View Full Version : Old unconfirmed MR story surprisingly accurate

Jan 2, 2004, 11:25 PM
Hi all,

For some reason I was recently reminded of this story: Apple RoadMap Past and Future (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2002/11/20021124221123.shtml). It's a submission from an anonymous source with quite a bit of high-level, detailed information. Looking at it in retrospect, it reminds me of the things MOSR tends to post all too often, except it seems to be significantly more accurate. :) Anyway, I remember being surprised (when it was first posted over a year ago) that it was kind of a departure from MR's typical stuff that usually doesn't extend beyond the next product introduction (and arn does a fantastic job with it, BTW!!!). I thought it might be interesting to examine its accuracy on the eve of MWSF and in light of all the corroborating rumors and events since. Hopefully no one's done this with this story before. :)
Originally posted on the front page of MacRumors 11/24/2002
The following information is from an unconfirmed source. As such, authenticity is always uncertain, but due to the content of the piece, was felt to be of sufficient interest for publishing. Take, as with all rumors, with an appropriate amount of skepticism.
So I'm not using this as an opportunity to examine arn's/the site's credibility, but rather just to look at this really interesting article.
What happened to Motorola's G5?

Apple had fully working prototype machines over a year ago, and Motorola was set to go into volume production early in 2002. On December 10, Chris Galvin phoned Steve Jobs announcing that the G5 will be delayed for at least 3 months due to glitches in its 0.13 micron process, which resulted in very low yields, and chips malfunctioning after a very short period of time. On December 17, Motorola announced to Apple that the G5 was delayed for at least 6 months, and then on February 25th Steve Jobs received a bombshell announcement that Motorola was ceasing development on the G5 indefinitely because it was making drastic cuts on R&D, and its main market is not desktop processors, but rather embedded processors. Days later, Apple reclaimed all its test boxes from key developers.
Of course we'll never know about those exact dates, but considering what's happened since there's no reason to doubt them.
Motorola instead has chosen to eke out as much performance as it can out of its G4 processors.
Sho' 'nuff.
Where does this leave Apple?

During the G4 fiasco, Apple began looking to IBM for its next generation processor. In the fall of 2000, IBM assembled its 970 development team at the request of Apple. The objective was to have the performance of the Power 4, at a much lower cost. IBM also saw potential in this chip for its linux solutions.
And in fact IBM has announced 970-based blades for Linux. Not sure if they're shipping or what--I don't really pay attention to that kind of stuff.
IBM began delivering Apple engineering samples of the 970 in May of this year, about the time the 970 was taped out. Apple has numerous working prototypes, and will begin to send them to key developers later this month.

How does this fit in to Apple's desktop and server roadmap?

Apple is in for another G4 drought in early 2003, whereby Motorola may not be able to push the G4 above 1.3 Ghz, which would be a paltry 50 Mhz speed bump with the upcoming 7457 G4. Right now, 7457 G4 yields above 1.3 Ghz are poor, as Motorola still has problems with their 0.13 Micron process.
Well, not quite. Apple got another 170 MHz out of the 7455 and could probably hit at least 1.6 GHz right now with the 7457 that's shipping in the new AlBooks. Of course, that chip just barely came out in time for the AlBooks, so there's no reason to doubt that this perception of the Moto G4 roadmap was accurate at the time.
IBM expects to be shipping the 970 in quantity early in Q3 of next year, in which time Apple will unveil the new pro desktops. The most likely introduction date is a Macworld NY keynote announcement, and if that does not materialize, Seybold will be the venture.
Obviously the anonymous source could not have known that WWDC would be moved back a month to accommodate the G5 announcement, which turned out to be right at the end of Q2. And we all know about the delays that pushed the actual ship date (for most people) almost to the end of Q3. So full points for this one. :)
[In the meantime] both the pro desktops and Xserve will not go much beyond 1.3 Ghz, though 1.5 Ghz may materialize should Motorola be able to come through, even though they might be a prototype version like the current 1.25Ghz version that is now shipping. The new Xserves will also have ATA 133, Essentially right. As everybody knows, we saw 1.42 GHz in the desktops and 1.33 in the Xserves. Right on with the ATA/133.
and will come with drive sizes up to 320GB (Maxtor), giving a total of 1.2 Terabytes.
Ouch. They shipped with 180 GB drives for a max of .72 TB, not 1.2. I don't think there are 320 GB drives even now, let alone 7200 RPM ones with 8 MB cache like are needed in the Xserve...
How will these machines be branded?

