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Custom Apple A4 iPad chip estimated to be $1 billion investment - Page 2

post #41 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Yes. And, when it was optimal for them to drop it (and its partners) business-wise, Apple did so. Which is probably what Apple will do with this one too, if it does not pan out in the long run.

Apple was also a major stockholder in ARM at one time. IIRC, they began liquidating their position during the late '90s after canceling the Newton. It seems Apple has more skin in the game this time around, since they acquired PA Semi with the clear intent of going in-house for processor development.
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post #42 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by doyourownthing View Post

having apple design their own chips for their macintoshes would put all those "mac are just as pcs" comments to rest, for sure...and would give intel some competition which would be beneficial for consumers...

Well just look at what's coming right around the corner: iPad. Over 10 hours of battery life. Not much blew me away in SJ's presentation, but the half-day battery life sure did.

This is what's known as 'competitive advantage.' It's part of what is going to make the iPad special and different from the competition.
post #43 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

You'd be right if Apple had their own foundry.

That's a sentient thought! Who decides the fabrication technology? Is it the contracted foundry or Apple? I would imagine that contact foundries have a harder time keeping up with Intel and IBM far as manufacturing sizes (32 nanometers vs 24 nanometers and such), as well as materials like what metals to use in the gates.

Are contract foundries on the forefront of technology like Intel, IBM and to a lesser extent AMD?
post #44 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

Uhhh...
It always *has* been independent of any particular processor type.
Remember, NeXtStep started out on a 68K. Moved to Intel. Then PowerPC. Then back to Intel. And OSX *is* the kernel for the iPhone and iPod Touch (and iPad) running on an ARM.

NeXtStep brings back fond memories. I was thinking of moving up to the NeXt computer as my Mac Plus was aging and I was looking at the Mac iici. The greatest selling point was the unix based OS.
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post #45 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Yes. And, when it was optimal for them to drop it (and its partners) business-wise, Apple did so. Which is probably what Apple will do with this one too, if it does not pan out in the long run.

I think Apple's PPC partners bailed on Apple before Apple bailed on them. They were only interested in the server (IBM) and embeded (Motorola) markets and showed little interest in working with Apple in making PPC a viable general computer CPU. Apple only switched to Intel when the PPC alliance failed to produce a G5 capable of being put into a laptop.

As for the A4, who is Apple going to drop? There are no partners other than the fab shops. It's all Apple.
post #46 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by kresh View Post

That's a sentient thought! Who decides the fabrication technology? Is it the contracted foundry or Apple? I would imagine that contact foundries have a harder time keeping up with Intel and IBM far as manufacturing sizes (32 nanometers vs 24 nanometers and such), as well as materials like what metals to use in the gates.

Are contract foundries on the forefront of technology like Intel, IBM and to a lesser extent AMD?

Yes.

The main advantage that IBM or Intel has here is that they know exactly how the manufacturing process is likely to behave. When you are fabless you rely on marketing information which can be misleading. This seems to be the major delay for NVidia's new graphics cards.
post #47 of 131
As Steve Jobs stated in the iPad intro presentation, Apple is already the world's largest mobile devices company in revenue $$ when you roll together computers, iPods, and iPhones.

Apple wants to achieve superior battery life for a high level of performance. They don't want to pay a vendor like Intel to achieve those results only to see them offering the same chip for sale to competitors.

These chips are so important to Apple that they want to be in control of their own destiny. They were hurt in the past when IBM and Motorola took their PowerPC road maps in a different direction.
post #48 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by davesmall View Post

As Steve Jobs stated in the iPad intro presentation, Apple is already the world's largest mobile devices company in revenue $$ when you roll together computers, iPods, and iPhones.

I don't consider an iMac or Mac Pro as a mobile device. Perhaps you should have said laptops instead of computers.
post #49 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post


As for the A4, who is Apple going to drop? There are no partners other than the fab shops. It's all Apple.

It'll therefore make it far easier to divest if/when needed. No messy contracts, partner disputes, and such. They will simply sell it off to someone who can extract greater value from it. A $1B investment in the larger scheme of things is a very small bet for Apple (relative to possible payoff).
post #50 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by davesmall View Post

As Steve Jobs stated in the iPad intro presentation, Apple is already the world's largest mobile devices company in revenue $$ when you roll together computers, iPods, and iPhones.

Apple wants to achieve superior battery life for a high level of performance. They don't want to pay a vendor like Intel to achieve those results only to see them offering the same chip for sale to competitors.

These chips are so important to Apple that they want to be in control of their own destiny. They were hurt in the past when IBM and Motorola took their PowerPC road maps in a different direction.

