Apple on Intel? Not likely.

It seems as though everyone's all in a huff over the "news" article posted on, which suggests that the WWDC Stevenote may reveal a switch from IBM/Power-based CPUs to Intel-based CPUs. That's a load of hooey. Apple's been publicly crapping on Intel's CPUs in all of its presentations, marketing, website info for the last several years.

Megahertz Myth? Pipelines? Etc... Apple's been talking some serious trash about Intel. I'm not a CPU-head, so I wouldn't know one way or another. But, for Apple to suddenly pull up stakes and say "Wait, we were wrong all along - Power sucks, and Intel rocks. We're going to transition the whole product line over to the Pentium line." Sorry. Doesn't make sense.

Sure, there have been precedents - the switch from 680x0 to PowerPC back in the mid-90's (with fat binaries that could run on whatever architecture they were copied onto). NeXT running on both PPC and Intel platforms (with fat binaries that could run on whatever architecture they were copied onto). Sure, Steve is likely Pissed as Hell™ that IBM missed his "G5 at 3GHz wihin a year" deadline he declared at WWDC 2003 - and still hasn't reached it after another year. Add to that the fact that the G4 has been roughly plateaued for 2 years now. But is that a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

Look at the trend lines... All 3 next-gen console gaming systems are going to be running on Power-based chips. Including the Xbox. Microsoft is switching to IBM for chips. Why would Apple be switching away? If Intel CPUs had so much promise for increased performance and bang/buck, the console systems would have gone that direction.

BUT, if they announce an Intel-based future strategy, all current G4 and G5 machines will become virtual paperweights. And they'd have to eat a LOT of crow wrt the whole "Power is better, so there!" line of marketing. Personally, I don't care one way or the other. It would just seem strange for The Fruit Company to make such a drastic switch in directions, orphaning all existing hardware.

But, let's assume for a second that they do switch to Intel. It's not going to mean that MacOSX would run on any PC. Apple would just make a new Mac with an Intel chip, and MacOSX would run on that. Likely, you could hack it to run on non-Apple PCs, but that would be completely unsupported, and likely a bit flakey. An Intel Mac would largely be a G5 Mac with the CPU (and dependent infrastructure) ripped out, and replaced with some form of Intel chipset. Apple hardware is about a well-managed experience, so setting MacOSX free on hardware slapped together with stuff that was plucked from the discount bin at Fry's or something just doesn't fit.

Likely, any Intel-based Apple product will be something embedded (WiFi controller, RAID controller - like the one in the XRAID now, etc...) rather than CPU. An Apple box with Intel Inside™ is not going to be a PC running MacOSX. Sorry Scoble, Winer, etc... It ain't gonna happen. Of course, I could be wrong (as I frequently am), but it just wouldn't make sense for them to do this.

The blogosphere uproar about this feels an awful lot like simple echochamber amplification of misinformation. Someone posted it. CNET picked it up. Someone else speculated on it. Someone else picked up on the speculation. Scoble reports it as Truth. Someone picks up on that. Feeds into another news source. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Regardless, the Stevenote™ on Monday is likely going to be One Hell of a Show™.

Update: Yeah, what he said.


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