"APPLE IS IN long-term decline," observes Geek.com writer Sander Olson this week. "Even if Apple adopts the IBM PowerPC 970, no one at the Microprocessor Forum expressed any confidence in Apple's future. Every year more Macintosh users convert to Windows, and this trend will continue unless Apple comes out with another 'insanely great' product."
Macatistas will no doubt dismiss Olson's comment - and the comments made by MPF attendees, panelists and speakers that inspired it - as typical pro-Intel propaganda. AMD buffs will almost certainly level the same charge at Gartner Group analysts George Weiss and John Enck, who, just prior to Microprocessor Forum, doomed hybrid 32/64-bit chips to market failure.
Weiss and Enck were thinking particularly of AMD's upcoming Clawhammer CPU, but they could just as easily have been thinking of the IBM 970. Both chips combine native 32-bit operation for backward compatibility with advanced 64-bit processing for new applications. Unlike AMD, IBM is producing the 970 as much for its own use as anyone else's, but its most likely customer - and there can be few who doubt that it will buy the 970, or something like it - is Apple, and it has a lot in common with AMD. For a start, both claims that they're up the creek without a certain implement are bollocks.
Arguments that either company is doomed are based on the assumption that there's no mainstream market for 64-bit processing. That's broadly true, which is why good 32-bit performance is so important, but there are clear uses for 64-bit addressing beyond specialist scientific and large-scale database applications. Apple's digital media constituency will appreciate the 970's ability to support more than 4GB of memory because they can load even more high quality video footage into memory for editing and compressing to DVD, say. So too will AMD's small base of customers who build and sell workstations based on the Athlon MP probably have their eye on these kind of roles too...