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Mac OS X-on-x86 efforts. {Naked Mole Rat}

post #1 of 38
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[quote]Nevertheless, these observers report that Apple has been serious enough about its ace in the hole to seed a few lucky civilians with prototype boxes delivered heavily swaddled in layers of cloak-and-dagger security, natch. Specifically, recent testers report taking delivery of Athlon-powered boxes that Apple had assiduously welded shut to prevent prying eyes from ogling whatever other gremlins might be lurking inside these nondescript beige chassis. <hr></blockquote>

<a href="http://www.macedition.com/nmr/nmr_20021112.php" target="_blank"> Mac Editions- Expatriate games - November 12, 2002</a>

[ 11-12-2002: Message edited by: tink ]</p>

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post #2 of 38
He's been wrong before, he'll be wrong again. Until he actually reports having seen or used one of these boxes, it's a case of him being gullible AFAIC.
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post #3 of 38
I would be very suprised if they were not working on an X86 version of OS X. They need to have as many options as possible open to them. However, right now it would be very unwise of Apple to move to an X86 platform due to a few key apps still lagging behind. Even after those apps are carbonized, or rewritten in Cocoa, Apple should wait at least a year for their customers to upgrade those apps before making a major platform change. They want to keep these customers, and if they "force" them to upgrade key software when they buy new hardware then there is more of a chance for their customers to switch if they can get the PC hardware and software for, or less than the cost of new Apple branded hardware (remember that classic will not run on X86 version of OS X)
post #4 of 38
Just out of idle curiosity, how does he - or anyone - know they're running OS X/x86 on an Athlon if the cases are welded shut? The About this Mac... dialog?

If they're guessing because the machines have some serious go-fast in them, that could mean something else.
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post #5 of 38
I don't recall NMR ever making a big blunder in rumor reporting. (...predicting the date of something, granted).

Anyway, 'uname -v' unless they code the release name, it might say something like "root:xnu/xnu-xxx.xx.x.obj~1/RELEASE_AMD"

Apple going so far as porting FCP along with the OS just does not really surprise me. If they earnestly wished to pursue a 'no future PPC source' contingency, I would hope they would create a complete and up-to-date port. (Emphasis on 'complete').

Screed ...come now chaps, if you were wedded to Motorola, wouldn't you more often look at the pretty young miss across the street?

[ 11-12-2002: Message edited by: sCreeD ]</p>
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post #6 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by sCreeD:
<strong>I don't recall NMR ever making a big blunder in rumor reporting. (...predicting the date of something, granted).

[ 11-12-2002: Message edited by: sCreeD ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

Well, my memory is far from perfect, but I believe that Last year, at about this time, he predicted the release of "G5's" that wouldn't really be G5's, at the MacWorld in early 2002 ... well, well ... when that came around, what was released didn't even rate a 'sort of' G5 ...
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post #7 of 38
I'd hate to point out the blindingly obvious, but if Apple were to support a new architecture they would have to tell 3rd party SW&HW developers months in advance just like they did when they decided to support PowerPC.

What's the point of an OS with no apps or drivers?
post #8 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by JCG:
<strong>They want to keep these customers, and if they "force" them to upgrade key software when they buy new hardware then there is more of a chance for their customers to switch if they can get the PC hardware and software for, or less than the cost of new Apple branded hardware (remember that classic will not run on X86 version of OS X)</strong><hr></blockquote>

Therein lies the problem with any switch to OS X on x86. Regardless of the software available or that they run they are going to need to replace it all over again to have it run on OS X on x86. Current software wouldn't run on OS X on x86 hardware.
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post #9 of 38
Other places to look for hints:
Program.app/Contents/AMD/Program
/Applications/Utilities/Apple System Profiler
post #10 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by Amorph:
<strong>Just out of idle curiosity, how does he - or anyone - know they're running OS X/x86 on an Athlon if the cases are welded shut? The About this Mac... dialog?
If they're guessing because the machines have some serious go-fast in them, that could mean something else.</strong><hr></blockquote>

SO they tell somebody that they have AMD-chips in them and welds the cases shut to hide the innards from them. Maybe they AMD-story is a smokescreen and the cases are welded shut to keep people from discovering that they have 970's inside?