Good points!
post #51 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by davesmall View Post

As Steve Jobs stated in the iPad intro presentation, Apple is already the world's largest mobile devices company in revenue $$ when you roll together computers, iPods, and iPhones.

Apple wants to achieve superior battery life for a high level of performance. They don't want to pay a vendor like Intel to achieve those results only to see them offering the same chip for sale to competitors.

These chips are so important to Apple that they want to be in control of their own destiny. They were hurt in the past when IBM and Motorola took their PowerPC road maps in a different direction.

Exactly. The big news here might be that Apple has hit the natural limits of their partnership with Intel. The Intel partnership made a lot of sense (and still does) for PCs if only because it puts them in a better position to complete with Microsoft in that arena, but in markets where Microsoft is not the major factor, it makes more sense for them to blaze their own path.
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post #52 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

I don't consider an iMac or Mac Pro as a mobile device. Perhaps you should have said laptops instead of computers.

From the context of sentence mentioning mobiles and then computers it seemed like a logic deduction to assume he meant only portable computers, ie notebooks.
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post #53 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by macmondo View Post

why would it cost 1billion? this article just didn't give me any explanation.

My thoughts exactly. This seems to be a cost for designing the part from scratch.

I would think that Apple would do like the others do and buy rights for the ARM design (and any other Intellectual Property they needed) and make modifications as needed.
post #54 of 131
Better partnership with Nvidia, oh wait, they dropped out of the chipset business, shucks.
post #55 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Based on the Cortex-A9 MPCore, the processor is much faster than the ARM-based CPU that powers the iPhone 3GS.

No indication that it's the MPCore design.

http://www.arm.com/products/processo.../cortex-a9.php

"Available as either a single core or configurable multicore processor, with both synthesizable or hard-macro implementations available."

The 1GHz processor was referenced in 3rd party marketing as a single-core CPU, which although close to double the 3GS is nowhere near a dual 1GHz CPU. The single core also also has the lowest power usage out of all the designs.

Plus if it was multi-core, out of all the companies in the world, Apple would be one of the most likely to say dual-1GHz if it was dual-1GHz.
post #56 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by davesmall View Post

As Steve Jobs stated in the iPad intro presentation, Apple is already the world's largest mobile devices company in revenue $$ when you roll together computers, iPods, and iPhones.

Apple wants to achieve superior battery life for a high level of performance. They don't want to pay a vendor like Intel to achieve those results only to see them offering the same chip for sale to competitors.

These chips are so important to Apple that they want to be in control of their own destiny. They were hurt in the past when IBM and Motorola took their PowerPC road maps in a different direction.

I don't foresee that Apple/PA Semi will take on Intel--at least not yet. There might be some differences between Intel and Apple when Intel decided to include a graphics chip in their latest generation of CPU's.

It does make sense that Apple develop their own chips that they put into their own mobile devices ie iPhone, Ipod touch and iPad.
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post #57 of 131
The original NYT article contains wrong assertions:
Quote:
Apple was the first company to make a really aspirational device that wasnt based on Intel chips and Microsofts Windows, said Fred Weber, a chip industry veteran. The iPhone broke some psychological barriers people had about trying new products and helped drive this consumer electronics push.

Actually, there is no phone or smartphone with Intel CPU, yet. It is only an Intel target to enter phone/smartphone CPU business.
post #58 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

If Apple can license and customize ARM chips that are power-efficient yet still beefy, what will Intel's place be in the future product pipeline?

I'm thinking Apple is working on making OSX independent of any particular processor type.
Software will not need to be customized for Intel vs PowerPC vs ARM.
The OS will accept the instructions and translate for the processor.
This would give them the flexibility to change their systems as needed without major re-writes for software producers like what was needed for the move to Intel.
There should be dual-core 2ghz ARM processors out by next year.

In 2 years, the MacOS will be running on ARM chips.

Right, they're going to ask all the developers to spend lots of money move again to a platform that has never been used for homer computers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

I think Apple's PPC partners bailed on Apple before Apple bailed on them. They were only interested in the server (IBM) and embeded (Motorola) markets and showed little interest in working with Apple in making PPC a viable general computer CPU. Apple only switched to Intel when the PPC alliance failed to produce a G5 capable of being put into a laptop.

As for the A4, who is Apple going to drop? There are no partners other than the fab shops. It's all Apple.

