The Macintel Report

Mac Sales Sluggish or Strong?, Does Intel Mean Macintel Badware?, WinXP on Macintel Contest, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.02.02

This Week's Macintel News

This week's top stories are "he said, she said" interpretations. On the one hand, we're hearing positive sales results for Macintel models. On the other, reports of sluggish sales. We'll know officially when Apple releases quarterly results....

And then there's the brouhaha at eWeek over malware. One writer thinks switching to the new architecture will open the floodgates for badware. The other notes that the operating system itself will be equally secure on both hardware platforms.

And for those who love viruses, spyware, adware, and the like, there's always the push to get Windows XP running on the new Macs. All this and more in this week's news roundup.

The Macintel Transition

Tech Tips and Info

Intel News

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.

The Macintel Transition

Demand Beats Supply for Intel Macs

Macworld UK's Jonny Evans reports:

"Apple's new Intel-based Macs are selling strongly, leaving the company set for growth in 2006, an analyst claims.

"Analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research is ebullient on Apple's progress: 'Sales of the new Intel Macs (iMac and MacBook Pro) appear strong,' he said. 'We believe it may be fuelled by customers who waited for Intel Macs and we see particular strength in the education, content creation and consumer end markets.'

"While MacBooks won't ship until February, Wu reports Apple is already facing problems meeting demand for the new pro-portables, a problem he sees as a blessing for the firm."

Link: Apple Intel Macs - Demand Beats Supply

...or Is Apple in for Sluggish Sales?

TheStreet.com's Troy Wolverton reports:

"Sales of the company's computers slowed last quarter and could remain sluggish in the current period, Apple officials cautioned investors and analysts last week while reporting the company's earnings.

"Meanwhile, Apple disappointed many enthusiasts and investors earlier in the month by failing to unveil any new products at its Macworld conference.

"However, Apple did revamp two computers with Intel chips, possibly indicating that the Intel transition is consuming the lion's share of the company's attention and energy.

"The risk, say industry analysts, is that the company will continue to see soft computer sales as it goes through the transition. Further, they say, by focusing so much on the Intel transition, the company risks losing momentum in its computer or iPod music player business - or falling behind in new markets."

Link: Apple Remains Locked in Transition

Apple Sales Snag Due to Old Inventory, Overhyped Macintels

Geek.com's James says:

"Mere weeks after the big Macworld announcement that Macs would start shipping with Intel processors, Apple has run into a sales snag. Not only are sales of the soon-to-be obsolete PowerPC-based iMacs and PowerBooks trailing off (as was expected), but sales of the Intel-based iMac are lower than had been projected.

"Analysts blame the dip on Apple's own, possibly misleading figures, which suggest higher performance from the new machines. Although the new Intel-based iMacs are much faster at running some native applications, they are also slower at some others. Very few tasks are native, such as iTunes ripping and QuickTime running, while most other tasks can't take advantage of the theoretically faster design. Further, preliminary benchmarks find the Intel-based iMacs performing just 30-150% faster in running natives tasks, compared to Apple's 400% claims."

Link: Apple's Intel Transition Not as Smooth as Expected

Could Switch to Intel Allow OS X Exploits?

eWeek's Paul F Roberts says:

"The recent move by Apple Computer to begin shipping Macintosh computers that use microprocessors from Intel could open the door to more attacks against computers running the company's OS X operating system, security experts warn.

"The shift to Intel processors from the Motorola Power PC processors will make it easier to create software exploits for Macintosh systems, and could result in a steady stream of Mac exploits in years to come.

"The change could put more pressure on Apple to build security features into OS X, according to interviews conducted by eWeek."

Link: Apple's Switch to Intel Could Allow OS X Exploits

...or Is Intel a Security Non-Issue for OS X?

eWeek's Larry Seltzer says:

"I guess Black Hat just gets hackers excited and optimistic for more bad news. This leads them to believe, for example, that Apple's move to x86 for the Mac will make the platform less secure.

"Claims like these raise basic questions about what creates a vulnerability in an operating system and how attackers exploit them. The short answer is that rarely, if ever, are the existence of vulnerabilities related to the specifics of one processor architecture versus another.

"And the fact that a programmer may be familiar with programming Windows on an x86-based system is of only small advantage to him (or her) when attacking Mac OS on that same system."

