Transitive CEO Talks Rosetta With Wired

When Apple starts shipping its first Intel-based Macs next year, the version of Mac OS X found on those machines will feature Rosetta, an emulation layer that lets PowerPC-based Mac applications run on Intel processors. Wiredis Lucas Graves talked about the technology with Bob Wiederhold, the CEO of Transitive, which developed it.

Mr. Wiederhold says that despite the skepticism thatis out there, "the people who have seen this technology, who have dived into the details, are hugely impressed. The proof is once you see your application running -- a sophisticated application that you never thought could run under translation." He wouldnit comment on how well an application like Photoshop will run, but he did say that "in general, computational performance is going to be around 80 percent of what you can achieve with a natively compiled application."

He adds that the key to Rosetta is its ability to "look at blocks of instructions and convert them to an intermediate representation that allows [it] to understand the higher-level semantics of the code. This is what allows us to achieve breakthrough performance."

Rosetta also heralds a shift in some basic computer industry paradigms, according to Mr. Wiederhold. "The key problem that weire solving is hardware-software dependency, which causes all kinds of problems in the electronics industry," he explains. "As our technology becomes ubiquitous, youill see a lot more applications running on a lot more platforms. Thatis something customers have wanted for 30 years."