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EFi-X USA to sell pre-made PCs as do-it-yourself Mac clones

post #1 of 218
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Leveraging an internal adapter that lets many generic PCs run Mac OS X, a company called EFi-X USA now plans to offer a solution that potentially allows customers to create their own Mac systems.

Unlike the offerings from besieged clone maker Psystar, the EFi-X USA Millennium 4 will be targeted directly at the performance crowd. It's expected to boast a Core 2 Quad processor overclocked to at least 3.8GHz, 4GB of memory, a GeForce 8800 GTS video card and a high-speed disk combination that includes a 150GB, 10,000RPM boot drive and a 1TB, 7,200RPM secondary drive that holds the bulk of the computer's storage. Two DVD rewriters will also be included.

The system will reportedly sell for $1,899 (plus the additional cost of a $199 EFi-X dongle) and deliver "85-90%" of the performance of a top-end Mac Pro for less than half the price, according to a company spokesman. Buyers can also potentially custom-order systems themselves.

Even faster models based on Xeon hardware, nicknamed the Millennium 8, 16 and 24 for their uses of two, four, and six quad-core processors, are due in as little as 60 days. The Millennium 24 is known to have six 2.13GHz Xeon L7455 chips that trade their raw clock speed for multi-processor support.

The emphasis on performance also switches the target market. While Psystar and others have mostly tried to recruit Windows veterans looking for a familiar system, EFi-X USA is actively seeking existing Mac users, especially those who would otherwise be faced with buying a Mac Pro to get the performance they want. The company is expanding beyond making the adapters alone because it sees existing desktop Mac users as wanting speed and simplicity at the same time.

"Of those [desktop buyers], I think there are a fair amount of them that would like something faster," the EFi-X USA spokesman said. "Most people that are new to the Mac buy an iMac or a laptop. [But] Mac people want easy."

This extends to the EFi-X adapter itself, which is the essential ingredient and replaces the BIOS of the motherbard with an autosensing EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) subsystem that controls the pre-boot environment of a system. The solutions provider is confident its approach won't cause the technical problems that have plagued Psystar and other first-wave clone builders.

The EFi-X card's firmware allows the Millennium 4 to run a variety of operating systems, including Mac OS X, and won't force owners to turn to the command line or to skip important updates when a hack isn't available. Apple's Software Update and other downloads purportedly work as they do on an official Mac.

Accordingly, the Millennium's mainboard and other components have been chosen for their similarity to hardware supported by Mac OS X, which should recognize the parts as though they were Apple's own.

Standard and custom-order Millennium 4s will ship in an Antec P180 enclosure.

More importantly, the systems will potentially avoid the legal pitfalls that have spurred an exchange of lawsuits and countersuits between Apple and Psystar. EFi-X USA will mention Mac OS X as one of the operating systems supported by the system, but won't install the software itself. "We want to be clear about that," the spokesman says. The company also won't sell the EFi-X dongle pre-installed in the Millennium; it must be purchased as a separate product.

Whether or not this will stand Apple's scrutiny is yet to be determined. Although it's true the brunt of Apple's case against Psystar has focused on violating the end-user license agreement by running Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware, the current version of the Mac maker's lawsuit accuses the Florida-based defendant of contributing to infringement by letting users run a system that violates the license. Still, EFi-X USA believes it can at least prevent customers' systems from being knocked out by Apple software updates or revisions that might lock out competing clones.

"According to [our] engineers, there is no way Apple can disable the EFi-X card without disabling their own Intel Macs," the spokesman further points out. "There is no way that Apple can disable the EFi-X card because it utilizes the same open firmware that [its] own boards use and thus would render all of [Apple's] own desktops useless as a result."

The EFi-X USA website is expected to be updated with purchase details on the Millennium 4 this coming Monday.

Update: Art Studios Entertainment Media, which owns the EFI-X logo and trademark, sent AppleInsider a statement saying it is surprised at EFi-X's approach to its new multi-OS systems and "denies officially any involvement with this Millennium project."

"Art Studios Entertainment Media is now completely untied to and not approving ANY of the Millennium project of EFIX USA LLC, and denies whatsoever implication with it," a spokesperson said.

EFi-X and EFi-X USA are two different companies.
post #2 of 218
The cloners are circling Apple's wagon. I don't believe Apple will be able to fend them all off and will eventually have to give in. They may be forced to give in.
post #3 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

The cloners are circling Apple's wagon. I don't believe Apple will be able to fend them all off and will eventually have to give in. They may be forced to give in.

No Apple will continue to hit them with everything they got.
post #4 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

The cloners are circling Apple's wagon. I don't believe Apple will be able to fend them all off and will eventually have to give in. They may be forced to give in.

