Apple kills support for Intel Atom/Netbooks with 10.6.2 update

There had been some questions as to whether or not Apple would kill support for Intel's Atom chips in today's 10.6.2 releaseLast week it was reported that the latest 10.6.2 builds had new kernels that wouldn't work on Atom chips.

Today, with the official release of the OS 10.6.2 update, we find out that Apple indeed has cut support for Atom Chips. StelaRolo, a prominent Hackintosher says:

Well, looks like I was right, again. The netbook forums are now blowing up with problems of 10.6.2 instant rebooting their Atom based netbooks. My sources tell me that everytime a netbook user installs 10.6.2 an Apple employee gets their wings.

Just an FYI, this is OSx86 after all and none of the scenes hackers really let down on support. The latest kernel may not be “officially” supported but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a modded kernel around the corner.

This effectively means that going forward, people with Netbooks running on Intel Atom (95% of them) won't be able to upgrade beyond 10.6.1...at least without modifying or downgrading the kernal, which could have other consequences.

Apple's reason for doing this is fairly obvious.  They want to prevent prospective MacBook or Mac Mini customers from buying a $300 netbook rather than an Apple product which costs at least two or three times as much.

It also likely means that Apple isn't going to release an Atom-based computer or tablet in the foreseeable future.  In fact, it may signal that Apple has made a firm decision on another platform, other than Intel's Atom.

That platform is likely ARM, the same CPU as Apple's iPhones and almost ever other Smartphone out there.  Apple is widely suspected to be an ARM licensee and working on low power chips based on the ARM platform. 

Apple bought a processor-building company called PA Semi two years ago, in order to build chips for iPhones, said Steve Jobs.  The chips that this new Apple division make will likely be the chips that power Apple's tablet and even future laptops. At least that's what this latest move has me believing.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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