Moto and IBM were (and are) in the business of making money, not being a complementary service to Apple. Amiga was going nowhere and Windows PPC didn't go all that far. Apple under jobs wasn't willing to open Apple up to other markets or big name clones. That all Limited the amount of orders a PowerPC chip could receive. Moto and IBM made up for this partially by having dual use chips with embedded or server applications. However, in the end there just wasn't money to be main in high performance PowerPCs in that environment. In addition to that, a lot of software companies were not will to optimize code for the PowerPC.
post #59 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

Apple acquired PA Semi Conductor in 2008 for $278.

Bargain!

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post #60 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by rd68k View Post

The original NYT article contains wrong assertions:

Actually, there is no phone or smartphone with Intel CPU, yet. It is only an Intel target to enter phone/smartphone CPU business.

There are no aspirational products running Microsoft Windows either

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post #61 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

No indication that it's the MPCore design.

http://www.arm.com/products/processo.../cortex-a9.php

I read that to be just a comparison of a Cortex-A9 to the the Cortex-A8 in the 3GS, not a statement that the iPad's ARM is based on that chip.

Quote:
Plus if it was multi-core, out of all the companies in the world, Apple would be one of the most likely to say dual-1GHz if it was dual-1GHz.

Apple is pretty light on details with their HW, but I agree that they would have promoted it since it's a marketing win no matter how you slice it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

I don't foresee that Apple/PA Semi will take on Intel--at least not yet. There might be some differences between Intel and Apple when Intel decided to include a graphics chip in their latest generation of CPU's.

It does make sense that Apple develop their own chips that they put into their own mobile devices ie iPhone, Ipod touch and iPad.

It appears that Intel wants to move the Atom into ARM's space and it looks like this year's tablets will be ARM with Mac OS X or Android v. Atom with Windows 7 or Chrome OS. This could get interesting in this space. Streamlined but less functional v. clunky but more functional.
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post #62 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Bargain!

Thanks--corrected
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post #63 of 131
Apple need to stick this chip in a refreshed Apple TV. Throw away whatever ancient chipset is "powering" it currently and put something in there which can handle 1080p with ease, and will be able to provide a modern UI which isn't painfully slow to use.

And bring down the cost too. For Apple TV for be a success without additional features, be that a blu-ray drive, TV tuner, or whatever else, it will need to be vastly cheaper than it is now. I'm thinking £50 or less.
post #64 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

It appears that Intel wants to move the Atom into ARM's space and it looks like this year's tablets will be ARM with Mac OS X or Android v. Atom with Windows 7 or Chrome OS. This could get interesting in this space. Streamlined but less functional v. clunky but more functional.

Chips used in mobile devices yes there will be competition. But for now, Intel doesn't have to worry about an Apple Core ix chip equivalent appearing in the Mac lineup.
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post #65 of 131
Oh boy. Where do I start to inject sense into this conversation.

PA Semi is fabless. Atom is x86 based. It can therefore run x86 software. This is it's raison d'etre (and a disadvantage for mobile devices, which don't need to run legacy code)

Apple with or without PA Semi *cannot* compete with Intel in making x86 type chips with a better price/performance than Intel. Anyone that thinks they will see an Apple chip inside a Macbook is stupid. Even AMD with all their design expertise is having a tough time keeping up.

1 billion (US) = 1000 million. That's about 5 000 manyears of work and change left for respinning the silicon. The A4 is ARM based. You buy an IP license. Apple would only make it from scratch if they were stupid.

10hour battery life on a tablet with a mobile phone processor is not *that* impressive. After all a large LiPo battery can be molded into the thing due to the large footprint
post #66 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post

Apple need to stick this chip in a refreshed Apple TV. Throw away whatever ancient chipset is "powering" it currently and put something in there which can handle 1080p with ease, and will be able to provide a modern UI which isn't painfully slow to use.

And bring down the cost too. For Apple TV for be a success without additional features, be that a blu-ray drive, TV tuner, or whatever else, it will need to be vastly cheaper than it is now. I'm thinking £50 or less.

It currently has 1Ghz Pentium-class CPU. I think the iPad's base HW is ideal for the next AppleTV, though a much better GPU may be required (or at least upping the clock speed) to get high-profile 1080p content without stuttering. It would run much cooler, too.

I think your price is quite low for a media extender appliance with gigabit ethernet, a HDD and 802.11n.

I don't think Apple can let the living room go, but they also can't wait too much longer if they want to recapture it. They've done well with integrating multiple devices into one, but the console and DVR market has them beat there. Unless they decide to create an SDK for the AppleTV I don't think they'll ever get a substantial share of that market, even though it's likely the most popular media extender appliance to date.
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post #67 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

Chips used in mobile devices yes there will be competition. But for now, Intel doesn't have to worry about an Apple Core ix chip equivalent appearing in the Mac lineup.

