Forbes: Apple to use 'lite' version of Power4 in 2003

  • Posted: 13 October 2002 02:56 PM

    “CONFIRMED!!!” raspberry No, really… there’s a new Forbes article saying that Apple will be using a 64 bit IBM processor next year.  It is a so-called “lite” version of IBM’s Power4.  The story says it will be out in the second half of 2003.  Apparently Apple did not officially make a statement on this processor, but Forbes seems very sure that Apple will be using it.

    There’s a “transmission embargo” at the top of the story, so read it before they notice and remove it.

    Edit: Thanks to x136 for sending me this article. smile

  • Posted: 13 October 2002 04:41 PM #1

    wow, by late 2003 we’ll finally be at 1.8 ghz.  this thing had better have an average performance ratio of at least 3:1 over an x86 chip with the same clock speed or we’re screwed.  keep in mind that intel and amd are not going to take a year off while we try to catch up.

  • Posted: 13 October 2002 06:40 PM #2

    The point is to get off the GHz count. A 64-bit chip is much different in terms of how much data it can accomodate at one time. Comparing a 64- bit chip to a 32-bit chip based on clock speed is like comparing a 4-cylinder engine to an 8-cylinder engine and claiming the 4-cylinder is faster because it revs at higher rpms.

    Ok, I copied the text into a Word document just in case it disappears forawhile. However, it’s a Reuters story that may appear in other publications.

    Needless to say this is good news for Apple and the chip does not run software developed for Intel processors. Looks like IBM is going back into the processor business big-time and taking Apple along for the ride LOL

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    Posted: 13 October 2002 10:03 PM #3

    Well, the previous Cnet article mentioned that the GPUL was pulling down twice the performance of the 1 Ghz G4. If the performance rates scale peroperly, then a 1.8 Ghz processor should be roughly the speed of a 3.6 Ghz G4 at the same speed.

    Considering the speed of the G4 compared to the P4, I’m not _too_ terribly concerned about the speed issues.

    Regardless, what’s imortant isn’t Mhz ratings, but real world results. The whole Mhz Myth is true enough to a point. Unfortunately, the G4 gets clobbered by the Pentium in enough real wortld performance areas to make the distinction meaningless.

    Also, if the IBM 64-bit processor can offer features that you CANNOT get on a Pentium system, say, greater-than-32-bit color or sound support systemwide, then that’s a feature for the Mac. It’ll also potentially allow the Mac to compete with Unix Workstations, such as SGI machines, instead of just UWindows and Linux x86 desktops.


    -Jon Roth

    Instant Philosopher; Just add hot topic and stir.

  • Posted: 13 October 2002 10:17 PM #4

    [quote author=“KitsuneStudios”]

    Also, if the IBM 64-bit processor can offer features that you CANNOT get on a Pentium system, say, greater-than-32-bit color or sound support systemwide, then that’s a feature for the Mac. It’ll also potentially allow the Mac to compete with Unix Workstations, such as SGI machines, instead of just UWindows and Linux x86 desktops.

    Now there’s a thought not previously mentioned smile

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 02:05 AM #5

    This seems like a great thing to me. I just don’t know if they have the CPU running at 1.8 GHz now, or they expect to have one at 1.8 GHz fall 2003. The Power4 is an amazing CPU and i’m sure the ‘lite’ version for workstations (and perhaps *Books) will be great.
    The x86’s are indeed 32 bit but MS has a feature in Win 2K Enterprise to make it possible for them to access 2^36 bits a data. So you could say part of the OS and CPU in that case are 36 bit. Besides does anyone know how much longer Intel can keep squeezing more Ghz’s out of the Pentium 4 before it’s becoming too big a heater in the box? Intel would be stupid to remain with 32 bit CPUs while the rest, including AMD will switch to 64 bit CPUs. The 4 GB data limit 32 bits can address will be reached in winter 2003/2004, even in a desktop station.

    My dream 2004 system:

    - 4 2.8 GHz Power4 lite CPUs
    - 8 GB RAM
    - 1 TB Harddisk space (hopefully at 10k rpm)
    - 6 PCI slots
    - 2 AGP busses each with a 256 MB ATI xxxx or nVidia GeForce 6
    - Mac OS X 10.5


    Tjeerd van Hoytema

    Join us at #macobserver

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 08:13 AM #6

    64 bit code?

    I read somewhere that it would take a decade to get enough software capable of using 64 bit code. would we be in the same boat as the dual processor? (not enough “dual “aware software)don’t flame me if this is a dumb question I’m just a buttnugget artist….. I just use the stuff i don’t write code!


    “Warm Beer….Cold women… I just don’t fit in… “
    Tom Waits

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 08:47 AM #7

    If this isn’t the final word in the G4-successor debate, I’ll eat my shorts*. No move to Intel (what idiot ever came up with that idea?), no quad-processor G4’s, just a new generation. Not from Motorola, that much was obvious.

