In the past, Apple Computer has used San Fransisco's MacWorld Expo to release new hardware and software. What's next on the list? The highly anticipated Intel-based computers, as Apple migrates away from the PowerPC architecture, and into Intel's chipset.
At least one Apple-News website has credible information that Apple is looking at releasing an Intel iBook at MacWorld. While the sites did not elaborate on prices or capabilities, they did suggest that the new computers would be based on Yonah processors, the next-generation chip after the Pentium M. Yonah has single and dual core options, and the dual core processor would outperform Apple's current G4 PowerBooks. WOW!
One problem with the Intel-based computers is that today's Macintosh software is compiled for IBM/Motorola's PowerPC architecture, and these hardware instructions are not compatable with Intel's x86 instruction set. Thus, today's Mac software will need to run under emulation, or inside a Virtual Machine. Apple has successfully done this before -- remember 1990, when Apple went from the CISC-based Motorola 680x0 processor to the PPC601? Back then, they called the "transformation" software a Fat Binary -- the software was compiled in both formats, and while larger on the hard drive, it would run properly on the old hardware platform, or on the new one.
Apple's latest "transformation" software is called Rosetta. This system software will translate PowerPC instructions on the fly into x86 code. This will allow today's version of software to run on the new hardware. There will be some performance penalties, however.... sources estimate about 30 percent less effeciency. But as new Intel-based Mac programs became available, they would run at full-speed. Depending on the complexity of the application, it might even be possible to re-compile the sourcecode for open-source applications, and realize the new speed right away!
The source websites also implied that Apple will price these new machines very aggressivly to launch the new platform. This is great news for consumers!
Personally, I have been to the Apple Store twice in as many months. I have test driven the latest iMac flatscreen and PowerBooks that I wrote about in this forum earlier this month. They are excellent machines. Nice quality. Definately a speedup from my old G3 Powerbook. One of the models felt zippy compared to my 1GHz Linux box. But after speaking to some of the Genius guys there, and getting a good feel for the boxes, I'll gladly take a Christmas gift of a new Intel laptop when they are released in 2006.