It’s been rumoured and debunked every so often for the last couple of months that Apple’s long-standing partnership with IBM and their PowerPC line was coming to and end and would be replaced with something from Intel, and at the WWDC Steve Jobs has confirmed that it’s going to happen starting next year. What’s really amazed me is something he said about how they were going to handle the wholesale conversion from one CPU architecture to another (quote from Macworld):
Mac OS X has been “leading a secret double life” for the past five years, said Jobs. “So today for the first time, I can confirm the rumors that every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for PowerPC and Intel. This has been going on for the last five years.”
Talk about a trojan horse. While everyone has been wondering how Apple would do it, the truth is that they’ve done it. Five years ago. Wow. I can’t remember anyone managing to pull off anything like that with barely a rumour escaping. I doubt that it will be x86 architecture because if OS X has been compatible with that for five years some enterprising meddler would have had it running and its 64-bit support is poor, so I’d guess that EM64T or IA-64 is likely.
This could have big implications for Apple’s hardware, not least because it should become more affordable. Intel architecture is familiar to PC developers so we could be seeing more Mac games which will be nice. Also, advancement of Apple laptops has stalled as the G5 has been too hot and power-hungry to be fitted into a viable portable. Intel have caught up with the G4 with their fast and efficient Pentium M line, so something similar in Apple’s camp could put the lead back into their hands and be even more powerful than existing G5s. Some might feel somehow betrayed by this news, but I’m very excited.