The Dream Of x86 Capable Macs Remains Elusive - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Software // Enterprise Applications
Commentary
5/24/2005
01:11 PM
Darrell Dunn
Darrell Dunn
Commentary
50%
50%

The Dream Of x86 Capable Macs Remains Elusive

Earlier this week, the buzz surrounded another potential agreement that would put Intel microprocessors inside Apple computers. Obviously, uniting the two most durable PC platforms in history is a lot easier said than done.

Thirteen years ago the electronics industry was buzzing about the potential uniting of two disparate computer architectures when IBM, Motorola, and Apple announced plans for the PowerPC architecture. Earlier this week, the buzz surrounded another potential agreement that would put Intel microprocessors inside Apple computers. Obviously, uniting the two most durable PC platforms in history is a lot easier said than done.

An Apple executive had said that it IBM and Motorola would spend $1 billion to develop the PowerPC architecture. At a press conference on a hot May afternoon in Austin, Texas in 1992, those involved talked about creating computing platforms that would be able to run either Mac or x86 software, and said that future Apple and IBM computers would be compatible. More than a decade later, x86-based software can run on Mac-based systems, "just not too well," and IBM executive told me in a recent interview.

That shortcoming is not to suggest that the PowerPC has been a failure. Not only has Apple been able to use the architecture to provide PCs which at different times are arguably superior in overall performance to x86-based counterparts, and the Mac has become the top platform of those involved in many forms of publishing. Motorola Semiconductor, which more recently became Freescale, led the way in moving the PowerPC architecture into myriad embedded applications. IBM used the architecture as a basis to build its Power architecture that fuels some of its most powerful servers.

A lot has changed in the microprocessor world since 1992. That same May when the PowerPC co-development effort was announced, Texas Instruments jumped into the x86 market with a 25-MHz 486 microprocessor. TI joined the likes of Cyrix and Chips and Technologies and Advanced Micro Devices in trying to steal away market from Intel. PC processors are now running at multi-gigahertz, and only AMD remains as an x86 competitor. The vision of an Apple PC that run can run x86 software, however, remains intriguing.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
News
COVID-19: Using Data to Map Infections, Hospital Beds, and More
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/25/2020
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Robotic Process Automation
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  3/23/2020
Slideshows
How Startup Innovation Can Help Enterprises Face COVID-19
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  3/24/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll