Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia:

Photo by AphoticD

Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support for these old machines.

In particular, MacRumors forum member Wowfunhappy asked about ongoing support for Universal binaries in the upcoming Arm-based macOS, and whether or not a four-way universal binary was possible:

During their 2020 WWDC keynote, Apple announced the reintroduction of Universal Binaries, for developers to create apps that work on both Intel and Arm Macs during the transition.

But Universal Binaries never really went away the first time! You can run PPC-Intel apps on Mojave, and I assume also Catalina. Also, many Intel-only apps are still "universal," in that they contain versions for both i386 (32bit Intel) and x86_64 (64bit Intel).

Thus, I am intensely curious: would it be possible for a developer to create a single universal binary that works natively on all four architectures: PPC, i386, x86_64, and ARM?

The answer, it appears, is yes. The TenFourFox developer blogged about the possibility, confirming that it is indeed possible:

A question I got repeatedly the last couple days was, now that AARM (Apple ARM) is a thing, is the ultimate ARM-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binary possible? You bet it is! In fact, Apple already documents that you could have a five-way binary, i.e., ARM64, 32-bit PowerPC, 64-bit PowerPC, i386 and x86_64. Just build them separately and lipo them together

TenFourFox is a Firefox port for PowerPC Macs running OS X 10.4 or 10.5. It provides those users with modern browser support. The developer actually points out that each architecture can even have its own subtype, meaning that ultimately a so-called "Super Duper Universal Binary" could have support for 17 different instruction sets, which could run on any machine from PowerPC to future Arm-based Mac with full support for all processor subtypes.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
16 weeks ago
Came here to see who found this, of course it's the TenFourFox dev. This is awesome.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 weeks ago
Yawn. Wake me when they decide to include a 6502 binary in the mix.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 weeks ago
It’s amazing that things like this are possible. I’m glad that there are some people out there who devote countless hours of their lives to these noble causes.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 weeks ago


but_why.gif

.jpg.png.svg.tiff
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 weeks ago


Yawn. Wake me when they decide to include a 6502 binary in the mix.

What do you mean "they"? While macOS itself doesn't run on 6502 or 68k, the binary packaging system Apple uses for their Mach-O executables could hold an arbitrary number of architecture including 6502
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 weeks ago
a curiosity at best.
Really.... Who's still using a PPC Mac? Sure, there's lots of people with old PPC macs stuffed somewhere in a basement under that pile of ZIP drives- but actually using one?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

'A New iOS Update is Now Available' Popping Up Repeatedly in iOS 14 Beta [Fixed: New Beta Available]

Thursday October 29, 2020 6:11 pm PDT by
Many users running iOS 14 beta are reporting that they are seeing a dialog box pop up repeatedly asking them to update from the latest iOS 14 beta. Threads in our forums, Reddit, and Twitter are reporting the issue. The dialog has been appearing for a few days now, but as of tonight has started appearing more frequently, every time an iPhone is unlocked. There's been further discussion in...

First iPhone 12 Mini Hands-On Video Surfaces [Update: Video Pulled]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max aren't set to be available until November 13, but a Romanian YouTuber got his hands on the iPhone 12 mini and showed it off today, offering a size comparison between the iPhone 12 and the 12 mini along with going over some of the device's features. The iPhone 12 mini is identical to the iPhone 12 in design and functionality, but it has a...

Apple One is Now Available: Save Money by Bundling Apple Music, iCloud Storage, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and More

Friday October 30, 2020 7:47 am PDT by
Apple One bundles are now available in the United States and over 100 other countries, allowing customers to subscribe to multiple Apple services through a single plan, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud, and more. To sign up for Apple One on an iPhone: Open Settings App Tap on Your Name at the top Tap on Subscriptions Tap on Apple One The prompt for Apple One...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'More Exciting Things' in Store For This Year

Thursday October 29, 2020 2:20 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2020 (third calendar quarter), Cook said that while he doesn't want to give too much away, "this year has a few more exciting things in store." Cook is likely speaking about the Apple Silicon Macs, as Apple has previously said the first Apple Silicon Mac will be coming before the end of 2020. There are rumors of a third fall event ...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Apple Releases First macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 Beta to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today seeded a new macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 beta to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta replacing the existing macOS Big Sur 11 beta 10 update that was released two weeks ago. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...

Apple One Service Bundles Set to Launch Tomorrow, Fitness+ Coming This Quarter

Thursday October 29, 2020 1:39 pm PDT by
Apple in September announced Apple One, a new series of services bundles that will let Apple device customers purchase several services together in one package instead of separately, saving money for those who use multiple Apple service products. Ahead of Apple's earnings call, Apple CFO Luca Maestri told Bloomberg that Apple One is set to launch on Friday, October 30. Apple One Bundle...

PSA: Apple One Premier Bundle Only Available in US, UK, Canada, and Australia

Friday October 30, 2020 2:39 am PDT by
Apple's new Apple One series of services bundles launches on Friday in over 100 countries and regions, but the top Premier tier will be limited to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The limited rollout of the $29.95 Premier tier is down to the fact that Apple News+ is currently only available in the above countries. Apple News+ is exclusive to the Premier tier,...