[rescue] Apple to ditch IBM, switch to Intel chips

pat at computer-refuge.org pat at computer-refuge.org
Sat Jun 4 15:21:01 CDT 2005

On Sat, Jun 04, 2005 at 10:00:00AM -0700, Skeezics Boondoggle wrote:
> The fact that Apple is profitable despite the fact that IBM/Moto can't get
> the PPC scaled to 3+ Ghz - YET - is quite remarkable.  Given time, I would
> trust that IBM can and will catch up with the x86 world in terms of clock
> rates (despite what bunk we here know that is, and how much Apple spent on
> marketing to counter the "Mhz Myth").

The fact that you've even mentioned it means that you must think it's
still a relevant measure between different processor types...
> Or is it just that The Steve is ticked about sheer production volume
> holding back his ability to ship machines?  In that case, finding another
> fab to stamp out more chips would be sensible - even with IBM as your sole
> supplier, it's never a good position to be in as a manufacturer, relying
> on single-source components...

Motorola fabs PPC chips to, IBM isn't a single source for them.

> And whatever happened to the Motorola 8500-series chips?

They're used in embedded stuff it seems.

> On Sat, 4 Jun 2005, Patrick Giagnocavo wrote:
> > Well, for a counter-point, Sun is actually selling their V20z and V40z
> > Opteron boxes pretty well.
> Yup.  And has it really helped Sun's bottom line?  

It can't be hurting it; Sun is one of the few vendors that makes *good
quality* Opteron boxes.  We've got a cluster of HP ones at work (~96
dual-proc 1U machines), and the hardware design on those is just as bad
as Dell hardware. ;)

> I guess it's positive
> in that maybe shops that would never buy a SPARC (or, did in the past, and
> are disappointed that the "S" in "SPARC" hasn't meant "scalable" beyond
> fits and starts) at least still have a Sun-logo box in the rack, and it's
> likely that that box is running Solaris instead of something else... but
> I'm betting the margins on the V20z/V40z are a LOT slimmer than on SPARC
> hardware, and aren't quite a few of those Sun Opteron clusters actually
> running Linux?

What's wrong with them running Linux?  And looking at what prices Sun
charges (even educational prices) vs what similar components cost from
NewEgg, it looks like Sun is making a decent margin on the hardware.
> You can just tell that Sun wants to be selling SPARCs and Solaris, and the
> dabbling with Linux and Intel/AMD is still sort of half-hearted... a
> stopgap to staunch the hemmoraging... if the US-IV+ were more competetive
> SPECwise with the POWER5 and Itanic

At this point, Opterons are more 'competative' than Itanics. Itanium is
one processor family I don't want to have a representative of in my
collection of machines...  Amusingly enough, from what I hear, AMD's
dual core offering smokes the crap out of Intel's.

Also, Sparc processors never were all that competative, performance
wise, with at least POWER... The Sun F6800s we've got at work have a
*slower* memory bus speed than the 5-year old IBM POWER3-II SP nodes
we've got.  The only advantage they've got is the large memory capacity.
The 192GB in an F6800 vs 64GB is the SP node makes a big difference if
you need that capacity.  IBM's similar current offering, the p690 and
p59x, which scale up to 0.5-2TB of ram, are fairly expensive compared
to the Sun hardware, though MUCH faster in terms of both I/O and CPU

> So why not ask why Sun hasn't approached Intel (or AMD?) to build faster
> SPARCs? :-)

Because Fujitsu is doing it; and, Fujitsu makes faster Sparc processors
than Sun is able to.

> Apple COULD, at any point, issue a MacOSX for x86 as a software product 
> while still maintaining their own hardware line - hell, NeXTSTEP already 
> had been ported to SPARC and HPPA as well, and all that "fat binaries" 
> support is likely still in there, right?  Darwin runs on x86.  So why not 
> just port the remaining proprietary bits and release the full MacOSX for 
> Intel?  Afraid it'll scavenge hardware sales!?

Personally, I hope that they don't, because while I'm not a huge fan of
OSX, I do like apple hardware.  Getting a dual-G5 box is a hell of a lot
cheaper than getting a dual-proc/core POWER4 machine, but not too much
wimpier hardware.  If Apple stopped selling Power(PC) hardware, that'd
mean I'd have one less choice when I wanted a machine based around the
best non-EOL'd processor family.

> architectures are going to fall to the Intel onslaught, that the Wintel
> monoculture will continue to devour everything in its path, and that
> eventually there won't be anything out there interesting or innovative or
> unique or curious or fun about the computer industry anymore - it'll all
> just be the same bland, boring, bloated, locked-down DRMized crap dictated
> by Redmond & Santa Clara, and all the rest will be also-rans.  I'll just
> be one of those weird guys with a basement full of evidence that it wasn't
> always like that, despite the vast sucking memory hole of the "consumer"  
> market.

There's reasons that I use Linux instead of Windows, and that I don't
only use it on x86 hardware.  The world won't fall to WinTel no matter
what Apple decides to do; between Solaris, AIX, and Linux (not to
mention everything else) there's enough stopping force to keep that from
happening for the forseeable future.


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