Absolutely not, ARM has no change in there and I've read nothing that would indicate they have a roadmap in place to get there. Hell, AMD can't even compete with Intel in the mobile PC arena.
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post #68 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azathoth View Post

Oh boy. Where do I start to inject sense into this conversation.

PA Semi is fabless. Atom is x86 based. It can therefore run x86 software. This is it's raison d'etre (and a disadvantage for mobile devices, which don't need to run legacy code)

Apple with or without PA Semi *cannot* compete with Intel in making x86 type chips with a better price/performance than Intel. Anyone that thinks they will see an Apple chip inside a Macbook is stupid. Even AMD with all their design expertise is having a tough time keeping up.

1 billion (US) = 1000 million. That's about 5 000 manyears of work and change left for respinning the silicon. The A4 is ARM based. You buy an IP license. Apple would only make it from scratch if they were stupid.

10hour battery life on a tablet with a mobile phone processor is not *that* impressive. After all a large LiPo battery can be molded into the thing due to the large footprint

I've seen the mighty Atom processor at work in a netbook. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but what I saw was shocking. So incredibly slow as to be nearly useless. My father in law actually gave it away, which is what I would have done.

I'm glad Apple didn't move in that direction for the iPad.

10+ hours is impressive. We haven't seen numbers like that announced for tablets, let alone tablets with beautiful, vibrant screens and functioning GUIs.

R&D being what it is, I stated long ago that PPC would not keep up with Intel and Apple would eventually switch. I don't think the A4 will replace Intel silicon. But perhaps Apple will parlay their investment in PA into something magical on the motherboards of their laptops.
post #69 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

It currently has 1Ghz Pentium-class CPU. I think the iPad's base HW is ideal for the next AppleTV, though a much better GPU may be required (or at least upping the clock speed) to get high-profile 1080p content without stuttering. It would run much cooler, too.

I think your price is quite low for a media extender appliance with gigabit ethernet, a HDD and 802.11n.

I don't think Apple can let the living room go, but they also can't wait too much longer if they want to recapture it. They've done well with integrating multiple devices into one, but the console and DVR market has them beat there. Unless they decide to create an SDK for the AppleTV I don't think they'll ever get a substantial share of that market, even though it's likely the most popular media extender appliance to date.

You hit the nail on the head with consoles. I could buy a PS3 for £260, which not only plays PS3 games, but also blu-rays, offers a web browser, and access to the PSN video store. Plus it has access to the BBC's iPlayer service. And they've even thrown a 250gb HD into the deal.

Or I could buy an Apple TV for £220 which offers access to the iTunes store and nothing else.

Apple's offering is embarassing by comparison and it's easy to see why Apple TV has been such a failure. Personally I'd like to see Apple relaunch ATV as a general media player device, with access to all popular streaming services, a blu-ray drive, and some sort of TV tuner/PVR functionality. Do it as multiple SKUs so people could pick and choose too.
post #70 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

I've seen the mighty Atom processor at work in a netbook. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but what I saw was shocking. So incredibly slow as to be nearly useless. My father in law actually gave it away, which is what I would have done.

I'm glad Apple didn't move in that direction for the iPad.

Atom is faster than ARM, but the biggest problem is running desktop OSes on Atom CPUs when they are too blaoted for them. That is why Linux actually got a small leg up in that area and MS had to practically give away WinXP at first. Too many returns due to Linux being Linux that MS can now reportedly charge $50 for a copy of Windows 7 Starter Edition for netbooks. When Chrome OS hits the visible performance will likely jump considerably.

I've had two netbooks, one with WinXP and the other with Mac OS X. Neither could play Hulu in 480p without stuttering.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post

You hit the nail on the head with consoles. I could buy a PS3 for £260, which not only plays PS3 games, but also blu-rays, offers a web browser, and access to the PSN video store. Plus it has access to the BBC's iPlayer service. And they've even thrown a 250gb HD into the deal.

Or I could buy an Apple TV for £220 which offers access to the iTunes store and nothing else.

Apple's offering is embarassing by comparison and it's easy to see why Apple TV has been such a failure. Personally I'd like to see Apple relaunch ATV as a general media player device, with access to all popular streaming services, a blu-ray drive, and some sort of TV tuner/PVR functionality. Do it as multiple SKUs so people could pick and choose too.

Note that the PS3 and XBOX are selling at thin margins in hopes to get revenue from the game content end. Apple doesn't do that and likely couldn't do that if they tried.

