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Rosetta (software)

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Rosetta is a lightweight dynamic translator for Mac OS X distributed by Apple. It enables applications compiled for the PowerPC family of processors to run on Apple systems that use Intel processors. Based on Transitive Corporation's QuickTransit technology, Rosetta is a key part of Apple's strategy for the transition of their Macintosh line from PowerPC to Intel processors, enabling pre-existing Mac OS X software to run on the new platform without modification. The name is a reference to the Rosetta Stone, whose discovery made it possible to comprehend and translate Egyptian hieroglyphs.

[edit] Features

Rosetta is included, pre-installed with the operating system, on Macintosh computers that use Intel's Core architecture processors. It translates G3, G4 and AltiVec instructions, but it does not translate software that requires the G5-specific features of later Apple systems; such applications have to be modified by their developers to work on Intel-based Macintoshes. However, there are very few applications that strictly require the G5 processor, so compatibility with most applications is possible.

According to Apple, applications with heavy user interaction but low computational needs (such as word processors) are well suited to translation via Rosetta, while applications with high computational needs (such as raytracers or Photoshop) are not. Pre-existing PowerPC versions of Apple "Pro" media-production applications (Final Cut Pro/Express, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, and Logic Pro/Express) are not supported by Rosetta, and require a "crossgrade" to a universal binary version to work on Intel-based Macs.

Rosetta should not be mistaken for Boot Camp, a software assistant that assists Mac users in dual-booting between Windows and OS X.

In general, Rosetta does not run the following:

  • Applications built for Mac OS 9 or below.
  • Code that inserts preferences into the System Preferences pane.
  • Applications that require a G5 processor.
  • Screen savers
  • Kernel extensions, and applications that depend on them.
  • Bundled Java applications or Java applications with JNI libraries that can’t be translated.
  • Java applets in Rosetta-translated applications. That means a PowerPC-only web browser application (such as Microsoft's legacy Internet Explorer for Mac) will not be able to load Java applets; an Intel-ready browser is needed (such as Safari, Camino, Firefox or Opera from version 9 and on).
  • Other runtime-loaded binary libraries. Rosetta affects a program as a whole, not individual binary files on an if-needed basis.

[edit] See also

  • Universal binary - combined x86/PPC applications that run natively on both processors.
  • Fat binary - combined PPC/68k application that ran on older Macintoshes.

[edit] External links

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