Why would Apple change from one strugling chip-supplier (Moto) to another (AMD)? If they change to X86 they will go Intel, not AMD. And they will go 64-bit, not 32-bit.
post #11 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by tryd:
<strong>
Why would Apple change from one strugling chip-supplier (Moto) to another (AMD)? If they change to X86 they will go Intel, not AMD. And they will go 64-bit, not 32-bit.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Alternatively, why would Apple change from being reliant on one sole supplier (Motorola/G4) to being reliant on another sole supplier (IBM/970). I believe (and hope) Apple will go down the IBM route, but in a couple of years Apple may be in exactly the same situation as it is now.

[ 11-14-2002: Message edited by: RodUK ]</p>
post #12 of 38
If the NMR's report that Apple is sending out prototypes with AMD chips is true, then it seems to me that they are getting ready to sell Apple-X86 boxes. As such, I'm going to hold off on buying a new Powermac (or Powerbook) until I see what's going on. That last thing I want to do is shell out 2 to 3 grand on a PPC based mac only to see them make the switch to X86.
post #13 of 38
You're not being rational.

If you hold out for x86 boxes, you'll have to hold out for months for 3rd parties to catch up!

If Apple was serious about this they would HAVE to tell 3rd party hardware and software developers months in advance.

This thread is ridiculous!
post #14 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by sc_markt:
<strong>If the NMR's report that Apple is sending out prototypes with AMD chips is true, then it seems to me that they are getting ready to sell Apple-X86 boxes. As such, I'm going to hold off on buying a new Powermac (or Powerbook) until I see what's going on. That last thing I want to do is shell out 2 to 3 grand on a PPC based mac only to see them make the switch to X86.</strong><hr></blockquote>

isn't that the biggest reason to buy a mac now you still have the change to get the fastest possible PPC based mac, before they switch to those X86
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post #15 of 38
No, not the "CONFIRMED: Apple to go x86!!" type thread again! IT LIVES!
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post #16 of 38
The NMR has had a very poor track record ever since the sex change.
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post #17 of 38
Okay....

What about AMD-made PPC chips?
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post #18 of 38
What seem strage to me is that if these are very fast sealed/welded boxes how do the users know what processors are inside? I wold assume that Apple would have removed "System Profiler" for obvious reasons.

It doesn't make any sense that they would seal the boxes and then leave software around to allow the user to discover what is inside.
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post #19 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by Addison:
<strong>What seem strage to me is that if these are very fast sealed/welded boxes how do the users know what processors are inside? I wold assume that Apple would have removed "System Profiler" for obvious reasons.

It doesn't make any sense that they would seal the boxes and then leave software around to allow the user to discover what is inside.</strong><hr></blockquote>

If Apple left the system profiler on the computers they could make it say whatever they wanted to.
post #20 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by sc_markt:
<strong>If the NMR's report that Apple is sending out prototypes with AMD chips is true, then it seems to me that they are getting ready to sell Apple-X86 boxes. As such, I'm going to hold off on buying a new Powermac (or Powerbook) until I see what's going on. That last thing I want to do is shell out 2 to 3 grand on a PPC based mac only to see them make the switch to X86.</strong><hr></blockquote>

A switch to a non-power PC processer would be anounced by Apple just like the switch to the Power PC was. This is too big of a deal, and effects the platform, software and hardware, too much to do it compleatly in the dark.
post #21 of 38
Except that Jobs is total prick when it comes to giving a reasonable road map. However, since Apple is a publicly traded company and you cannot knowingly mislead investors, any major platform switch would have to be disclosed well in advance.
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post #22 of 38
PEOPLE, PEOPLE. Apple does have Marklar going wih AMD boxes, but that does not mean no more PPC. If they are released, it would be side by side with IBM's stuff.
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post #23 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>Except that Jobs is total prick when it comes to giving a reasonable road map. However, since Apple is a publicly traded company and you cannot knowingly mislead investors, any major platform switch would have to be disclosed well in advance.</strong><hr></blockquote>