It is not that simple. There are billions of dollars at stake here. If Apple with more than $20 billion in cash cannot defend their products and business plan, who could?!

I think we know one more John Doe now.
post #5 of 218
People who don't want to play by the rules always ruin the fun for those of us that do. Now are we going back to proprietary firmware, product serial numbers, activation and so forth?

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post #6 of 218
It shows an underlying desire by a larger and larger segment of the population to have the Apple experience without paying for Apple hardware. The halo works.

Eventually Apple may choose to reel them in with cheaper hardware options, license hardware production to a third party (like HP) or (highly-unlikely) license the OS to other OEMs.

The commodity players out there only have Windows…and it's clearly becoming less and less desirable as their market gets more and more hyper competitive. Netbooks have eaten everyone's lunch in year one – what happens next year when things get more economically challenging?

All the balls really seem in Apple's court. Let's hope they capitalize on them.
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post #7 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by bandalay View Post

It shows an underlying desire by a larger and larger segment of the population to have the Apple experience without paying for Apple hardware. The Halo works.

I think this shows the underlying desire by many to make money off Apples success

Quote:
Eventually Apple may choose to reel them in with cheaper hardware options, license hardware production to a third party (like HP) or (highly-unlikely) license the OS to other OEMs.

Apple already tried that before and did not work. They almost went bankrupt as a result.
post #8 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

People who don't want to play by the rules always ruin the fun for those of us that do. Now are we going back to proprietary firmware, product serial numbers, activation and so forth?

This is my concern also. If Apple can't legally stop stuff like this then they're simply going to have to crack down on the distribution of Mac OS X. Right now they are only protected by the EULA on boxed copies of Leopard, and who knows if that will stand up to a legal challenge? In the future I'm guessing we'll be seeing Apple being much more controlling over the distribution of Mac OS X updates, so that people can't use the "loophole" of being able to buy a boxed copy of Mac OS X as a reason to allow them to install it on a non-Apple machine.
post #9 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

People who don't want to play by the rules always ruin the fun for those of us that do. Now are we going back to proprietary firmware, product serial numbers, activation and so forth?

Pretty much. I figured Apple moving to Intel would create the birth of the Hackintosh from the fan that want to tinker but never did I think that 3 companies would try to leech off of Apple as a business model.

All these companies are doing is fcking up the chance for you to dabble with a Hackintosh in the future. Apple is going to end up locking the OS down to a TPM chip on the motherboard and it will kill the happy hacking stuff that users want to do.

This shit just bugs me. Yes I think Mac Pro should be a bit cheaper but I'm not condoning some leech company siphoning from the platform when they haven't contributed a damn thing.
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post #10 of 218
I purchase a Mac because of its design, quality, and other issues they this device, and hardware cannot provide. I do not see myself changing any time soon.
post #11 of 218
Is the EFi-X really unstoppable? Couldn't Apple simply bring out an EFI update to all Macs that say adds some proprietary power management code that would obviously be optimized for Mac hardware and be critical to OS X functionality. That isn't necessarily malicious since it may make sense to place power management code at such a low level and may be useful during pre-boot and for Boot Camp, but EFi-X can't copy it without infringement. And Psystar computers presumably still use a BIOS so couldn't really implement the code at all.

All this fuss, it makes you wonder why Apple didn't just implement TPM on every Intel Mac and avoid this issue from the beginning.
post #12 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

People who don't want to play by the rules always ruin the fun for those of us that do. Now are we going back to proprietary firmware, product serial numbers, activation and so forth?

Indeed. And I find it disturbing how many people on AI and other mac forums support Psystar. Short sighted dimwits spoiling it for everyone else. Too many ex PC users on the platform nowadays is my honest opinion!
post #13 of 218
...a midrange tower and I *swear* I won't buy a competitor's hardware. I *like* your hardware. I just want something I can upgrade that doesn't cost a bazillion dollars.
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post #14 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Apple is going to end up locking the OS down to a TPM chip on the motherboard and it will kill the happy hacking stuff that users want to do.

This might be difficult being as Apple haven't been including a TPM chip on any Intel Macs since the original ones.
post #15 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by godrifle View Post

...a midrange tower and I *swear* I won't buy a competitor's hardware. I *like* your hardware. I just want something I can upgrade that doesn't cost a bazillion dollars.

There are no competitor hardware. Buy a hackintosh all you want but you have no support and one day you may be locked out. It's not worth it IMO. I'm simply not going to rely on a machine that's one system update from trouble.
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post #16 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

Indeed. And I find it disturbing how many people on AI and other mac forums support Psystar. Short sighted dimwits spoiling it for everyone else. Too many ex PC users on the platform nowadays is my honest opinion!

