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Mac OS X Snow Leopard announced

Apple just released a few preliminary details about Mac OS X Snow Leopard (I think they're running out of cat names...). The interesting thing to note is that NOWHERE does it say that this is OS X 10.6. It could be a major point update for 10.5. I think it probably is 10.6 but it's worth bearing that in mind though.

Apple has stated that the focus will not primarily be new features but improving the quality of the OS. I think a lot of people will be disappointed by the lack of features but this is great for people who demand high performance (a lot of people reading this blog I'd imagine).

Here are the improvements:
* Multi-core optimizations with a new technology called Grand Central. This makes it much easier for developers to create multi-core optimized applications (FCP dev team, I'm looking at you...)
* OpenCL support - Enables developers to use the processing power of the GPU to perform tasks. It will be interesting to see how developers take advantage of this but it could use your graphics card as an extra processing core when rendering and encoding for example.
* Theoretical support for 16 TB of RAM. But how much can each application address?
* QuickTime X - "optimizes support for modern audio and video formats resulting in extremely efficient media playback". That's a little vague so I'm wondering if there is some kind of GPU acceleration involved. And the "modern audio and video formats" bit makes me wonder if Windows formats such as WMV are supported out of the box, without requiring something like Flip4Mac.
* Support for Exchange 2007
* Safari speed improvements
* Takes up less space on disk
* Released in "about a year"

There have been rumors that 10.6 will be Intel-only but this report neither confirms nor denies this.

Also, there is no word on price. Consumers might be hard to win over if there are no new features so Apple may adopt lower pricing. I have heard some people say that performance and stability should be in Leopard anyway so the update should be free (which I disagree with). I personally would pay full price for an update that "unlocked" my graphics card for use as an extra core though. To me, that is worth paying for. And it'd probably result in a bigger performance boost than buying $130-worth of hardware.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Jun 10 2008 to Apple, Analysis, Software