Apple and IBM on Tightropes

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by MacCoaster, Apr 14, 2005.

  1. MacCoaster macrumors 6502a

    MacCoaster

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    #1
    Sorry, I had to grab your attention by means of the title. I promise you this is a good read, though!

    I wrote an article expressing my observations and opinions on the state of the PowerPC 970/970FX/970MP and the Power Mac G5s. It is titled "Apple and IBM on Tightropes." Comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

    Edit: Oh, I forgot. I have to thank settledown and Jimmie for their assistance in writing this article. Cheers. :)

    Apple and IBM on Tightropes
    Their future roadmap may have them lagging behind or leap computing forward

    When information on the original PowerPC 970 was leaked at Microprocessor Forum in 2002, we all knew Apple had to take advantage of the new processor. Fast forward a few months, they announced single processor 1.6 GHz and 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5s alongside with the world's fastest Personal Computer, the dual 2.0 GHz Power Mac G5. All of them utilize the original PowerPC 970 processor which were on the 130nm process and with 512 KB of L2 cache per processor. Apple also announced that they would have a 3.0 GHz PowerPC 970 within a year. Later in 2003, they replaced their mid-range single processor 1.8 GHz edition with a 1.8 GHz dual processor edition due to rising demands of 2.0 GHz dual processor in hopes to reduce the demand for the already-scarce 2.0 GHz PowerPC 970 processor.

    Seven months later, in January 2004, the PowerPC 970FX processor appeared in the newly-released Xserve G5s. Many had already speculated that due to the PowerPC 970FX's smaller die, they would run cooler and thus have higher clock speed potential. We were prepared to see even faster Power Mac G5s that year.

    We were right, it was inevitable. Nearly a year after the orignal Power Mac G5s made their debut, they finally updated the entire Power Mac G5 product line. This time, they dropped the single processor edition in favor for an all-dual processor line. The line ran at 1.8 GHz, 2.0 GHz and a whopping 2.5 GHz. Unfortunately, Apple never reached the 3.0 GHz goal, citing problems in transitioning to the 90nm process. This was understandable, as IBM was not alone in the problem. Intel and AMD too had problems transitioning to the 90nm process. Complaints about the lack of a low end Power Mac G5 stirred. Apple decided to reintroduce the single processor edition at 1.8 GHz. These machines were great for people who preferred expansion over the limited form factor of the iMac G5, which also includes the PowerPC 970FX processors.

    Only a few months after the new Power Mac G5s were released out in the wild, there were already news about a new dual core PowerPC 970, dubbed the PowerPC 970MP. For what it was worth, all we knew about it were: dual cores, 1 MB of L2 cache per core and it is planned to be in production sometime in 2005.

    The current Power Mac G5 lineup is ten months old. Its future is uncertain. IBM leaked some information about the PowerPC 970MP thermal diodes, implying that the PowerPC 970MP is already in production and ready. This is the dual core edition of the PowerPC 970 family. ThinkSecret recently released specifications from a "reliable" source, and from what it looks like, the new Power Mac G5s will still have the 970FX processors. They noted the L2 cache would still be 512KB. This is disconcerting because it's a small speed bump. 10 months and only 200 MHz? This definitely will cause Apple and IBM to lag behind others, badly.

    However, there are chances that ThinkSecret is incorrect and the new Power Mac G5s will actually have the PowerPC 970MPs. No one knows at which speeds the new PowerPC 970 MPs will run; but my best guess for the upcomping Power Mac G5s is at minimum a single dual-core processor 1.8 GHz edition, with dual dual-core processor editions running at 2.0 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 2.8 GHz. Yes, I said dual dual-core as in two processors with two cores each! This will leap computing forward in terms bigger than anyone can imagine.

    Apple, along with IBM, must go dual-core. AMD and Intel already announced their dual-core processor roadmap and they're all slated for this year. If Apple and IBM don't release the dual-core PowerPC 970MP as soon as possible, they won't have the chance of being the first and sweeping the computing world. They also won't have anything for another several months, due to their marketing model. They don't release new computers as quickly as the PC world. If they don't move to the dual core PowerPC 970MPs, they will lag behind because the next Power Mac update would be late 2005 at the earliest. AMD and Intel will have beaten them by then.

    As I am an optimist, I'm going to have to go with dual core Power Mac G5s for the next update. We'll have to wait and see.
     
  2. MacCoaster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacCoaster

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    #2
    Just some follow-up...

    Another reason for me to believe that ThinkSecret is wrong is the mere fact that they mentioned an ATI Radeon 9650. I don't see anything about the 9650. Also, why didn't they append the "XT" to the 9600s because 9600 isn't the same as 9600 XT?