Many people were expecting that Apple would be branding the 970 as the G5. This is quite a point of contention at Apple right now among the marketing people. The 970 is truly not a 5th generation processor, because the Power 4 is IBM's 4th generation processor, or if you would call it, a second generation 64-bit processor. No decision is expected until around WWDC.
Well, close enough on the decision date. :) I'm sure there was some contention about the G5-or-no thing.
What processors will Apple use in future generations of Macs?

Apple will stay with PowerPC for at least two more generations. Currently in development is the 980 processor, which is a single core variant of the upcoming power 5, which has VMX, which is due at the same time as the Power 5 in Q3 2004. It will feature fast path technology, which is similar to Intel's rapid execution unit to take over tasks that software currently handles more slowly. It will have simultaneous multi threading, which allows one chip to function as two. All future Power series processors beginning with the Power 5 will also have VMX. The 990 successor will appear in Q1 2006, and will be built on a 65nm process.
This has mostly been corroborated over the past year. Pretty impressive, I think, to know the IBM roadmap so far ahead...
Consumer macs will remain with Motorola for 2003.
In 2004, it is uncertain whether Motorola will produce the 7457RM G4, which will top 2Ghz, and feature new bus topology, and Rapid IO. It is essentially what the G5 was intended on being, except being scaled back in some respects.

What about rumors of OS X on Intel?

Marklar is even more of a going concern than ever. Contrary to circulating rumors, it is not meant to be a Power PC exit strategy. Rather, it is intended to be offered to X86 users when Apple sees market conditions being fit for it. What it means by this is regarding Intel's Lagrande technology, and Microsoft's Palladium technology. Apple intends on releasing OS X on Intel, when consumer dissatisfaction falls to an all time low for Microsoft when users become restricted to what they can do on their PC's due to Lagrande and Palladium. Likely it will be released in the event that Microsoft chooses to stop developing for the Mac platform altogether.
Both the 7457RM and Marklar have pretty much disappeared from sight with the advent and (IMHO) tremendous success of the 970/G5. Obviously neither has been confirmed.
What new products can we expect?

An eight way 2U Xserve is currently in the works, and will be based on the 970, and will switch over to the Power 5. It will be Apple's high end server, and the name Xserve enterprise edition has been proposed. A high end multiprocessor workstation class pro model is also in the works. The name XStation has been proposed for it, and it could debut a year from now. It will feature Nvidia's highest end Quadro or equivalent graphics card, and it will feature the upcoming Power 5 chip from IBM.
MOSR's absolute favorite rumor, the Xstation is. :) There's still a chance for it to come true, but I think we'll have to see what the next generation of the PMG5 (more drive bays?) and the Xserve (what size? # of processors?) hold before we can really pass judgment on that.


N.B. I don't really feel like reading all 150+ comments on that article (although I probably read many of them when it was new), so I apologize if any clairvoyants made similar points in there. :)

Sun Baked
Jan 2, 2004, 11:51 PM
The 7457-RM would have competed quite well with the PPC970, but the lack of any further rumors since Motorola "killed the G5" make it's appearance doubtful. Though Motorola did announce similar "plans" for their other PPC offerings.

Now with Mai Logic's announcement that they would license the "elastic bus" from IBM -- and hopefully a couple of the other interested parties soon.

There is an alternative for the G4 users, Mai Logic's Articia chipsets have been quite feature packed recently.

Mai Logic's current G4 chipset is even a bit more advanced that Apple's right now, and their announcements for the PPC970 chipset should even them up with Apple next UniNorth3 upgrade.