and how would switching to x86 mislead investors and why would Apple have to notify anyone, like it would ever happen anyway. The board of directors can do as they see fit, right or wrong. If the investors don't like it they can get rid of the board.
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post #24 of 38
People have tried to sue Apple over lesser things. A major switch in the platform's direction, foisted on the consumer and development communities without any advance warning, would hurt, a lot. Investors would be very pissed off, potential litigants could claim that Apple misled by ommision. Probably wouldn't stand up, but if they do something like that, then they at least deserve the aggravation of a law-suit. Such a move has the potential to be the final nail in the coffin for Apple.

As for selling X86 and PPC machines side by side? I don't think it would happen. Once you start selling X86 (or whatever it's replacement will be) you've either admitted that PPC is a dead end, or your making a very expensive "test" of "X86/AMD/Intel/IA-whatever" viability. No one's gonna sign up for the latter, and people will be pissed to have signed on to the former. One, and probably both, direction(s) will suffer as a result.

[ 11-16-2002: Message edited by: Matsu ]</p>
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post #25 of 38
I don't think it's implausible that Apple sealed the cases shut; but it's not to prevent the users from finding out what processor is inside. They're shipping them to _developers_, right? If they can execute custom code on the box, it's nearly impossible to prevent them from discovering the contents. The "eBay Red Mainboard" fiasco is probably the reason for the weld job, since it seems to match the current Wind Tunnel board almost exactly.

Anyway, I think it might be a good idea for Apple to build certain types of machines with different procs inside. Think xServe - people aren't swapping out vid cards and the like in servers, so no worries about drivers. And servers usually run UNIX type apps, like databases which are cross platform (Postgres / MySQL) or are dedicated file/print/web/email boxes. They could say up front, "Don't bother complaining to us about Aldus PageMaker 3.0 not working, that's not what these machines are for." Or think of dedicated FCP / Photoshop boxes. Those users basically run one app all day - besides, their employers might be _happy_ they can't install Snood, Dark Castle, etc.

[quote]
As for selling X86 and PPC machines side by side? I don't think it would happen. Once you start selling X86 (or whatever it's replacement will be) you've either admitted that PPC is a dead end, or your making a very expensive "test" of "X86/AMD/Intel/IA-whatever" viability.
<hr></blockquote>

I don't really see what's wrong with Apple admitting that different processors are better at different things. The PPC line is better for laptops, sexy desktops, and mainstream workstations. x86 is better for high performance machines, the kind where dissipating 100w is no problem if it saves you 2 hours of rendering time. IBM sells several different lines of proc / OS combinations, and no one seems to think that they are abandoning one type of proc for the other.

[ 11-16-2002: Message edited by: dealing_death ]</p>
post #26 of 38
I think that these sealed units have 970s in them...

The whole OSX/x86 thing is a smokescreen, and Steve Jobs is getting his kicks messing with our (the online Mac rumor forums geek community) collective heads...

I'll take a dual CPU model, with the fattest OpenGL card that will run in it, and a brace of HD Cinema Displays, thanks...

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[ 11-16-2002: Message edited by: MacRonin ]</p>
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post #27 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by Bigc:
<strong>

and how would switching to x86 mislead investors and why would Apple have to notify anyone, like it would ever happen anyway. The board of directors can do as they see fit, right or wrong. If the investors don't like it they can get rid of the board.</strong><hr></blockquote>

IIRC, at last summer's shareholder's meeting, Steve Jobs told the stockholders that Apple would not switch processors from the PPC. He also said that the company would have options after the transition to MacOS X was complete. Jobs said that the PPC had a bright future toward the end of his comments about a possible processor switch.

