IBM To Ramp PowerPC Speeds To 2GHz

ZDNet is reporting that IBM is gearing up their PowerPC production and expects to ship chips approaching the 2GHz mark before the end of 2002. The PowerPC chip, the Motorola version, currently tops out at 733MHz,a chip that is found in Appleis high-end PowerMac G4 tower. While no official announcements have been made, the Mac community is expecting faster computers to be announced at Julyis MACWORLD Expo in New York City. While unlikely, optimists are hoping that Apple is finally able to break the mystical 1GHz barrier with their next product line update.

IBM and Motorola have been unable to work together on the PowerPC architecture, with the main point of contention being the AltiVec or Velocity Engine processing units. Capable of greatly improving the performance of some applications, Motorola believes that Velocity Engine technology is a key component for the future of the PowerPC processor. IBM has been less enthusiastic regarding the processor add-on, and have rather been focusing on widening the pipelines in the current PowerPC architecture. Apple seems to have bet a large part of its future on the speed increase promised by AltiVec. Motorola, however, has been unable to meet Appleis or customeris demands for increasing faster chips. If the Motorola version of the PowerPC is stuck at 1GHz, while the IBM version is running near 2GHz, Apple is going to have some challenging decisions to make.

According to the ZDNet article, that may just end up being the case:

IBMis PowerPC development team plans to use several homegrown technologies to help boost performance of future PowerPC chips, which it will announce later this year. The chips will be capable of hitting 1GHz late this year, with IBM eyeing the 2GHz mark for late 2002.

IBMis newest PowerPC chip, a replacement for its 700MHz PowerPC 750cxe, will be announced later in the year. The chip, code-named Sahara, will be capable of running at 1GHz but will likely start life at a more sedate 750MHz, sources said, creeping up to 1GHz in 2002.

Motorola isnit sitting on its thumbs, however. It is now shipping PowerPC 7450 chips at speeds of up to 733MHz, found in the latest PowerMacs. It plans to release a follow-up version of this chip, code-named Apollo, later this year. Apollo, which will use some tricks similar to those found in IBMis chips, is expected to hit 1GHz speeds as well.

Later, in 2002, IBMis PowerPC chips will approach 2GHz, according to the companyis technology roadmap.

One thing that is clear is that Apple can not continue to use chips that run at less than half the speed of the competition. Regardless of real-world performance, Joe Consumer likely does not understand the technical differences between the PowerPC chip and its Intel and AMD competitors.

You can read the full article at the ZDNet Web site.

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