By John Gruber
Atoms: We are not selling shoes this time…
A few miscellaneous notes and questions on the Apple-Intel story:
Peter Glaskowsky, former editor of the Microprocessor Report, is an expert in the semiconductor business. Here’s what he told eWeek about the prospects of Apple switching the Mac to x86 processors:
“It’s a bunch of bull,” Peter Glaskowsky, analyst for The Envisioneering Group, in Seaford, N.Y., told Ziff Davis Internet News. “Firstly, Apple certainly pays much less for IBM and Freescale processors than Intel charges for comparable chips. Probably less than half as much on average. The G5 is a smaller, more efficient chip than the Pentium 4, and IBM has no other customers willing to buy large quantities.”
I.e. he’s claiming it would cost Apple more, not less, to switch to Intel x86 CPUs.
Neither CNet nor The Wall Street Journal reports offer any technical details whatsoever regarding the supposed switch. None. Why? Is it because their sources (and both publications claim multiple sources; let’s hope neither publication is using the plural to describe a a single source) don’t know the technical details? Don’t understand them? Or that they refused to reveal them?
It strikes me as not-outlandish that this was a planned leak. Friday afternoon, three days before the start of WWDC — what better time to ignite widespread interest in the keynote address? On Friday morning, no one was talking about WWDC; by Friday night, everyone was.
Especially if it turns out that Intel is producing PowerPC chips — this way Jobs still has a huge surprise to announce, but CNet’s article is still accurate, because Apple would be switching to “Intel chips”.
What’s the deal with Robert Scoble’s ridiculous “confirmation from people who know” that “this is a real story”? He says it’s real, that he has sources who confirmed it, but then goes on to ask the most rudimentary technical questions as to how it’s going to play out. How could someone “confirm” this story but yet not know the answers to these questions? I suspect that if Apple announces anything related to Intel, Scoble will claim he was in on it.
If the story is in fact flat-out false, it might prove irritating for Apple, because whatever they do announce will have to compete for headline space with “Apple Not Switching to Intel Chips”. That won’t be an issue if they announce a mind-blowing surprise, but if all they have in store are speed-bump iBooks and “hooray for Tiger”, the lack of an Intel announcement will dominate the news coverage.
To my knowledge, Apple has never warned Mac developers against assuming their code will be running on a big-endian architecture; switching to the little-endian x86 would be extremely irritating for any developer with a code base that makes assumptions about byte order. Sure, most Mac software probably doesn’t need to deal with byte order directly; but for those apps that do, there will be significant drudgery involved.
Here’s my bet: Intel is going to produce PowerPC chips for Apple. But I’m only betting one dollar.