June 8, 2005 4:00 AM PDT
The brains behind Apple's Rosetta: Transitive
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package. Doing so would significantly increase the size of a program, but if programmers followed this practice, an Intel-to-PowerPC translator wouldn't be needed.
Apple has been reluctant to discuss where Transitive fits into the Rosetta technology, though Jobs did confirm in a New York Times interview that Transitive is playing a role.
In an interview with CNET News.com, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller declined to say how much of Rosetta was developed in-house. "I'm not going to talk about details, but it's Apple technology," Schiller said.
on how much of Rosetta was developed in-house
Transitive has about 65 employees, with all engineering staff in Manchester, England. Founder and Chief Technology Officer Alasdair Rawsthorne developed the technology in 1995 at the University of Manchester and built a company around it in 2000.
The company has raised $24 million in three rounds of investment--in October 2000, in February 2002 and in September 2004, Wiederhold said. Investors are Pond Venture Partners, Crescendo Ventures and Accel Partners.
Six major computer makers are Transitive customers, and some new ones should be announced in coming months, Wiederhold said. Later this year or early next, the company wants to start selling products to a second class of customer: software companies that can include QuickTransit as a quick way to bring products to new processors.
QuickTransit can be used to bring software to Itanium, PowerPC, and x86 from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. It can translate software from computers with x86, mainframe, Power or MIPS chips.
AltiVec and other limitations
While Rosetta will work to translate many Mac programs, it does have some important limitations.
"Many, but not all, applications can run translated," Apple said in a paper for developers. "Applications that run translated will never run as fast as they run as a native binary because the translation process itself incurs a processing cost."
Apple said that Rosetta is "designed to translate currently shipping applications that run on a PowerPC with a G3 processor and that are built for Mac OS X."
However, Apple said Rosetta can't run several types of code: that written specifically to use the PowerPC's AltiVec instructions; that which requires a G4 or G5 chip; programs written for Mac OS 9, which today can run with Mac OS X's "classic" environment; kernel extensions; applications that depend on kernel extensions; and code that inserts preferences in the System Preferences pane.
"How compatible your application is with Rosetta depends on the type of application it is," Apple said. "Applications that have a lot of user interaction and low computational needs, such as a word processor, are quite compatible. Those that have a moderate amount of user interaction and some high computational needs or that use OpenGL are, in most cases, also quite compatible. Those that have intense computing needs aren't compatible."
Apple said that there are no visual indications that an application is being translated. A dialog box in the Finder can be used, though, to see whether an application exists only in a PowerPC binary.
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