The Macintel Report

Blips in Intel's Roadmap, Dual-Core Xeon, PA Semi's Dual-Core PowerPC for Laptops, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.11.03

This Week's Macintel News

Apple's decision to switch to Intel CPUs means we live in very interesting times.

PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing news is covered in The 'Book Review. General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

Blips in Intel's Dual-core Roadmap

Macsimum News' Dennis Sellers says:

"It may be a minor blip in the Intel - and therefore Mac - roadmap, but it is worrisome. Last week Intel announced that delivery of its dual-core Itanium would be delayed by three months from the first quarter of 2006 to the middle of the second quarter. It's another setback for Intel that has some folks wondering whether the company can deliver upcoming technologies as quickly as promised.

"'The setback is the latest in a string of events that raise questions about Intel's ability to execute on its innovative R&D, a commodity of which Intel undoubtedly has plenty but which Intel hasn't been able to get to market,' Tom Yager writes in an InfoWord report. "There has always been a tug-of-war at Intel...

"Dual-core chips contain two processing units per chip. Apple's latest Power Macs have dual-core chips, although they're IBM PowerPC processors, of course, rather than Intel."

Intel Unveils Dual-Core Xeon Processor for Four-Way Systems

eWeek's Jeffrey Burt reports:

"Intel Corp. on Tuesday unveiled its dual-core processor for systems running four or more chips, and more than a dozen OEMs rolled out new or enhanced servers based on the technology.

"The new Xeon 7000 Series, formerly codenamed 'Paxville MP,' is the first to ship with Intel's chip-level virtualization technology, although officials don't expect end users to be able to take advantage of it until the first half of 2006."

Macworld UK Readers Relaxed on Intel Move

Macworld UK's Jonny Evans reports:

"Mac users appear sanguine on Apple's move to Intel processors which begins next year.

"A recent Macworld Online poll saw a fairly even split, with the majority of readers who voted being happy to wait a while until they buy a new Mac, though one-in-four readers seemed ready to rack up their credit card a couple of notches right now."

PA Semi's Dual-Core Laptop-Ready PowerPC Chip

Ars Technica's Hannibal says:

"There have been a few recent PowerPC announcements that have caused the Mac Faithful to wonder anew about The Switch and the 'real' reasons behind it. First, there was the 970FX announcement, which clearly showed that IBM is capable of putting out a 970 processor that compares quite well with the Pentium M in performance/watt. And then there's the 970MP, which Apple has used to make a monster of a quad-processor 64-bit RISC workstation. For even the most diehard Jobs fans, both of these product releases, especially when set against Intel's current performance/watt woes, raise serious questions about the public case that The Steve made for The Switch.

"To make matters even more interesting - or more vexing, if you were one of the true believers in PowerPC's alleged power failure - P.A. Semi has just announced a dual-core 64-bit PowerPC processor SoC that, if the specs and numbers are to be believed, could take PowerPC to a whole new performance/watt level. Check out these stats, distilled from the press release:

  • Two 64-bit, superscalar, out-of-order PowerPC processor cores with Altivec/VMX
  • Two DDR2 memory controllers (one per core!)
  • 2MB shared L2 cache
  • I/O unit that has support for: eight PCIe controllers, two 10 Gigabit Ethernet controllers, four Gigabit Ethernet controllers
  • 65nm process
  • 5-13 watts typical @ 2GHz, depending on the application

"Yup, they appear to have crammed all that stuff onto one laptop-capable chip, and it's due out sometime in very late 2006 or early 2007."

Apple's Shift to Intel Won't Alter IBM's PowerPC Focus

eWeek's Daniel Drew Turner reports:

"Apple Computer Inc.'s plan to switch to Intel Corp. processors from PowerPC CPUs will not change IBM's marketing focus for the chips.

"Regardless of Apple's plans, 'both servers and embedded' will remain the target markets for these CPUs, including the PowerPC 970MP, the latest version, said Norman Rohrer, distinguished engineer and one of IBM's top chip designers, in his presentation at the In-Stat Fall Processor Forum here Tuesday.

"Rohrer provided a detailed view of the new PowerPC 970MP multicore processor, the chip behind Apple's new Power Mac line. The PowerPC 970MP, which will be available in clock speeds from 1.2GHz to 2.5GHz, is a 'low-power, high-performance' processor, he said.

"Based on the single-core POWER4 processor, the 970MP features twin cores, each with its own CPU, AltiVec SIMD unit and 1MB of L2 cache, Rohrer said. Though the chip itself is 64-bit, it is also compatible with 32-bit instructions, meaning that users will not have to upgrade software when migrating from previous PowerPC-based systems, he said."

More Mac News

PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing news is covered in The 'Book Review. General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

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