Apple’s announcement about Intel has left a lot of confusion and misinformation in its wake, and unfortunately, I’m not a developer. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’d like to clarify several points, based on reader feedback:

XCode versus other tools isn’t the major issue: (For non-developer readers, XCode is the Apple development tool, as opposed to third-party products like Metrowerks, which ironically rose to prominence during the transition from the older Motorola 68k processor to the current PowerPC architecture.) Several readers who are developers have written in to point out I overstated the difficulty of porting for non-XCode users. This comes down to a definition of “port.” Several outlets reported yesterday that non-XCode developers had additional work ahead of them. Developers will have to switch to XCode, but as Kurt points out:

The code won’t have to change significantly, if *at all* — it’s not a “complete re-port” by any means. It’s a bit of a change to switch from CodeWarrior to XCode, but definitely something that can be accomplished in a few days. It simply is not as big of a deal as you think it is.”

Most developers are upbeat: Yes, the transition is going to require additional work. But while initial reactions on the floor were shock and anger from some, by the end of the day most developers we’ve talked to were largely positive. It’s a good thing that Apple’s abandoning a chip supplier that let it — and its user base — down.

It’s NeXT all over again: As CDM’s own Lee Sherman, veteran NeXT journalist, points out, part of the reason this news isn’t surprising at all is that it’s a return to the state of development on the NeXT operating system. Recompile for NeXT, and your fat binaries could run on Motorola, Intel, SPARC, and HP-RISC, says Lee. (Incidentally, a lot less of a pain than Linux!)

What we’re still clarifying: There are some remaining questions, as you’d expect about a huge announcement that’s only hours old. One revelation: you probably won’t be able to run music software that hasn’t been recompiled. (See CDM’s comment thread for one reader report.) This would mean, if true, that Rosetta won’t support audio interfaces. You’ll need updated software for Mac-intel.

So, at this point — largely, it’s waiting. If there’s more breaking news, you’ll read it here. In the meantime, back to our regularly scheduled programming! (phew)

  • kokorozashi

    It may be that a given pro audio workflow cannot be emulated at all. Not only are kernel extensions (the lowest layer) not emulated, but it sounds like the emulator may not work well for compute-bound apps (the highest layer) either. Pro audio apps (mixers, synths, etc.) tend to be compute-bound. Here's the relevant text for the curious:

    > Applications that have a lot of user interaction and low computational needs,
    > such as a word processor, are quite compatible. Those that have a moderate
    > amount of user interaction and some high computational needs or that use
    > OpenGL are, in most cases, also quite compatible. Those that have intense
    > computing needs aren’t compatible. This includes applications that need to
    > repeatedly compute fast Fourier transforms (FFTs), that compute complex models
    > for 3-D modelling, or compute ray tracing.

    The extent to which Pro Tools, Reason, Logic, et. al. fall into each category remains to be seen, of course.

    A bigger issue may be plug-ins; if you have an Intel build of a DAW, it won't be able to tell the emulator to execute a PowerPC plug-in, and even if the DAW were able to do so, the plug-in might be so compute-bound that you'd rather not go there.

    I think the brightest hope for pro audio users is that porting to Intel is as easy as Apple says.