eWeek: Apple Collaborating With IBM On 64-Bit G4 Successor

eWeek is reporting that Apple and IBM are collaborating on a new processor that would be used to replace Appleis current PowerPC processors. The report, penned by Matthew Rothenberg and Daniel Drew Turner, claims that a new processor called the GigaProcessor Ultralite (GPUL) is being developed by IBM, in conjunction with Apple, for use in future Mac systems. The report also says that the processor will be used with Linux systems from IBM.

The GPUL is reportedly a 64-bit processor with multiple cores, and is based on technology used in IBMis server-oriented Power4 processors. This coincides with other rumored information that has been circulating in the Mac community concerning Appleis future processor plans. From the eWeek article:

Some GPUL details are expected to be disclosed at Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, Calif., in mid-October. IBM will hold a session at the conference on Oct. 15 entitled "Breaking Through Compute Intensive Barriers -- IBMis New 64-bit PowerPC Microprocessor."

Peter Glaskowsky, editor in chief of forum sponsor Microprocessor Report, said that while he doubted GPULis role in the Macis future will be on the public agenda, "We expect this chip to form the basis of Appleis 64-bit future strategy."

Some observers say GPUL—which shares technology with IBMis server-focused Power4 chip—will double Mac performance. However, they caution that the chip probably wonit reach Appleis consumer systems for more than a year at the earliest.

While the bulky, power-hungry Power4 is designed for servers, GPUL is reportedly cooler and more compact; sources said it compares in size to Intelis Celeron.

However, sources said, GPUL will inherit many Power4 performance advantages, such as being able to perform more instructions per clock cycle than current PowerPC chips. It is likely to also use the 0.13- (later 0.10-) µm lithography copper and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology seen in the Power4, making for smaller and thinner chips.

In addition, GPUL will be a multi-core chip, with two or four processors in one package. Having the processors closer together and sharing the same cache will make for faster multiprocessing environments, sources said. However, sources did not say if applications would need to be rewritten to be optimized for multi-core processors.

Sources said that benchmarks and applications tests demonstrate that a 1GHz GPUL processor doubles the performance of the 1GHz Motorola PowerPC G4 processor in current Macs. Even so, they said, the first run on GPUL processors should range from 1.4 to 2GHz, depending on yield.

There is much more information in the full eWeek story, including when we might expect to see these processors hit the market, and how the 64-bit processor will handle 32-bit applications. Note that there is a second page of the article that is accessed from the "Next" link at the bottom of the report.