Zzzt: Apple's power failure


— 12:42 AM on May 16, 2000

Time to fan the flames of the Mac-PC controversy once again. You just have to read this article looking at the history of the PowerPC alliance and comparing the performance of the PPC line to its x86 competition. (Thanks to JC for the link.) The article's comparative benchmark graphs do a very nice job of illustrating how the PPC alliance has fallen behind Intel and AMD over the past couple of years.

Of course, if that's not enough to raise the hackles of any dyed-in-the-rainbow Mac zealot, there's this bit of analysis about the PowerPC numbers:

The PowerPC SPEC figures are mostly taken from IBM Unix-based workstations and servers built around PowerPC processors, and the IBM and Motorola semiconductor division performance estimates for their products. That contrasts with the x86 SPEC figures that are almost exclusively measured on standard PC hardware. This exaggerates the performance of Power Macs because Apple systems tend to use cheaper and lower bandwidth memory systems and smaller caches than IBM’s workstation class products or the optimistic configurations found in PowerPC promotional literature.
Ever wonder why Apple ads seem to make such ridiculous claims about the relative performance of the latest Macs CPUs versus comparable x86 processors? Wonder no more.

In all seriousness, though, I'm compelled by the author's argument that the PPC partners, IBM and Motorola, concentrated primarily on the embedded processor market, leaving Apple without the kind of performance needed to compete on the desktop. Makes sense.

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