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IBM Inside - some insider information

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Mr. MacPhisto, May 1, 2003.

  1. macrumors 6502

    I've decided to post what I know about IBM's chip plans for the PPC and take some educated guesses as to how they relate to Apple.

    Firstly, let me tell you why I know what I know. I have three good friends in the upper echelon of IBM. Two are in tech development positions of some kind, the other is in management. One is in Colorado, another in New York, and the last in North Carolina. I've gotten agreeing chip information from two of them. The third works in tech that doesn't involve chip manufacture. #3 has heard rumors, but hasn't been to official meeting or seen official documents.

    Well, from what I understand, Apple came to IBM about two years ago requesting help because of Motorola's lack of interest in really building kick-butt processors for Apple. IBM agreed to help, although certain conditions were needed for this to happen. Most of this involved business related stuff and tech development costs, as well as some trade offs on technology developed by each company.

    So, everyone knows about the 970 now, but there is also development on a new 750 based chip. There is already a 750 ready to go that is Altivec (I know, Moto terminology, just easier to know what it is that way) enhanced, can run with a FSB @ 400 or 450 MHZ with speeds up to 2GHZ. This is a modified 750fx, for all intents and purposes. These have been available for several months now, but Apple has not wanted them until now. It had to do with Apple's contractual obligations to Moto and the fact that they toast the G4 chip.

    Apple is scheduled to have several palettes of these 750s (yes, up to 2 GHZ, lowest being 1.4) delivered to them in May. They also will have the 970s delivered to them @ speeds of 1.5 to 2.5. So, here's my educated guess:

    The 970s now actually run more efficiently than when specs were announced, so that a high-end laptop could take a chip running at 1.8. I'm not sure if Apple will keep them all at 1.5 for power efficiency, but they may.

    So, I think Apple introduces a completely revamped lineup in July. The iBooks and eMacs all use the 750 chip - iBooks running at 1.4, eMacs up to 2. The iMac may have a low-end model with this chip, and may be launched without the 970, giving the "Power" lineup a 3 to 6 month head start with the 970. I also don't think they'll call the 750 the G3. My bet is they may call it a Super G4 or a G4 Xtreme - something like that.

    I see the PowerMacs getting an assortment of 970s, up to 2.5 with dual processor combos possible.

    I think the 12" PB will get a 1.5 processor while the 15" PBs can get a 1.5 or 1.8 and the 17" comes with a 1.8

    I think Apple may put 1MB of L3 on the 750 machines, 2MB on the PBs and PowerMacs. However, the PMs can take up to 4 - and it may be best for the laptops to only have 1.

    I also know IBM is working on a 32bit new 750 based processor for Apple, so my guess is this will be used to delineate the iBook and eMac from the Power lineup. It may extend to the iMac too, but I'd guess a high-end iMac would have the 970.

    And, now to the real kicker. Remember how I said that Apple had to make concessions to IBM? Well, one of them would allow IBM to manufacture and sell machines that ran Mac OS X - and would allow them sell it for servers, if a customer wanted it. This would not allow them to build laptops that ran the Mac OS, only desktop machines or servers.
  2. macrumors 601

    Re: IBM Inside - some insider information

    You had me up until the last paragraph.

    I seriously doubt that Apple would allow anyone to build Mac OS X machines. Even IBM. Jobs is totally against clones, even if they are just desktops and servers.

    The thing is this. Imagine if Apple hadn't shut down the clone operations completely. What if they had let Moto continue with the StarMax line? Basically, this is the situation that you're talking of here (except substitute IBM for Moto). Had Moto been allowed to continue building clones, they would have had a compelling reason to design and manufacture faster PPC chips.

    The problem was that Moto's Macs were cheaper and faster than Apple's Macs at the time.
  3. macrumors 68030


    Re: IBM Inside - some insider information

    Is this your "educated guess" or is this based on real info from your friends?
  4. macrumors G3


    ok, that last paragraph aside for a moment... that's darn good news. I especially like the stuff about the 750. This is what I've been saying for a while now- that IBM has said that they could make a 2 ghz G3 but apple wasn't interested. A bus of 400-450 is way better than I thought though. Oh man I hope this is true and we see 1.4-2 ghz G3 ibooks (even if it's no longer called a G3). Who needs the G4... go straight IBM processors, high end G3s and 970s. Those would walk all over the current powerbook line, and would be at a "consumer" price (while the PBs would be even more amazing with 970s). Wow, hope it's true.
  5. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    The last paragraph would be a reverse of the big Apple AIX cube, and would be a darn good thing for Apple and IBM if Apple began supplying OS X (or the OS X interface) for IBM workstations and Servers.

    Would also be nice to have the ability to run OS X on IBMs new 970 graphics workstation -- or if Apple would offer them like they did the Apple AIX cube (except with Apple OS and IBM inside).
  6. Sol
    macrumors 68000


    OS X Server for IBM maybe?

    My educated guess is that IBM would make 970 based computers pre-loaded with OS X Server, while Apple continues making the consumer and multimedia workstations.

