SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Computer will switch from the Power PC chip to Intel's Pentium microprocessor in all its Macintosh PCs by the end of 2007 and plans to deliver models of the Mac using Intel's chips by this time next year, company co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs announced Monday.
Before a packed crowd of software designers at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Mr. Jobs announced a decade-long relationship with IBM will come to an end late this year.
"Yes, it's true," Mr. Jobs told developers. "We are going to begin the transition from the Power PC to Intel processors and we are going to begin it for you (developers) now and for our customers next year."
It's been ten years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next ten years," he said.
Mr. Jobs said the company looked long and hard at the future of the Power PC processor and decided Intel's solutions had a better future.
"We have great products right now, and we've got some great Power PC products still yet to come," he said. "As we look ahead, we can envision some amazing products we want to build for you and we don't know how to build them with the future Power PC road map. And that's why we're going to do this."
Mr. Jobs told the crowd Apple will ship its first Mac with an Intel processor by next June. He also said the complete switch to Intel processors will be complete within two years.
Developers applauded Mr. Jobs when he said that both the Power PC and Intel processors would be supported for some time to come, and the key to having co-processor support was universal binaries.
To convince developers that porting their applications for use in Intel-ready Macs is not only possible, but easier than some might expect, Mr. Jobs asked Wolfram Research CEO Theo Gray to demonstrate its Mathematica software product, which underwent a port in just two hours.
We're talking about 200 lines of code out of millions from a dead cold start where he didn't even know why he was going," Mr. Gray said.
Mr. Jobs said Apple has been working on a Intel-ready version of Mac OS X for the last five years and said, "I can confirm the rumors that every release of Mac OS X has been compiled for PowerPC and Intel."
Mr. Jobs demonstrated a version of Mac OS X running on a 3.6GHz Pentium 4 system. He showed version 10.4.1 of Mac OS X running Apple Mail, Safari, iPhoto, Spotlight and a variety of Dashboard widgets.
To make development and the switch easier for developers, Mr. Jobs described a "dynamic binary translator" called Rosetta, which will allow PowerPC compiled applications to work on an Intel-based Mac. He said the emulator is completely transparent, and does not require a separate emulation environment.
Mr. Jobs showed Quicken, Excel and Photoshop, compiled for the Power PC processor, working on an Intel-based Mac, completely transparent, but did not show Intel-compiled apps running on a Power PC-ready Mac.
He said Apple will offer developers a special 3.6GHz, Pentium-based Mac to develop their applications at a special US$999 price. The developer kit will be available sometime in the next two weeks, he said.