Freescale CEO: Jobs wanted to move to Intel 5 years ago

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
In a recent interview with CNet News.com, Freescale Semiconductor chief executive Michel Mayer spoke of his company's evolving business model and revealed that Apple chief Steve Jobs was itching to switch the Mac to Intel processors over five years ago.



The Austin, Texas-based company, a recent spin-off from Motorola, is one of the 10 largest microchip manufacturers in the world. However, Mayer said Freescale is in the midst of an "evolution of existing businesses" that will distance the company from the personal computer market.



"Desktop is a very small piece of our business, and it's going away," said Mayer. "Our only customer is Apple (for laptops), and they are switching to Intel sometime next year."



While Freescale was not happy to lose Apple as a customer, Mayer conceded that "frankly, with all of the growth opportunities that we have in front of us, it was not a good use of our resources to try to defend half a percent market share, which is how much desktop we have against Intel."



"OK, Intel has the PC, that's fine," Mayer said. "There are so many opportunities outside the PC that it's much better using our resources to try to go into spaces where we are really leaders."



Mayer believes innovation is moving away from the PC space, and towards consumer electronics, game consoles, cars, phones and the iPod. "That's where innovation is," said Mayer. "So desktop is not a market that we want to serve."



Asked if he was present five years ago during the discussions when IBM convinced Apple to adopt the G5, Mayer said: "In my previous job, I ran IBM's semiconductor business. So I've seen both sides of the Apple story, because I sold the G5 to Steve (Jobs) the first time he wanted to move to Intel."



Mayer said that he first I told IBM that it should adopt the G5 project with Freescale, and then I sold the chip to Apple. "The G5 was good and it was going to be the follow-on of the PowerPC road map for the desktop. It worked pretty well," he said. "And then IBM decided not to take the G5 into the laptop and decided to really focus its chip business on the game consoles."



Mayer's comments about Apple's transition add fuel to implications that the Mac maker's move to the Intel artchitecture had been planned as early as five years ago. Recent statements by Steve Jobs himself indicated that Apple worked hard to keep its half-decade long Mac OS X for Intel project under wraps.



"So today for the first time, I can confirm the rumors that every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for both PowerPC and Intel," Jobs said in June as he announced Apple's plans to go Intel. "This has been going on for the last five years," he said.?

Looking ahead, Mayer said Freescale will likely revitalize its PowerPC business, but possibly under a different name. "I don't know if it's going to be called PowerPC. A lot of people have questions on the PowerPC architecture and what's going on," Mayer said. "I think IBM and us need to make a very strong statement that, 'Hey, a lot of applications are using that architecture, it's alive, it's there to last, don't get confused because there are many more PowerPC chips than IBM's Power architecture chips sold in the world.'"



Mayer said that most people would be shocked to learn that the PowerPC drives the engine control power train application in some automobiles. He mentioned that there are currently 52 Freescale chips in both the BMW 7 Series and the 5 series. The BMW 7 Series v6 currently uses a 16-bit PowerPC chip and will be moving to a 32-bit chip next year, Mayer said.



The chips control air bag deployment, moving the seats, the power train, Telematics, OnStar, entertainment systems, the transmission, and more.



"Next year, 50 percent of car (models) in the world will have PowerPCs," Mayer said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Well now, this figures, doesn't it?



    Now it's clear. IBM didn't want to make a laptop G5. Otherwise we could have had one.



    I still think that Apple should have gone x86 when OS X first came out.



    Everything had to be rewritten back then anyway. This way they wouldn't have had two transitions to make.



    It would have been cheaper and easier for everyone involved.
  • Reply 2 of 88
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    Well now, this figures, doesn't it?



    Now it's clear. IBM didn't want to make a laptop G5. Otherwise we could have had one.



    I still think that Apple should have gone x86 when OS X first came out.



    Everything had to be rewritten back then anyway. This way they wouldn't have had two transitions to make.



    It would have been cheaper and easier for everyone involved.




    Maybe. But then OS X originally was something of an extra to run on the existing (PowerPC) architecture, until it really reached active maturity at the release of Jaguar or thereabouts.



    Basically Jobs was talked into staying with PPC because of the promise of the G5 which was still far away at the time. It could well have gone to laptops too, but IBM only later changed their mind about that. So I can't say I think Apple made the wrong decision at the time.



    However keeping OS X dual platform all that time (what we used to call Marklar) was very cunning and definitely astute!



