Dish Best Served Slow (3/6/00)
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Wow, these are strange days indeed; the PowerPC AIM alliance consists of just three entities-- Apple, IBM, and Motorola-- and by some strange twist of fate, our buddy the typically melodramatic Apple is the one not directly involved in the current soap opera. Whodathunkit? Regular viewers are already up to speed on the rumor that IBM has Altivec-enhanced, Mac-ready G4 processors running at up to 650 MHz and ready to go, but they can't announce or ship them until Motorola plays catch-up. Why? Because there's Motorola technology in them thar chips, and Motorola, who's already red-faced from its continued inability to break through the 500 MHz barrier, isn't thrilled with the idea of IBM waltzing in and beating them to the punch. So they've got one hand on IBM's emergency brake and the other hand... well, we're not sure where the other hand is. It's probably too busy tossing the company's Macs out the window to be working on getting those G4s up to speed, though.

Anyway, Mac OS Rumors has more details on this whole sorry situation. It seems that the choke chain that Motorola has around IBM's throat is none other than the Altivec license. See, IBM was never too keen on Altivec; since the majority of PowerPC chips that it makes that don't go into Macs are destined for Unix servers, there wasn't a whole lot of use for what Apple calls the "Velocity Engine." In fact, we're pretty sure IBM only succumbed to the Altivec pressure because of two factors: Apple insisting on it, when they came begging for G4 assistance, and possibly also that next-generation PowerPC chip that IBM's going to produce for the upcoming "Dolphin" game console. Isn't it ironic, then, that IBM-- who's late to the party, you understand-- was allegedly first to reach decent yields of 650 MHz Altivec G4s? And if that's not enough irony for you, consider the fact that Motorola's supposedly using a clause in that very Altivec license to prevent IBM from shipping that little speed demon until Motorola can catch up. Hoo boy...

Meanwhile, Apple's the one taking it in the neck. AMD's Athlon just hit 1 GHz (albeit at a pretty hefty price), and even Intel's decrepit Pentium III is expected to reach the same clock speed in a matter of days. The Power Mac G4 currently tops out at a "mere" 500 MHz by comparison, and Apple's going to be fighting an uphill battle for street cred given that clock speed disparity. It really makes us wonder if faithful viewer Dan Brown isn't on to something when he surmises that Motorola's sole impetus in this whole mess is revenge against the Starmax-killing Steve Jobs. Yes, only two short years after the end of the Clone Wars, Motorola's getting even: they're dumping all their corporate Macs, they were late with G4s when they were Apple's only source, and now that IBM's signed on to help, Motorola's pulling contract shenanigans to choke off that avenue. After all, the parallels are obvious; Steve used clauses in the Mac OS licensing contracts to prevent cloners from shipping any systems faster than Apple's own-- "We won't certify any G3-based designs." Now Motorola's doing the same with its Altivec license to keep Apple starved for clock speed. Payback ain't pretty.


 
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The above scene was taken from the 3/6/00 episode:

March 6, 2000: Motorola's still got a leash on IBM, preventing the release of 650 MHz G4 chips to Apple; is this payback for the Clone Wars? Meanwhile, rumors of upcoming light-up keyboards in Apple laptops resurface with a vengeance, and sales of Windows 2000 have surpassed Microsoft's expectations, putting the number of bugs shipped at a whopping 31.5 gigabugs and counting...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2136: Lufgt-Ip Krybiarfds? (3/6/00)   Glory be, hallelujah, we see the light! The light-up rumor lives, and no one's giving thanks more than we are. We've been almost obsessed with the concept of light-up Macs ever since the first erroneous reports from the iMac's surprise unveiling claimed that the whole translucent case glowed eerily while the system was in use...

  • 2137: 31.5 Gigabugs To Date (3/6/00)   You know, according to the Encyclopedia Smithsonian, there are 200 million bugs for every human being on this planet. Evidently, about 80% of those are in Microsoft products-- but that sure isn't stopping people from buying them...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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