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Monday June 6, 2005 6:44 pm

Apple and Intel:  Now What?


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So the rumors were true.  Apple did indeed announce today that they are ditching IBM in favor of Intel.  But now what?  This heralds a total architecture change — are we going towards a more “PC-like” build?  What is to come of the technology that Apple has so prided themselves on?  Many Mac geeks are distressed over the announcement at Keynote today that Intel and Apple are indeed teaming up, and as a friend of mine aptly said “It just doesn’t sound right.  Or feel right.” He’s right.  It just doesn’t.  The whole Mac scene is buzzing about this shocking announcement, after days of everyone shooting down the rumors as “media garbage.”  A step backward?  Or maybe a keen move ahead that none of us can anticipate, slim though that chance may be.  However, it is only a few hours following the announcement, and that is far too early to tell what that tricky old Steve Jobs may have up his sleeve.  Let’s hope it’s an ace, because this is starting to look a little ugly.  Yikes. As one anonymous game developer said:

This is the death of the platform. Unless Apple integrates DirectX, the port time would only decrease by roughly 33%. We really only spend about a 1/3 of our times AT MOST on Endian issues (ie, byte-swapping). The rest of the time is spent converting DX and Windows OS calls to OpenGL and Mac OS. The big problem is that for the next few years, developer time will increase. You now have to make sure the software runs on two completely different architecture sets. We’ll still have to do all the byte-swapping mess for the older PPC Macs. So say a game today takes 12 months to port. That time will be increased to probably 14-16 months, simply on the basis of having to do additional testing and debugging on the Intel architecture.
However, Andrew Welch of Ambrosia Software provides a counterpoint:
If you can run Windows games on a Mac, will it kill Mac gaming and the need for ports? Yes and no. If you have a machine that will dual-boot under Windows, it’s certainly possible that some people who might not have purchased a Mac due to lack of games (or what have you) may now do so. They will be able to dual-boot the machine. This may result in developers not wishing to spend the money to port games to the Mac, certainly. But people who prefer one platform over the other will always rather not have to dual-boot, just as folks still clamor for native Linux games, despite the dual-booting ability.
The death of the platform?  Or a slick marketing maneuver?  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, let’s not get carried away worrying. Read More | Inside Mac Games

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