Apple Buys PA Semi, the fab-less designers of efficient PowerPCs…


I read two articles
Is Apple going back to Power PC? (http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=315)
Here’s some better analysis of reasoning (http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/04/24/why-did-apple-buy-pa-semi/)

about this aquisition. The second article scans better, IMHO. And it wasn’t Intel who foisted the 640K limit on the Winderz world, it was Mr. Gates himself, who famously said, “640K, who could use more than that?”. Considering Vista needs about 1 gig to boot and 2 gig to get out of its own way… it IS true the 8086 had a segmented memory architecture, not so nice.
The 68000 had a better architecture than the 8086 and Intel put their best effort into what they modestly called “Operation Crush” to sieze the market with a known-to-be-second-best product. Sound familiar? No wonder they get along with Microsoft so well. But from the personal computer builder’s perspective, Intel was there with software, support, chipsets, etc, when Moto had an engineer’s dream architecture and not much for developers. If you’re in business to make a profit, you could be excused for thinking Intel’s processor might have legs on the Moto item, particularly since Intel was used to supplying the CPU market and Moto’s 68xx were nice but aimed as much at “hobbists” (according to their own literature) as commercial applications. Moto also had process problems at first, so you couldn’t buy a chip, because the chips didn’t meet their advertized electrical interface specs- board level products were available, with the 68000 surrounded by bi-directional buffers :^). Or you could buy from Hitachi (!) I’ve been told that the first 68000s in silicon valley said “Motorola” on the package but “Hitachi” on the die…
The 68000 and powerPC are great designs, and the n86 started as a kludge and has only improved with experience BUT there is a tsunami of cash pushing the PC market place and while the PowerPC is theoretically better, that cash, competition from AMD, blah blah blah, have made the Intel cpus the most powerful. Not pretty, but great big meathooks you can hang massive computing tasks on. Hell, they’re so good, they make Windows look like a going proposition! Every unix-box vendor choose the 68000 to start with, and people looked down on the BSD-86 efforts as unclean. Well, surprise, you CAN polish a turd, and Linux running on generic PCs is the proof of it. Macs build around Intel processors work just great, and so do water-cooled Porsches and VWs. Lets not make technical appeal in the past into a hair-shirt of virtue that somehow offsets lower prices and higher perforance. All this will pass anyway, and you can’t take it with you.

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