Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Apple, Intel, and What it Means to VoIP

Ted Wallingford

Well, Apple made the announcement that they’re firing IBM as a supplier of PowerPC chips, that they’re dumping the PowerPC platform (even going so far as to say it has no future—though the Xbox 360’s designers might take issue with that), and that they’re embracing the Intel as their new microprocessor supplier. In fact, future Macs will contain (GASP!) x86 processors.

It was a confusing day for many of the Mac faithful, especially those involved in open-source or Unix-oriented projects such as the OS X version of Asterisk and related projects like the port of Zaptel drivers from BSD to OS X. Some are concerned that the stellar quality control found in Apple motherboards with PowerPC chips will evaporate as soon as Intel-equipped Macs start showing up. For realtime applications like VoIP, this could be a problem.

As one developer put it, “I know people who’ve exchanged 3.0 gHz Pentium machines for 300 mHz G3s just because they were more stable and resulted in fewer errors.” This comment was aimed at Asterisk specifically, but it may just have been an emotional response to what has become a rather religious issue. In fact, the concensus among my open source buddies has been that this isn’t necessarily good news. And I tend to agree.

But there is some upside. Maintaining a single base of code and linking could become easier since Macs and PCs will now have the same byte-ordering… This means we may see more mainstream VoIP application developers bringing their wares to the Mac (Yahoo chat, anyone?). Plus, Macs are likely to go down in price—and this is a good thing.

What do you think?


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