This article is from macosrumers [a bit long, but worth the read]. Enjoy! From Special Edition #9: Issues affecting the next-generation PBG4 Ti - 7:04 PM 10/9 - Rumor This article was originally sent out last Friday to our Reader Sponsors in Special Edition #9; certain aspects of the article had been embargoed by the original sources, but those embargoes have been lifted. We'll be deliving further into PowerPC processor issues, particularly with regards to how they will be affecting the PBG4 over the next year, in the days ahead. In the meantime, enjoy.... Clearly, the current PBG4 -- while indisputably a world-class machine -- is getting extremely long in the tooth and needs to be updated with more power, features, and bang-for-the-buck. So why have we been waiting the better part of a year for the second generation of PBG4 Ti's? The reasons are manifold, and continue to play out. All are tied to the current global economic recession, but several are but the latest incarnations of problems that have plagued the Mac for years. First and most significant is the problem of processor power. By creating the Powerbook G4, Apple placed its bets heavily that it would be able to deliver G4 processors faster than 500MHz with portable-friendly power drain and heat profiles. So far, it has not been able to do so. Motorola has been unable to produce PowerPC 7410 processors (the same which power the present 400 and 500MHz Ti's) faster than 550MHz in quantities sufficient to power such a popular Apple product. And at that, only recently have quantities of the 550MHz 7410s become sufficient themselves. Bumping the two Powerbook models by 50MHz each would be a very weak advance, and Apple knows that - which is a key reason we've been waiting for a new Ti longer than anyone, Apple included, might prefer. While Apple has waited in the hopes that Motorola could deliver on promises it made earlier this year that the 7410 would be able to eventually reach 700MHz (600MHz by year's end, with 700MHz by mid-2002), those hopes have dwindled nearly down to nothing in recent months as Motorola has repeatedly told Apple and other PPC buyers that its 7410 development program has experienced problems very similar to those which kept the original PPC7400 processor to 500MHz. There are three possibilities Apple can work with to address the CPU issue: dual PPC 7410 processors, the PPC 7440, and the PPC 7460. Dual 7410s *could* potentially be fit within a Titanium enclosure, according to Apple sources, if they were located as far apart as their bus wiring and protocols would allow -- essentially, on opposite sides of the enclosure. Heat could also be dealt with thanks to cooling advances made at Apple, we're told....but unfortunately, the issue of power drain remains. The processor is actually a relatively modest power dissipator in the average laptop (accounting for 6-8 watts out of 35-45w peak overall drain), and so adding a second one would not be a major backstep, but it would not be a trivial loss of battery life, as processors are a more sustained drain than hard disks or many other system components. Apple sources estimate this solution would significantly increase the cost of a Powerbook -- a dual-processor version of a given 7410-based G4 Ti model would cost roughly $800 more to the consumer than a single-processor version due to R&D costs as well as that of the second chip. The second possible solution is that of the PowerPC 7440 processor, a scaled-down version of the PPC 7450 which powers today's 667-867MHz PowerMac G4s. The 7440 uses significantly more power than the 7410 or other PPCs which Apple has used in portables - typically 11.4-15w @600MHz, and a maximum of 13.4-17.5w at 700 MHz. Granted, this is a little better than dual 7410s, and should offer better performance in many areas which do not take advantage of multiple processors (single-thread processes, system startup for example), but it is still significantly more than Apple would prefer. The cost of a single 7440 is also better than that of dual 7410s -- particularly when the R&D required for a dual-processor laptop is considered -- but not dramatically so, as the 7440 and 7450 are some of the most expensive PowerPC processors ever to be used with the Mac. Neither of these first two options are highly desirable -- cost, power drain, and heat on both are not what we might hope for in a perfect world where Apple gets processors designed specifically and exclusively for its needs. A third option exists.....but it, too, has one very major drawback - it won't be ready for months yet. The PowerPC 7460, code-name Apollo, is the next major new G4 processor, and is intended to carry the G4 well into 2003 as it gradually takes over the work of processing in Apple's consumer and portable machines whilst the G5 enters the Pro Desktop space. It will use a .15 micron copper/Silicon-On-Insulator ("SOI") manufacturing process to be cooler, cheaper, faster, and drain less power than previous G4s. The 7460 is intended to break the 1GHz barrier and reach up as high as 1.33GHz before being replaced with future G4s and later, portable/consumer-friendly G5s. It will feature sub-10w power dissipation and portable-friendly operating temperatures even at these high clock rates thanks to its advanced manufacturing technologies which will offset many of the portable-application problems the 7450 design -- upon which the 7460 will be based -- introduced. Far faster than dual 7410s or any known future 7440, the 7460 *will* eventually power Apple's Powerbook G4s and later, its iMacs and iBooks....but given the current timetable specifying a Spring 2002 release for the 7460, we shouldn't be expecting it to come to our aid in the forthcoming generation of Powerbooks. So, we're left with a conundrum when it comes to Apple's ability to put significantly faster G4s in the new Titanium when it is finally released. Clearly, these problems have played a major part in the delay of those new pro portables - but they are not alone. We also have previously reported that Apple needs to deliver combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drives in the new Titanium, given the fact that such drives are already available for the iBook. Unfortunately, until very recently there was simply no such animal that would fit into the Titanium's ultraslim enclosure. Apple has reportedly at long last secured a supplier of slot-loading combo drives that will fit the Titanium, but several factors including the recent typhoon which struck Taiwan has slowed the process of Apple being able to warehouse sufficient numbers of these drives to be confident about shipping a product based upon them. This problem continues, but unlike the processor situation, we see a clear resolution of the issue within a matter of weeks, a month at most. When it comes to the other components Apple intends to add to the new Titanium -- a new ATi RADEON Mobility 7500 graphics accelerator with twice as much video memory as the existing RAGE 128 Mobility used in today's Ti (16MB vs 8MB), more RAM, larger/faster hard disks, a minor revision to the onboard battery, minor mainboard revisions, and a revamped enclosure design that increases structural rigidity as well as durability -- everything appears to be in line for Apple as soon as the processor and optical drive issues are resolved. At present, it looks like Apple still plans to release an updated Titanium during this month of October....but also has contingencies in place in the case that it is not able to get sufficiently improved processors in time, or if optical drive issues persist longer than expected. Thusly, sponsors with aspirations of purchasing a next-generation Ti should not expect any announcements right away....but we continue to hold out hope that the incredible sales punch that the Titanium has packed so far in 2001 will continue well into 2002 thanks to a solid revision that will come before the holidays arrive.