Macintosh Moving to Intel Processors [Updated]

As rumored, Steve Jobs announced today at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference that the Macintosh will make a transition to Intel processors.

Jobs reviewed the two previous major transitions, from Motorola 680x0 processors to the PowerPC in 1994 thru 1996 (before Steve Jobs was back at the helm), and from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X in 2001 through 2003. Saying "It's time for a third transition," he explained that the need for the change was more than just the inability to deliver a 3.0GHz Power Mac, as he promised 2 years ago, but that Intel offers increased performance AND reduced power consumption ("Intel chips runs cooler"), a critical factor for PowerBooks, and an exceptional "roadmap" into 2006 and beyond.

He said that Mac OS X has been living a secret double life for the past five years (see Marklar rumor) and gave a demonstration. The design for Mac OS X has always been processor independent and cross-platform capable by design. The technology to let existing PowerPC applications run on Intel is named Rosetta and performs dynamic translation transparent to users (see QuickTransit from Transitive).

Mac OS on Intel is to be given to developers (ADC "Select" and "Premier" members) now and to customers "this time next year." The transition will be completed in less than 2 years, by the end of 2007. Dashboard widgets, scripts, and Java programs do not need porting. With Xcode 2.1 (out today and distributed at the Keynote), developers can make a "tweak" and recompile for Cocoa applications, and port Carbon applications in a matter of weeks. Mathematica was ported in 2 hours, although the porting team had direct support from Apple. A universal version of MS Office is coming. Photoshop and its plug-ins run with typical performance but take longer to load.All demonstrations during the Keynote were performed on a 3.6GHz Pentium 4, to the surprise of many in the audience.

Update: Apple press release; Intel press release

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