What Does Steve Know That we Don't?

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Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2005, 08:51
Category: Intel

cell.cpu.jpgSometimes you want to be a fly on the wall and hear what actual is going on behind closed doors in tech labs and board rooms. A article over at NEWS.com states the CELL triad has released a 1000 page developer kit. The article brings out a few unique directions that the CELL Processor will be used in: Toshiba will be using it in their TVs (the next step making the TV as the digital hub), Mercury Computer Systems will use it in their own custom made computers, Sony in the Playstation 3, and variations of the chip will appear in mobile phones and PDAs.
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cell.cpu.jpgSometimes you want to be a fly on the wall and hear what actual is going on behind closed doors in tech labs and board rooms. A article over at NEWS.com states the CELL triad has released a 1000 page developer kit. The article brings out a few unique directions that the CELL Processor will be used in: Toshiba will be using it in their TVs (the next step making the TV as the digital hub), Mercury Computer Systems will use it in their own custom made computers, Sony in the Playstation 3, and variations of the chip will appear in mobile phones and PDAs.
Granted, it hasn’t even debuted yet, but it makes you wonder with all the market volume potential, what it is that Steve knows that we don’t. Is the decision to move to Intel to let consumers know that Apple isn’t all that different (and forge forward using the help of the iPod halo effect) from that mainstream PC under the hood? Or is it to bring Apple more in parallel to PC software and hardware developers so that the same choices exist equally for the Apple platform?
Or did he see an advantage for Apple’s future market share? Maybe he wanted to be catered to and IBM (being one-third of the triad) refused to bend over backwards? Whatever the true reasons are I wish I knew them because the CELL chip has a unique appeal to it in light of how AMD is grabbing more of Intel’s market, Intel is pushing off its product debuts and Rosetta running virtually in the background doesn’t give me full confidence that my apps will run with all of their original gusto.
Could the CELL chip coupled with Linux be the next “Apple?” The darling underdog with the “can do” attitude? After all, the GUI experience is almost identical (give or take personal preferences and relative to what you like) across all computing environments these days. 2006 is going to be a very interesting year indeed.

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2 Responses to “What Does Steve Know That we Don't?”

  1. They’re going with intel because with a tri-booting piece of hardware they’ll give a gradual transition path for the Wintel peeps. First the wintel users will buy a mac because it’s pretty. Then they’ll boot Mac OS X to do photo stuff. Then they’ll ditch windows.
    They probably have other reasons, but I can’t believe that this isn’t one.

  2. The Intel switch is nearly the final step by Steve Jobs in erasing all traces of Sculley, Gasse and Spindler et al from the Mac, thus re-claiming it as “his” computer. He’s already changed the OS to NextStep, now he’s dumping IBM & Motorola. He’ll likely dump the Tower Macs soon, too. He doesn’t want users to be able to monkey with the “perfect” computers he sells them, so open architecture’s gotta go.
    SJobs is “claiming” the Mac the way a dog “claims” a fire hydrant – by urinating on it.
    Whenever SJ has inflicted his idea of fanless perfection on computers, the results have been suboptimal. Apple ///. Original unexpandable 128k Mac. Cube. The Mac likely would have died in the late ’80s if Jobs had stayed at Apple because the Mac II and its descendants would never have existed.
    More recent examples of Jobs’ “perfection” are the titanium and aluminum G4 PowerBooks. Exquisite design but the paper-thin shells and cramped interiors render them far too fragile to endure the slings and arrows of inevitable misfortune of portable life.
    A portable should be able to suffer minor accidents without a scratch or hiccough, but an Al book dents. From an engineering standpoint it would make sense to add 1/2″ to each dimension and use the extra space for a thicker shell with consequent greater durability, and more design flexibility. Is a 1.5″ thick computer somehow inherrently less “perfect” than a 1″ thick one? Size and weight differences would be trivial, and the durability difference could be dramatic.
    The Intel switch isn’t likely motivated by IBM’s inability to supply G5 chips Apple “needs”. More likely they won’t expend great effort to create what SJobs “wants” – infinite processing power together with infinitesimal power consumption and consequent heat generation – and at a bargain price.
    It would be relatively easy to design a portable around IBM’s newly announced low-power G5 if you let the engineers do the designing instead of Steve Jobs. Let engineers decide things like cooling needs, body shell thickness, &c within general guidelines like “as small and light as possible with a given size LCD display and sufficient ruggedness for portable use”. Then let Jonathan Ive make it pretty.
    Intel’s roadmaps aren’t any more accurate than anyone else’s. They’ve repeatedly painted themselves into corners in the past by thinking only of the past. “Outside the box” isn’t their style. [Think 8086, 432, 960, Itanium aka Itanic] The ultimate result is the Pentium family – basicallly malignant 8085s designed by Rube Goldberg on acid.
    If you spent as much time optimizing code for it as has been spent optimizing for x86, you could make a cheese sandwich look like a good processor. RISC processors inherrently shift more work onto compilers than CISC, and thus far relatively little effort has been aimed in that direction.
    Note that Anandtech’s recent PPC tests under Linux using gcc 4 showed a 70% improvement in floating point performance over gcc 3. The mid-section of the PPC version gcc 4 finally got some PPC-specific tweaking. You can’t paste a PPC back end onto a compiler that’s highly optimized for x86 and get optimal PPC performance.
    SJobs said Mac-OS X86 has been under development for 5 yrs. Why didn’t he devote those efforts to optimizing PPC gcc? Why didn’t he invest some of Apple’s several bilion $ cash with Moto & IBM to get the uPs he “needs”? My guess is he’s been planning the switch all along.