How Apple can move to Intel
By seongbae on Jun 03, 2005
NeXTSTEP used to support FAT binary for four architectures - Motorola 68k, Intel x86, HP PA and Sun SPARC (NIHS). And it worked pretty well. Gcc compiler for NeXTSTEP had an option to produce objects for all four targets at the same time, and linker and runtime loader all supported this very well. A single executable file can contain object codes for four different architectures, and many applications were distributed for all four (NIHS), or at least for 68k and x86 (NI).
Assuming Apple didn't remove FAT support in MacOS X, it would be fairly easy for Apple to provide developers ways to create executables for both targets (a simple recompilation for both target would work for most applications, just like moving applications from Solaris SPARC to Solaris x86) and the ISVs can distribute one software package that supports both platforms.
Of course, Apple may still need to provide a PowerPC emulation for x86. But that shouldn't be too difficult either, since underlying OS and APIs remain the same. But emulation doesn't address the actual transition of ISV code itself, and it alone doesn't really ease the transition for ISVs like FAT binary does. So all in all, I bet Apple will revive FAT binary in OS X. Maybe it's time for Sun to push SPARC support in OS X...after all, Niagara and ROCK will be quite attractive as a CPU for Xserve :)