    I like this bit from the article:

    Quote:

    Next year, 50 percent of car (models) in the world will have PowerPCs



    Does that mean if you get the traction control busy enough on a slippery surface, you can expect to hear some air cooling fan come on to chill the busy G4's? Poor BMW customers, this PowerBook owner sympathises with their prospective plight!
  • Reply 3 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by fuyutsuki

    Maybe. But then OS X originally was something of an extra to run on the existing (PowerPC) architecture, until it really reached active maturity at the release of Jaguar or thereabouts.



    Basically Jobs was talked into staying with PPC because of the promise of the G5 which was still far away at the time. It could well have gone to laptops too, but IBM only later changed their mind about that. So I can't say I think Apple made the wrong decision at the time.



    However keeping OS X dual platform all that time (what we used to call Marklar) was very cunning and definitely astute!



    I like this bit from the article:



    Does that mean if you get the traction control busy enough on a slippery surface, you can expect to hear some air cooling fan come on to chill the busy G4's? Poor BMW customers, this PowerBook owner sympathises with their prospective plight!




    From the article it doesn't sound like IBM waited very long to decide about a laptop chip. But they didn't have one then, and that should have been enough.



    After all, isn't that the main reason why Apple hasn't gone to AMD?



    Yes, yes, I know there are others as well.
  • Reply 4 of 88
    This is a good move for freescale. The PPC is very well suited to the high-end embedded market, and the 7400 series, which is evolving into interesting dual core SoC's, is really a top-in-class performer. Altivec makes it a wicked DSP.



    Quote:

    After all, isn't that the main reason why Apple hasn't gone to AMD?



    The thing we know is that Apple is going Intel because it's a better total package, including a wider range of products, and better fab, and, most of all, a much more heavily funded and talented long-term research department than what anyone else in the industry has.
  • Reply 5 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    This is a good move for freescale. The PPC is very well suited to the high-end embedded market, and the 7400 series, which is evolving into interesting dual core SoC's, is really a top-in-class performer. Altivec makes it a wicked DSP.





    The thing we know is that Apple is going Intel because it's a better total package, including a wider range of products, and better fab, and, most of all, a much more heavily funded and talented long-term research department than what anyone else in the industry has.




    Sure. But if they didn't have Yonah coming out now, and Merom coming out second half of 2006, and AMD did, the rest wouldn't matter.
  • Reply 6 of 88
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by fuyutsuki

    I like this bit from the article:

    "Next year, 50 percent of car (models) in the world will have PowerPCs"



    Does that mean if you get the traction control busy enough on a slippery surface, you can expect to hear some air cooling fan come on to chill the busy G4's? Poor BMW customers, this PowerBook owner sympathises with their prospective plight!




    Yeah, but can you imagine the magnitude of the disaster if he had said, "Next year, 50 percent of car (models) in the world will run Windows"? It would give new meaning to the phrases "system crash" and "blue screen of death."
  • Reply 7 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kolchak

    Yeah, but can you imagine the magnitude of the disaster if he had said, "Next year, 50 percent of car (models) in the world will run Windows"? It would give new meaning to the phrases "system crash" and "blue screen of death."



    Look to BMW, some of their cars DO run Windows, you know, the ones that wouldn't allow the doors to be unlocked or turned the engine off on the motorway when someone used a cell phone.
  • Reply 8 of 88
    boogabooga Posts: 1,077member
    I guess now we know who promised Steve Jobs that the G5 would be at 3GHz by last summer.
  • Reply 9 of 88
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    Sure. But if they didn't have Yonah coming out now, and Merom coming out second half of 2006, and AMD did, the rest wouldn't matter.



    But AMD does not, and the reason why they do not is because they don't have a great long-term R&D dept. AMD is a second tier technology company. There are plenty of tiers below second, but it makes a lot more business sense to stay with the first tier.
  • Reply 10 of 88
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    I still think that Apple should have gone x86 when OS X first came out.



    Everything had to be rewritten back then anyway. This way they wouldn't have had two transitions to make.



    It would have been cheaper and easier for everyone involved.




    It would have been cheaper and easier overall, but without OS X being a proven entity in 1999, were Adobe & MS too averse to risk to make the double jump back then?



    Didn't both Microsoft and Adobe balk at migrating to the then-unproven OS X? Didn't they push hard for Carbon so they'd have to change their apps as little as possible for OS X?



    Would Adobe & MS have rewritten their code for OS X and for X86 all at once? How hard would that have been without XCode in 1999? Would they have invested the $$$ in a completely new operating system running on a different processor?



