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InfoWorld Thinks Apple Will Use IBM's Power5 Sometime in 2005

InfoWorld Thinks Apple Will Use IBM's Power5 Sometime in 2005

by , 4:30 PM EST, December 15th, 2004

In a special report on IBM's Power5 Processor family, the bigger, badder cousin of the G5 PowerPC processor Apple uses in Power Mac and iMac models, InfoWorld predicts that some form of the chip will make its way to a Mac soon.

"PowerPC and Power form a continuum of compatible, and now open, processor designs," writes reporter Tom Yaeger, "and our guess is that the Power5 design will arrive in some form in an Apple machine in 2005. The companies that rely on PowerPC will do very nicely betting on the No. 2 horse."

The comment comes in a sidebar to an in-depth piece on the Power5 architecture, with the sidebar looking at IBM's biggest PowerPC user, Apple. The piece specifically highlights Apple as the driving force behind PowerPC design and development through the years, and says "the public partners that sign IBM's open license could carry Mac users all the way to Power without the suffering that blocked users’ migration from x86 to Itanium."

The Power RISC architecture was the basis for PowerPC development, with Apple, IBM, and Motorola (the AIM Consortium) focusing PowerPC development on use in personal computers. The Power family, which also continued in development, was focused more on server use, and packs a big processing punch, though at the expense of greater power consumption and waste heat.

Apple's G5 processor was a PowerPC offshoot of the previous generation Power4 family, which means that when and if Power5 technology comes to a Mac, it will bring significant improvements in processing power to it.

InfoWorld found that the latest generation of Power processors, the Power5 family, has licked some of those power and heat issues, making the processor more suitable for use in smaller machines.

From the article: "Power5 uses what it knows about the facilities needed by each RISC instruction to, in essence, power down portions of the chip that aren't needed at that moment. This potentially puts a new spin on Power's infamous power and heat problems. It certainly seems simpler than OS-driven power management schemes such as those employed by x86 processors."

The full article has much greater detail on what makes the Power5 tick, all of the technologies that have gone into the design, and several other issues. The main 3-page article focuses on the technical issues of the Power5, while the sidebar focuses on Apple's role in PowerPC development. There is also a column from InfoWorld editor in chief Steve Fox about how IBM is still in the hardware business, despite having sold off its PC business.

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