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The Apple Macintosh is switching to Intel processors. Does this matter to you?

The Apple Macintosh line will soon have Intel processors. Will they still be good for recording? (And will they run Windows applications?)

Question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

Hi David,

I've been hearing in a lot of recent news that Macintosh computers will soon be switching from PowerPC to Intel processors. Some have been looking forward to this idea, claiming that Mac will finally run as nicely as a PC, and others have been saying that this isn't a great idea since Mac was once a very unique computer and is sometimes chosen for some of its different abilities over others.

My only question is, what are your views on this issue?



David Mellor responds...

The Mac switching to Intel processors? Does this matter to you? Well, I'll tell you who it does matter to - Digidesign. You can bet there is frantic activity at Digi HQ making sure their Pro Tools software runs flawlessly on Intel-based Macs (which they already have samples of). Anything less than flawless performance and Digidesign is a dead company. Toasted and roasted.

So you can take it as a certainty that when Digidesign announces that Pro Tools is Mac-Intel compatible, it sure will be. And third-party plug-ins will follow.

It also follows therefore that, to the end user, it doesn't really matter in the long term. The only problem is the short-term glitch during the changeover when Intel-ready plug-ins will be in short supply.

The same logic applies to Logic - Apple's own audio recording software. Would you expect Apple to let anyone down? They would have to be crazy, and they are not.

So the changeover to Intel is an irritation. We've had these irritations before - the change to OS X, and the change to the PowerPC processor before that. So this is another irritating change, but at least Apple have bags of experience on how to manage changes like this.

Yes, there will be people in the world who hack the Mac to run Windows and PC software. Let them have their fun - it doesn't matter in the real world.

It is a good question to ask whether the move to Intel will make the Mac less distinctive? Once again, you can bet that Apple have thought about this very long and very hard. They will make absolutely sure that the distinction between the Mac and Windows PCs is absolutely crystal clear. For one thing, the same company making both hardware and operating system (and application in the case of Logic) is powerfully different from the Windows world. The brand of processor is a mere detail in comparison.

The moral - if you need a new Mac now and can make a profit from it within a year, then buy a G5, even if they will be phased out soon. Otherwise, if you like the Mac, wait and buy an Intel model, preferably a few months after their introduction when audio software is fully compatible

One more point - the Mac "finally run as nicely as a PC"??

I use Macintosh for audio and Windows for everything else simply because it is more compatible. But a Mac running as nicely as Windows? Someone definitely has something the wrong way round :-)

By David Mellor Monday December 12, 2005