Apple Ditching G4

8/17/2K: Intel has announced that the Pentium 4 will hit 2 GHz next year, forcing Apple to completely rethink its game plan. It’s decision: Abandon the G4 except on graphics workstations.

The Rumor Mill

Working closely with IBM, Apple will adopt the G5 processor,* which should be shipping in quantity by Macworld San Francisco in January 2001. The move validates IBM’s long-standing claim that AltiVec was the wrong way to go in improving chip performance.

Instead of a souped-up video section coupled with an otherwise pedestrian 500 MHz or slower CPU, the G5 architecture is what the G4 should have been all along: an optimized successor to the G3 with full multiprocessor support (like the 604e and G4) and a large, fast on-chip cache (like IBM’s PowerPC 750CX).

Using IBM’s commanding lead in copper chip technology, the G5 will include a 1 MB onboard cache running at full CPU speed, which will range from 700 MHz to 1 GHz upon the chip’s release. It will also have less power draw than the G4, making it a candidate for top-end PowerBooks.

Best of all, the G5 architecture “has legs” and will easily reach 2 GHz by the end of 2001, according to John Doe 14, our unknown (to Apple!) source on this story.

This means Apple will have three processors in its hardware. The IBM PowerPC 750CX (G3e) will be used in lower tier models such as the iBook and iMac, ranging in speed from 533 to 667 MHz and using UMA2 architecture, which includes a 133 MHz system bus.

The Power Mac G4 will come in dual- and quad-processor models using 500 MHz G4 processors on the current Sawtooth motherboard.

At the top, the Power Mac G5 will ship in single-, dual-, and quad-processor configurations with 733, 866, and 1,000 MHz processors on a new 133 MHz UMA2 motherboard. Apple will also have a PowerBook G5 running at 733 and 850 MHz, as well as a G5 Cube in 866 and 1,000 MHz versions.

Details are sketchy, but there may even be an iMac Special Edition with a G5 clocked at 667 MHz. Further details remain unknown.

Motorola was unavailable for comment. Sources at Apple and IBM refused to comment on this idle speculation.

 – Anne Onymus

As seen on Slashdot – see Building Rumors, Fooling Slashdot.

* This is not the same PowerPC 970 CPU that IBM introduced in October 2003. Seriously, that one had a much faster data bus than we would have anticipated and also included a Velocity Engine compatible with Motorola’s AltiVec. The first Power Mac G5 didn’t arrive until June 2003.

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