    Not to say that they're wrong, they've got a good track record from what we've seen. However, they have been wrong from time to time, yes, but like I said, we'll have to see. I'm suspicious especially because of the Radeon 9650 tidbit and their contradiction of the amount of L2 cache and their comment: "Sources were unable to confirm at this time whether the systems will sport the dual-core PowerPC 970MP processor or the single-core PowerPC 970GX, although unconfirmed notes point to the PowerPC 970MP. The second core would deliver performance gains far greater than the 200-300MHz bumps each processor is receiving alone with the update." We know that the PowerPC 970MP has 1 MB L2 cache per core, hence the contradiction.
     
  3. NNO-Stephen macrumors 6502

    NNO-Stephen

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    #3
    no such GPU, Radeon 9650, exists, nor will it ever if ATI are smart. I believe they are smart and TS is in error.

    nice article, focuses a bit much on the history, which most everyone here should know by heart, and it a bit thin on the analysis and speculation front. perhaps elaborate on your thoughts in the final few paragraphs. nicely crafted though. :)
     
  4. Logik macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/video/display/20030819022350.html
    https://bugzilla.ubuntu.com/show_bug.cgi?id=8449

    both contain the name Radeon 9650

    meaning such a thing exists, but appears to be PC only at this point.

    with that said, i'm thinking TS has a good chance of being right. and well i don't think ATI is stupid.. but i'm thinkin you might need to rethink your statement.
     
  5. NNO-Stephen macrumors 6502

    NNO-Stephen

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    #5
  6. SFVCyclone macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    NICE catch i completely missed it, also some speculating but what if Apple is messing around with think secret? you just may never know!
     
  7. Logik macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    that's what i said.. however, there's nothing stopping them from updating the firmware of their existing products to work with the mac too. :p so.. with that said, i wouldn't count it out.
     
  8. liketom macrumors 601

    liketom

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    #8
    only time will tell !

    apple needs to kick ass the computer world and make powermac the machine every one wants and buy's
     
  9. MacCoaster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacCoaster

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    #9
    Quoth your first link: "PS. Current RV360 brand-names suggestions are RADEON 9650, RADEON 9800XT and so on, read the whole story here."

    It didn't say the card existed; it merely suggested the name Radeon 9650. However, it also suggested that 9800 XT uses the same core, so I'm guessing they're putting the 9800 XT in higher end Power Macs. That is possible.
     
  10. Logik macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    correct.. however the SECOND link actually is an XFree86 bug report and specifically has Radeon 9650 mentioned in it as a supported card. So it does exist.
     
  11. MacCoaster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacCoaster

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    #11
    Can you confirm the existance with another source. An X config file is not enough.
     
  12. Logik macrumors 6502a

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    #12

    From the Config file...
    ATI FireGL Mobility T2e (M11) NV (AGP), ATI RADEON 9650,
    ATI Radeon 9800SE AH (AGP), ATI Radeon 9800 AI (AGP),

    so it supports a device that does not exist?

    How about the Steam Powered Survey?

    http://www.steampowered.com/status/survey.html

     
  13. MacCoaster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacCoaster

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    #13
    Not sure about that one, but do you have a link to page with the actual product right there?

    Whatever. We're getting off-topic. The point of this article is the uncertainity of the PowerPC 970's future.
     
  14. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    #14
    Okay, let's set a record straight here... The Radeon 9650 is a R360 chip made for mobile computers. ATI, however, decided to go with the name 9700 Mobility to clearly show that the card is more powerful than the older Radeon 9600 Mobility. So this GPU already exists in the PowerBooks, and is not called the Radeon 9650. And further, we're talking about a Desktop here, so either ATI made a entirely different chip, called the Radeon 9650, for desktop use (slim chance), or this is just a mistake (of the typo kind, or of the rumor kind).
     
  15. Logik macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    it's probably an OEM only product :rolleyes:

    I'm simply saying that the damn thing probably exists whether you want to believe me or not. go ahead and make yourself look stupid by denying it doesn't exist yet drivers for linux contain information that this card is indeed supported, and even Steam/Valve (you know.. the HALF-LIFE guys) have that being returned as a video card name string in their survey.

    From what i can tell it is a Mobile chipset, not something you'd see in an iMac (unless they were looking to reduce heat).. but it's possible this will be in the new powerbook updates or ibook updates .. more than likely ibook updates.. from 9200 to 9650. Probably a revision of the 9600 card.

    http://forums.suselinuxsupport.de/lofiversion/index.php/t8749.html

    "Suse chose for my ati mobilty radeon 9650 the rv350 np driver.
    This driver does not allow 3d opengl rendering."

