[QUOTE]Originally posted by nagromme
Not to stray away from the conversation, but...
* Intel keeps their lead, but AMD refuses to sell ATI graphics to PC makers (like Apple) who buy from Intel. They are forced to use nVidia or settle for lesser chips from AMD.
* Or Intel keeps their lead, but refuses to sell CPUs to PC makers (like Apple) who use ATI graphics. They are forced to use nVidia or settle for AMD.
* Or AMD develops new CPUs to rival anything from Intel, even for laptops, but Intel punishes severely or turns away companies who use both kinds of processors--they want only exclusive customers. Apple is forced choose either one super-fast processor family or the other, they can't pick from both at once.
All of the above seem unlikely, especially since Intel is so vocal about WANTING to work with Apple. Bullying Apple is not something Intel can do lightly.
* AMD develops new CPUs to rival Intel. And, like other PC makers, Apple can choose to use CPUs from BOTH companies. Two suppliers are better than one. (Exclusive deals might be lost--which can mean higher prices. Competition would increase--which can mean lower prices.)
* Or AMD develops new ATI graphics technologies that nVidia can't touch, and Apple can use those new GPUs too.
* Or AMD develops low-cost integrated graphics with better performance than Intel. And Apple can use those too.
* Or AMD and ATI push Intel and nVidia to do even more, releasing even better products. The resulting competition helps everyone.
I'm not too dismayed at this point. ATI and Intel are compatible I say leave the Intel-AMD flamewars to PC users. We don't need them any more than we needed IBM vs. Motorola flamewars.
Let's go chronologically:
2nd half 2006:
Intel CPUs are looking rock solid. Apple is using Intel chipset-motherboards. For the rest of this year, Intel won't mind Apple going with ATI or nVidia, whatever works best for Apple. Though I suspect the entire Mac Intel line will be ATI. (I hear onlooker screaming that FireGL sucks compared to nVidia's Quadros). Crossfire or SLI, I think highly unlikely in the Mac Pro. It's a PC-gaming enthusiast thing. And those that want SLI'ed top-of-the-line Quadros, I think you're better off with a nice dual Woodcrest PC-Windows workstation that supports that.
Assuming by now AMD-ATI merger is mostly approved, and starts to gain momentum. Intel pipeline still looks very strong. Intel may start to push Apple to move over to nVidia in their new models. Which would be fine. Or Intel (25% chance IMO) will let Apple continue to ride with ATI or nVidia.
We start to see the first glimmer of what AMD-ATI are really starting to offer. Steve J keeps a close eye on things, but given the momentum of Intel with kickass CPUs in 2006 and 2007 and new developments for 2008, Apple-Intel-nVidia look fine.
If Steve J starts to see some really interesting stuff in the pipeline (AMD-ATI invites him for a nice magic show) he can start some internal Apple R&D to scope out what ATI-AMD's magic may deliver.
By now it will be clear if AMD-ATI really has anything solid to offer, and if Steve J was really impressed, through the 2nd half of 2008 he'd start loosening up from Intel and 2009 would look good for Apple having wide options for either Intel-nVidia or AMD-ATI, depending on models and stuff, and other new exciting Apple products.
For Apple, July 2007 onwards, they can easily start to steer the boat in a more platform-agnostic direction if needed. At the end of the day, AMD-Intel-nVidia-ATI all duking it out gives Apple the widest options available. And finally, the OSx86 transition will be heralded as Apple's smartest move in the 2nd half of this decade. The first half of the decade being marred by CPU challenges, but supremely boosted by sexy new, compelling products (in spite of all the CPU problems) and of course, birth of the iPod revolution.
I just hope that with Apple having to keep pace now with the breakneck PC component world, their Hardware Engineering will continue to focus on quality and long-lasting products that have been a hallmark, for the most part, of their G3, G4, and G5 stuff. Same on the OSx86 side, I hope the quality standards continue to be upheld/ refined.