A switch of processors within months of those statements after saying that it would happen no time soon would mean that Jobs lied to his board and to his shareholders. He would have denied his shareholders crucial information required to make informed choices about the value of their stocks. Make no mistake--switching from the PPC family to Intel or a clone would represent a tremendous risk for the company. Unlike the switch from 680x0 to PPC, the 680x0 emulator made the transition transparent for most users. There is no PPC-to-x86 emulator. If you think that it is a good move and that Apple will take off when the transition is made, then the shareholders were denied the opportunity to take off with it. Either way, Jobs would have cheated his shareholders at a time when executives at bigger companies are being arrested and carted off to jail for lying to their shareholders.

Make no mistake about it, this is not trivial. If Jobs lied, the board would be the least of his worries.
post #28 of 38
just posting out my ass, but [quote] He also said that the company would have options after the transition to MacOS X was complete. ....... Unlike the switch from 680x0 to PPC, the 680x0 emulator made the transition transparent for most users. There is no PPC-to-x86 emulator. <hr></blockquote>

in january the transition is supposively complete...Jaguar will have been out for many months, we will probably be at 10.2.4, and new machines will be Os X bootable only.....
and secondly....perhaps they have developed and will have ready to release a ppc to x86 emulator that is as transparent as the 680x0 to ppc emulator was.....

just thoughts...personnallly i don't think they are going "intel inside", but i do think the imb 970 chips will be seen much sooner than Q3 of 2003...i think they will be hightlighted at MWSF and machines will ship in march....perhaps just wishful thinking though......g
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post #29 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by KidRed:
<strong>PEOPLE, PEOPLE. Apple does have Marklar going wih AMD boxes, but that does not mean no more PPC. If they are released, it would be side by side with IBM's stuff.</strong><hr></blockquote>

So lets say the 1.8GHz PPC 970 and 1.8GHz AMD chip are available from the Apple store. Is Apple going to charge the same prices (or close to them) for their 3 different models? If so, what's going to happen when someone compares an AMD box from a pc manufacture against a similarly equipped Apple X86 box? I bet they find it'd be almost a thousand dollars less from the pc manufacturer. I'm partial to macs and think OS X is great (although I'm sick of the aqua candyish look and don't like the finder or dock), but I don't think OS X and a nicer case is enough justification to charge a much higher price for an Apple X86 box.

I've heard in the past that Apple keeps an up to date X86 version of OS X on hand in case something happens to PPC and I think this is good business sense. But this is the first time I've ever heard that they are sending prototype boxes to developers (assuming the NMR's report is right). I wonder when they are going to ship PPC 970 prototypes for evaluation? Is it possible these are really PPC 970 prototypes disguised as AMD prototypes?
post #30 of 38
Yes. Apple would not go x86. That architecture is 30 years old, and the PC world may soon change to IA64. If Apple decided to go IA64, that would be another story entirely.

And Intel will, eventually, get a good IA64 compiler.

What would be even more interesting would be a "Classic" boot into Windows.
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post #31 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by Splinemodel:
<strong>Yes. Apple would not go x86. That architecture is 30 years old, and the PC world may soon change to IA64.</strong><hr></blockquote>

*scoff*

IA64 doesn't run legacy x86 stuff well. Why on earth would consumers adopt it? Is it because of the Intel name? Pth..

Or to run the 64bit version of MS Office. Yea, that's the ticket!
post #32 of 38
That's stupid.

Why do consumers adopt any new technology in the first place? Because it's better!

As long as there is some backwards compatibility, if the product is a leap forward, great!

The PowerPC was initally slower than 68k CPUs at 68k code.

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post #33 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by Splinemodel:
<strong>Yes. Apple would not go x86. That architecture is 30 years old, and the PC world may soon change to IA64. If Apple decided to go IA64, that would be another story entirely.

And Intel will, eventually, get a good IA64 compiler.

</strong><hr></blockquote>

How many freakin years has Intel been working on IA64? 10? They STILL haven't managed a good compiler and it has shown itself to suck so badly that MS, who was originally saying they wouldn't support the Opteron chips from AMD which are x86-64, is fully supporting them in Windows and is planning it's own x86-64 direction.