    Anyway, this IBM G4 mentioned in the post sounds like it could be the next generation iBook processor. By the way, this FSB at 400 MHz could make Apple computers seem one generation behind Windows PCs that run at 800 MHz. I am sure we will hear a lot more about this in the future, from both sides of the fence.
  7. macrumors regular

    Oh, it's the year of the laptop!
  8. macrumors newbie

    names of new powermac?!

    I hope this Mr. MacPHISTO is right. I believe that he is regarding everything. The same folks saying that Apple wouldnt allow OSX on an IBM station are the same people who said that there would NEVER BE A 17" powerbook and wa-laa its here. Besides the clone war is over, who knows Steve Jobs can change is billion dollor mind anytime he wants. Period.

    About the names of the new powermac...WHO CARES!!! As long as I see a new machine from Apple this summer I dont care what they call it. They are pretty consistant with cool names so I dont care about that. What I do care about is a quality FAST A__ BOX that is well priced and plenty expandable. These are the most important factors for folks like me. (Film Industry types)

    Anyway...sounds like good news above. Hope its true.

    Reed Black
  9. macrumors 6502a


    That's pretty detailed. I don't know if I'd give that much info if I was your friends. But I like hearing it nonetheless.
  10. macrumors 68030


    4 pipeline stages, .13 micron process, 2GHz? Not gonna happen. It just isn't. 1GHz is pretty incredible for a chip of that design (The G4 could pass 500MHz until it got a 7 stage pipeline, the Pentium 4 needs 20 stages to hit 3.06GHz).
  11. macrumors regular

    I just really hope that Apple is able to get these new processors into their machines over the summer. Not that I will be able to afford one, but it would be nice to have something to drool over. I'm mostly just pissed that Apple gets such a bad rap for it's machines/OS when the ONLY thing that really holds the machine back is the processor. It is just truly a shame that Apple got locked into such a sh**ty deal with Motorola. If they can get new FAST processors into the machines by the end of the year, I think it could do a lot to help boost Apple's market share. With the economy having been in bad shape for such a long period of time, especially in the tech sector, I think there will be heavy increases in consumer and professional tech investment come 2004. If Apple finally has products that can compete speed-wise, then there will be a lot of people taking a look because of OSX. My fingers will be crossed.
  12. macrumors member

    PC'S @ 800 mhZ fsb


    The 800 Mhz FSB you speak of in PC's is a quad-pumped 200Mhz FSB. (200 x 4 = 800). If the new G3's from IBM have a 400 MHz, they could double-pump it and be rigth up there with wintel boxes.

  13. macrumors G3


    I admit that i don't know much about the technical development of processors, but what leads you to belive that IBM couldn't/ wouldn't make the necessary adjustments? Is there a theoretical reason the process couldn't be refined (more stages, .09 micron) so that the chip would hit 2 ghz?
  14. macrumors 601


    that all sounds good. if Apple really had to let IBM produce desktops and workstations that ran OS X, then i reckon that the 970 is important enough to them the let IBM go ahead and use OS X.

    what if Apple dropped the XServe, or didn't put as much development into it? then IBM would be able to focus on the server market while Apple would make kick-ass laptops and PowerMacs.

    a release in July would mean an announcement at WWDC wouldn't it? oh well, i'm still hoping for that. :D
  15. macrumors 68030


    .09 micron is certainly possible (although not right now. IBM doesn't have their .09 micron manufacturing plant done yet). I'd say they could hit <= 1.5GHz on .09 micron (When the Pentium 4 went from .18 to .13 the clock frequency went from <=2GHz to <= 3.06GHz, or about a 1.5X increase). Extra pipeline stages doesn't fit with the idea of it being only a modified 750fx. Altivec, a new bus, and a redesigned execution core (longer pipelines is not a trivial change) is a whole new chip, not a minor modification. That's more difference than going from Pentium Pro to Pentium 3 (P Pro, P2, and P3 all used the "P6" core).
  16. macrumors member

    if it's true, it would be good for Apple. People will buy anything from IBM. IBM's endorsement and promotion could seriously expand Apple's marketshare which would mean more developers working on os x applications and companies making hardware for mac etc.
  17. macrumors G3


    Hmm, so are you saying then that the original post claiming that the new chip will be a "modified 750fx" cannot be true? That is, to make the changes listed, it would simply be a different chip? And if that's the case, then the new chips could hit 2 ghz, couldn't they? I mean, they'd be all new... we really wouldn't know anything about them.
  18. macrumors 6502

    I believe the last paragraph

    Remember that when the NeXT was first announced, it was announced that IBM had bought a license to the OS, NeXTStep (proper capitalization for the time), and that NeXTStep was going to be an option on AIX machines. They got as far as a beta off of the NS1.0 code, but when NeXTStep jumped to 2.0, they didn't follow and the project was cancelled.

    This doesn't mean much, but it may provide some backing to the premsie that SJ would allow high-end IBM products to use his OS.
  19. macrumors 6502

    Re: OS X Server for IBM maybe?