    * By the time the G4 is actually replaced by something else than Power4’s little sister, I’ll broadcast this eating my shorts business live in QuickTime format… raspberry

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    Posted: 14 October 2002 09:03 AM #8

    I want details. I was hoping the paper would be released at the Semiconductor Industry Association meeting today, but from IBM’s press release, we probably won’t see details until later this week. I’ll have to keep an eye out on ArsTechnica to see the feedback on chip design details.

    Actually, what confuses me is this: If Apple won’t get this chip until Q3 2003, isn’t that a long stretch before another Apple update? That’s about a year betweeen upgrades! Since the G4 in the current systems is already beyond it’s theoretical maximum speeds, and is missing support for a lot of current motherboard features (Like faster FSB and DDR Ram), will Apple be stuck with the Dual 1.25’s for a year, or will there be an intermediate PPC chip released between now and the PPC970, that will migrate into the iMac and PowerBook models?


    -Jon Roth

    Instant Philosopher; Just add hot topic and stir.

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 09:09 AM #9

    But what will the fate of the current G4 chips be? I mean this new chip seems amazing and all, but it’s a pro thing… it’ll be used in top of the line machines, like the G4 was the top when the bottom was the G3…

    But if Apple makes the switch, could it retain the use of Motorola’s g4 for the bottom line of machines? or are we going to spend a lot of bucks in pro desktop?

    I don’t think Motorola will let Apple use their G4 if the company dump them for another chip brand…

    does anyone care to elaborate?  smile

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 09:19 AM #10

    Assuming it’s true…

    Should they jump to 64-bit: yes.

    Is it good news for Apple: yes.

    But it doesn’t mean precisely what most people seem to think it means.

    Do some research and don’t start spreading pipe dreams.


    “Physicists know that every equation is a lie.”  - - Gregory Chaitin, Santa Fe Institute

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 10:39 AM #11

    We are obviously faced with an interesting problem.  In one hand, we have the end of the G4s lifeline… or close to it anyway.  In the other hand, we have a new CPU coming late next year.  As a poster above pointed out, that is a long stretch to go without any updates.  So what will happen?  Here are my predictions…

    Power4 will come.  This seemed pretty obvious when IBM announced the Power4 during a time when the demise of Samsung’s G4 was appearant.  There is definately a large number of users who will jump aboard this 64-bit train.  Given the timeframe of the release, I think that by next year, the pricing for a 64-bit system will be relatively the same as what we are seeing for todays dual-G4 macs.

    G4 will have some type of successor other than the Power4.  This is something that must happen for several reasons.  If Apple is at all a reasonable company, they won’t make their customers, especially new customers, pay for extra horsepower that they won’t need.  When my mom uses her iMac to check her e-mail and write reports, she doesn’t need a higher-end CPU to handle the incredible load of rendering fonts.  Why should she pay the extra amount for a CPU that she won’t fully utilize.  To that end, I can definately see a successor to the G4.  Possible still a G4, but manufactured a little better, with a smaller die size or something.  This would also be needed in systems like the iBooks and Powerbooks.  As I’m sure you could fry an egg on your Power4-equipped TiBook.  rolleyes  If IBM was able to produce their “blue chip” G4 which runs cooler than previous versions.  What’s to stop them from continuing to make another one.  Possibly with a better stepping and smaller die size.  That would make the chip run even cooler and not make my G4-upgraded Pismo burn my lap when I use it sitting at the couch smile

    Either way, I think that what apple needs is a little more diversity in its product line.  A lot of people argue that the reason why apple doesn’t have as much diversity in their systems as they could is because it would confuse consumers when they consider buying a mac.  I don’t think that is true.  The only thing it forces consumers to do is put a little thought into their purchases.  It also forces sales associates to learn a little more about their product, so as not to sell a quad-Power4 to Ms. Mom who is using it for her 8 year old to play his education games on.  That’s how the majority of the computer market is.  Why should it be different with Macs.  Education is a good thing, especially when it comes to learning about computers.


    “I know where the strait and narrow path is… I pass through it every now and then.”  - Elder J. Golden Kimball

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 11:05 AM #12

    I’m with MonkeyT up there… David Every has always provided great explanations of truly geek-alicious topics. The move to a “64-bit” processor may not be the instant kick in the pants that people think. We would benefit much more from things like multiple cores.

    From his conclusions in the mentioned article:

    There is a murphy’s law of communication (or should be)—that no matter which way you mean something, others will assume you mean it a different way. And when talking about size, you could mean data size, path size (bus or internal), or address size. Generally, when we’re talking now days about chip size (how many bits), we mean is it a full 64 bit, non-paged, address and integer (data) support. Since I already have 64, 128 or 256 bit support for other things, that’s about the only thing left that is that small. But remember, for most work, I don’t care about address space, I care about data size and speed; and we’re already there.

    Will 64 bits matter? For most users, it will matter very little. Since moving 64 bits around (addresses) will slow things down (and increase the space they take), there could be a minor performance and memory efficiency loss; however I think other design improvements in the chips that offer 64 bit support, will more than make up for the bulkier addresses and data creep (wasted space). So we’ll get better performance, and they will be better chips, but almost none of that will be because they have 64 bit addresses and integer support.

    There are definite areas where people will care about the larger address space. Large graphics, audio and publishing solutions, while not bumping their heads right now (very often), are starting to get close. Certainly large video, 3D and database solutions could use the full 64 bit support. So the big thing that 64 bit addressing does is buy us headroom for the future.



    "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" - Charles Darwin

    What’s the difference between a Mac and a PC? Macs are designed, PCs are assembled.

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    Posted: 14 October 2002 11:41 AM #13

    Actually, I can think of a couple areas where Apple may be able to take advantage of 64-bit computing.

    As I mentioned before, color processing is one area. Right now, many consumer scanners are capable of greater-than-32-bit scanning. My own dinky Epson Perfection scans in at 42bit. Now, Photoshop currently can recognize 16-bit-per-channel color data, and perform basic calculations, such as adjusting levels. However, the majority of tools don’t work. About all this extra bit depth is good for is for more accurate adjustments to color histograms, before converting the image to 32-bit and doing all the other work. Photoshop can handle it, many formats, like PNG and JPEG-2000 can handle it, and I’m certain I’ve seen flat-screen displays claim to be able to handle more colors than are currently recognized by the system. It might not be all that difficult for Apple to redesign it’s graphics APIs to take advantage of greater-than-32bit graphics, especially if they focus on making that their next “Killer App” for professionals.

    3d rendering is another area that can greatly benefit from 64-bit computing. One of the majopr developments is the creation of several formats (Such as Dicreet’s Rich Pixel Format) which contains multiple Alpha channels to represent velocity, direction, z-depth, transparency, luminance, etc.  Right now, once you render 3d animation, it becomes a sequence of flat 2d images, with no sense of depth or direction. RPF and other related fles retain additional 3d information that can be interpreted by compositing programs, and more accurately combine live acton and rendered elements, add volumetric effects, and work with a single pass of rendering, rather than multiple latyers of 3d elements. However, once you have more than a single alpha channel, that fuile becomes greater-than 32 bit. A 64 bit processor could concieveably render a file with multiple alpha channels in a single clock cycle, rather than 2 passes. Such a boost would work several-fold: It would speed rendering times on 3d programs, increase processing speeds on effects added to these files, in Shake, and then speed up the rendering process out of Shake, into video.

    I was going to say that Aqua/Quartz might also pick up on this added processor space, but I don’t know enough about that to really say.

    The issue, to me at least, is less a matter of the complex maths that require a 64-bit FP, but files that are more than 32-bits being processed in a single clock-cycle, rather than multiple. If Apple wants to get into 3d animation and Hollywood effects rendering, they have everything they need now to make a quick leap to the head of the pack. Well, as long as the processor can manage far better rendering times thanthe curent G4 as well, regardless of 32-bit or 64-bit computing. wink


    -Jon Roth

    Instant Philosopher; Just add hot topic and stir.

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 11:54 AM #14

    The Power4 (if it comes) does one thing for the Mac, and one thing only. It gives bragging rights… “MY Mac has 64 bits while your Wintel box has only 32”.

    It’s an interesting diversion in the speed game which, until now, has been played in the Mhz field.

    However, most people will incorrectly think that a 64-bit machine is twice as fast as a 32-bit machine, therefore a 1.8Ghz 64-bit 3.6Ghz 32-bit, which will still leave Mac users behind. With Intel already bumping 3Ghz, and a year or more to go, 1.8Ghz doesn’t look all that impressive to the Mhz geeks.

    This means there’s still a fair bit of user education to go, although our lives just got a little easier.


    Gods don’t kill people - people with Gods kill people.

  • Posted: 14 October 2002 12:28 PM #15

    Re: Assuming it’s true…

    [quote author=“MonkeyT”]Should they jump to 64-bit: yes.

    Is it good news for Apple: yes.

    But it doesn’t mean precisely what most people seem to think it means.

    Do some research and don’t start spreading pipe dreams.

    Eh? What pip dreams? I read none in any posts here. Mostly people want to know more about IBM’s new chips and what real affect, if any, it will have for Apple.

    There are those who think the “64” in 64-bit processors mean that warp processing speed will soon be in reach, but noe of those people posted here yet.

    I guess I’m curious about your “spreading pipe dreams” comment.

    Anyway, I think Apple knows that somewhere in the reasonably near future they will be using 64 bit processors and that may be the reason they are so antsy to get people and apps moved to OS X, which has the best chance of taken whatever advantage such processors may have.

    I’ve always felt, along with a bunch of others, that Apple should have dumped Moto last year in favor of IBM. I believe IBM would have G4s running at 1.6 to 2 GHZ by now and Apple would be looking a lot better to people thinking about switching.

    I know clock speed should not be the deciding factor when choicing a computer, but many people use it, especially Wintel folks. Having speeds at least close to what Intel offers, then add the ‘Mega-hurts Myth’ compaign in the mix, and you just might get more than a trickle of switchers

    Ah well, if nothing else ‘64bit processor’ looks nice of the side of the box.


    "If only you could have seen what I’ve seen with your eyes." Roy, Blade Runner

    Vern Seward