The Macintel Report

The Trusted Computing Controversy, Apple's Macintel Business Model, OS X on the Brink, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.08.11

This Week's Mac-on-Intel News

Low End Mac has standardized on Macintel as our official informal label for the forthcoming OS X-on-Intel Macintosh computers, although you'll probably find just as many people calling them "Mactels". Whatever we call them, Apple's decision to switch to Intel CPUs means we live in very interesting times.

PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing news is covered in The 'Book Review. General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

The Trusted Computing Controversy

News, Analysis, and Opinion

Tech Developments

The Trusted Computing Controversy

The hottest topic on the Mac Web this past week has been the inclusion of a Trusted Computing chip in Apple's Intel-based developer systems. Bear in mind that Apple has not stated whether this chip will be in shipping Macintel systems or whether OS X will use such a chip to lock down the computer. dk

Apple Adopts Controversial Security Chip's Tom Sanders says:

"Developer preview models of Apple's forthcoming Intel-powered computer contain a security chip that has come under fire for its ability to compromise the privacy of users.

"Apple recently started shipping Developer Transition Kits that help developers test and prepare software for the switch to the Intel-powered computers next year. The kit contains a version of OS X for Intel, and a Mac computer featuring an Intel processor.

"The computer features a security chip called the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), an open industry standard governed by the not-for-profit Trusted Computing Group which develops security standards.

"The chip's inclusion with the Apple hardware does not come as a complete surprise. It has been previously suggested that Apple could use the TPM to prevent computer users installing the OS X operating system on a non-Mac computer."

Security Chips in Macintels's Dan Wilson reports:

"Apple started shipping Developer Transition Kits to help developers create software that will run on the new Macs that will be using the Intel Processor Chips. These computers contained a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip. These chips will be used to prevent software developed for Apple from being used on non-Apple Machines.

"Apple has been using IBM made processors for their Macs, but next year they will be switching to Intel. It is hoped the TPM chip will prevent users from installing Apple's operating system (OS X for the Intel) it on other Intel machines.

"The chips have previously been installed on HP and IBM machines to provide a secure way to store passwords or encrypted data for the Enterprise Market. The chips will block a thieves access to a hard drive even if the hard drive is swapped out to another machine. It will also prevent thieves from booting a system from the Floppy Drive."

Apple Sneaks in Security Chip

The Inquirer's Nick Farrell reports:

"Apple has worked out a way to prevent their customers downloading the company's new Intel-based operating system into cheaper and uglier PCs.

"Jobs Mob boffins have installed a Trusted Platform Module made by Infineon Technologies to prevent the operating system being used on anything that is not re-assuringly expensive and has an Apple trademark.

"The chip has been found in an Intel-fitted PowerMac sent to members of its Apple Developer Connection to have a look at. According to CNET, the PowerMac came with a that contains a digital signature necessary in order to install the Mac OSX operating system onto the box.

"It seems that Apple is trying to prevent the spread of its operating system onto PCs and keep it just for its reassuringly expensive but jolly nice to look at machines."

DRM Chip in Macintels Worries Developers

CNET's Michael Singer reports:

"A chip needed to install Mac OS for x86 could be used for more than just allowing the operating system to be installed

"Apple fans are upset over a security chip found in a special x86-based PowerMac - a chip designed to prevent people from loading the company's new Intel-based OS onto non-Apple machines. Apple supplied the Intel-fitted PowerMac to members of its Apple Developer Connection. The PowerMac includes a microcontroller known as the TPM that contains a digital signature necessary in order to install the Mac OS X operating system onto the box."

Apple's DRM Move: The Work of a Ulysses?

Open for Business Editor-in-Chief, Timothy R. Butler says:

"Word came out earlier this week that Apple's Mac OS X on Intel developer kits depend on TCPA, still often known by its old name, Palladium. While Odysseus is long since dead, it is easy to see why Apple may be fearful of piracy as it moves to the x86 platform. The question is: exactly how does this impact the end user? That is not exactly clear just yet.

"For several years now, I have been saying it was inevitable: TCPA had to be adopted by both Macs and PCs. If for no other reason than that Microsoft's push toward it will eventually require it; if you need a TCPA chip to talk to Microsoft platforms in the future, even if Apple had remained on the PowerPC, it would have been led into adopting this eventually. No computer is an island, so when the bell of 'security' tolls for Windows PCs, it will inevitably toll for others as well."

DRM or Not? No Big Deal!

Gene Steinberg, the Mac Night Owl, writes:

"For the past 21 years, nobody has disputed the fact that the Mac operating system was designed to run strictly on Macs. Or on computers licensed to do so by Apple Computer. Despite that oh-so-obvious fact of life, and loads of screw-ups along the way, the company has managed to somehow survive and, of late, prosper."

Link: DRM or Not? Big Deal!

News, Analysis, and Opinion

Will Intel Developments Affect Future Macs?

Macsimum News' Dennis Sellers says:

"There have been new developments in the Intel world regarding memory and that may or may not affect Apple in the months ahead. The affect of the developments on future Mac and Apple products depends on which Intel processors Apple uses and what other Intel technologies our favorite computer maker decides to use (if any)."