I have a feeling it's going to come in Snow Leopard, and we will have a lot of complaining from the Mac community but that's life, thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.
post #17 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post

This might be difficult being as Apple haven't been including a TPM chip on any Intel Macs since the original ones.

Doesn't mean they won't start doing with their next hardware revision... I'll bet they do in fact. It wouldn't be that hard to do; all they need is a chip that has hardware info hardcoded on it with serial number, model, etc. Then they add a simple checking routine into the OS X installer; no chip on the MB, no installation occurs.

I agree with other posters here though... this is nothing more than carpet baggers trying to leech off of Apple's success.
post #18 of 218
Pystar will lose because:

1) They can't support OS X as is directly from the CD.
2) They modified OS X, violating Apple's copyright and the DMCA in the process. They needed to do.
3) They installed OS X on their systems, distributing that infringing work.
4) They violated Apple's EULA on installing the OS on other systems.

Now, along comes EFI-X. They offer hardware that is in theory 100% compatible with unmodified OS X, allowing users to take an OS X DVD and install it directly onto their system. They don't install or distribute OS X, so they're not violating any copyright. They don't have the hack the OS in order to receive updates.

Only the EULA becomes a consideration now. Then again, it's the user who must accept the EULA, so EFI-X can only be found guilty as an "accessory" to EULA infringement. This may not stand up in court.

An interesting side effect of all this is that we may be seeing more companies selling EFI systems, and other OS's like Linux supporting EFI.
post #19 of 218
I (and many others) have been clamoring for a lower-cost Mac tower for... oh... only 15 years now.

C'mon, Steve. Don't blow your chance at market share (for the hundredth time)
post #20 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowser View Post

Doesn't mean they won't start doing with their next hardware revision... I'll bet they do in fact. It wouldn't be that hard to do; all they need is a chip that has hardware info hardcoded on it with serial number, model, etc. Then they add a simple checking routine into the OS X installer; no chip on the MB, no installation occurs..

Thing about Unix is that once you have a mount point you can do just about anything you want so it is not just the installer but the whole OS needs to be hardware aware. That is why you need the host id and activation.

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post #21 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

People who don't want to play by the rules always ruin the fun for those of us that do. Now are we going back to proprietary firmware, product serial numbers, activation and so forth?

errr don't we already have 'proprietary' firmware, product serial numbers and an activation sequence ?
if that's all you're worried about... \
post #22 of 218
for these dolts to just bang their head against any freely available wall than to try and tangle with a company with a $20B war chest? I seriously doubt people who were going to spring for a $2300 low end Pro will drop to $2000 for something untested that will have zero support. (EFI-X-USA won't support MacOS and Apple won't support running it on their box). Not much of a pro solution. I have a few legal clones in the shop here that never lived through the subsequent updates, and they were 'sposed to.
post #23 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by hombrephaty View Post

I (and many others) have been clamoring for a lower-cost Mac tower for... oh... only 15 years now.

C'mon, Steve. Don't blow your chance at market share (for the hundredth time)

So I guess this low cost tower is what is supposed to help Apple shoot up their marketshare and overtake Microsoft?
post #24 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post

This might be difficult being as Apple haven't been including a TPM chip on any Intel Macs since the original ones.

Pretty easy to solve that one - cut off compatibility with 10.7
post #25 of 218
Where is the market for a DIY Mac? If I'm comfortable enough with a DIY MAC KIT, I think I would be comfortable enough to just purchase my own parts, install the necessary hardward and drivers to make it run.

It sounds pretty pointless.
post #26 of 218
Once Apple lays the final killing blow on Psystar, they'll go after all these copycats, either directly via the court system, or indirectly by making Leopard unusable on these clones.

Steve Jobs is absolutely *maniacal* when it comes to preserving the integrity of the "Apple Experience." And we can thank our lucky stars that he is, otherwise we'd be stuck with WIndows, or even worse.
post #27 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Two DVD rewriters will also be included.

Two DVD writers seems like a bit much for a default configuration.
post #28 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

Indeed. And I find it disturbing how many people on AI and other mac forums support Psystar. Short sighted dimwits spoiling it for everyone else. Too many ex PC users on the platform nowadays is my honest opinion!


count me in and happy to be a dimwit. Apple sell ridiculously overpriced hardware and anything that can bring them down to a more sensible level is a good thing. Not as if nowadays that MAc hardware is even remotely better quality than an Dell or Tosh product.
Macs do break and do so more now than ever.
post #29 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by godrifle View Post

...a midrange tower and I *swear* I won't buy a competitor's hardware. I *like* your hardware. I just want something I can upgrade that doesn't cost a bazillion dollars.

exactly.
post #30 of 218
Quote:
Even faster models based on Xeon hardware, nicknamed the Millennium 8, 16 and 24 for their uses of two, four, and six quad-core processors, are due in as little as 60 days. The Millennium 24 is known to have six 2.13GHz Xeon L7455 chips that trade their raw clock speed for multi-processor support.

