About Mac OS X on Intel

There’s been a rumor circulating for some time regarding the possibility (or the plan) that Apple might switch to Intel CPU’s (from Motorola) due to an ever-increasing gap in performance.

There is certainly truth to this, and all is as it should be.

Anyone who suggests that making a switch like this isn’t in Apple’s best interest might be misunderstanding the issue. Switching from a Motorola CPU to one made by Intel does not imply that Mac OS would actually run on a “PC”. Rather, Mac OS would continue to run only on Apple manufactured computers (with a different CPU).

There would be no loss of branding or control, and no “hardware compatability issues” as Apple would still manufacture and control their hardware.

You see, Apple would not release Mac OS X as a stand-alone operating system to run on your PC. It would run on your Mac, which, by the way, has a non-Motorola CPU. But you wouldn’t know this unless someone told you, because your experience would be identical, the switch transparent. Apple would make certain of that.

Think about it. This would be no different than several years ago when Apple switched from older PowerPC chips to the G3 – and rewrote their OS for that purpose. Other systems using PowerPC chips (and there were some) couldn’t be made to run Mac OS at that time, and current computers with Intel chips (not produced by Apple) wouldn’t be able to run their new OS either. Having an Intel chip wouldn’t mean being Mac OS compatable.

Additionally, consider that Mac OS X is based on FreeBSD 4.4, an Intel operating system. Don’t think for a moment that there wasn’t good reason for this. Consider, in fact, that all through the development of Mac OS X (as is the case with most UNIX systems), there has existed multiple versions for multiple platforms and CPU’s. OpenBSD, NetBSD, Linux, and many other UNIX (and UNIX-like) operating systems are developed with this purpose in mind and have been for years. This is just one of many advantages to the UNIX operating system methodology. Only hardware-specific details need to be changed. If the OS is well written (and BSD UNIX is a champion of well-composed code), then the core of the OS and most of its utilities will be independent of the hardware it resides on.

Just as Apple replaced SCSI drives with IDE, lame video cards with good ones (that previously existed only for the PC), and serial ports with USB and Firewire, Apple will migrate to the best and fastest CPU available to them.

Nowadays, the CPU isn’t as big a deal as it used to be. Mac’s already share many things in common with PC’s – you’d be surprised to know exactly how much. Why not the CPU? Speed is speed, after all. Nothing more.

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