Apple Bolsters Mac OS X for Intel Development Efforts

The company debuts an online resource for developers tasked with moving their applications to Apple's forthcoming Intel-based Macs.

Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday boosted its commitment to Intel Corp. processors. The company debuted an online resource for programmers working on Intel-based Macs; the move follows the recent update to its operating system for Intel processors.

The new Developer Transition Resource Center is targeted at developers who have been tasked with moving their applications to Apples forthcoming Intel-based Macs, scheduled for release in 2006.

The site ties together topics, resources and tutorials, some of which were previously available on other parts of Apples site, including QuickTime archives of World Wide Developer Conference sessions. Some of the content, including the session videos, are available only to registered Apple developers.

/zimages/2/28571.gifIntel announces it will port its software developer tools to Mac OS X and will ship its first beta later this year. Click here to read more.

Free topics include how to migrate to Intel SSE-based code from the Macs longstanding AltiVec-optimized code, which boosts graphics performance by taking advantage of a hardware-based vector processing unit on the PowerPC G4 and PowerPC G5 chips. While the two optimization schemes provide similar benefits for content applications, the architectures are incompatible.

Meanwhile, Apple has also made progress on Mac OS X for Intel, releasing to developers over the weekend an updated version of Mac OS X 10.4.2 for Intel. This brings the version of Mac OS X for Intel up to date with the currently released OS for existing Macs.

The developer kits, which were loaded with Mac OS X 10.4.1 for Intel, were made available only to developers following Apples June announcement that it will begin transitioning its Macintosh product line away from IBM- and Freescale-produced Power PC processors.

However, sources told Ziff Davis Internet that this build can break compatibility with applications compiled for the previous build of Mac OS X for Intel. This is due to Apple making changes in the ABI (application binary interface), a low-level interface between applications and the operating system. Some rumor and enthusiast sites, such as, have claimed that this is intentional on Apples part, in a bid to frustrate those who have taken pirated versions of the operating system. Since June. Web sites such as the OSx86 Project have sprung up, helping hobbyists share tips on getting Mac OS X for Intel running on commodity PC hardware. However, such hobbyists must acquire a copy of Mac OS X for Intel on their own; the only copies of this software outside of Apple are only available to developers under a strict non-disclosure agreement.

However, Apple previously stated publicly that it had not finalized the ABI specifications in Mac OS X for Intel, and changes to the ABI prior to the final version of an Intel-based Mac OS X are to be expected.

Similar application incompatibilities sprung up in Developer Preview versions of the original Mac OS X.

Sources told Ziff Davis Internet that the new build of Mac OS X for Intel also includes AppleTalk as a so-called Universal binary, so that Intel-based Macs will be able to work with AppleTalk printers. In addition, sources said that unlike in previous builds, Mac OS X for Intel 10.4.2 includes completed Carbon and Cocoa frameworks.

Registered members of Apples developer program can sign up for a $999 developer kit, which includes an Intel-based Mac built around a 3.6GHz Pentium 4 on a standard PC motherboard. The developers can use this hardware and Apples included Xcode 2.1 software development tools to build versions of their products that will be compatible with the Intel-based Macs. Apple said the agreement requires that the developers return the hardware at some point in 2006.

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