June 11, 2009

If a chip architecture fell in the forest…

…would anyone hear it? Not if it’s PowerPC, apparently.

I’m kind of amazed at the absolute lack of discussion of the fact that Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) will be the first Mac OS in fifteen years not to support PowerPC. The one mention I’ve found was a CNET article. Jeez–nobody wants to pour one out for the dead homie*?

I dunno; maybe I’m just a little sentimental. For what it’s worth,

  • I remember being a freshman in college & hearing about this amazing new RISC design–seeing a chart showing the 601, 603 & 604, and finally the 620 aiming higher and higher. Mac ├╝ber Alles!
  • We named the 7100/66 in our computer lab “Rocket Sled”–66MHz of musclebound fury, suckkaz.
  • I just about danced when Exponential announced the oh-my-God-533MHz X704 chip in 1996. I even printed out their press release & hung it on my door to shame my Mac-hating friends. (God, I was totally mental…)
  • Being a real fanboy, I talked up the “megahertz myth” to anyone who’d listen (and to everyone else for good measure).
  • Years later, working on Photoshop, I knew PS performance engineer Chris Cox had some sort of incredible machine in his office (could it be the mythical “G5”?), but of course it was hush-hush and only he could see it.

Ah well. It was a good ride. Thanks to everyone at Apple, IBM, Motorola, Metrowerks, all the independent software vendors, and everyone else who made it all possible.

One last thing: I have to laughing at all the articles cheering Snow Leopard’s 6GB** reduction in install footprint, all without mentioning the loss of PowerPC support. At it happens, we could cut the installed size of Photoshop on Mac in half by dropping PPC support. (Of course, packaging 32- & 64-bit binaries together will push it right back up. Too bad those first Intel Macs had 32-bit chips.)

*Quite a difference from when Adobe got crucified for going Intel-only with Soundbooth. And yes yes, I know that time changes things, but I’m still picking carbonized bits out of my hide on that one.

** I hate bloat, and everyone likes getting storage space back. Of course, 6GB of storage will set you back roughly 50 cents at Fry’s.

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