Now I realize this is similar to the X on PPC vs X on x86 as there are 2 different processor types, but I don't think Intel is going to win out necc on this one. I think they'll end up having to scrap IA-64 and reverse engineer AMDs x86-64 or figure their own version out quickly, leaving AMD as the sole 64bit desktop chip maker between the 2 of them.
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post #34 of 38
Um, I think some of you are missing the point here:

Mac OS X does not care what kind of processor it runs on.

Once you tweak the kernel (a rather easy job, since it originated on X86), everything else could care less whether it's a PPC, IA64, or Dragonball, for that matter.

Remember the OS X architecture is designed to keep ALL software away from hardware, instead handing off hardware-contact items to the kernel subsystem.

The only problem might be Altivec -- IF Apple had never adopted it, Mac OS X would be very portable from processor to processor. Even with Velocity Engine (note, That's Apple's brand, not Mot's or IBm's or Intel's or AMD's), the OS could reasonably be adapted to any SIMD.

The point is, thanks to the Unixy nature of OS X, it is a relatively easy port from Processor to processor, and that is NO accident.
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post #35 of 38
[quote]Originally posted by jccbin:
<strong>Um, I think some of you are missing the point here:

Mac OS X does not care what kind of processor it runs on.

Once you tweak the kernel (a rather easy job, since it originated on X86), everything else could care less whether it's a PPC, IA64, or Dragonball, for that matter.

Remember the OS X architecture is designed to keep ALL software away from hardware, instead handing off hardware-contact items to the kernel subsystem.

The only problem might be Altivec -- IF Apple had never adopted it, Mac OS X would be very portable from processor to processor. Even with Velocity Engine (note, That's Apple's brand, not Mot's or IBm's or Intel's or AMD's), the OS could reasonably be adapted to any SIMD.

The point is, thanks to the Unixy nature of OS X, it is a relatively easy port from Processor to processor, and that is NO accident.</strong><hr></blockquote>

every program available for macosx is compiled through ppc machine code, which is not similar or even easily transferrable to x86 machine code. so, the portability of the kernel, and possibly many apps, is nice, but it still means that shit has to get recompiled. just remaking the kernel will only fix the kernel. each app will need a recompile (at a minimum).
post #36 of 38
People on here are mixing things up quite badly again...

Let's - for a moment - assume that the Naked Mole is right. Apple has shipped some test units running Mac OS X and some recompiled applications using AMD processors to testers. (Yes, a recompile would be necessary, but there isn't large porting issues to be solved if Apple has Darwin and Cocoa up and running on X86 and we are talking Cocoa applications, as Darwin *IS* running on X86 today and Cocoa *WAS* ported from X86 to PPC first. Let's just assume that the Aqua stuff on X86 has been kept up at the same time, like older X-on-X86 rumours assume.)

This doesn't mean that we'll see AMD processors in Macs anytime soon. It means that TEST boxes have been shipped to selected TESTERS.

Now what if Apple finds out they can do a transition to AMD's X86-64 platform easily? Not marketing-wise, but technology-wise? Let's assume that Apple has the technology to introduce some machines running on AMD processors (whatever kind) in late 2003.

Steve SAID they like options. Hell, what options do they have if they don't actually TRY these things?

Basically, Steve kicked Motorola's and IBM's asses with that statement. And if both companies can't deliver competitive processors in a nice timeframe, Apple oughta put their money where their mouth is! They can't wait forever for their AIM partners. So what would be better suited for Apple than to actually DO something about it and prepare those options a little bit?

Doesn't mean a switch to X86 has to come this Spring. Doesn't mean it has to come in 2003. Doesn't mean it has to come at all, in fact. But to add a bit more fuel to the fire Steve started by saying that 'they like to have options', they also have to test this stuff.

However, the NMR's rumour is as cloudy as can be, so I don't give it too much credibility. Still, it's only logical.
post #37 of 38
From what I know of (electric) welding, MIG, arc, etc, welding a case shut would have a tendancy to fry any electronic components inside. So this part at least is bollocks.
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post #38 of 38
It could be welded without damaging the components. The motherboard is isolated from the case, and the case grounded during the welding. As long as the electronics aren't touching the arc it would be fine. You can even touch the case while it is being welded and not get shocked.
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