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Intel Corp. will port its software developer tools to Mac OS X and will ship its first beta later this year, the chip maker told developers on Tuesday at its first-ever session on Mac OS X at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

Kevin Smith, director of Intel Compiler Labs, said that Intel will port a complete set of compilers and performance-enhancing libraries to Apple Computer Inc.’s Intel-based version of Mac OS X. Intel will provide Mac tools for both single-core and multicore processors based on Intel’s latest compiler technology. Smith said that the tools will contain the same feature set that Intel now provides for its Windows and Linux development tools.

“We will offer one set of tools for all OSes,” said Smith.

Intel’s compilers and libraries will work as plug-ins to Apple’s Xcode development environment running in Mac OS X for Intel. Smith said Intel has no plans to offer the Mac tools in a version running on its Windows development environment. Developers creating software for both operating systems must use the tools running on each platform. The Mac OS X compilers and libraries will require Apple’s prototype Intel-based Macs hardware and won’t run on generic PCs, he said.

Intel will help developers migrate from PowerPC to Intel architecture, according to Smith. Intel won’t, however, provide tools for the simultaneous creation of software for both Intel and PowerPC processors, a strategy that Apple has said will help the transition to the Intel architecture.

The Intel tools will support C, C++ and FORTRAN, but will not provide a compiler for Objective C, a language that Apple supports for Mac OS X developers. The Intel tools will be interoperable with Objective C. Smith said that Intel will also provide a migration guide for Metrowerks, a programming environment that Apple will not support with Mac OS X for Intel-based Macs.

Click here to read more about Apple’s move to Intel processors.

Intel’s Mac OS X tools are still in the early stages of development, and Intel has not completed the feature set.

“We’re not at the demo stage yet,” said Smith.

Intel will support the development of device drivers for Mac OS X but has not made any decisions on what that support will take. Smith said that the first release will not have integration with I/0 Kit, Apple’s device driver subsystem. I/0 Kit also enables high-level applications to access the hardware.

Intel has also not considered whether it will support Altivec instructions, a 128-bit vector execution unit in PowerPC G4 and G5 processors. Such support won’t be in the early betas.

Intel’s emphasis on performance is the reason why developers should use Intel’s compilers and libraries, according to Smith.

“We’ll do more tuning for Intel Macs than anyone else,” he said.

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