Should IBM Break Out

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-06-25 Print this article Print

Mobile and Server Designs?"> When asked if IBM needs to develop a Pentium M-style redesign, Krewell responded, "I would hope they would. I think thats the way you need to go to get something like the Athlon64 into the notebook. Big, transportable things with a lot of power and a lot of fans arent Apples business model. Apple has to be more stylish." IBMs designers disagree. Rohrer said with PowerTune, the G5 will likely be down-clocked to enable it to enter the 15- to 30-watt range needed to produce a G5 notebook.
A dual-core version of the processor could also boost performance at slower speeds. Rohrer declined to confirm whether a dual-core PowerPC is on the companys roadmap, although he did say that a dual-core chip would remove some of the pressure to constantly push clock speeds higher.
AMD and Intel say they will release dual-core chips in 2005. Click here to read more. IBMs current 2.5GHz PowerPC 970FX chip runs more efficiently, consuming about 50 watts under a typical load, which will vary according to how computationally intensive the application is. The previous PowerPC 970, manufactured on a coarser, 130nm process, required 66 watts under a typical load. But IBM to date has not disclosed the maximum thermal power the chips can consume, muddying the question of the chips thermal envelope. Its unlikely, analysts added, that Apple will take on the Intel Centrino and Transmeta Corp.s Crusoe in the ultraportable notebook space, at least in the near term. Click here to read about Linux drivers for Centrino, which Intel said will be available this year. While keeping one eye on desktops and mobile concerns, IBMs chip group also must keep the other on server applications, such as Apples Xserve server and its own dual-processor, PowerPC 970FX-based JS20 blades. Some 2,282 of the blade servers were recently combined to form a supercluster for the Spanish Center for Supercomputing. Apples G5 desktops, the IBM blades and the Xserve use two discrete processors to handle computational tasks. Intel and AMD, on the other hand, have announced plans to combine two processor cores on the same chip, a strategy employed by IBMs POWER5 core for multiprocessor servers. Since the G5 was based on the Power4 architecture, a future, multicore PowerPC is a natural assumption. Rohrer declined to comment on IBMs plans for future products, including the PowerPC 975, a rumored successor to the PowerPC 970 family. Instead, Rohrer postulated a dual-core conundrum: On one hand, adding two cores reduces the workload on the overall computing unit, so a chip doesnt have to be clocked as fast. Clocking down the individual cores is also necessary, Rohrer said, for designing a multicore chip inside the same thermal constraints as a unicore processor. On the other hand, buyers still will compare chips using the rated frequency. "We all do specmanship," he said. "Its hard to get away from frequency. Its the easiest apples-to-apples comparison you can make." To read about Intels plan to play down clock speeds in its new naming plan, click here. Analyst Brookwood said a dual-core PowerPC seems like a logical step. Apples Xserve generates a reasonable amount of volume, he said, and a more power-efficient, multitasking environment is a selling point for the PowerPC. "PowerPCs are typically going to workstation-class products," he said. "A dual-core processor makes a lot of sense." Check out eWEEK.coms Macintosh Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis about Apple in the enterprise.

Be sure to add our Macintosh news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo pageEditors Note: This story was updated on June 26 at 11:45 PM PDT to add a quote from IBMs Rohrer on manufacturing processes. The quote was accidentally omitted through an editing error.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel