Jaguar Vs Cognac

The two projects, which aimed to bring RISC technology to the Macintosh, had totally different approaches and resources. Here are some of the main points which put them at the antipodes.

Jaguar had dozens of engineers from the start and was a very ambitious project.
Cognac, at least initially, had a much smaller team. Work started as a stopgap solution to bridge 68k and RISC, later evolved into a “plan B” and then became the only way forward for the Macintosh.

Since the 88k architecture wasn’t compatible with the 68k one, Jaguar engineers chose to start with a clean slate, even tough this meant that there would be the need to recompile all previous software for the Macintosh. This was similar to the IA-64 debacle of Intel’s Itanium , which was humiliated by AMD’s evolutionary way to add 64-bit computing capabilities to the existing x86 architecture.
The Cognac team was much more pragmatic. (more…)

Wednesday 23 August 2017, 10:04 am
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The 88110 CPU and the RISC workstations that never were

At the beginning of the Nineties both Apple and NeXT were planning to unveil new RISC machines, powered by the Motorola 88110 CPU. At that point the Motorola 68000 family, also known as 68k or m68k, was clearly a dead end and it was time to move on.

The MC88110 was part of a new RISC architecture from Motorola, the 88000, dubbed m88k, and looked like the right solution for both businesses, though it arrived a bit late on the market.

Originally called the 78000, to stress its kinship with the 68000, the new architecture promised to outclass the performance of the processors used in top of the line Macintoshes and NeXT workstations. (more…)

Friday 28 July 2017, 11:56 am
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The 68k->PPC transition and Snow Leopard: comparing apples to oranges

In “Snow Leopard: Party like it’s 1998” there’s an attempt to quell the outcry of Mac users for Apple dropping PowerPC support in Snow Leopard by recalling the late Nineties transition from the Motorola 68×00 to the PPC machines.

It is a good and praiseworthy idea but unfortunately, in the description there are a couple of major inaccuracies which undermine the effort.

In the post it is stated that

On October 17, 1998 Apple released Mac OS 8.5, the first operating system that ran solely on Macintoshes with PowerPC processors. As far as system software upgrades go, this was the end of the line for any Mac built before the Power Macintosh 6100, introduced in March 1994. Earlier Macs ran on some variation of 680×0 processors and were supported mostly via emulation in a PowerPC environment. Emulation works, but it also slows things down. By 1998, Apple decided it just couldn’t support 680X0 emulation for a number of reasons, but chiefly among them was speed.

The Mac OS 8.5 was surely the end of Mac based on the 68k family of processors, but Apple kept on making and selling machines based on this hardware platform long after the release of the Power Mac 6100 in March 1994.

PM 6100 with monitorMacs such as the PowerBook 280 and the Quadra/LC 630 were launched during 1994 and even the following year, in the April and August of 1995 Cupertino introduced non-PowerPC models such as The Performa 580 and the PowerBook 190cs.

And those Macs were not “supported mostly via emulation in a PowerPC environment”. It was the way around: Macintoshes based on the PowerPC chips had to use emulation to be compatible with the (operating) System (which was later called Mac OS), which was still full of 68×000 code.

During the late Nineties Apple kept on slowly cleaning up the Mac OS code by “a PowerPC native, multi-threaded Finder” (does this ring a bell?) in Mac OS 8.0 and transitioning away from the old CISC CPUs by first limiting support to 68040 Macs with release 8.1.

Image taken from www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/~schaelss/vintage/index.htm

Tuesday 16 June 2009, 12:29 pm
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The little Quadra

Filed under: Design,Hardware

The Macintosh Quadra 605 was the smallest and lowest-model from the high profile professional lineup when Apple still used 68k CPUs from Motorola.

Mac Quadra 605 Unlike the much bigger 700, 800 and 900 models, the 605 was offered in a horizontal slim “pizzabox” case, which closely resembled those of the LC line.

While the innards of the 605 were indeed shared with that of the Performa/LC 475 -featuring a 68040 and a floppy drive- on the other hand the design of the case was unique, a fact that many books and websites overlook, incorrectly reporting them as identical.

The design of the Quadra 605 is much rounder and stylish and looks like a slimmed down version of the Quadra/LC/Performa 630. Gone is the front hoof of the LCs and the 605 lies flat, not inclined, on the surface, sporting four cute “feet” similar to those that adorn the base of the 630, 800/840 and 7×00 models.

The 605 can be seen as the missing link between the LCs and the 630: thanks to its small width and a clean front panel without a second slot for the optical unit, it has a very appealing design, which is minimal and elegant at the same time.

Image taken from Wikipedia

Thursday 30 April 2009, 10:46 pm
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