Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Future support for PowerPC

Apple's switch from the 68000 series processor to the PowerPC was a bold move. The fact that they made that transition so smoothly is nearly miraculous. The switch to using the Intel processor was another bold move though having gone through a processor switch already, it was certainly easier.

It's been four years since Apple announced the transition from PowerPC to Intel. With such a small percentage (about 5% to 7%) of Mac users using PowerPC, we have decided to phase out our support for PowerPC.

Beginning with REAL Studio 2010 Release 4, PowerPC support will no longer be actively supported. This means that it will still be a build option but we will no longer be testing or adding features to our PowerPC-based Mac framework. We will fix bugs but only the most problematic. Having said that, we rarely get bugs that are PowerPC-specific. Our Cocoa-based framework will be supported for Intel only. We will continue to provide PowerPC as a build option for another year or two.

Phasing out support for PowerPC allows us to focus our efforts on the platforms that the vast majority of our users care most about. Ending support for a computing platform is rarely an easy thing for anyone but to best serve the majority of you, our customers, we need to put our resources to the best possible use.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have stated in the past that you intend to release the IDE itself as a Cocoa app. As Cocoa will only be intel only. I assume that means the IDE itself will no longer be able run on a PPC soon either ( with the release of Cocoa .. maybe R4 or2011R1)?

BTW the PowerMac G5 was only replaced by the intel Mac Pro 3 years ago this month. The high end Macs were the last to go intel.

IIGS_User said...

I believe it's not so clear what REAL is saying. Mostly thinking about the build option 'PowerPC' at this place, hopefully they're not talking about the 'Universal Binary' build option. Moving away the 'PowerPC' only build option (respectively no longer updating it) is not that bad, since no Mac OS X SSW updates are available anymore, so the 'PowerPC' only build option finally do not need any updates any more (unless bugfixes, that's true).

Programmers may still need the 'PowerPC' (and/or 'Universal Binary') option to update their existing projects, but could determine to build completely new projects (respectively upgraded versions of existing projects) for Intel only.

Anonymous said...

IIGS_User,

Geoff said:
"Our Cocoa-based framework will be supported for Intel only."

That seems to mean that while we may still be able to build for Carbon PPC and universal apps, RB apps using the Cocoa will not be able to be built for PPC or as universal binaries since the Cocoa framework will be intel only.

As the IDE is written in RB, it also means that once the IDE is a Cocoa app, it will also not be able to run on a PPC.

It was my understanding the IDE as a Cocoa app would be released concurrently with the first non-beta Cocoa framework release...

My guess is that the Cocoa framework will likely be released the end of this year or by the end if the first quarter of next year. So by then anybody coding with RB on a Mac who wants to stay current will need to using an Intel Mac.

While it would be nice if it was otherwise (my 'spare' machine is a PowerMac G5 Dual core), I can live with that... as long as the Cocoa framework/IDE is pretty solid and not leaded with bugs and inconsistencies.

BTW I hope the last PPC compatible IDE released does not have the 'call home' activation/reactivation requirements as it is likely something I will keep around for number of years 'just in case'.

Anonymous said...

Hi Geoff.

Will there be a PowerPC build option when the main compiler is migrated to llvm?

The new compiler will be a very important feature for us and we would like to use it for future versions of our app (we are only just getting round to dropping 10.3.9 support so PPC is still important to us for a while).


Cheers,
Kev.

Geoff Perlman said...

Hi Kev,

Probably not. PowerPC is such a small percentage as it is. By the time we have finished our migration to LLVM, it will be even smaller. If we support building PowerPC through LLVM, we have to support it. Having said that, if we find that it adds no additional development cost and apps seem to work, we may provide it but make it clear that it's not officially supported.

Anonymous said...

Hi Geoff.

I thought that would be the situation. We are starting to collect stats on what CPU's our software is being used on so that we can gauge when to drop PPC support. So far, we know that over 300 PPC based customers have used our software this year. We actually get paid when customers create content with our software so we'll have to keep PPC support around for a bit longer.

Realistically, when do you think llvm support will be ready for testing?


Thanks.
Kev.

Geoff Perlman said...

I can't say exactly but I'm not expecting testing to begin until Q1 of next year at the earliest.

Mike said...

Is there a document that summarizes which versions of the IDE/Apps work with which variants of the OS'/processors?

I recycle machines for use in my home security project and it would be nice to have a reference that I could consult to know which RB/RS version I should use (I have licenses for all from almost the beginning) depending on the platforms resources (WinME, XP, Win7, OS9, OSX.n, 68K, PPC, Intel).

Tobias said...

@Geoff Perlman: I came to this topic just as I wanted to give the Web edition a try...

Currently I have a PPC Mac together with a professional release of REALStudio that has a valid (paid !) update plan till mid of 2011.

As I decided for this update plan, there were no official statements made by RS to skip support for PPC Macs in the future (at least non I was aware of or even got noted during the order process).

Furthermore the professional license limits me to use the IDE on a Mac, so there is even no chance to get it working on a Windows based machine.

While I tend to the Windows platform in the future, the general move away from PPC is not really an issue - however just seen on the long run.

BUT how about my current (valid and pricy) support plan ? Is it useless now ? Any idea ?

Tobias.

Geoff Perlman said...

@ Tobias - You can continue to use the last release that supports PowerPC. Alternatively, we can switch your license to Windows or refund the unused portion of your license.

Tobias said...

@Geoff Perlman: Thanks for your fast reply. Is there a way to discuss the details privately by e-mail ? Can I just mail your support department ?

Alyssa said...

@Tobias Yes, please email us at custserv@realsoftware.com, Thanks.