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It's True! Jobs Switches to Intel: A Review of the WWDC 05 Keynote

by Daniel H. Steinberg
06/07/2005

The rumors you read over the weekend about Apple and Intel turn out to be true. This time it wasn't the rumor sites or bloggers who spilled the beans. This time it was formal news outlets such as CNET, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that by this time next year, Apple will be selling Macs built on an Intel chip and that by the end of 2007 he anticipates the transition of the Mac from the PowerPC to Intel will "essentially be over."

It's an Important Day, But First...

"It's an important day," Jobs said to begin his keynote for Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2005. While the audience waited for him to address the Intel rumors, he led with a report on attendance at the conference and followed with updates on the retail stores, iPod, and Mac adoption. He noted that the 3,800 attendees may be largest developer conference in Apple's history. In any case, it is largest in last decade. The Apple Design Award competition received more than 400 entries and the Apple Developer Connection has more than 500,000 members. (That's a great number, but we have to take into account that you have to sign up to be an ADC member to do just about anything with Apple, including to attend WWDC...)

Apple is looming larger than ever with booming iPod sales, 80 percent market share of legal downloadable music, and rising demand for Mac hardware. But the switch to Intel processors will demand brilliant marketing by Apple for the next 18 months. Photos and captions by Derrick Story. Apple is looming larger than ever with booming iPod sales, 80 percent market share of legal downloadable music, and rising demand for Mac hardware. But the switch to Intel processors will demand brilliant marketing by Apple for the next 18 months. Photos and captions by Derrick Story.

As for business, the 109 retail stores average a total of one million visitors each week. In the past twelve months, Jobs told the developer audience, half a billion dollars of third party products have been sold in the stores. The iPod now has a 76 percent market share and, despite the entry of competitors, more than four hundred thirty million songs have been sold and downloaded from the iTunes music store. In May, iTMS had actually increased its share to 82 percent of the market.

The audience grew more restless as Jobs moved on to talk about podcasting. He said that at one end of the spectrum you can think of it as TiVo for radio. You can download radio shows and listen whenever you want. At the other end of the spectrum, he said, you can think of it as Wayne's World for radio. Without much in the way of an initial investment, anyone can reach a worldwide audience.

The next version of iTunes makes it easy for you to find, subscribe, play, and archive podcasts. Apple's music podcast included different chapters and the artwork changed as Jobs fast forwarded through the podcast. In passing, Jobs mentioned that Apple has shipped over one billion copies of QuickTime since it was first introduced and that this week the Windows version of QuickTime 7 will debut.

WWDC resides in the beautiful Moscone West building in downtown San Francisco. Aside from its pleasing aesthetics, its location makes it a stunning billboard for Apple during the week of the conference.
WWDC resides in the beautiful Moscone West building in downtown San Francisco. Aside from its pleasing aesthetics, its location makes it a stunning billboard for Apple during the week of the conference.

Apple has shipped five major versions of Mac OS X in the past five years. Tiger, the latest, was released just over six weeks ago and the two millionth copy that will be delivered this week already accounts for 16 percent of the Mac install base. Just under half of all Macs still run Panther, around 25 percent run Jaguar and 10 percent are running earlier versions of Mac OS. Jobs anticipates that by this time next year half of all Macs will be running Tiger. He also announced that at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007 Apple will release Leopard--the next major version of Mac OS X. This is approximately the time frame during which Microsoft's Longhorn is expected to release.

Transitions

Next Jobs displayed a slide that simply read "Transitions". An eerie hush fell over the crowd as he explained that the Mac has had two major transitions. The first, he said, was the move from the 68 K chip to the PowerPC which, he noted, happened while he wasn't at Apple. The second was the transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X which Jobs described as a brain transplant. Jobs then said "It's time to begin a third transition" and the slide behind him simply read:

It's True

Jobs explained that Apple is transitioning the Mac from PowerPC to Intel processors for developers now and for customers next year. Anticipating the question on everyone's mind, he flipped to the next slide which simply asked:

Why?

It clearly bothered Jobs that two years earlier he had promised a 3.0 GHz G5 within a year and that two years later it still does not exist. He acknowledged problems in cooling the chip that have kept Apple from being able to produce a G5 laptop. He stressed that they will continue to support PowerPC and that there will be new PowerPC products rolled out in the coming year but that as Apple looked ahead, issues such as power consumption and the comparison of the future roadmap for PowerPC and Intel chips led Apple to make the switch.

Porting Mac OS X to Intel

The audience remained uncharacteristically quiet as Jobs outlined what he sees as the two challenges in making this third transition. The first transition is to make "Mac OS X sing on Intel processors." This led Jobs to his second it's true moment of the keynote. He explained that "Mac OS X has been leading a secret double life for the past ten years. We've had teams doing a 'just in case' scenario." He explained that it was a requirement that designs of the operating system be processor independent and said that "every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for both PowerPC and for Intel for the past five years."

Related Reading

Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Tiger Edition
By David Pogue, Adam Goldstein

Jobs then returned to his demo machine and selected "About this Mac" from the Apple menu to show the audience that the system he had been using for his demos is an Intel Pentium 4.3 GHz machine. He spent the next couple of minutes demoing OS X applications such as Mail, Safari, iPhoto, and various Dashboard widgets.

