07 June 2005

Intel inside Macs? Oh, the humanity!

First, United Airlines has teamed up with Verizon to offer Wi-Fi to passengers (hat tip to Digital Lifestyles). What this means is that UAL has gotten FAA approval to install Wi-Fi on Boeing 757-200's, which remain a rather small part of the UAL fleet. When can you start updating your blog over the Pacific Ocean? According to Forbes, UAL still needs FCC permission; a firm date is expected by August, and the launch is presently scheduled for sometime next year.

Also big news, to me: the heartbreak that Apple Macintoshes are switching over to Intel (i.e., they're dumping the IBM PowerPC chips). This is really huge news, and very deeply disappointing. For years Power PC's not only powered Apple computers and blazed some very bold trails in semiconductors, they also powered IBM workstations, minicomputers, and parallel supercomputers. I was really excited when the PowerPC hit the streets' in the mid-1990's because I was expecting it to serve as the bridge for topflight workstations running Windows, MacOS, and supercomputing applications. None of this panned out, and after Jobs returned to Apple as chief executive (and scuppered the NextStations), he pulled the plug on licensing the MacOS. Mac became the costly, "cool" computing platform, and your correspondent the destitute dorkwad, disconsolate, bought a PC.

The PowerPC was developed jointly by then-CPU titan Motorola, IBM (from its in-house POWER chips, which used RISC architecture but ALU's that could calculate scare roots in a single clock tick), and Apple. IBM does continue to support the PowerPC in its systems, and another big user is the auto industry—to control emissions systems—but in the future, the big consumer of the PowerPC will be the video game industry, with its voracious demand for graphics. The PowerPC was the first chip to feature an integral digital signal processor.



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