There's been a lot of talk as to the wisdom of Apple switching to Intel at this particular time and the effect it will have on program availability for Mac users. Apparently Steve Jobs has had an "Ace-in-the-Hole" he wasn't showing until now ... a company that says they can make programs otherwise unavailable to users of older Macs a reality: REPRINTED WITHOUT PERMISSION: (I'm so bold!) Posted on Wed, Jun. 08, 2005 TRANSLATION SAVES OLD MAC SOFTWARE By Dean Takahashi Mercury News Apple Computer is making the leap to Intel thanks in part to a software translation technology from a 65-person company in Los Gatos. Transitive Technologies confirmed Tuesday that it is providing Apple with technology that allows old Macintosh software programs to run on computers based on Intel rather than IBM chips. Transitive's technology will be part of software called Rosetta, which will work for current Macintosh OS X programs that run on PowerPC systems but not for older programs that run on OS 8 and OS 9 software, according to Apple. Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs demonstrated Rosetta on stage at a developer's conference Monday, where he announced the alliance with Intel. ``Steve was nice enough to recognize a relationship with us,'' said Bob Wiederhold, CEO of Transitive. ``Our efforts involve integrating our technology into their system software.'' Rosetta will be important for Apple to hang onto its loyal Macintosh customers at a time when it is making a major switch to new hardware. If Rosetta lives up to its promise, consumers won't have to throw away their old software when they buy a new computer from Apple with Intel chips. That's the benefit Transitive could deliver to big computer makers that face a common dilemma: They often need to switch to better hardware, but that hardware might not be compatible with the older software their customers own. For example, Hewlett-Packard has inherited several operating systems from Tandem and Digital Equipment, but it has had a hard time adapting that software to run on its new chosen computer architecture, Intel's Itanium chips. ``If someone could wave a magic wand and say any software can run on any kind of hardware, that would change the game in the computer industry,'' said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at market researcher Insight 64. Wiederhold said Transitive has relationships with six of the world's eight largest computer makers. For licensing fees that amount to tens of dollars on a high-volume machine, Transitive can give them more strategic options. Silicon Graphics is using Transitive's software to enable its older Irix software to run on new machines that use Linux software and Intel's Itanium chips. Transitive's technology is the result of years of effort. In 2000, Transitive was formed by researchers at the University of Manchester in England. They had developed a way to do ``binary translation'' at high speeds. Transitive has raised $24 million to date. The software consists of three parts. One part is a decoder, which takes the code of the older software and converts it into an intermediate format. The second part is the core processing engine, which Wiederhold calls the ``secret sauce.'' The core takes the intermediate format and figures out how fast it can run the older software in its new form. The third part is custom-tailored to convert the software into a form that runs on the target computer. This software sits on the computer, in this case an Apple computer that uses Intel chips. Whenever a consumer clicks on an old Apple program loaded onto the computer, the translation software starts. It translates and leaves the final code stored in the system's main memory chips. If the consumer uses that software again, the machine can run the translated code from memory. Such translation software has been around for decades, said analyst Brookwood. But it never worked that well, partly because memory used to be a scarce commodity in a computer, and because the translation usually slowed the speed of the computer significantly. But memory is now cheap, and Transitive uses only about 25 percent more memory than an older application otherwise might use. Wiederhold said Transitive's team figured out how to do translation at roughly 70 percent to 80 percent of the speed at which it ran on the original computer. The speed of Transitive's software, as well as the Rosetta software that Apple has created, will be a big factor as to whether consumers accept Apple's Rosetta solution. ``It's an impressive technology,'' Brookwood said. ``The one question I have is how well does it actually work. Show me the performance.'' Contact Dean Takahashi at email@example.com or (408) 920-5739.