Checking the Check Box

Steve Jobs explained that it is important that developers take the time to create an Intel version of their applications. He looked at four categories and discussed what is required.

  • Widgets, scripts, Java: no work is required. They just run.

  • Cocoa: use Xcode to make a small tweak here or there and recompile.

  • Carbon created in Xcode: use Xcode to make more tweaks than would be required for a Cocoa application and recompile.

  • Carbon created with MetroWerks: move to Xcode, then tweak the application and recompile.

Jobs stressed that the key is for developers to get to Xcode. He cited that of the top one hundred developers who target Mac OS X, 56 percent use Xcode and 25 percent are in progress of moving to Xcode. After the keynote, attendees were given Xcode 2.1 which contains many "fun new features and one giant new feature." The giant new feature was the ability to target PowerPC, Intel, or both in what is called a universal binary. One CD or DVD would support both platforms.

Jobs claimed that creating a universal binary is much easier than carbonization was during the last transition. Theo Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research came to the stage to share his experience with porting their code to the new architecture. Grey began by saying he gets the most ridiculous phone calls from Apple. Steve Jobs had called him late Wednesday night asking him to come out with all of the Mathematica source code to work on a demo for Monday.

Gray explained that Mathematica has a massive amount of code that contains many different programming styles and data formats. There code written in C, Java, C++, and there is ancient code that hasn't been touched in more than a dozen years. He said that Apple told him "don't worry, there's a little check box." And so he sent out his emergency team of Mac developers that we keep on stand by. This solitary developer arrived Thursday at Apple and did not know that he was sent to do the Intel port. Within two hours they had a copy of Mathematica running on Intel. This port required changes in about twenty lines of source code out of millions starting from a dead cold start.

Intel for the Rest of Us

Although Jobs reiterated his message that developers should work with Xcode to deliver a universal binary, he acknowledged that not every application will have a universal binary on the first day that the Intel Mac ships. He then introduced Rosetta, Apple's solution for running PowerPC applications on Intel. Rosetta provides dynamic binary translation and is transparent to users.

Jobs returned to the demo machine and started up Microsoft Word. Word is currently only available as a PowerPC application but it was very responsive on the Intel box. He similarly demonstrated Excel and the experience was a good one. He started up Photoshop and the not only was the Photoshop application translated by Rosetta but the plugins were also translated. The first picture he loaded took a while, but subsequent pictures were loaded and transformed relatively quickly.

Developers will get a chance to experiment with the Intel chip themselves very soon. Apple is providing a Developer Transition Kit which consists of a 3.6 GHz Pentium 4 running OS X 10.4.1 for Intel. The system along with Xcode 2.1 is available to Select and Premier ADC members for $999 but the machine needs to be returned by the end of 2006.

Parade of Partners

The question "what about Microsoft" was answered by Roz Ho, the General Manager of the Microsoft Business Unit who announced that Microsoft plans to create universal binaries for future Office releases. She was followed by Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen who said "You can be absolutely sure Adobe is committed to taking our apps to run natively on Intel architecture on Intel boxes." He added, "This is great news Steve, my only question is what took you so long?"

Jobs then introduced Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel, saying that he thinks the fit with Apple and Intel is a good one as Intel "is an engineering culture that is passionate about their products." Otellini smiled and said to the crowd, "I bet you never thought you'd see that logo on this stage."

He told a story of Apple and Intel tracing their individual histories and noting the long connections between the two companies. He showed the 1996 Apple commercial where they set fire to the Intel bunny man and said "we thought it was a not so subtle message that Apple wanted our processors to run a lot cooler." He said that 2005 marks the year that "the world's most innovative computer company and the world's most innovative chip company finally team up."

After praising Apple's products, he told the developer audience that Intel is "about computer architectures, scale and scope, and about the relentless advancement of Moore's Law." Otellini concluded that "After 30 years, Apple and Intel are together at last." The response was the loudest and longest applause since Jobs had first taken the stage.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, many developers weren't sure if they were happy or dismayed over the Intel announcement. Clearly, everyone has much to think about.
At the end of the day, many developers weren't sure if they were happy or dismayed over the Intel announcement. Clearly, everyone has much to think about.

Jobs concluded his keynote in just over an hour by asking, "Where does that leave us? Apple is strong. Mac is strong. We know transitions. We've been through two of them."

He announced that the third transition begins today and that Apple is getting ready. He told the audience, "Mac OS X is running fantastic on Intel processors, Xcode 2.1 is in your hands today. Rosetta will be in your customers' hands." He ended by encouraging the developers to create universal binaries of their applications.

"Next year," he promised, "we'll tell you about Leopard. More than the processor or hardware innovations. The soul of the Mac is the OS."

Daniel H. Steinberg is the editor for the new series of Mac Developer titles for the Pragmatic Programmers. He writes feature articles for Apple's ADC web site and is a regular contributor to Mac Devcenter. He has presented at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, MacWorld, MacHack and other Mac developer conferences.


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