Link: Move to Intel a Security Non-Issue for Apple

$6,000 Windows XP on Macintel Contest

TechWeb News's Gregg Keizer reports:

"A self-professed Mac lover who jump-started a prize award for the first person to figure out how to boot Windows XP on an Intel-based Macintosh is confident that someone will step forward to claim the bounty, now at nearly $6,000.

"'I'm an optimist,' said Colin Nederkoorn of Houston, Texas, and the creator of The Contest Web site. 'I think someone will claim it.'

"Among his requirements, Nederkoorn said, were that the user must be able to boot either OS X or Windows XP at startup; and boot XP, not Vista or other versions. The process cannot rely on virtualization software."

Red Hat Linux to Boot on Intel Macs Eventually

tuaw.com's Fabienne Serriere reports:

"They haven't mentioned exactly how they will make Red Hat Linux boot on the new Intel-based Macs, but a Red Hat spokesperson has confirmed they are committed to creating a distro for the new hardware. This may take a while because they haven't yet purchased any Intel Macs. Secondly Red Hat Fedora hasn't even begun to discuss whether they will be taking a grub or lilo tactic as a bootloader."

Link: Red Hat Linux Distro to Boot on Intel Macs

The Best Time to Buy a Macintel

MacDevCenter's Derrick Story says:

"...even though an Intel processor is tempting, what I really need is a better video card, more RAM, and a bigger hard drive. This is what will drive my decision to buy a laptop. Yes, the CPU is important. But it's not my sole consideration for buying a new computer. I need the whole package. And that's when I'll make the leap."

Link: Best Time to Buy a New MacIntel

Wait or Buy a Macintel Now?

Wired's Pete Mortensen says:

"With the euphoria of another Steve Jobs Macworld Expo keynote waning, Apple faithful are coming to terms with one troubling fact - the whole platform has gone beta again. Apple's new iMac and the MacBook Pro, based on Intel's Core Duo processors, are available for purchase right now, but it will be at least a year before Apple's transition away from PowerPC hardware is complete.

"These are some of the questions Mac users are asking.

  • I've been in the market for a new Mac forever - should I buy an Intel Mac today?
  • What kinds of problems crop up with a new processor?
  • Do Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Quark and other Pro applications run on the new machines?
  • How fast are these computers right now?
  • Can I run Windows on the new Macs?
  • Will I regret buying one of these computers in three months?"
Link: Intel Macs: Wait or Buy Now?

The Intel Nativeness Monkey Wrench 

MacBook Garage's Bill Palmer says:

"I've mentioned before that I don't necessarily face the same burdens as other Macintosh users might when it comes to making the leap to an Intel-based Mac, for the simple reason that I spend most of my time using Apple's consumer-level software. That means then when I run out and grab myself a MacBook, I won't have to worry about the translation slow-downs that frequent users of apps like Photoshop or Word will face. But it occurred to me that while my iBook's Dock does currently contain almost excessively Apple-supplied software titles, one of them suddenly strikes me as being troublesome: FileMaker Pro."

Link: The Intel Nativeness Monkeywrench

IBM Promises Mac, Linux Support for Sametime

CRN's Barbara Darrow reports:

"At Lotusphere, last week, IBM for the first time pledged client support to Linux and Macintosh for its Sametime realtime communications offering.

"Sametime 7.5, due this summer, also will offer users the option of free interoperability between their enterprise instant messaging (IM) networks and the public America Online, Yahoo, Google Talk and iChat IM networks. Microsoft charges about $12 a head for similar interop between its Live Communications Server and Yahoo, MSN and AOL networks.

"Additionally, the upcoming Notes 7.02 client will support the latest Macintosh operating system starting in the third quarter. The Domino Web Access client will support both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs via Firefox."

Link: IBM Goal: IM Interop Across the Board

Tech Tips and Info

Mac OS X 10.4.4: Included Printer Drivers and PostScript PPD Files for Intel-based Macs

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Macintosh computers pre-installed with Mac OS X 10.4.4 at the factory include printer drivers and PostScript Printer Description files (PPDs) for many printer models. This article contains a list of all printer drivers and PPD files included with Mac OS X 10.4.4 for Intel-based Macs. Some printer files included with Mac OS X 10.4.4 for Intel-based Macs might not be included with previous Mac OS X versions, and vice-versa.

