PowerPC Emulator for Intel Machines

By Deane Barker on May 17, 2004

OS X Makes Slow Debut on PC: Two guys in Germany have built a PowerPC emulator to run OS X on an Intel or AMD-based machine. While this is cool, it’s not nearly ready for prime-time yet:

Biallas and Weyergraf warn PearPC is only a version 0.1 release and is still very experimental. By their admission, it is incomplete, unstable and painfully slow — running about 500 times slower than the host system.

It is “not meant for productive use,” the pair caution on the site. “Don’t use it on important data, it WILL destroy them sooner or later!”

My question is: is this is a travesty to Macphiles? Yes, you’re on PC, but it is OS X. Is just having the Mac software enough, or is the Mac hardware an un-extricable part of the Mac experience?



  1. Of course it’s not a travesty.

    I’ll just be brutally frank. If PearPC ever gets to run fast enough to be useful, and the MAC TRULY IS a better computer than Windows, and IF it’s made easy to download and run this program with OSX (even if it’s illegal to do so) people will dump Windows if it’s a better experience.

    Because a real MAC will always be faster than an x86.

    But I wouldn’t worry – PowerPC is probably the future, and everybody in the computing business knows it, including Intel. It’s cheaper now to design faster systems because it doesn’t have legacy op code from 1980, and it’s bleeding fast. and the PowerPC is suitable for anything from a super computer to a VCR embedded chip. Windows will almost certainly (eventually) support it is my bet too.

  2. “PowerPC is probably the future”???

    Maybe your future, i’m quite happy with x86 and it’s much better (PowerPC is only for graphic designers). That’s why is you want to run a program that isn’t for design, you have to use a VM. PowerPC sucks.

  3. I use a PowerPC G4 in work. They are not as fast as my ProperPC in the house. Also the substandard supplied 1 button mouse is a pain – I know this can be exchanged for another USB mouse, as I have done so, but all the buttons are the same button then – arrrgh.

    Being in the computer business myself, I see most companies moving away from PowerPCs and onto Intel based/compatible systems. We are now one of the only branches of our company left with PowerPCs, simply because our manager dislikes change, and is a MACophile.

    The point about the cheaper computers, no legacy, etc written by Richard Wick is maybe true, but still the hardware and software are overpriced on these systems. And it would not make a good super computer.

  4. you cannot run programs other than for design? what a pile of crap. you can compile any open source program on mac yourself or with full automation including dependencies via fink or gentoo for os x. also there are programs included in os x that make windows look like a joke. starting from bash. apple’s x11 is fully compatible with unix-world’s x-windows.

    os x is unix-clone, based on bsd. as such it is far more advanced, stable and compatible with existing unix software than windows. it has better tools for administration, networking, security etc. you name it.

    and why would macs not make fine supercomputers? in the end of last year a g5 cluster was world’s 3rd fastest supercomputer. no windows/pc cluster (ever heard of one, lol!) can get near that. what is this site anyway? the level of conversation is…hmm…not very geeky :(

  5. You people are arguing software, except for the irrelevant op code rehetoric. PowerPC has had the engineer preferred architecture for years, but it really doesn’t matter anymore.

  6. Why generalize? Both architectures have pros and cons.

    The design of the PowerPC is much lighter than that of current x86s since it has been designed ex-novo (yes, it does not carry the heritage of the 68xxx), while x86 still carry with it the heritage of the first 8086 (to be exact even earlier, that of the 8080). This makes the PowerPC much faster and performing of a comparable x86. Unfortunatelly the PowerPC is much less used than x86, this makes it’s cost much higher than that of x86.

    So, machines based on a PowerPC architecture are surely more performing than those based on comparable x86 but they are also much more expensive.

    Concerning the OS and software, MacOS X is much more stable and reliable than any Windows, even if definitely younger (as a product not as an architecture), because it is based on a Unix kernel (Darwin).

    MacOS X is not expensive also compared to Windows, but since it has only been written for Apple machines, it will hardly approach the mass (it’s kernel Darwin could since it has been ported to x86 machines). So, the real fact is that the PowerPC and MacOS X is in some way really better than x86-Windows couple but it is really difficult that they can reach the mass tomorrow, due to the diffusion of x86-Windows. Human history unfortunately explains us that there are two main things: those who are better optimized and designed (which are the quickest, the most performing, the best around) and those who are badly optimized, but we are more accustomed to use. Unfortunatelly the human being will surely choose the second option.

  7. Look back a few years guys, Windows NT 4 came with a few install options it will intstall to a Power PC, Alpha and MIPS. If you have never tried it, and have some time to kill i suggest trying it. aside from almost no service packs and updates. Installing NT4 on PPC makes it screaming fast. (a good time waster cuz in reality who wants to run NT4 when you can run OS X?) But i concur with the fact that PPC technology is much better and it is more likely to make its way in to embedded and integrated technologies than the x86 archetecture.

  8. Yes, thats true, the G5 cluster was the worlds 3rd fastest supercomputer last year. Thats because the G5 cluster wasnt able to beat the 64bit NASA Intel Itanuim2 based super computer last year, so i think u need to rethink your comments and get your facts right.there have been more super computers based on IA and other platforms, that PPC.

  9. A Mac (X) is faster and better than a PC. What we’re (or, at least me) talking about is real world applications. OK, scenario. You’re 35 and looking for a computer. You have never had one before. You don’t want to spend more than $1000. You buy a $1K P4 XP Home Dell desktop, nice PC. You buy a (comparatively, to other Macs) bad Mac. And still, most applications you will get won’t run. Which do you buy, if you want to future proof yourself?

  10. My goodness,

    This ‘rage’ between pc and mac still exists after all these years !!! incredible

    The real truth is… after this 20 years war, there is NO winner. Proof is that everybody is throwing the same arguments about /against pcs and macs for 20 years now… and both system are still available on the market.

    Both systems are great ! I love my PC because of their versatility, running almost anything, they are cheap and is unix compatible (with linux/kde). I love my MAC because they are easier to use, great user interfaces, great tools, fast, and now unix compatible (with osx) !

  11. Hi all, I remember debating with a friend, quite a time ago, during our first programming intents if was the 6502 better than the Z80 ! ;-)

    Same as ‘garwalf’ and many others, we two, after years are still happily using both systems for various reasons.

    That said I will never use a emulated system for productive tasks, but only for support or test (i.e. web pages) so such intents are ever wellcome.

    But the feeling to possess the real machine even if a old one is incomparable.


  12. just wondering if anyone is still around from this argument that would care to comment on x86 vs. PPC now hehe.

    BTW, PPC was a much nicer architecture to develop compilers for. From a user perspective, having run Linux on both PPC and x86, I didn’t see a difference except it cost me a lot more to upgrade my PPC.

    From an OS point of view, I’ve developed commercial applications on both, I like Windows better because the documentation is better, but other than that, both systems suck for stability and security, just from one day to the next one sucks less than the other.

    From an applications point of view… if I could get a good Final Cut Pro replacement for Windows, I’d probably dump Mac just to consolidate to a single type of machine and as long as Apple doesn’t take the server market seriously, Windows collaboration software is important to me.

    For a development computer, well, we call Xcode “Xslow” around the office. I often feel like I’m waiting for the keyboard buffer to flush. And Visual Studio is by far Microsoft’s best product. Funny how the developers work the hardest on the development tools hehe.

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