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Apple to move on Merced

Shift away from PowerPC just Intel spin, but Merced support is something else...

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Analysis Claims that Apple is to make, or at the very least is considering, a strategic shift away from the PowerPC platform and over to Intel would be easy to dismiss if they had appeared on a Usenet newsgroup. But when they come from a senior figure within Intel's Architecture Group, the team that guides the evolution of the company's IA-32 and IA-64 processors, you have to sit up and take notice. And that's just what The Register heard this week, from just such a source, one who has, in the past, been pretty damn reliable. The claim goes something like this: Apple is working closely with Intel on 64-bit versions of MacOS X Server and MacOS X Client for Intel's forthcoming Merced processor the first to use its IA-64 architecture. The IA-64 version of Server will ship in 2001, Client will ship in the 2002-2003 timeframe. The background to this plan, claims the source, is trouble within the Apple-IBM-Motorola (AIM) PowerPC consortium centring on each partner's view of where the processor technology should go and the features it needs to deliver. Clearly an Intel insider can't be taken at face value where a rival processor platform is concerned. Intel spokespeople may claim that the only real competition on the company's radar screen is Advanced Micro Devices, but PowerPC remains a threat, especially in the areas Intel isn't too hot, in particular embedded systems -- processors that go into cars, fridges, mobile phones, not PCs. The embedded processor market isn't directly relevant to the Mac world, but it does matter inasmuch as it's the place where Motorola's semiconductor division makes most of its money. Motorola long realised PowerPC is probably never going to make it big in the PC arena, so it's been concentrating on better equipping the chip for embedded roles. That's why Motorola developed AltiVec, the upcoming G4's instruction set extensions for handling data streams. AltiVec isn't about competing with the Pentium III's comparable Streaming SIMD Extensions, it's about competing with Digital Signal Processors. Click here for the next page

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