macnews.net.tc
2006-03-15
2007: PowerPC Macs deprecated?
So Apple's on track with the transition to intel. They're even "early", as they put it. Well, yes, most applications aren't universal binaries just yet. Now in this report, ThinkSecret mentions that while Adobe might bring Production Studio 2 (or 3) to the Mac (now only released on Windows), Adobe may only do so for intel Macs. Together with Apple bringing out new professional apps with support that doesn't go very far back (Aperture for example crawls on earlier PowerBook G4s, and to make use of its highend feature set, you really need a good G5 at least), I think those professionals who now buy into the last G5 systems may wake up already in 2007 and find their PowerPC Mac systems older than they want them to be. Sure: They'll run the software for which they were originally bought just fine, and I'm sure that Mac OS X will support them for at least 10.5 and 10.6, but OS support alone does not make a production system. Microsoft, for example, stopped supporting classic Mac OS quite quickly when they released the first version of Office for Mac OS X (Office v.X). Suddenly, OS 9 users were stopped at the 2001 version of Office. (Although in that specific case, that wasn't too much hassle, really, since the file format didn't change so far.)
All I want to say is this: If you're in charge for the Macs at a professional graphics design shop, I'd stop buying PowerPC Macs rather sooner than later. It might seem like the intel Macs are not ready yet, but the day Adobe stops supporting PowerPC Macs in a new version of their software, that Quad G5 PowerMac has the same age as a single processor G4 Mac mini or a blue&white G3 PowerMac: They're going to be out of the loop.
Rather, I'd use this year (2006) to closely watch what's happening on the intel side of Macs. Maybe buy one machine like the intel Mac mini to see for yourself what's available universally, how things run in Rosetta etc. And whenever you feel the urge to buy one of the last G5 PowerMacs, it might be better to buy that G4 or G5 you already have a little RAM and a faster/bigger harddrive and maybe clean the system up by reinstalling it. It'll make your system faster and buy it some time. Before long, you'll want that Mac Pro system that runs Adobe CS 3 at four times the speed it'd run on a dual-core PowerMac G5 and will also run Adobe CS 4 in 2008/9, while the PPC quite probably won't.
Comments:
I think Apple should really develop a Rosetta that translates Intel to PPC instructions for users with PPC machines. Sure it would be slow but at least both architectures would be supported going forward no matter which platform an application was developed for.
 
I totally agree with Tony. This is something that has worried me from the start. Another solution would be to ALWAYS make applications universal binaries, or at least keep development restricted to X-Code and provide the source so that Intel specific or PPC specific build could be made. I think a combination of all these approaches is really best, that way all your bases are covered. And if suddenly Freescale or IBM turn out a PPC that smokes the latest x86 chips, it can be used still. Apples target should not be to complete the change to Intel chips (although I think at this point they should still complete the transition), but to make the OS and all applications for the OS, architecture-independent. That way, they could use PPC, Intel or AMD.
 
Such an environment would not help in the case mentioned. If it were only about something "easy-to-translate", then Adobe would simply click the "build PPC version" thingie in Xcode. But if they really intend to build more closely to the intel hardware, then the suggested Rosetta-environment would probably fail just like today's Rosetta fails with Apple's pro software...
 
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