People following computer-related news in the past few days probably already knows about this, but Apple has announced to switch from IBM’s PowerPC processors to Intel x86 processors. It has been rumoured to happen for years and now it happened. Major reason is that IBM doesn’t meet Apple’s expectations in processor speed and energy usage. We’ve been waiting for a PowerBook G5 for how long now, and it’s not going to happen. Apple will switch to Intel processors and probably will use similar processors like used in Centrino laptops for its iBook and Powerbooks (but this is my guess).
Except Mac fanatics screaming that this is like hell freezing over; that Apple should never use something that’s even remotely related to the Wintel (combination of Windows and Intel) platform, what does this mean? Well, PowerPC processors use a different instruction-set than Intel processors. So at least all Mac software has to be recompiled for Intel processors. Apple will also supply the new I-Macs (Intel Macs, get it?) with a kind of emulator/translator thingy that allows you to run “old-style” PowerPC Mac software on your Intel Mac. This is slower than native Intel Mac software though. Apple made compilers available that can compile software into binaries that run on both the PowerPC and Intel Macs.
Apple will launch the new Intel-based Macs next year. Personally I would think that they won’t sell many more Macs until then, nobody wants to buy hardware that is soon to be replaced by newer radically different hardware.