Steve Jobs Explains OS X Snow Leopard in Three Easy Steps

Illustration for article titled Steve Jobs Explains OS X Snow Leopard in Three Easy Steps

The NY Times has a good interview with Steve Jobs in which Apple's CEO lets fly with very quotable, very understandable quotes about OS X 10.6. We already heard the details, but it was still hard to wrap our head around why Apple would make an operating system without many visible features and just go and change architecture around. He explains that they're doing it because programmers don't know WTF is going on with parallel processing.



The way the processor industry is going is to add more and more cores, but nobody knows how to program those things. I mean, two, yeah; four, not really; eight, forget it.

Jobs claims that Apple's made a "breakthrough" in parallel-programming called Grand Central, which he alluded to in his keynote yesterday. He didn't, however, go into details about how it works and why it's going to revolutionize dividing up tasks into multiple processors in ways that other operating systems haven't yet.

What's also interesting is the ability to bring the GPU (your graphics card) into the processing role to help out your CPU. Apple's calling this newly proposed standard OpenCL (Open Compute Library).


Basically it lets you use graphics processors to do computation. It's way beyond what Nvidia or anyone else has, and it's really simple.


It's vaguely similar to the way that Photoshop CS 4 will use your graphics card to help process image manipulation and help out in rendering 3D models as well.


Will there be more features like Time Machine? Not according to Jobs.


"We've added over a thousand features to Mac OS X in the last five years," he said Monday in an interview after his presentation. "We're going to hit the pause button on new features."


Seems to us that Snow Leopard won't be heavy on the features, but it will increase processing speeds for people who are heavy on the processing in their daily computing and have more than just a few cores-a place we're all heading to in the next few years. [NYT]



There's a lot of speculation that Snow Leopard will be free, and I suspect it will be. End users, for better or for worse, pay for features, not technical, under the hood, improvements, when it comes to software. But developers, who want their own products to run better and more reliably, want to get this this into the hands of as many end users as possible. Apple gets this; this is why the announcement is made at WWDC and not Macworld.

There's also the name, Snow Leopard, making it clear that this is an improved version of Leopard (not suggesting, my dear temperate leopards, that snow leopards are superior), rather than the next "big cat". As Mag7 points out, this is a much catchier name than Leopard Service Pack 1 or 10.5.x. This is brilliant marketing; it's getting developers, customers, and the press excited about what people usually don't care about.

Developers get their pre-release copies today, start writing code that takes advantage of these technical improvements, and are delighted when, next year, all Leopard users can become Snow Leopard users for free. That's my prediction. See you next year!