    Rhetorical questions, all, but worth thinking about.
  • Reply 11 of 88
    I think it was the Sony and MS deals that IBM picked up for PS3 and 360 processors that killed Apple's ride with PPC. IBM must have had some plan for a low power version of the G5 (even today they claim they have them should Apple have been patient enough) as surely a roadmap must have the basic corners for a chip maker to appear professional! Clearly Freescale weren't going to make 970's ... the responsibility was IBM's.



    But then, like all good roadmaps and other vapourware, the idea was chucked out of the window as soon as IBM had learned what dealing with Apple and Steve Jobs was really like, how much of a pain it was to make a low power G5 and crucially that Sony and MS were now going to be their cash cows. Tens of millions of identical chips for the consoles are soooo much a tastier target for a fabber like IBM. No need to ramp the clock every quarter, just cheap and easy mass manufacture to care about. After the design of course.



    So in short: IBM cared a lot more about selling the G5 several years ago, just at the time Steve Jobs decided to take it. The current PowerBook situation where the G4 is without a doubt the system's Achilles heel (and also the entire Mac lineup's!) came about gradually, and during the era where IBM switched priorities to consoles.



    I've also heard a good argument that the Xserve was competing too hard with IBM's own server models, which did NOT go down well with the chip maker!



    As for AMD vs. Intel...



    I like AMD. I've bought about six of their cpu's over the years compared to just one Intel. Their chip design is good, the Opteron is an impressive processor, and their David and Goliath like battle with Intel is THE driving force behind the CPU industry, especially for x86.



    But Intel was the right choice. They are simply in a league of their own for manufacturing. You need a ton of cpu's on a given date? Intel will deliver where AMD can't and IBM can't be bothered! The fact they're at a finer nanometer production from everyone else already is good news for Apple, and the fact the Yonah/Merom based designs appear Athlon64 contenders is even better. Intel are very likely to strike back to the top of the charts for performance in 2006 and 2007. IBM will be third provided they would even still count. And AMD will be making competent, attractive processors that Apple could switch to seamlessly at some point, if they ever get into the habit of supplying enough!



    I expect a great deal from the ENTIRE NEW RANGE of Macs coming out. I'm sure Apple do too. This should be exciting!
  • Reply 12 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    But AMD does not, and the reason why they do not is because they don't have a great long-term R&D dept. AMD is a second tier technology company. There are plenty of tiers below second, but it makes a lot more business sense to stay with the first tier.



    I can't agree with that. They are a smaller company, yes. But certainly not second tier. Their chips are used in supercomputers, large servers, many business class workstations, and of course, high performance PC's.



    They and IBM have had technology sharing deals going back years, and have just extended it to 2011.



    There is no argument against the statement that AMD's chips perform better than Intels, as well as using less power.



    A second tier technology company? Hardly.
  • Reply 13 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by bikertwin

    It would have been cheaper and easier overall, but without OS X being a proven entity in 1999, were Adobe & MS too averse to risk to make the double jump back then?



    Didn't both Microsoft and Adobe balk at migrating to the then-unproven OS X? Didn't they push hard for Carbon so they'd have to change their apps as little as possible for OS X?



    Would Adobe & MS have rewritten their code for OS X and for X86 all at once? How hard would that have been without XCode in 1999? Would they have invested the $$$ in a completely new operating system running on a different processor?



    Rhetorical questions, all, but worth thinking about.




    We could argue both ways about this. I don't remember MS and Adobe balking. Companies will always do the least they can. If they think they can get away with it.



    I would have been willing to bet that both would have come through. There is a big advantage to them in Apple going to x86. It makes their programming easier, not harder. Yes, the initial change would have been tougher. But for Adobe, at least, Apple had a bigger share of their market than they do now.



    Apple's sales languished because of the poor performance of the G4 which just sat there for years. Even the G5 only got us close.



    They could have written the OS for both X and x86 at the same time. It's not that they would be writing it twice. And they had a good deal of knowledge about x86. They were very familliar with it.



    Apple had X Code then. If they would have done this changeover, they could have done more.



    After all, you might remember that 10.0 was called the final beta. It wasn't very usable. Instead of coming out with that, Apple could have had the changover with the later version of 10.1, which was usable. So X would have come out a year later. Apple would have lost the publicity war against 2000, but would have been on a par with PC performance.



    None of us really know whether this could have worked, no matter what we say. But, I think it could have.



    And, as the article says, Jobs was interested in doing it then. IBM persuaded him not to.
  • Reply 14 of 88
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    So this is how I see it:



    Apple: We are thinking about going with Intel

    IBM: Oh, no. You should go with the G5. It's a GREAT chip!

    Apple: Will it scale okay?

