Blog Post

Is PowerPC Doomed? Nahhhh

Power Mac G3, 9 May 1998 [via]

Noted blogger and podcaster Daniel Eran Dilger writes today at Roughly Drafted on Leopard and the History and Future of Mac OS X on PowerPC.

For those of you, like our own Stephanie Guertin, who are running on older PPC systems, Dilger lays out why support for the PowerPC isn’t going away anytime soon. With an informative examination of historical Apple products, his article provides a sound argument for G4 and G5 owners to stay calm.

His article (as well as his blog in general) is worth a read whether you’re panicking about support for that PowerBook you bought just before the MacBook Pro was announced, or you merely want a refresher on the history of Apple’s products and CEOs during the dark ages (the years when Jobs was gone).

9 Responses to “Is PowerPC Doomed? Nahhhh”

  1. Dilger has a few flaws in his analysis, though. I don’t think it invalidates his theses, but back in the 68k/PowerPC switch days, we had “fat binaries”, which were essentially the same as “universal binaries” are now.

    They contained both PowerPC and 68k code in one executable file, and the Code Fragment Manager’s data structures for these files had been engineered in a way that even would have allowed adding other architectures.

    So, I don’t agree that Mach-O is the silver bullet that made all of this possible in the first place. CFM did the same. But since NeXT already had done several ports, to Intel and SPARC and others, and maintained them simultaneously, Mac OS X itself already has been purged of any portability problems. *that* is why Apple could do the Intel switch and the ARM switch comparatively quickly.

  2. @Twist — Dilger’s analysis of Apple’s trend would indicate that G4 support will be gone in 10.6, but that G5 will continue to be supported. As he notes, Apple typically supports hardware for approximately 5 years when it releases a new version of the OS. Although it boggles the mind to imagine a 867MHz G4 running Leopard, it is possible according to the system requirements. And if Dilger’s numbers are correct, PPC systems still outnumber Intel systems by a fair margin.

    Still, I’m glad I upgraded my PowerBook to an MBP before Leopard drops. :)

  3. I would not be the least bit surprised to see support for PPC based Mac’s dropped from Mac OS X 10.6. At the least I would expect G4 support to be dropped at this time. Apple has a well established history of dropping support for old hardware sooner than most people would want and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.