PC shipments shrunk by 30 percent. Losing a customer like Apple is bound to hit Intel hard but the company is losing its dominance in other areas too.

Over the years, AMD has been consolidating its position as a chip maker for PCs and data centers too, not just gaming devices. The recent surge in demand for chips to cater to artificial intelligence (AI) projects is also being directed toward Nvidia.

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Apple’s move from Intel to ARM Silicon Chips Explained!

June 6, 2005: Steve Jobs reveals that Apple will switch the Mac from PowerPC processors to Intel.

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Speaking at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs’ revelation reminds the tech world that he is a leader who can get things done. Given Intel’s FOCUS on mobile computing, the move also offers a hint at what Apple’s CEO has planned for the second half of his reign.

Macs switch from PowerPC to Intel

Standing onstage at WWDC 2005, Jobs talked about PowerPC processors’ limits. Previously, Apple only attempted changing CPU architecture once before. (It switched from the Motorola 68000 to PowerPC in the early 1990s.)

Going with Intel chips was a risky move for a tech company. In fact, it had been enough to topple other computer makers, such as one-time Apple rivals Commodore and Atari. However, as Jobs explained, Apple could not deliver on its vision without making the change.

“I stood up here two years ago in front of you and I promised you [a 3GHz Power Macintosh G5], and we haven’t been able to deliver that to you yet,” he said. “I think a lot of you would like a G5 in your PowerBook and we haven’t been able to deliver that to you yet…. As we look ahead, though we may have great products right now — and we’ve got some great PowerPC product still yet to come — as we look ahead we can envision some amazing products we want to build for you and we don’t know how to build them with the future PowerPC road map.”

The PowerPC G5 processor generated too much heat, and consumed too much energy, to power the kind of ultra-thin, ultra-light products Jobs wanted to make with computers like the MacBook Air, which would launch in 2008, three years after he announced the switch to Intel.

Intel processors represented where Jobs wanted to take Apple. After getting a look at Intel’s road map, he came away suitably impressed. Since laptops drove more than half of Apple’s computer sales, this was an important transition for the company. Apple execs Avie Tevanian and Jon Rubinstein led the crucial strategic switch.

Switching to Intel: The right move for Apple

Jobs was a master at talking up new products, but he was also great at underpromising and overdelivering. That’s what happened with the Intel Macs. At WWDC 2005, Jobs said the first Macs with Intel processors would arrive a year after the event. Instead, Apple worked to get this done in half that time.

At MacWorld Expo in January 2006, Apple unveiled a fresh slate of Macs running on the new Intel Core Duo processor. These included the first 15-inch MacBook Pro — Apple’s thinnest, fastest and lightest laptop yet at the time. The first Intel Macs received a warm reception, confirming that Apple made the right move by ditching PowerPC.

Moving from Intel to Apple silicon

Fifteen years after moving to Intel chips, Apple found itself in a similar position — and pulled off an even more ambitious switch. At WWDC 2020, Apple revealed its plan to ditch Intel chips for its own proprietary processors.

“From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a press release. “Today we’re announcing our transition to Apple silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac. With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Mac.”

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First M1 Macs deliver high performance

The first new computers running on Apple silicon arrived in November 2020. Apple’s new M1 chip delivered a killer combo of serious performance and high efficiency. The M1-powered Mac mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro promptly blew reviewers’ socks off.

“We overshot,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of software engineering. “You have these projects where, sometimes you have a goal and you’re like, ‘Well, we got close, that was fine.’ This one, part of what has us all just bouncing off the walls here — just smiling — is that as we brought the pieces together, we’re like, ‘This is working better than we even thought it would.’”

At WWDC23, the company unveiled a Mac Pro powered by an M2 Ultra chip, completing the computer lineup’s switch to Apple silicon.

Do you remember the transition to Intel Macs? Leave your Комментарии и мнения владельцев below.

This is Apple’s roadmap for moving the first Macs away from Intel

  • Samuel Axon
  • 06/22/2020 6:27 pm
  • Categories: TechView non-AMP version at

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When presenting a new path forward, Apple CEO Tim Cook put the ARM transition up with the Mac’s other big transitions: PowerPC, MacOS X, and Intel.