"Please note that some of these drivers have been created by open-source projects (refer to the "Install Package" column in the list to find the driver source) and may not be supported by Apple or the respective printer manufacturer.

"Tip: To ensure that you have the latest drivers for your printer, refer to the printer manufacturer's website."

Link: Mac OS X 10.4.4: Included Printer Drivers and PostScript PPD Files for Intel-based Macs

Intel News

Smaller Vendors Struggle to Ship Core Duo Laptops

CNET News.com's Tom Krazit reports:

"Large vendors such as Dell, HP and Apple haven't got notebooks based on Intel's new Core Duo processor on sale yet, but smaller rivals aren't hanging around

"Some companies are already shipping notebooks with Intel's new Core Duo processor, owing to its sooner-than-expected launch date, but larger, less nimble vendors find themselves forced to wait.

"Intel formally unveiled the new Core Duo processor at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. Acer and Sony have started shipping a few notebooks that feature the dual-core processor, formerly known by its Yonah code name. But Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer, Lenovo and Dell are still waiting to release their Core Duo notebooks, even though they have announced the specifications and pricing."

Link: Vendors Struggle to Ship Core Duo Laptops

Intel Ships 1 Million 65nm Dual-core Chips

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Intel has shipped more than one million 65nm dual-core processors, the chip giant announced today.

"That figure comprises all the Core Duo chips, 'Presler' Pentium D 9xx parts and the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 that have gone out to makers of notebook and desktop PCs, not to mention the products Apple's using in its latest iMac and upcoming MacBook Pro."

Link: Intel Ships 1m 65nm Dual-core Chips

Intel Moving Ahead on 45 Nanometer Chips

eWeek's John G Spooner reports:

"Intel said it has reached an important milestone on the path to rolling out the next generation of chip manufacturing in 2007.

"The chip giant said on Jan. 25 that it has completed a test chip using its forthcoming 45-nanometer process, dubbed P1266, which it expects to roll out in the second half of 2007."

Link: Intel Gets on Its Way to 45 Nanometers

Intel Proves 45-nm Process with Test Chips

ExtremeTech reports:

"Intel Corp. said this week that it had produced working silicon on its next-generation 45-nanometer manufacturing process, and is on schedule to move the technology into production in the second half of 2007.

"Intel's announcement from its research division will help keep its production schedule moving forward into smaller and smaller geometries. Intel currently manufactures chips from two fabs using 65-nm equipment, and more than 50 percent of its PC microprocessors will be manufactured on the newer 65-nm chips beginning in the third quarter of the is year, Intel executives said in a teleconference."

Link: Intel Proves 45-nm Process with Test Chips

Intel Core Duo and Core Solo on 65nm Process Specification Update

PR: Intel has posted an update to the specifications contained in the Intel Core Duo Processor and Intel Core Solo Processor on 65 nm Process Datasheet.

This document is intended for hardware system manufacturers and software developers of applications, operating systems, or tools. It contains specification changes, S-specs, errata, specification clarifications, and documentation changes. The Intel® Centrino® Duo Mobile Technology processor may contain design defects or errors known as errata which may cause the product to deviate from published specifications. Current characterized errata are available on request. This location contains the most current Specification Update. The revision number is indicated by the last two digits in its 'pdf' file name. Specification Updates are revised only as changes occur.

If a new revision is created, it will be posted per the following 2006 schedule: January 18, February 15, March 15, April 19, May 17, June 14, July 19, August 16, September 13, October 18, November 15, December 13. You may need the latest version of Adobe* Acrobat Reader* to view the documents listed below.

Link: Intel Core Duo Processor and Intel Core Solo Processor on 65 nm Process Specification Update

Intel Core Duo: No Balls, Just Bumps

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"It's official: Intel's latest 65nm dual-core desktop chip, 'Presler', shipping as the Pentium D 9xx series, has no balls. Neither, it seems, has 'Yonah', the chip giant's 65nm dual-core mobile part a.k.a. Core Duo.

"The verdict comes from Canadian chip analyst Chipworks, and it's not as harsh as it might at first sound. While Intel's 90nm Pentium 4 chip, 'Prescott', used tiny solder balls made of a lead-tin alloy to connect the die to the chip package's pins, Presler instead uses copper structures called 'pillar bumps'. So does Yonah."

Link: Intel Core Duo: No Balls, Just Bumps, Says Analyst

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