Intel plans to test Mac development tools

Chipmaker will offer test versions of software tools aimed at improving the performance of programs that run on its chips.

SAN FRANCISCO--Intel plans later this year to offer test versions of software tools aimed at allowing Mac developers to improve the performance of programs that run on its chips.

The company said Tuesday that it will offer beta versions of both its compiler and its performance libraries, which contain code optimized for both digital media and scientific computing tasks.

Kevin Smith, director of the Intel compiler lab, said that Intel's tools could appeal to those who already use its tools for Linux and Windows-based programs. He also said that the company's compilers typically offer the best performance on its chips.

"We do more tuning of our compilers on our processors than anyone else," Smith told CNET, following a presentation at the Intel Developer Forum here. Intel had said in June that it would offer its compilers for the Mac, following Apple Computer's announcement that it was moving to Intel processors.

Smith said it was not clear when a final version of the Intel tools will be made available, noting the company wants to learn more about how Mac developers differ from their Windows and Linux counterparts. Smith said that when Intel added Linux support it found that programmers used significantly different programming dialects.

"This is a whole new market for us," Smith said.

In addition to command-line support, Smith said that Intel's compilers will plug into Apple's Xcode development tool. However, the company has not yet worked out exactly how its tools will interact with compilers for PowerPC chips, he said. One of the key benefits that Apple has touted to developers is the ability for them to write code that can be compiled into a universal binary file that will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

Just the talk of Macs--as well as the noticeable presence of Apple employees--at an Intel developer conference is itself novel. In the past, sighting of Apple products tended to be limited to iPod giveaways at some of the booths on the show floor. Apple's rack-mounted Xserve RAID did make an appearance at the Spring IDF in March as part of an array of storage gear that uses Intel chips.

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