Apple Delivers First Intel Mac

It’s 2006 and the wait is over for the next generation Intel and Apple products. The many months of anticipation brings some interesting news. Intel used the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as it’s launching point for the Core Duo processor, based on the Pentium M processor. The two cores can process information simultaneously, or used by the operating system to extend multitasking for rapid media creation.

The Core Duo was designed for high performance, but at low power, extending the life of a portable computer, or reducing the cooling load on a lightweight desktop. At CES 2006, Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel, announced the rapid adoption of the Core Duo technology. It took Intel one year to ship the first one millionth Pentium processor, but plans to ship the one millionth Core Duo processors in just three weeks.

Core Duo will land in Microsoft Windows PC’s, the new media platform called VIIV, and the newest family of Apple Computer products called MacBook Pro and iMac. In previous incarnations of high penetration desktop and laptop computers, the highest volume processors included the Pentium and PowerPC lines of chips, but with Apple coming aboard the Intel train, only AMD stands alone.

In June 2005, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, announced that every version of Mac OS X since its inception has been compiled and performance tested to run of both PowerPC and Intel processors. In order for Mac developers to reap the full benefits of the Intel transition, a new type of application called a Universal Binary will have to be delivered, which will have the ability to run natively on either a PowerPC or Intel architecture. Applications from legacy PowerPC systems will run using a code translation technology called Rosetta.

At Macworld 2006, Apple released the Core Duo iMac and Core Duo MacBook Pro. Each machine shares the same family of graphics engine, the ATI Radeon X1600 GPU, and both have memory expandable to 2 GB. Both systems have a built in iSight cameras for video conferencing, quick snapshots, or rudimentary podcasting. The performance increase from previous systems is astounding, with at least 2X performance increase on the iMac and perhaps as much as 4X increase on the MacBook Pro as compared to the PowerBook G4. Apple has two major product leaps.

macworld 2006 intel universal binaries
macworld 2006 intel universal binaries
macworld 2006 apple booth banner
macworld 2006 apple booth banner
iCES 2006 intel keynote dual core advantage
iCES 2006 intel keynote dual core advantage
macworld 2006
macworld 2006

High Performance & Energy Efficient Computing

In the history of computation, electrical power consumption has been on the bottom of the stack in the marketing campaign of Intel, AMD, IBM, and other semiconductor chip fabricators. We’ve all heard about the MHz and GHz wars between Pentium, Athlon, PowerPC, Itanium, and Opteron computer processors. Over the last decade the performance of microprocessors has gone up many fold, usually exceeding Moore’s Law, and likewise following Rock’s Law.

The marketplace of ideas contracted as processor companies folded, or merged. Today we have three major high performance high volume microprocessor manufacturers, and a new era of computing at each. IBM uses the Power Architecture, Intel has the Xeon line, and AMD has the Opteron line of 64-bit (sometimes called x64) dual-core chips. Several factors facilitated the move to multi-core, but the greatest achievement was the move from 130 nm production to the 90 nm process.

Working in such a small production environment allows multiple processors on a single die, which essentially permits nearly double the performance on a dual processor configuration. In the future expect more than two cores on a die, but at the electrical power expense of a single core. In 2006, chip vendors hope to move to 65 nm processes, that will allow even more cores onto the same space as the older 130 and 90 nm designs.

This describes the break from the GHz run-up, instead of a single 10 GHz chip, produce quad-core 2.5 GHz chips with equal or better performance, and at at least a quarter of the electrical requirements. Today, Xeon processors take 110 W per core, Opteron 90 W per core, and PowerPC 55 W per core. A new metric is being developed called performance per watt, and multiple system integrators are working on the problem with next generation chips.

Sun Microsystems is first out with a low power dual-core dual-processor system, the 1U Sun Fire X4100 Server, which also reduces power consumption by using SAS 2.5 inch hard drives. Anticipate other vendors like Dell, IBM, and even Apple Computer to explore energy efficient designs to reduce electrical consumption from carbon combustion fuel generating stations.

In the coming months Apple will most likely release a dual-core Xserve G5, along with a future Intel based Xserve. Apple currenty ships a dual-core Power Mac G5 Dual workstation and soon to release the quad-core Power Mac G5 Quad.

IBM power microprocessor
IBM power microprocessor

Intel and NVIDIA Inside

Apple Xserve

Apple is moving the Mac to an Intel chipset. Until that day in 2007, where all new Mac machines will be Intel inside, expect many surprises. The glue to any good chipset deployment is not only the underlying semiconductor design, but the application environment to write to the hardware, or application program interface (API). Apple Xcode is the technology that drives the software engine. When the multicore comes out with hyperthreading, then we’re talking a good move toward Intel. The chip will have at least two onboard processors, and two virtual processors. All eyes are watching the Intel Fall Developer Forum, to see the processor roadmap.

Along with advanced processors, comes 64-bit computing, which allows access to more than 4 GB of RAM (the 32-bit limit). Today’s Power Macs can hold 8 GB of RAM. I was told by Adobe, that Creative Suite 2 needs around 2 GB of RAM for all it’s applications, and Apple Motion definitely needs all it can get (4 GB at least). the future is always in flux.

At the end of spring and now into the summer, the GPU market has reached an inflection point. Unlike the 90 nm and 65 nm semiconductor barrier, both NVIDIA and ATI chug along with product announcements and advancements. ATI announced at Computex CrossFire, a method to bond multiple PCI/AGP video cards together for near double the performance. NVIDIA had already announced a similar solution they called SLI. NVIDIA stirred the pot again with the GeForce 7 series. if the GeForce 6 series did not scream enough, we have the latest and greatest with more transistors and higher performance.

NVIDIA spurs on interest in its product and introductions with unique characters, usually buxom women scantily clad to attract the gamers and young folk of the planet. if you recall NVIDIA creates these female persona to demonstrate the real time rendering of characters in cinematic motion. all in all we have luna, nalu, dusk, and dawn (summary below). Will these chipsets make it the Mac?

GPU NVIDIA history

GeForce 7800
luna demo woman

GeForce 6800
nalu demo woman

GeForce FX 5900 series
dusk demo woman

GeForce FX 5800 series
dawn demo woman

NVIDIA digital production pipeline
NVIDIA digital production pipeline

Welcome to Cloak Media

With the recent announcement that Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server will slowly transition from the PowerPC to the Intel chipset platform, I foresee worldwide customer interest in Apple products and solutions. For the first time in a long while, Apple revealed its upgrade trajectory, without the need of broad speculation and unabashed query. I am interested in the very high end of Apple product lines like:

Xserve RAID
Mac OS X Server

These solutions in the wireless communications (WiMax, Zigbee, GSM, etc.), direct advertising to mobile devices and flat panel displays (AVC enabled equipment like Sony playstation portable and 4G handsets), and the growth of high definition image acquisition (Panasonic AG-HVX200 camcorder and MPEG-4 H.264) will change the planet, if customers know about them and how they can benefit. The Macintosh is aptly positioned to make great industry and market advances, if the Apple Consultants Network, which Cloak Media is a member of, can bring in talented technologists that understand the Apple product line and how it can save customers money, time, and effort through a total cost of ownership model.

I know how Apple solutions can penetrate these new marketplaces. I can help you make the leap and be successful.