I don't know about an included Blu-ray player, but having one that form fits on top of it and connects via s simple USB2 plug would be great. Of course, Apple has a vested interest in the iTS so I don't that is likely, though considerably more likely than Blu-ray in their Mac notebooks.
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post #71 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

I've seen the mighty Atom processor at work in a netbook. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but what I saw was shocking. So incredibly slow as to be nearly useless. My father in law actually gave it away, which is what I would have done.

I'm glad Apple didn't move in that direction for the iPad.

10+ hours is impressive. We haven't seen numbers like that announced for tablets, let alone tablets with beautiful, vibrant screens and functioning GUIs.

R&D being what it is, I stated long ago that PPC would not keep up with Intel and Apple would eventually switch. I don't think the A4 will replace Intel silicon. But perhaps Apple will parlay their investment in PA into something magical on the motherboards of their laptops.

Ive used a 1.6GHz Atom. It's fine. Don't forget that it runs a full (multitasking) OS, meant for increasingly powerful CPUs.

The iPhone is ARM based, therefore it makes sense to use an ARM based processor on the iPad - Atom was never in the running for that device. Moreoever I've heard that OS X SL doesn't like to run on <1GB.

I still don't consider 10hours as that impressive, considering the space available for a battery. FWIW I'm a HW designer.
post #72 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

G4, A4, will history repeat itself? ;-)

What's next... Z4?

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post #73 of 131
Quote:

Right. Thanks for the link.

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post #74 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't think Apple can let the living room go, but they also can't wait too much longer if they want to recapture it. They've done well with integrating multiple devices into one, but the console and DVR market has them beat there. Unless they decide to create an SDK for the AppleTV I don't think they'll ever get a substantial share of that market, even though it's likely the most popular media extender appliance to date.

An SDK for the Apple TV would be the hidden killer app. Not sure the required price point for a device like that would make it an interesting proposition for Apple.
post #75 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

Well just look at what's coming right around the corner: iPad. Over 10 hours of battery life. Not much blew me away in SJ's presentation, but the half-day battery life sure did.

This is what's known as 'competitive advantage.' It's part of what is going to make the iPad special and different from the competition.

Perhaps further down the road Apple will be a position to license their battery and power engineering know-how to others for use in electric vehicles and the like.

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post #76 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

An SDK for the Apple TV would be the hidden killer app. Not sure the required price point for a device like that would make it an interesting proposition for Apple.

Considering the sad state of the iPhone SDK (an un-Appleish mess if ever there was one) I wouldn't bet on one coming out soon.

To clarify, I am willing to bet Steve has never dealt with the app dev side of things at all. If he saw the hoops devs need to jump through just to get to a baseline, he'd split in half and explode.

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post #77 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

Right, they're going to ask all the developers to spend lots of money move again to a platform that has never been used for homer computers.

You didn't fully read my comment.


"I'm thinking Apple is working on making OSX independent of any particular processor type.
Software will not need to be customized for Intel vs PowerPC vs ARM.
The OS will accept the instructions and translate for the processor. "


If you make the OS do all the work, software developers don't need to optimize for a particular processor type. This would make it easier for developers.
post #78 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woohoo! View Post

Do I sense the real purpose behind custom processors is content protection?

Don't know about that.

There are two distinct advantages that the custom silicon gives to Apple that I can think of.

1. Custom SoC enables Apple to better optimize performance vs. battery life.

2. Custom SoC makes it significantly more difficult for competitors to copy/duplicate Apple products.
post #79 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

Moto and IBM were (and are) in the business of making money, not being a complementary service to Apple. Amiga was going nowhere and Windows PPC didn't go all that far. Apple under jobs wasn't willing to open Apple up to other markets or big name clones. That all Limited the amount of orders a PowerPC chip could receive. Moto and IBM made up for this partially by having dual use chips with embedded or server applications. However, in the end there just wasn't money to be main in high performance PowerPCs in that environment. In addition to that, a lot of software companies were not will to optimize code for the PowerPC.

Everybody is in business to make money, or they aren't in business at all.

Apple wasn't being run by Steve Jobs when the PPC project began, and he wasn't running it when the cloning experiment was started. When he shut it down, this was a fete accomplie, since it was already a complete disaster for Apple. This had nothing to do with anyone's willingness to do anything except save Apple from destruction.

That said, IBM and especially Motorola were always weak partners for Apple.
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post #80 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post


That said, IBM and especially Motorola were always weak partners for Apple.

They certainly had different objectives.
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