From Apple’s own promotional materials published online last summer, we already know that Snow Leopard will have the following key features under the hood:
*Optimized top to bottom for efficiency, Multi-Core Intel processors generally & the new Core i7 “Nehalem” platform in particular (“Grand Central”), Snow Leopard will shrink the amount of hard disk space, RAM and other resources commanded by Mac OS X.
*OpenCL (Open Compute Library) takes Apple’s GPU-coprocessing tech to the next level, moving countless tasks onto the graphics processor(s) and realizing the full potential of technology previously known as Quartz Extreme/Core Graphics. OpenCL is as the name suggests, a technology meant to be shared with the world and adopted by other operating systems. It will most likely become a dominant force in 2009 & later software evolution.
*QuickTime X brings the long-languishing multimedia standard into the next decade with a complete top to bottom overhaul that improves performance, supports numerous new technologies, and although not yet officially confirmed by Infinite Loop, it is widely expected that “QuickTime Pro” features….long since easily found for free in third party media players such as VLC….will be rolled into QTX free of charge to users who purchase Snow Leopard.
*100% 64-bit….still runs fine on first-generation 32-bit Core 1 processors as well as 32-bit PowerPC G4 CPUs, but is the first major OS release to not only support 64-bit but to utilize it from stem to stern.
As if all this wasn’t enough (Grand Central alone is a *huge* deal)….from what we have seen, the user’s experience outside the Finder and Appearance styling won’t be changing much over 10.5, but under the hood there is a whole lot more going on than just the above…
Some of the as-yet unannounced features which have already been widely speculated upon include: Core Location (GPS/3G/wifi based location/geotagging brought over from iPhone), Multi-Touch input, a new installation/driver model that only pulls components and kernel extensions such as printer & device drivers from a compressed repository (either the installation disc or a large compressed database on the boot drive itself) instead of installing them all from the get-go.
These are all solid improvements; each fits with the larger themes of optimization, supporting forward-looking technologies like multicore processors (Grand Central) and advanced GPUs (OpenCL), and consolidating advancements made by the iDevice platform. None are any more clearly evident in last week’s limited 10A261 seed than they were in December’s 10A222, but we believe that they will all make the cut in the final release which we will begin to see more of in the coming weeks as complete builds are seeded to the full developer community.
That said, we are particularly glad to have the opportunity to compare internal builds with the 10A261 developer seed….because even though our look at recent internal builds has been only preliminary and some of the best insights will be embargoed for some time yet, there are subtleties revealed by the difference — and things seen only in the internal builds — that have us even more excited for the release of Snow Leopard than we were just a week ago.
And that’s saying something.
In our initial hands-on examinations of 10A261, it immediately struck our West Coast investigation/recon team that significant work had gone into debugging and stabilization work since our last look at the internal codebase in early January.
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