OS X on the Brink

PC Mag's John C. Dvorak says:

"As each day passes, we are confronted with more and more gossipy prognostications regarding Apple and its move to the x86 platform. A few weeks ago there was some site claiming that Apple was actually going to get a custom x86 chip designed specifically for the Mac OS, to make it impossible for the OS to gravitate toward white boxes. That may have been the progenitor of the notion that Apple is going to use Intel's 'trusted computing' platform hardware to lock down the OS. This would be fun to watch, since it would constitute a disaster for the company, as nobody in their right mind wants to be locked down by trusted-computing anything. But what if the whole idea is a scam - a twisted scheme?"

Apple's Macintel Business Model

Macsimum News' Dennis Sellers says:

"As I noted in our Aug. 3 and July 25 musings, there's a fairly common belief that Apple will eventually allow Mac OS X to run on all Intel-based hardware and evolve into a software company.

"If Apple ever did actually allow other hardware manufacturers to offer Mac OS X on their systems, I still believe that the company would continue make stylish, cutting edge Macs. In fact, I believe the company has more, not less, hardware in mind for the months and years ahead - but that's food for another column. However, Macsimum News reader Mark Hanley (a self-professed 'Cocoa' fan and embedded software developer) offered some thoughts and a cool graphic I had to share with you:

"Apple's business model has always been 'sell hardware.' They bundle software to make it more attractive, but sell hardware. iTunes is free - to sell iPods. When it comes to server apps, WebObjects and its ilk are free - to sell xServes. The Mac mini has more value in its bundled software than the hardware is worth. Hanley's point: Apple's business model gives it a unique advantage over its PC rivals: Microsoft doesn't doesn't sell PCs, and Dell and friends don't write software."

Macintels Fail the 'Smell Test'

Applelust's Joe C. Carson says:

"Unless you have been living under a rock or in a cave high in the Himalayan mountains, I am sure that you have heard about the shock generated when Apple announced that it was leaving PowerPC and getting in bed with Intel. What I find even more interesting are the reasons given for the switch... and then how the story started changing when the first version didn't quite fly right.

"If you have ever been a fan of police reality shows you might be aware of something that real world police detectives call the 'Smell Test'. This means that once the stories are given by principals involved in a Dastardly Deed, the detectives check to see how the story holds up against verifiable facts and how consistently the stories are maintained. If there are discrepancies or the stories start to change, then they are considered to have failed the 'Smell Test'. That is exactly what has happened over the past month in the Switch To Intel Caper. In fact, the odor was so rank that I couldn't help but notice that someone (or multiple someones...) were being a bit less than truthful."

Lest We Forget!

Gene Steinberg, the Mac Night Owl, writes:

"A little over two months ago, the Mac universe turned upside down and we're still debating the impact. For years, we were told that Intel was our enemy, part of the villainous Wintel gang that meant us ill, that the processors Apple bought from Freescale Semiconductor and IBM were far superior. Year after year, at Macworld keynotes, we'd see how PC boxes with Intel Inside would be beaten to a pulp when confronted by the most powerful Power Mac available."

Tech Developments

'Yonah' to Supersede 'Dothan' in 2006

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Intel's 65nm dual-core Pentium M successor, codenamed 'Yonah', will ship at 1.67, 1.84, 2.0 and 2.17 GHz when it debuts early next year, the latest company roadmaps to be made public reveal.

"The four dual-core incarnations will be accompanied by just one 2MB L2 single-core version of the part, as Intel had already announced, clocked at 1.67 GHz....

"Q1 2006 will also see the arrival of the x38 and x48, dual-core low-voltage parts, clocked at 1.50 and 1.67 GHz, respectively. Come Q3 2006, and Intel will introduce the 1.84 GHz x58, alongside the 2.34 GHz x60, and the 1.84 GHz 766, the latter based on the single-core Yonah."

Intel Phasing Out Slower Celeron M Chips

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Intel has scheduled the 1.3 GHz Celeron M 350J and the 1 GHz ultra-low voltage Celeron M 373 for termination, company documents seen by The Register reveal.

"It's the usual story of demand shifting to higher-performance products. Last month, Intel introduced the 1.6 GHz Celeron M 380, and cut the prices of the 370 and 360J. It was only a matter of time before the 350J, now the same price as the 1.4 GHz 360J, was given the boot."

Intel Phasing Out Low-end Chipsets

CNET's Michael Singer reports:

"Intel will phase out production of three low-end chipsets for desktop PCs in favor of selling its higher-end and Centrino-based products, CNET has learned.

"The move, expected to take place by the end of August, could delay shipments of low-end PCs from various manufacturers for a couple of months.

"Sources close to the chipmaking giant's dealings confirmed reports that Intel would shutter production of its 910GL, 915GL and 915PL chipsets. The three microcontrollers that help feed the main brain of Pentium 4 and Celeron D chips were expected to make up about 20 percent of Intel's desktop chipset supply in the second half of this year."

More Mac News

PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing news is covered in The 'Book Review. General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

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