Vintage Mac Living

PowerPC vs. Intel: Has Apple Been Lying to Us?

- 2006.08.17

Was it all a lie?

The Mac Pro is the newest, coolest, fastest, and best Mac ever - or so Apple says.

Apparently, it's up to twice as fast as it's immediate predecessor, the Power Mac G5 Quad.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

A new system with a new architecture that's up to twice as fast is sure to bring in big bucks for Apple and make plenty of customers happy.

Wasn't PowerPC Faster?

But wait, there's something not quite right about all of this, something that I'm sure a lot of people are thinking: "I thought Intel chips were half as fast as the PowerPCs, not two to four times faster."

I seem to remember a time, about nine years ago, when Apple was bragging about how it's PowerPC G3 CPU was up to twice as fast as its Pentium II counterpart.

The Pentium snailDoes the snail ad ring a bell?

Then Apple started a whole new era of computing with the 500 MHz PowerPC G4 in 1999, claiming it was 2.94 times faster than the 600 MHz Pentium III.

Anyone remember the tank ad?

tank adThen in 2001, we had the "Megahertz Myth" video, showing why the PowerPC's architecture was so much more advanced and efficient than the X86 architecture.

In 2003, we had the introduction of the G5.

Apple claimed that it was twice as fast as the fastest Pentium 4 machines, and everyone loved it.

Virginia Tech put 1,100 of them together and made the world's third-fastest supercomputer.

And Now Intel Is Faster?

All that changed in 2005.

All of a sudden, Apple decided to start using processors from the same company they had been bashing for years by claiming they were half as fast as the PowerPC chips Apple used!

Now Apple said that IBM had dropped the ball, that IBM's inability to produce fast enough G5s had forced them to go down this road.

And today Apple says that the new Mac Pro with it's Quad Core Intel Xeon "Woodcrest" processors makes the new machine up to twice as fast as the Power Mac G5 Quad.

I find that very hard to believe.

For the last 12 years, we've been hearing how the RISC architecture (found in PowerPC) was so much better than the CISC architecture (used in Intel's x86 family) - and now, after all this time, Apple is abandoning that?

I think the question we all have to ask ourselves right now is: Has Apple been lying to us for 12 long years, or are they simply trying to get for Windows users to buy Macs by making it easier to run Windows on them? LEM

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