New Gig Announces G5 Upgrades for AGP Power Macs

2003 – New Gigacelleration Alien World Technologies this morning announced the first G5 processor upgrade for AGP Power Macs. The dual 2.0 GHz PowerPC 970 promises the same level of performance as Apple’s Power Mac G5 at half the price.

The Rumor Mill

Designed to plug into the ZIF socket of Power Mac G4 models with AGP video, the Hermes Xtreme Dual 2.0 includes two bleeding edge G5 processors, each processor has the same 64K instruction cache, 32K data cache, and 512K onboard level 2 cache as the processors used in Apple’s soon-to-be-released powerhouses.

The Hermes upgrade will also have something no Power Mac G5 does – a high speed level 3 cache, something not mentioned once in the literature IBM has produced about the PPC 970. Why not? Because it isn’t designed to work with a level 3 cache. (IBM instead designed it to work with memory that has a very fast front side bus.)

New Gig teamed up with engineers at IBM to produce a 16 MB static RAM level 3 cache and a cache controller to manage data transfers between the 100-167 MHz bus of the Power Mac G4 motherboards and the 2.0 GHz G5’s requirement of 128-bit 1.0 GHz memory.

Despite the huge expense of designing this hardware, New Gig president Lots O’Speed expects to “sell a million of ’em,” so the multimillion dollar technology investment will be spread over at least one million Hermes Xtreme cards. (If New Gig can’t sell a million, they will be forced into bankruptcy, which has been the fate of too many other Mac accelerator makers.)

By interleaving two 8 MB banks of 512 MHz static RAM, the PPC 970 functions just as it does in the Power Mac G5s. Better yet, the ultra fast RAM New Gig uses means a lot less delay when the G5 processor accesses data in the L3 cache.

Unfortunately, cache misses will carry a huge performance penalty, since the L3 cache is 3-5 times as fast as the system bus. Chief hardware engineer R. U. Gullible comments, “Them’s the breaks.”

The breakthrough processor upgrade design includes a four fan cooling system for the CPUs and runs ducts to one of the Power Mac’s PCI slot openings to move cooler outside air over the processors.

New Gig anticipates shipment for mid-September with a projected retail price of $1,499 – just half what the top-end dual 2.0 GHz Power Mac G5 sells for.

For those on a budget, New Gig will be offering three other configuration:

  • Hermes Extreme Mono 2.0, a single processor version
  • Hermes Extreme Dual 1.6 with two 1.6 GHz CPUs and 4 MB of L3 cache
  • Hermes Extreme Mono 1.6, a single processor version

New Gig hopes to sell the Mono 1.6 for $799, the Dual 1.6 for $1,099, and the Mono 2.0 for $999. These should all be available sometime between mid-August and mid-September.

Nobody at Apple or IBM was willing to be quoted in print, but one Apple engineer was heard to comment, “New Giga what?!?!?”

– Anne Onymus

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