    IBM: Sure!

    Apple: Okay, we'll stick with PowerPC.



    *jump ahead*



    MS: Hey, IBM, we need some really great stuff for the XBox 360.

    IBM: Well, we've already got this deal with Apple...

    MS: We'll give you oodles of money, but we need to be your #1 customer.

    IBM: Okay! Hey Apple?

    Apple: What?

    IBM: We're not going to be able to give you those 3Ghz chips as soon as you wanted.

    Apple: What about the low-power chips for Powerbooks?

    IBM: Yeah, those may be a while, too.

    Apple: Fuck that! Hey Intel?

    Intel: Yeah?

    Apple: Remember that talk we had a few years ago?

    Intel: Oh, about switching to x86. Yeah, so?

    Apple: Can you give us lots of really fast chips for a long time?

    Intel: Sure!

    Apple: Where do we sign?



    And here we are.
  • Reply 15 of 88
    boogabooga Posts: 1,077member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    There is no argument against the statement that AMD's chips perform better than Intels, as well as using less power.





    The "using less power" part is the only questionable part of your post. AMD proved itself as a first-tier CPU design house since the original Athlon, and their agreement with IBM ensures they have first-tier fabs (at least in technology... IBM still seems to have issues with volume for desktop-level complexity CPUs.) When compared against the Pentium 4's they are also better in power consumption, but they have absolutely nothing to compare to the Pentium M and Yonah that I've seen or heard coming down the line. While their recent announcements show they're staying on top of the overall power consumption issue, with Intel moving the entire line over to Yonah derivatives they're in danger of losing this battle in a big way next year.
  • Reply 16 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Booga

    The "using less power" part is the only questionable part of your post. AMD proved itself as a first-tier CPU design house since the original Athlon, and their agreement with IBM ensures they have first-tier fabs (at least in technology... IBM still seems to have issues with volume for desktop-level complexity CPUs.) When compared against the Pentium 4's they are also better in power consumption, but they have absolutely nothing to compare to the Pentium M and Yonah that I've seen or heard coming down the line. While their recent announcements show they're staying on top of the overall power consumption issue, with Intel moving the entire line over to Yonah derivatives they're in danger of losing this battle in a big way next year.



    Excuse me?



    Until recently, AMD hasn't shown an interest in making laptop chips, except for the mobile Tureon (I spelled that wrong).



    But with the Opteron's and Athlon's, there is no question that they consume less power. Just go to any PC site and look at the tests and comparisons.



    They don't have chips for handheld units, but that was a choice, not a lack of technology.
  • Reply 17 of 88
    You guys are misinterpreting the meaning of "tier." I simply mean that they don't have the installed volumes of, say, Intel, Samsung, Moto/Freescale, or IBM in each of their respective markets.



    Being first tier means that you shape the way the industry goes. AMD does not. The fact that they are married to someone else's instruction set and general dogma is evidence enough.
  • Reply 18 of 88
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    You guys are misinterpreting the meaning of "tier." I simply mean that they don't have the installed volumes of, say, Intel, Samsung, Moto/Freescale, or IBM.



    Being first tier means that you shape the way the industry goes. AMD does not. The fact that they are married to someone else's instruction set and general dogma is evidence enough.




    Not really. Some of the biggest players in the industry use AMD's chips, including IBM, Hp, etc. Dell doesn't - yet. But they do sell their chips.



    AMD is the second biggest cpu manufacturer in the world.



    The 64 bit extention technology Intel uses for their chips was developed by AMD.



    MS wrote their 64 bit OS around AMD design, and then said that Intel had better use the same one, because that was what they were going to support, and no other. That's shaping. AMD's designs are their own. Intel is now moving their chip line to function more like AMD's not the other way around.



    Apple uses Hypertransport in its G5 machines - developed originally by, AMD!



    A great deal of SSE was done by, uh, AMD.



    Intel still hasn't been able to duplicate the on-board memory controller that guess who uses?



    I could go on.
  • Reply 19 of 88
    boogabooga Posts: 1,077member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by people

    (speculation as to what if Apple had gone with Intel back in the day....)



    We'd also have the possible advantage that it would have been one less time that Apple yanked Metrowerks' chain, and there may have been some possibility of MacOS having a first-rate development environment for Intel instead of XCode.
  • Reply 20 of 88
    boogabooga Posts: 1,077member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    Being first tier means that you shape the way the industry goes. AMD does not. The fact that they are married to someone else's instruction set and general dogma is evidence enough.



    x86-64 is AMD's instruction set (the one Intel now refers to as EM64T).
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