IBM Woos Apple With New, Powerful PPC

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There are those who insist that the only way for Apple to compete is for them to start using Intel processors. There are those who believe that Motorolais G4 processors have a lot of life in them and that a Mac isnit a Mac if it doesnit contain a processor from Motorola. According to News.com, IBM may have an answer to Appleis dilemma -- a new, more powerful 64-bit processor, with roots in both the PPC and IBMis server processors. From the News.com article titled IBM breeds PC chip from server DNA:

Big Blue plans to design the new desktop PowerPC chip using technology from its Power4 processor for servers. Though the server chip has a different name and a different design, Power4 is essentially a PowerPC processor on steroids. The two chip families are grounded in the same architectural concepts, but the Power4 contains enhancements not seen in the PowerPC family.

The new chip, which Big Blue will unveil at this fallis Microprocessor Forum, is designed to deliver higher clock speeds and 64-bit processing to desktop computers and also to entry-level servers. Moving to 64-bit processing from the current 32-bit processing should allow computers to use more memory and should provide a performance boost with data-intensive applications such as games and databases.

Network equipment and other communications gear is the most likely destination for the new PowerPC, as the bulk of existing PowerPCs are used there. However, IBM is also wooing Apple Computer, sources familiar with the chip said. The company is in a constant tug of war with Motorola, which makes most of the PowerPC chips slotted into Macs, for Appleis business.

The processor would be a boon for Apple in many repsects, especially in the perception of speed. From the article:

In addition to having Power4 DNA, the new PowerPC will use an eight-way superscalar design, meaning it will be able to issue up to eight instructions per clock cycle. It will also support symmetric multiprocessing, allowing more than one chip to be used inside the same computer, according to the Microprocessor Forum Web site. But itis not likely this new PowerPC will use chip-multiprocessing techniques--unlike the Power4, which includes two processors on a single chip--sources familiar with the plans said.

Moreover, the new PowerPC will have a vector-processing unit with more than 160 specialized vector instructions, the Microprocessor Forum site said. This processing unit, which is similar to Motorolais AltiVec technology, will allow the chip to break up large amounts of data and process them in parallel form. It will be used when the chip is handling graphics or processing signals.

The chipis heritage--the Power4 design--suggests that it will be a high-performance processor. Though itis unclear what clock speed the new PowerPC will offer, IBM has been gunning for 2GHz. The company said last year that it intended to hit that speed target by the end of 2002.

Check out the full article at CNET News.com.

It should be noted that IBM has not commented on this processor, so until IBM make a public announcement with details, much of this is speculation.

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