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Why does Apple use IBM processors?


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mlazuka
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Hello, this may sound like a dumb question, but why does Apple use IBM processors instead of intel or AMD? Thanks
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iSheep
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It's something to do with the architecture of the chips. IBM's architecture is called RISC, or something like that. Plus, Intel's are quite slow in comparison to a G5.
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Originally Posted by iSheep
It's something to do with the architecture of the chips. IBM's architecture is called RISC, or something like that. Plus, Intel's are quite slow in comparison to a G5.
It is definitely the hardware architecture that is the biggest difference between Intel/AMD and the PowerPC line of CPUs. The way they work is very different, it's not only the RISC-part.
Intels are slower? That's a common oversimplifaction in the Mac-world...it depends on what kind of things you want to do, and of course of the hardware surrounding it. You can easily build up a 3Ghz Intel PC for around $800,- and use the same CPU in a $3000,- PC...the speed difference would be significant.
A computer's speed builds up on the combination of it's hardware and OS, and how well software is programmed...simply blaiming the CPU is downright wrong.
Apple's G5 computer are very fast machines, nevertheless it's still possible to build a faster PC, at around the same price...it just lacks a good, stable, easy-to-use OS...
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mlazuka
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Thanks guys, but why would Apple even bother with IBM when intel and AMD are making about 98% of the processors in computers today. Is there some reason why Apple would avoid intel or AMD? Or does Apple just like to be different?
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trpnmonkey41

 
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Intel and AMD build processers on the X86 architecture which runs Windows operating systems. OS X does not run on the X86 architecture. Apple has always been doing their chips with Motorola and IBM since they build chips that support their architecture

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D3v1L80Y

 
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Originally Posted by mlazuka
Thanks guys, but why would Apple even bother with IBM when intel and AMD are making about 98% of the processors in computers today. Is there some reason why Apple would avoid intel or AMD? Or does Apple just like to be different?
Just because a company (Microsoft, Intel, AMD...etc.), makes a product (Pentium, Windows, Athlon....etc.)that 98% of the public uses doesn't really mean anything. If that product can't do the job then it is no good.

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So very true! Huge popularity in no way necessarily means it's great :alien:
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History Lesson

In 1984, when Apple made the first Macintosh, Apple chose the 32-bit Motorola 68000 processor, because it was (at the time) far superior to the 16-bit Intel 8086 and 80286. The Intel chips at the time were simply not powerful enough to drive a graphical OS. The 68K was proven, powerful, and easy to program, so it was a no-brainer for the new Mac.

With the introduction of the 386 and 486, Intel's processors became much more powerful, to the point where they could do everything that the equivalent Motorola 68K series chips could do. Apple didn't want to fall behind, so it entered a partnership with IBM and Motorola to develop a new chip, the PowerPC.

When it came out, in 1994, the PowerPC was clearly superior to the then-new Intel Pentium. It continued to be much faster than the Pentium and PPro for several years. (At one time, Apple was selling 300MHz Macs while the fastest PCs were at 200MHz. Not that anyone in the PC world cared, and really, I don't blame them.)

Of course, the Pentium II, PIII, and P4, and the Athlon/A64/etc. have continued to evolve, and so has the PowerPC.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Mac OS applications that run only on the PowerPC. If Apple switched to an AMD/Intel CPU, none of them would run. Every Mac software company would have to re-compile (maybe even rewrite) their applciations to be compatible with that machine. Many companies probably wouldn't bother.

Also, Apple's customers have heavy investments in PowerPC-compatible software. If Apple were to switch to an Intel/AMD CPU, none of my software would run on that machine, and I'd be quite upset. I'd have to buy new versions of everything, and I don't have that kind of money.

So, unless Apple wants to risk alienating its customers, Apple is stuck with the PowerPC. Which, really, is not such a bad thing, as the G5 is quite a good chip, with plenty of room for growth.

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Excellent! Can I quote you? Certain forums may needs this :alien:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by witeshark
Excellent! Can I quote you? Certain forums may needs this :alien:
sure, feel free
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Avalon

 
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I agree with Whiteshark, it's really an excellent lesson... :yinyang:
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mlazuka
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thanks technologist, I appreciate it

How though does IBM make profit from the sale of these processors? Im assuming that this industry is a very very costly one and it seems like they make relatively few (compared to intel and AMD) Now I understand that IBM is a huge company with billions in sales but their profit from processors must be small compared to the others mentioned above. Im curious how IBM can devote the huge amounts of money needed to R&D and stay competitive with the other manufacturers. Thanks again
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Well IBM sells the G5 processor to more than just Apple for their Macs. It's used in servers and will even form the core of the upcoming XBox 2. By designing a chip that has multiple uses, IBM helps spread out the cost and helps them justify the R&D.

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mlazuka
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thanks schweb,
If Mac is totally dependent on IBM chips what would happen if IBM decided to get out of the chip making business or tried gouging apple for the chips. If this is the only processor compatible with Mac wouldnt Apple be in trouble
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Technically Apple still also deals with Motorola (now Freestyle) for chips also. They make the G4's for the Powerbooks, iBooks, and eMacs. I've heard Freestyle is also working an a really nice dual core G4 chip that will probably make their way into PowerBooks before they ever see a G5 which is still some time away.

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