Apple: The push is on for Snow Leopard

December 19, 2008

The stars have been aligning for an earlier release of Apple’s next-gen operating system. Although it’s been billed as a rewrite of Leopard””heck the name’s just a riff””designed to reduce and refine the existing code, there are new and potentially earth shaking changes coming under the hood.

Further, if a write up in the The Guardian (UK) is to be believed, Snow Leopard is likely to the bigger and most important part of Phil Schiller’s Macworld 2009 keynote.

“There is a rush to get the new platforms to market. The estimate for Microsoft’s Windows 7 is sometime in June,” Rob Enderle, analyst, told The Guardian. “Apple would like to beat that. Having something with which Apple can pound on Microsoft until 7 shows up could do good things for their volume.”

That said, when Schiller takes the stage to sell Snow Leopard to developers and users at the Moscone on Jan. 6, he’s likely to focus on two things: OpenCL, a way to harness stray GPU cycles (I’ve covered here in some depth) and Grand Central, a technology designed to finally harness the multi-core processors found in modern Macs, which the Wikipedia describes thus:

[Grand Central] is designed to make it easier for application developers to take advantage of multiple CPU cores now being offered in computers. The technology works by splitting tasks into blocks and routing them to available processing cores efficiently. It attempts to let individual developers take advantage of a wide variety of different hardware that users might have at their disposal, without needing to become experts in multithreading themselves.

When you combine Grand Central with OpenCL, it’s pretty clear that Apple’s on to something that could, as the Guardian puts it, “alter the direction of computing.” That prediction is just as likely to turn out to be hyperbole, but the potential’s obviously there.

Nevertheless with Microsoft bleeding market share and Vista replacement Windows 7, which doesn’t include OpenCL or anything remotely similar, not expected until June, Apple’s got an opportunity not just add more users, but also extend its already heady technology lead…

What’s your take?

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