24 cores? That's crazy, but completely useless until Snow Leopard arrives. Will this company still be trading when that happens? We shall have to wait and see....

This company announces that they have made a computer compatible with OS X and they are willing to sell you an adapter so that you can install it. They might not physically be installing it and violating copyright (although that dongle is questionable) but they're certainly encouraging it, which would be enough grounds for legal action.
post #31 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Once Apple lays the final killing blow on Psystar, they'll go after all these copycats, either directly via the court system, or indirectly by making Leopard unusable on these clones.

Steve Jobs is absolutely *maniacal* when it comes to preserving the integrity of the "Apple Experience." And we can thank our lucky stars that he is, otherwise we'd be stuck with WIndows, or even worse.

yeah i was thinking that thru all 5 iphone 3g replacements.

the apple experience is a joke and a con.
post #32 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowser View Post

Doesn't mean they won't start doing with their next hardware revision... I'll bet they do in fact.

I think they already have. Check out the new displayport adapter with it's DRM. What is to stop apple from using that chip as the key to the kingdom? No apple DRM chip, no play. The only wrench in those works, is all the legacy computers that they still support. But that means in 3 years, this problem goes away when support for older models rolls off.


Sheldon
post #33 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd View Post

I think they already have. Check out the new displayport adapter with it's DRM. What is to stop apple from using that chip as the key to the kingdom? No apple DRM chip, no play. The only wrench in those works, is all the legacy computers that they still support. But that means in 3 years, this problem goes away when support for older models rolls off.


Sheldon

Not a problem. Select "About this mac" from the apple menu. Press the "More info" there you will see the serial number (host id)

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post #34 of 218
$2200.00???? A little more and you get a Mac Pro!!!!!!!!!!
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2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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post #35 of 218
All I have to say on this is....PA Semi.

Pretty soon Steve will be saying kthxbye to all the mac cloners.
post #36 of 218
Quote:
"According to [our] engineers, there is no way Apple can disable the EFi-X card without disabling their own Intel Macs," the spokesman further points out. "There is no way that Apple can disable the EFi-X card because it utilizes the same open firmware that [its] own boards use and thus would render all of [Apple's] own desktops useless as a result."

If there's anything in that Open Firmware that is Apple-specific, can't that be seen as circumventing Apple's copy protection? This smacks of DMCA violation. Like Playstation Mod chips.
post #37 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shookster View Post

24 cores? That's crazy, but completely useless until Snow Leopard arrives. Will this company still be trading when that happens? We shall have to wait and see....

Actually, they're only selling a computer that can run OSX along with any other OS of your choosing. Some linux apps can handle 24 cores now, although admitedly not very many that the general public would care about have been written with parallel processing in mind. Then again, a 24 core system probably isn't targeted at the general public.

And why are so many people clamoring for a Mac they can upgrade? You're a v. small audience in the entire computing world. Proof: the growing proportion of laptops (of which a small minority can be upgraded at all) compared to desktops that are being sold. Suck it up and accept that you'll either have to pay more for the Mac Pro (and probably won't need to ever upgrade) or get an iMac and upgrade more often.
post #38 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

Is the EFi-X really unstoppable? Couldn't Apple simply bring out an EFI update to all Macs that say adds some proprietary power management code that would obviously be optimized for Mac hardware and be critical to OS X functionality.

Firmware updates are optional though. A lot of people simply don't bother updating, especially in business in case something breaks.

What I find funny is that all these companies are building the same machine that a lot of people want Apple to build. People aren't going to buy an AIO because PC equivalents cost more. People aren't necessarily going to buy low end towers when a Mini is similarly priced and a fraction of the size. On the high end, the Mac Pro is very good value for money. The only reason people would buy this is to satisfy the need for a product Apple doesn't have.

These companies are focusing on this primarily because it's the biggest selling point they have - you can get a machine 85-90% the power of a high end Mac for half the price. Apple themselves can get pretty close to this by using Core 2 Quad. Dress it up as a Cube and people pay a little more for the design and form factor.

When you see a $1000 price difference, you assess whether aesthetics are all that important. $300 difference and there's no point.
post #39 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

The cloners are circling Apple's wagon. I don't believe Apple will be able to fend them all off and will eventually have to give in. They may be forced to give in.

I don't believe you because you mangled that metaphor about the wagons.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #40 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by the cool gut View Post

Pretty easy to solve that one - cut off compatibility with 10.7

I have a Mac at home that started of at Jaguar (10.2) and is now running Leopard (10.5). Imagine how many people would be pissed off if a Mac they bought today couldn't run 10.7?
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