Subject: Re: PowerPC plans
To: Adam Glass <>
From: John F. Woods <>
List: current-users
Date: 03/09/1994 09:59:04
> > b. it would be nice to port to PReP, but since it's not clear when
> >   such machines will actually ship (if ever), I guess the initial
> >   target would be the PowerMacs.  What portion of the MacBSD port
> >   could be used towards this?  That is, to what extent is the
> >   MacBSD port tied into the 68k?
> Likely the problem with the PowerMacs would be the lack of an open
> architecture.  In that respect PRep is much more appealing.  I don't
> know anything about the mac68k port other than the fact that they'e
> had to do lots of detective work to account for Apple's unwillingness
> to provide hardware information and the miriad of different
> (internally) models.

Apple should hardly be faulted for having a myriad of internally different
models; the stagnation of the PC industry is hardly a benefit.  The unfortunate
part, of course, is that Apple's technology for enforcing a uniform view of
the different hardware (Mac System calls in ROM for hardware functions) just
doesn't cut it for any other OS, and Apple's reluctance to document all of
the details of their machines (they are hardly unique in this; the "openness"
of the PC industry is essentially entirely IBM's doing, because no clone vendor
has since designed anything unique that would require documentation--but I/O
board vendors, that's a different story entirely).  PReP is supposed to use
a scheme sort of like Apple's ROM calls, but generalized so it can be used
without any hassle; as I understand it, PReP contains a list of required
functionality and specifications for ROM-based "manager" calls.  Since at
least three operating systems have to live with the result (Mac OS, AIX, 
and NT), one hopes the spec won't be too hard to use...  ;-)

I think Apple has claimed that they may have PReP Macs out by the end of
the year, and that they are willing to license the Mac OS to PReP clone
vendors.  The Power Macs coming out this month are rumored to be just fast
Quadra logic boards, but with some luck Apple may have made some kind of start
toward PReP design philosophy...  (They again, they're in a hurry, so maybe

Also, Canon has recycled a bunch of NeXT hardware engineers to design a
PPC family, including (apparently) parallel-processing workstations; Canon
is also working on a line of "low-cost uniprocessing desktop workstations".
(Electronic Engineering Times, 28 Feb 1994)  One way or another, the next
two years could be very interesting.

> > I would be interested in helping on this port, assuming I could get my hands
> > on a machine.
> Well buy us a machine or two :)

The Power Mac 6100 (8/160 configuration) is to be priced at about $1750 (w/o
monitor or keyboard).  Not too shabby for a machine that will BLOW THE DOORS
OFF ANY COMPARABLY PRICED INTEL JUNKHEAP.  Excuse me, my Intelphobia got the
better of me :-).