Whats the bonus of Intel chips in a Mac?

If there has been talk of this already and I have missed it, let me apologize in advance.

What is the main incentive of Apple going with Intel processors instead of the Power PC processors? I don’t own a Mac, but I am planning on purchasing a powerbook eventually and I can’t get a straight answer other than, “Uh, cuz its better.”

Anybody know the true benefits of the Intel processors in here vs. the standard ones in Macs? I look it up and all I get is hype.

My guess is that to the consumer, not much. To Apple, a reduced cost. That’s why most big businesses do anything, for the profit.

Although a side bonus for consumers is the ability to run a hacked Mas OS on a non-Mac system.

Apple can get faster processors, in very large quantities, that consume less power.

Apple has had supply and technology problems with Motorola and IBM, the suppliers of Power PC processors.

That remains to be seen. It certainly isn’t supported by Apple.

They’re faster. That’s not hype.

(emphasis mine, as is the nitpick)

Powerbooks won’t have the Intel processor. The new Intel-based Macintosh portable machines will be called MacBook Pros.

Well, if the Apple Marketing department can be believed, the new MacBook Pro is 4x faster. And it looks like there is an opportunity to make this hardware dual boot Mac/Win (maybe not manufacturer approved though).

I believe the biggest advantages for them is the mobile processors that intel has. The PowerPC chips used more power, generated more heat and had slower clock speeds.

The folks over at engadget.com were going nuts over these during CES or MacWorld expo.

Cool. So they still will have the stability and preformance of a regular mac (so I should go ahead and buy the new processor in the MacBook Pro?)

According to the commercial, the benefit is to the Intel chips themselves. Now they can be used for real processing tasks. Not silly little meaningless tasks. I guess it makes the chips feel better.

Speed and the promise of a future development path.
The PowerPC, while an (arguably) better architecture, didn’t live up to its promise. This was largely a matter of economics. Apple’s development partners, IBM and Motorola weren’t manufacturing the chips in the volume it would take to justify expenditures in fabrication and chip improvement. Apple promised a 3GHZ high end machine in 2003 and I’m not sure they have one yet. Notebook speed has been particularly lagging.

I assume that Apple, having gotten the inside information on the future chip plans by Motorola and IBM, decided that the only way to stay competitive was to switch to a different and higher volume architecture.

Depends how soon you need it. I’m running on a 1.5GHz PowerBook right now (the one that’s supposedly 1/4 as fast), and I can run truly absurd numbers of programs without feeling a performance hit at all (I remember at one point writing a big chunky report, browsing the web, and watching a DVD, and it got a little skippy, which is when I realized that I had forgotten to close Eclipse the night before).

Traditionally Apple has a few minor problems to work out in their first product releases. If you can, wait for another revision to come out, probably at Paris Expo in September or therabouts. I can’t remember what the typical “must get Revision 1” wait time is for things to iron out.

Yes, by all accounts it seems that the transition to the Intel chips is going very smoothly for Apple. You shouldn’t really notice any difference between an Intel-based Macbook Pro and the PowerPC-based PowerBook, other than speed.

The idea of running Windows dual-boot with MacOS on either an independent PC platform or something turned out by Apple is really just a bit of misinformed speculation at the moment; this isn’t Apple porting their OS to run on PC architecture, this is Apple using a different kind of processor; the processor is one part of the system (admittedly quite a significant part), not all of it.

OK, maybe it’s a step toward the possibility of dual-boot, but probably not in any practical sense.

And of course, strange things sometimes happen; like Palm Inc releasing a Windows Mobile device (the Treo 700w). I’m not holding my breath for a vendor-approved hybrid Mac/Win machine though.

That’s traditionally been true, but I don’t think it applies in this case. Most of Apple issues have been packaging-related, especially in the notebooks. They had problems with bad screens, fragile screens, bad hinges, bad cooling, fragile latches, and so forth. Apple has had few issues with their electronics, except for the logic boards in the iBooks.

And the electronics are the only things that have changed in the MacBooks - the case is same design they’ve been using for years, and it’s already had all the bugs worked out.

I’d put even money on someone running Windows on a Mac (either dual boot, or through some virtualization layer) in less than a month. I’d do the same for Mac OS running on some non-Mac x86 hardware in 3 months.

In fact, I’d be surprised if Microsoft didn’t formally support Windows on Macs. I’m sure they’d be quite happy to sell Windows to Mac customers, and Apple has stated that they’re not going to attempt to keep Windows off Macs.

As others have mentioned the plus is future scalability. The PowerPC chips were hitting a performance wall, and IIRC IBM didn’t want to dump R&D into them, and Apple didn’t feel like waiting.

I waited for the new macs to be announced, and wasn’t really thrilled with the Macbook. From a spec standpoint it’s wonderful, but $2000 is a bit out of my price range. I’d love to hang on for a new ibook or regular Macbook, but it looks like it may be another 6 months. After much agonizing, I’m going to pick up a current one. There’s a premium on having it now as opposed to waiting 6 months for something that may or may not come at that time.

They already do, in a sense. Microsoft Office:Mac Professional comes with a virtual PC emulator that runs WinXP on a Mac.

He he. Yes. I actually have Virtual PC for my iBook. It runs… very slowly. And of course the graphics acceleration is pitiful.

So, I suppose that one could claim to run XP on a Mac right now, but since it would be x86 emulated to PPC emulated back to x86, it would be ass-slow. I mean running in a virtualized environment (still running the actual instructions natively), rather than an emulated environment.

A more sensible comparison from Ars Technica’s review. Benchmarks are included there, including Xbench, which is a ‘universal binary’ (=compiled for Intel and PowerPC). No, it’s not 4x as fast (Apple’s numbers are based on SpecInt performance, I think), but it is definitely faster. In raw terms it’s nearly as good as the PowerMac dual G5 on some tests.

Rosetta is what’s used by the system to translate older software (on the fly). It’s not exactly an emulator, and the results are apparently tolerable for now – though some software suffers a lot (none of the Apple ‘pro’ apps will run). Microsoft has plans to provide Office for the Intel chips, but considering how little computation is required for word processing, it’s probably usable as-is.

I’d also say Power has done pretty well for IBM, there just wasn’t anything there for the consumer (as noted, it wasn’t worth it to them).

While the iMac is virtually identical, the ‘MacBooks’ have a few minor changes from the previous model (built-in camera, no modem, no S-video plug out, no DL burner, smaller screen more info here).

The speculation I’ve heard is that IBM just couldn’t come up with a G5 chip that would be cool enough to include in a laptop computer, and that to come up with a new generation of laptops Apple had to switch to a different processor.

The official position of Apple, as far as I know, is that they will do nothing to prevent someone from running Windows on their hardware, but they won’t go out of their way to make sure you can do it either.