    EDIT
    most of the sites i am getting this from are in German. Maybe ATI didn't use 9700 in some countries? who knows. either way, the chipset does exist. Maybe it's not intended for the U.S. bound machines. and as i said, it'll likely be iBook updates we're talking about here, not iMac updates.
     
  16. MacCoaster thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MacCoaster

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    #16
    Bingo, thanks for clarifying.
    Uh, when have I ever denied its nonexistance? NNO-Stephen declared its nonexistance, not I. I merely wanted to know more information regarding the 9650 because the fact that ThinkSecret lists it and there isn't much information regarding it is leading me to believe that ThinkSecret is incorrect. That is all. One can't ever look stupid by dissecting information available to us.

    Now that the graphics card side is cleared up, let's discuss the dual core issue.

    To be dual core or not to be dual core? That is the question.
    Whether 'tis nobler to suffer,
    the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...

    Ok ok, I got a bit carried away by Hamlet. ;)
     
  17. Logik macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    one final comment on the Radeon 9650.

    Notice it has 256mb of ram, as opposed to the 128 in the 9600's mentioned in the other products. 9650 may just mean more ram in this case. seems the 9650 in other countries may be for the mobile chipset, while 9650 in this case is a special edition with more ram.
     
  18. 840quadra Moderator

    840quadra

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    #18
    I must say as a freelance journalist myself (not computer), good read!!

    I am going to link some of my friends to your story, it will help them understand a bit about the current technology in Apple comptuers, and the future challanges for Apple.

    Thanks for the post!!
     
  19. aafuss1 macrumors 68000

    aafuss1

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    #19
    Thanks for the article as well-it's a very interesting read.
     
  20. settledown macrumors regular

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    #20
    My initial thought is...how do they market it? (the dual coreMP vs. the single coreFX) I think it gets confusing.
    It's not a G6...yet it is definately on a different level. Apple could just stay with the G5 moniker and just emphasize the difference between dual processor and dual processors with dual cores. Apple may have to call them something like Power Mac G5 "Quad Core".

    This gets complicated even more if Apple decides to use the FX(single core) on the low end PMs and the MP(dual core) on the high end PMs.

    It sure is fun to speculate.
     
  21. Fredstar macrumors 6502a

    Fredstar

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    #21
    I 100% agree with you on this, Powermacs will not be released till WWDC when Steve will announce the dual-core's - again the Powermac will be the fastest personal computer on the planet before AMD and Intel ship their dual core's they have planned. The pdf's were very detailed from IBM, if anyone wants to see/download them quickly check my website at www.macinfo.co.uk, and point to the dual-core's being imminant - ie within the next 6 months.
    Thinksecret have got these updates wrong.
    iMac will not be updated for a few months either, minor upgrade and PERHAPS a upgraded gpu but i doubt the one rumoured. It will get 512 ram across the board though.
    eMac - inevitably will be updated sooner or later. It is so outdated, but it is a education mac....although a lot of consumers like the all-in-one crt so it still needs to keep up and run Tiger nicely.
    512mb ram across the line will happen by WWDC, the only maybe is the Mini, but so i wish Apple had 512 standard in it. Ram prices have really gone down over the past few months, i ordered 2 rams of 512 for my iMac in December and it cost over £100 (Crucial), now it costs about £65.
    Personally i don't need dual-core Powemacs (hell i bloody want them :p) but professionals DO, time is money and if they can do twice (just to say) as much work that means professionals spend half the time waiting for the cpu to do processing - that is massive.
     
  22. DaveP macrumors 6502

    DaveP

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    #22
    I hope you are right. Apple has tried to make inroads into the lower end of the spectrum (Mac Mini), but right now is definitely slipping on the upper end.
     
  23. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #24
    ^^Your post was a lame read.

    Anyway, maybe its not Apple's choice in this case. I'm sure they'd put a dual core, dual proc 3.0GHz G5 in the PowerMac if they could, but IBM can't do it yet. If IBM can't supply enough of them, or produce them in a high enough yield, then Apple can't release them in PMacs before Intel and AMD release theirs for Windows systems, can they? The suggestion that they do so is good, but its easier said than done, I'm sure. There are lots of factors we don't consider.
     
  24. broken_keyboard macrumors 65816

    broken_keyboard

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    #25
    Why are they on tightropes? I don't get the analogy. On the tightrope you make the slightest mistake and you're dead, but how does that apply?
     

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