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After 15 years, Apple will again transition the Mac to a new architecture. The company announced at its developer conference today that it will introduce Macs featuring Apple-designed, ARM-based processors similar to those already used in the iPhone and iPad.

Tim Cook pegged this switch as one of the four biggest transitions the Mac has ever had. Alongside the move to PowerPC, the move to Intel, and the transition to Mac OS X, ARM will be one of the biggest Mac changes ever. Apple is promising a whole new level of performance with a Family of Mac SoCs.

Longtime Apple users have been through all this before, with the transition from PowerPC to Intel and now for Intel x86 to ARM. All the big platform transition hits are coming back. The transition to ARM from x86 means that some Mac apps will be native and some won’t. For apps that support both x86 and ARM, Apple is introducing the Universal 2 binary that will package both codebases together. For apps that haven’t made the transition to ARM yet, the Rosetta emulator is back as Rosetta 2 and will now let x86 apps run on your ARM Mac, albeit with reduced performance.

Further Reading

For the new macOS 11 Big Sur, all of the included apps are adding native ARM binaries. Xcode developers can just open their apps and recompile to get an ARM binary. Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop were demoed as native ARM apps. Final Cut Pro has an ARM version too, along with features that run on the Neural Engine in the Apple SoC.

iPhone and iPad apps can now run natively on the Mac, which will not only be great for developers but will give users access to all their favorite apps. iOS apps will all show up on the Mac App Store from day one, and while Apple didn’t make a huge deal about this, that sounds like a huge explosion of apps in the Mac App Store.

The key announcement was the timeline: The first Mac with Apple silicon will happen by the end of the year, with the whole Intel-to-ARM transition taking around 2 years. Expect to see new Intel-based macs come out in the near future.

To help developers with the transition, Apple announced what is technically the first ARM Mac ever: the Developer Transition Kit. This is a Mac Mini enclosure with an Apple A12Z SoC, the same SoC as an iPad Pro. As the name suggests, it’s meant for developers who want to port their x86 apps to ARM macOS, and it comes with a beta version of Big Sur.

Apple’s biggest market advantage comes to the Mac

This move has been predicted for years, as the upsides for Apple are clear. Cupertino has always valued tight integration of hardware, software, and services, but Macs have been outliers among Apple’s products in their reliance on an outside party for the CPU. (iPhones and other Apple products do contain display panels, modems, and camera components made by other companies, though.)

So far, Apple’s chip division has excelled in every market it has entered. In the world of smartphones, the company’s SoCs are easily a generation ahead of the best Qualcomm, Samsung, and MediaTek have to offer. Apple’s most dominant smartphone showing is probably the iPhone SE, a 400 iPhone that will out-perform 1,200 Android phones thanks to the A13 Bionic SoC.

In smartwatches, Apple’s chip division is one of the few companies making a viable smartwatch chip. The S5 SoC in the Apple Watch Series 5 gives the watch great performance and battery life, and the only other company with an even slightly competitive watch is Samsung, thanks to its own chip division. All the other Android competitors are reliant on Qualcomm for the future direction of their smartwatches, and since Qualcomm has opted to not compete in the smartwatch market, that entire market segment is basically dead.

M2 MacBook Pro Day In The Life

Laptops and desktops are the next great frontier for Apple’s chip division. That division will help the company avoid the same fate that has befallen Android smartwatch manufacturers: letting some other company dictate your product lineup. Apple’s plans to update the Mac have often been stymied by Intel‘s product roadmap, and Intel does not make chips that serve all of Apple’s design priorities. The new CPU will be just one part of an Apple-designed system-on-a-chip that would also include (among other things) an Apple GPU and a desktop version of Apple’s Neural Engine machine learning and AI processor found in the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s chip division has reached the point where it should be able to reliably compete with Intel on performance. The 2020 iPad Pro with an Apple A12Z SoC turns in comparable Geekbench numbers to a 2019 MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i9. An Apple SoC in a laptop, with a higher thermal budget, should do well, but Apple didn’t offer any specifics yet.