Future of Mac Processors

Michael Macal

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 7, 2001
Though I love my many Macs, when it comes to the technology behind the brains, you can can tell that it doesn't revolve around those proud little boxes. The expansive world of processor design is calling to every platform out there. If you are reading this article you have probably felt the thrill of knowing the fastest personal computer was a Mac, but then a month later hearing about the newest AMD or Intel. I have just accepted the fact that things change fast. I am going to shed a light on a few things I have seen people uncertain about in this technology race. Mainly how it is affecting Apple. What I will relate is simply that Mac's will not only be around, but could lead the consumer market by leaps and bounds. (But of course you knew that)

Starting off, there has never been a multi-core 75X G4 processor. Multi-core technology is supported and is planned in PPC processors starting at 1Ghz (G5). How many cores and what models will are unknown. The ones making there way to Mac will most likely run up to 1.6GHz at their release Q2 2001. Expect lower speeds at first.

IBM originally created a multi-core processor just after the G4 was introduced.
The processor itself is in the PPC family (Power) but not a processor that would lend itself to the Mac design. These high-end Power chips only work in IBM's own servers.

IBM's Power4 is a cache-on 4x and 8x Multi-core chip for their new UNIX mainframe servers will use. The PowerPC lineage can be traced back to the Power platform, which in a primordial state originally spawned the PowerPC. The two processor families are at best distant cousins which share the same fabrication advances. The first hints at a multi-core processor was in the Power platform and really did not involve the PowerPC family until now. The IBM G5 and G6 processors are actually multi-core chips with up to 14xcores. Here comes the confusion about G5 vs. G5. Motorola and IBM have agreed on the PowerPC naming scheme, but the Power family also uses the Generation<number> format as well as the Power<number> format. A Power G5 is very different from a PowerPC G5 and has confused a bunch of rumor hungry souls.

Now enter Silicon Germanium (SiGe) which is a new way of fabricating BiCMOS. The process involves germanium crystal that runs cooler, faster, and consumes less power than normal processes.
Though not a processor itself, IBM has already tested a single transistor that can run up to 210GHz. IBM and Motorola are currently offering many wireless (SiGE) product solutions running past 2Ghz. Efforts to redesign the PPC chip to the new process will take some time. Expect a Power family chip to be blessed first. The actual speed of a (Sige) CPU I would estimate would start around 5Ghz and migrate up to 50Ghz. IBM/MOT is publicly stating figures like 70Ghz.

Motorola is currently liquidating wafer fab plants to gain capitol for new plants using (SiGe). IBM has the lead above everyone. This bipolar process has been a risky investment for most chip manufacturors. Intel has almost no ties to (SiGe) in a functioning way and has recently bought the technology rights from Motorola. Creating a new wafer-fab site with a relatively new process like (SiGe) will cost you more than a billion dollars. I'm sure Intel paid dearly for the help and licensing. If AMD has made any agreements it has been hush-hush.

So if you are worried about the Mac's brains I'd say they'll be alright for now. Infact they may grow up to be something we can't even imagine within just a few years.

- Michael Macal

"The crappy thing about running Windows on a 1.5Ghz Pentium is now you can bring up the blue screen of death twice as fast. - Michael Macal"


Motorola Road-map

IBM Road-map

Here is a picture of the multi-chip module G6 processor before being enclosed:

IBM (SiGe) Information:

IBM movie illustrating the size and efficiency of (SiGe).

Motorola (SiGe) Information:

IBM's inspired ATX PPC savior:

[Edited by Michael Macal on 09-18-2001 at 06:28 PM]


macrumors 6502
May 12, 2001
Although im sure youre comment or "essay" on Apple's future and processors is noteworthy, I was too lazy to read it. However what caught my eye (and I think is an EXCELLENT perception) is youre quote,

"The crappy thing about running Windows on a 1.5Ghz Pentium is now you can bring up the blue screen of death twice as fast. - Michael Macal"

- you couldn't be more correct, excellent comment

- Kela



macrumors regular
Jun 15, 2001
Marion, Ohio
I must say to you: Bravo, my good man! I really enjoyed your insight into the process, and I love to know how chips work etc. The one thing I don't have is a net connection that is worthy of searching out information from a few hundred dozen sights. If you have any information saved to your HD about any processor specifics and explinations (as I do to a limited extent), please e-mail me at KingArthur10@mac.com . I would like maybe to copy the information from an iDisk or something from you. You do seem like a very knowledgable person.

For a good sight with, what I think, worthwhile information...go to http://www.arstechnica.com .

"Buy a PC; they reboot faster"


macrumors 6502
Sep 18, 2001
Cracks me up!

Kela, You crack me up. I have read your posts in so many of these discussions and I have to give you the award for cracking me up the most. I just recently joined and signed up here.

Anyway, if you get the chance, it is a really cool "essay". I too love to hear about the new chips and architectures, I do have a cable modem, but I don't have the know on where to find all the info.. I am amazed to hear about people talking about G5's and G6's.. (the PowerPC version). I can't believe this could be just around the turn of the year.. that is very encouraging, even if the G5 is a 10 stage processor.. It still whips up the 20 stage P4!

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