Linked by Adam S on Wed 18th Jun 2008 15:14 UTC
Mac OS X RoughlyDrafted magazine has been investigating the details of Apple OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" operating system revision. Last week, they shared an article outlining "what's new in Snow Leopard. They are also outlining myths of Snow Leopard. Although very few details are available, it certainly has not resulted in a shortage of discussion of the next operating system from Cupertino.
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lurch_mojoff
Member since:
2007-05-12

This is a good thing, as I have a good chuckle everytime I load up Xcode and look at the project settings. To make everyone happy, I have to compile for PPC, PPC64, x86 and EM64T (and the options are there in Xcode). Now that's a real fat binary. It makes sense at some point to fully go EM64T as all Macs shipped within the last 2 years support 64 bit. You get the performance benefit of EM64T (think 8 more GPRs) and you get slimmer binaries.

That right there is the problem. If Apple drop PPC support on the OS level, developers will too stop making universal "fat" binaries. Right now, because the vast majority of the software is universal, Apple can switch back to PPC in a snap, if they so fancy. This is an advantage that no other OEM has - Windows is officially x86 (and ia64?) only, just about all the software for Windows is x86 only, and Linux is not really an option form most PC buyers. If you consider that ten years ago, when Apple were still scant on cash, they could afford to develop and build Mac OS X for both PPC and x86, secretly but still, I don't think they'll save (or need to save) all that much by dropping PPC.

Also, neither Grand Central, nor OpenCL necessitate dropping PPC. Auto-parallelization (or whatever Grand Central is supposed to be) is not dependent on instruction set (certainly there is pretty much no difference in that regards between PPC and Intel 64). OpenCL is also supposed to transparently decide between GPGPU and CPU vector units, so SSE vs. AltiVec should not matter either.

In short, Apple has quite a lot to lose and nearly nothing to gain from dropping PPC.

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