    Yes, but the 970s will have a 900 MHZ bus. And I doubt that Wintel notebooks will have an 800MHZ bus. My bet is the PBs will sport a 450MHZ bus that is not double pumped, like on the PMs. Remember too that hypertransport may be coming to Apple via AMD.
  20. macrumors 6502

    Never said it WAS the 750FX, I said it was modified. I would guess the pipeline was lengthened, but I don't no to what. All I know is there is a 750 chip that can hit 2GHZ @ .13 and will hit near 3GHZ at .09. The 750FX can hit 1GHZ with a 200 MHZ FSB. This chip doesn't have the same specs - so it may really may be a modified Moto 745x processor in reality with a 7 stage pipeline. IBM is ratcheting up the MHZ because that's what Apple wants, but I know they can build more efficient chips than Intel, especially with their well developed RISC design capabilities - so they should be able to reach 3GHZ with 10 stages or less. Remember, Intel is also compensating for crappy x86 architecture that is light years behind the PPC. Why do you think they went RISC with Itanium?
  21. macrumors 6502

    Re: Re: IBM Inside - some insider information

    This is real - and not just limited to servers. It also doesn't mean Apple is once again licensing clones.

    Thing is, IBM would really like OS X for their servers over Linux because it's more controllable - not completely OpenSource. They also would get a kickback from Apple for every server that slapped it on. Apple should like this if they're smart, because having IBM use your OS as its OS of choice goes a long way to establishing your credibility in a business market. It also gives IBM something that others can't offer on a server - power and user-friendliness.

    As to manufacturing desktops, this comes from IBM wanting to be a one-stop shop. They'd like to sell the servers and sell some smart terminals for them - and avoid having to deal with MS. As it stands, Apple is much friendlier to IBM and really needs them and appreciates them. MS screwed them over and essentially has shafted them several times over the year - including on OS/2 and there partnership there. Besides, IBM knows an OS X workstation would be far more reliable, user-friendly, and stable than most Windows clients - and they could make them cheaply since they manufacture the chips inside the machines.

    IBM will not attack the consumer market and will not get in a price war with Apple. They will start offering machines with an Apple & IBM logo sometime next year to the consumer market at a good price, but I'm told it'll be equal to Apple's pretty much, but will give consumers more options. Apple will get a % of profit from all sales that is yet to be determined.

    I personally think Apple will gradually cut their prices to get more in line with PCs. With iLife they certainly do have a reason to charge a bit more, but not much. But if the iTunes Music Store turns out to be a big success, then Apple will have another source of revenue - and that, hopefully, should allow them to reduce their margins. Plus, if they push these new machines and increase their own sales while having IBM place the MacOS in the business world, then they may not need the hefty margins any more. Thing is, Apple needs to increase its share of the market. They will have IBM manufacturing prowess on their side, so they may be able to make a strong push.

    And as for posting this much info, it won't give anyone away. A lot of people in each facility these guys work in know about it because they've been working on the technology. A lot of people in management know this to, because it relates to IBMs business strategy.
  22. macrumors regular

    Hold on a sec. boy!

    Itanium is not RISC design. Its quite on the oposite end of it.
    VLWIS. Very Large Word Instruction Set. Dude it makes me mucho suspicious about your postings here ;)
  23. macrumors 68030


    Actually VLIW (Very Large Instruction Word, or, as Intel calls it, EPIC, Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) is to RISC what RISC is to CISC. Putting even more pressure on the compiler to take stuff off the chip (in this case, out of order execution).

    As for the 2GHz 750, IBM is certainly capable of making a chip that fast (although I would guess it would be similar in pipeline depth to the 970 to hit 2GHz, so around 14-15 stages), I just can't see why they're calling it a 750 (or why they're making it in the first place. Apple can't be their only customer for it). 750s are G3s. This thing, whatever it is, is definitely not a G3 by any usual definition (Once you've changed the execution core, bus interface, and added a SIMD unit, what's left to change?). The other problem is targetting such a chip. At 2GHz, with the added execution units, it's not going to be anywhere near the 3.6 watts the current 750FX draws, so it'll have to target a different market. It's certainly not high enough end for servers (especially if they keep the G3's limited multiprocessing capabilities), so there only seems to be one market left. AFAICT, that market (Apple/Blade Servers/Workstations) is served more than adequately by the PowerPC 970. I just can't see where IBM would be headed with a chip like this.

    Also, Intel's chips are basically RISC chips with a translator stuck on the front. IBM has a slightly more advanced manufacturing process (silicon on insulator), but also relies heavily on automated design (for POWER4/970 anyway) which gets slightly worse performance. I seriously can't see how IBM is "light years" ahead of Intel. I would say, "inches", or perhaps even "meters", but not light years.

    Lastly, the 745x series is Moto's property. I would be greatly surprised if Moto were to sell IBM the chip that's been causing IBM so much pain in the high end embedded market. If they did, though, it might be fairly interesting.
  24. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    If you can keep 1 important feature of the G3 intact, you'd end up with a G4 replacement with the power saving features of the G3.

    Which would make the chip a good replacement for power sensitive applications where G4s are used. Sort of attacking Motorola's G4 market.

    While not as miserly as a low power G3, it may make people think twice when compare to a power sucking G4.
  25. macrumors regular

    Yeah thanks for correction Cat_Fish

    VLIW is right. :)

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