My first Mac (Mac 512k)

My first Mac (Mac 512k)

Apple is running a little retrospective on their site today as it is the 30-year anniversary of the release of the first Macintosh.  That so much of my life has been driven and changed by computers and technology–it’s kind of scary to think about it now.  I think of (honestly) all the things I’ve been able to create on a Mac that may not have been generated in the first place.

My first Mac was a Macintosh 512k.  It was released in 1984 and shipped with System Software 4, though this could be improved with the 20 Mb hard drive that was an optional “accessory”.  My parents purchased one used as a deal when I was 5, so that must’ve been 1988-89.  After coming from a TRS-80 with a yellow-tint monochrome display, the Mac was a treat.  It had a one-button mouse with a satisfying click.  It allowed us to plug in an external Hayes 1200 bps modem and connect to the rest of the world.  The 20 Mb HDD was a large as the base of the Mac and fit underneath it as a pedestal. (more…)

Apple Thunderbolt

Seems like almost one year ago I was writing about the merits of Intel’s Light Peak technology, a promised fiber-optic based interconnect that enable fast connectivity to a variety of bus interconnects.
Thunderbolt Logo
Finally, Light Peak is here, however it has been rebranded as Apple’s Thunderbolt technology and the current infrastructure in the launch is still…copper. :(, yeah big frownie face. Essentially what they’ve done is rebrand their Mini-Displayport interface port as a an all-in-one Thunderbolt interface. Good news is this means that existing cables and accessories that use this port can continue to be used, and in theory more bits can be pushed down that port. The bad news is…well…there aren’t any devices yet to take advantage of this port and its boost in speeds.

I’m also thinking that this could be a big boon to new, incredibly fast serialized devices that push standards forward. Apple helped pioneer the FireWire port back in the late 90’s– I’m hoping they can do something about how long it takes me to dump 250 gigs of data to my external hard drive.

And yes…I’m a wee bit jealous about those new fast 17″ MacBook Pro’s.

One area that I didn’t touch on in my last post was the increased bandwidth available for audio applications such as Pro Tools or Logic. Most of this stuff comes in FireWire now, and while I haven’t really seen anyone complain about a bandwidth crunch on the bus while doing recording, I’m sure having more lanes to cram more bits down can’t really hurt.

main_image_1993Finally, Intel also reports that Apple has a one-year head start on using the technology. I’m assuming that means that Apple will have one year of exclusivity before the technology starts being available for use in other competing devices. I’m not sure what that gets Apple considering there aren’t any peripherals currently that can really take advantage of this. If I were to hazard a guess, you’ll start seeing manufacturers support the port during CES 2012.

Intel Light Peak Technology

I do occasionally scout the forums on MacRumors but like any good forum out there it is really hit or miss. Aside from the grandstanding of folks who’ve apparently tirelessly been waiting for an Apple MBP update who now believe they were “screwed” and will be waiting for the next revision, it tends to be ground zero for some of the new Apple technologies coming soon.

One of those technologies is Intel’s Light Peak tech. In short it replaces a copper wire based bus system internally with one made of fiber-optic conduit. I’ve read some reports that suggest Apple originally came to Intel with the need/want to reduce the physical size of the cable bundles inside its machines.

Closeup of fiber-optic connector

Light Peak Connector

In a machine with some breathing room the 4-wire USB bundle doesn’t seem large, but given how many ports are used in portable machines today and that space is a premium in those enclosures I can see the problem.

Unfortunately the tech isn’t ready for primetime, yet. Engadget ran a story yesterday that reported that Intel is claiming it’ll probably be ready for primetime late this year or early next year. One of the things they’re still working on is providing power to these ports in addition to data. That means augmenting those fiber bundles with some copper to carry electrons back and forth (bummer) with those photons.

LightPeak coexisting with USB3

Light Peak coexisting with USB3

Back to MacRumors for a second: There’s a little kerfluffle there about waiting for this technology to supplant USB3.0. I don’t think that’s going to happen: From what I understand the end-use ports can still be ferried information via LightPeak’s project 10 GB/s throughput. The end user will still be able to use whatever ports they’d like but internally manufacturers could use cables with a lot less bulk and connect them to an insanely speedy bus.

Personally I’m excited to see this tech out in the mainstream. Let’s hope Intel continues getting their act together.

Intel Arrandale Reviews

Seems to be quite a few Arrandale reviews popping up around the ‘Net– most reviewers got their hands on the Arrandale Core i5-6XX units it seems. Early results are really promising; same power usage as the Core 2 Duo and insane gains in calculations per second. Just…nutty.

It’s almost a guarantee that Apple will announce new MacBook Pro’s at the end of the month. Most of the geeks I know and around the web seem to think that the Arrandale chips are destined to be in the next MBP’s. Based on what I’ve seen so far of package sizing, I’m projecting the following:

  • 17″ MacBook Pro Core i7-620M (2.66 Ghz -> 3.33 Ghz Burst) @ 35 watts in the rPGA pack
  • 15″ MacBook Pro Core i5-520M/540M (2.4/2.53 Ghz -> 2.93/3.06 Ghz Burst) @ 35 watts in the rPGA pack
  • 13″ MacBook Pro Core i3-350M (2.26 Ghz No Burst) @ 35 watts in the rPGA pack
  • I’m basing this on two theories: First, that Apple isn’t going to want to change their architecture around too much. I’m betting every MBP motherboard will support rPGA pin arrangement to make things easier. Considering there’s only one rPGA processor listed coming out this month in that pack, I’m assuming they’ll go the same way with the 15″ and 13″. Secondly, there are some lower powered (25 watts) processors that would be suitable for inclusion in a revised MacBook Air. My only problem with this theory is that the integrated IGP units that are now on the same die as the main processor apparently suck. Like, majorly suck. They get remotely close to the last gen’s Nvidia 9440GM chipset but apparently don’t exceed it. Not good news. No one wants to buy a “new” machine that has weaker graphics than the last one.

    CES is nearly upon us, with the Ballmer keynote kicking off tomorrow night at 6:30 PM PST. I’ll post my predictions of the coming show this year tomorrow before everything kicks off. The Net is abuzz with all kind of gadgets coming out this year…anyone see the hovering drone thing on Engadget?

    Apple to squash the Hackintosh…

    …which is totally within their right, btw. According to many Net sources (but here I reference the article on my fave site, Slashdot) Apple is apparently killing installation within the Intel Atom CPU chipsets that power many netbooks currently. I’ll be the first to admit that the only way I got started with ObjC and the iPhone SDK is by taking a Dell Mini 9 ($299) and turning it into a Hackintosh to see if I could even figure out the SDK.

    I was fairly successful at it, and my little Hackintosh is my learning and dev machine right now. However, I fully plan to by a fully-loaded MacBook Pro 17″ here in January when they update the line again. Hear that Apple? I hacked, but I’m buying your most expensive product because it actually worked out well for me. Can we ease up off the other hackers for a bit?

    True, I did legally acquire my copy of the OS, but I know I’m actively violating EULA– this is also why I haven’t submitted any apps to the App Store; I didn’t wanna feel dirty about it. I can’t say I’m thrilled about Apple disallowing this install method, but at least its not retroactive. You can still do Hackintosh with Snow Leopard, you just won’t get any further updates. And isn’t that the point? Just to try it all out anyway and give someone proper funding when you can?

    Bah…