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'Intel Based Mac' Rumor Roundup... [Updated x2]

An Intel based Macintosh?

Rumors of Apple switching to an Intel based processor pre-date the existence of this site. The earliest reference in our archives comes from March 15, 2000 (this site was founded in Feb 2000). For some perspective... a rumor roundup for WWDC 2000 (5 years ago) included rumors of "Intel-based Macs".

Analysts also "urged Apple to move to microchips from Intel Corp" back in July 2002. Steve Jobs replied that they had to finish the OS 9 -> OS X transition first but "Then we'll have options, and we like to have options. But right now, between Motorola and IBM, the roadmap looks pretty decent."

After the transition to Mac OS X, Apple was reported to have kept an OS X on x86 side-project known as Marklar. The original article described Marklar as a "fall back plan" should the PowerPC fail to deliver.

The PowerPC was undergoing slow development during that time until IBM took over development and Apple announced PowerPC G5 based PowerMacs in the summer on 2003.

In fact, IBM bragged in an internal memo that while Apple considered moving to Intel at that time they went with IBM's PowerPC G5 (970) because Apple felt the transition to Intel would be too difficult:

While Intel is aggressive in achieving its performance and speed goals, Apple believed that using Intel would deeply affect its current customer base. Using an Intel architecture might solve Apple's short-term megahertz dilemma, but customers would have to suffer through a slow transition from PowerPC over the long term. Every existing Mac program would potentially have to be recompiled to work on an Intel platform. These massive software changes were something that Apple wanted to avoid, and IBM had the solution."


Despite this, Apple/Intel rumors continued to surface (Sept 2003).

Most recently, The Wall Street Journal posted rumors citing "two industry executives" that Apple will agree to use Intel chips. Due to the long history of this topic, this rumor was largely dismissed. However, on Friday, CNet posted a report claiming that Apple will be announcing a plan to switch its computers to Intel based microprocessors on Monday at WWDC. The gradual transition would take place starting in mid-2006 and last until mid-2007.

So what's different this time?

The most striking aspect is the origination of rumors from more traditional news sources (CNet and the Wall Street Journal). In the hierarchy of rumor sources, these news sites are traditionally more accurate as they tend to be more selective about their stories than dedicated rumor sites. As a result, the likelihood that these rumors are true is high. By our records, CNet has only made one major rumor misstep in Jan 2003 claiming the release of new Digital Media Device at MWSF 2003.

That being said, it doesn't answer the many other questions that would stem from such a transition. Questions such as emulation layers, current PowerPC Mac sales, developer migration, end user confusion and more. As well, Steve Jobs was recently asked about the possibility of switching to Intel and reportedly "Jobs basically said no."

Stay tuned for the WWDC Keynote on Monday, June 6th at 10am PST. We will provide live coverage of the event and have dramatically expanded our delivery resources and technology to provide the best Keynote coverage experience possible.

Update: New York Times claims the same.

Update 2: Legal Counsel for Transitive Technologies has posted to bio: Transitive Technologies: Represented Transitive Technologies in a co-development and licensing agreement with Apple Computer. Transitive was the focal point of a Page 2 story regarding their "Dynamite" which allowed code written for one CPU to be run efficiently on another CPU. This "translator" was said to dynamically translate and accelerate binaries -- claiming to provide substantial performance over traditional "emulators".

Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini