Bye Bye Moto, Hiya Big Blue (8/12/02)

Of course, even with all the involuntary salivary output over the tenuous prospect of 1.6 GHz G4s surfacing soon, we'd be remiss (uh, make that "even more remiss than usual") to ignore the recent buzz over what's going on in terms of PowerPC development these days. Motorola, the designer and manufacturer of the current G4 processors, has long been the target of scathing criticism for, among other things, its glacial progress in upping PowerPC clock speeds, its low and late chip yields, its constant layoffs over the years, the way it switched its own staff from Motorola-powered Macs to PCs running its competitor's chips, and that sort of snorting gurgly noise it makes when it eats soup. Clearly, if Apple can get its chips elsewhere, there are some compelling reasons why it might want to consider those alternatives.

And no, we're not talking about Intel or AMD. Despite some long-running speculation and a recent misquoting of Captain Steve, Apple has given every indication that it's pretty sold on sticking with the PowerPC architecture for the foreseeable future. So if not Motorola, who? Just say "Big Blue." IBM, in its role as the third arm of the PowerPC AIM alliance, has made a slew of chips for Macs over the years-- including the original 601s that shipped in the first Power Macs ever. And let's not forget that even after IBM decided that it didn't want to get into Altivec-style technologies, the company bailed Apple and Motorola out of a tough spot by agreeing to manufacture G4s to Motorola's spec so Apple would have more than eight or nine Power Macs to sell one quarter. And it's stamped out zippy G3s for ages.

True, while Motorola went for Altivec, IBM veered off into server-oriented chip design... but according to a CNET article pointed out by faithful viewer Mac the Fork, pretty soon Apple may well be able to look to Big Blue as a source for new and nifty Mac chips. Reportedly IBM is tweaking its high-end POWER4 architecture into a new PowerPC chip suitable for use in desktop computers, slated for an unveiling at the Microprocessor Forum in two months' time. Details are slim, but apparently clocks speeds in the 2 GHz range aren't out of the question, and IBM's new mystery PowerPC will also reportedly feature a vector-processing unit like the G4's Altivec.

Will Apple take the bait? Only time will tell, but CNET claims that "sources familiar with the chip" are reporting that IBM is definitely "wooing Apple Computer," and given Apple's strained relationship with Motorola over the years (and the fact that Motorola's PowerPC road map seems much more suited to embedded systems and not desktop Macs), we wouldn't be terribly surprised if IBM's new chip finds its way into the Power Mac G5. Or G6, if the G5 is spoken for. Whatever. Hey, at least it'll be a PowerPC instead of an Intel thingy. Plus, we understand that IBM has excellent table manners and eats soup like a real gentleman.

SceneLink (3745)
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


The above scene was taken from the 8/12/02 episode:

August 12, 2002: More leaked Power Mac specs bubble up on the 'net, but to the undrugged, they look a little too good to be true. Meanwhile, IBM is working on a new PowerPC chip that might just get the Motorola Monkey off Apple's back, and Mac OS X 10.2 is done and shipping early-- but was the Smiley Mac unceremoniously "retired"?...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3744: So Close (And Yet So Far) (8/12/02)   So we're back from yet another baby-inspired two-week hiatus (and yes, it was baby-inspired; despite what you may have heard, our disappearance did not ensue from the crippling devastation of discovering that Sun lied to CNET about the Mac StarOffice port, disappointing though that was), and what do we find?...

  • 3746: Another One Bites The Dust (8/12/02)   While we were off lollygagging and watching infomercials and twiddling our thumbs and raising a kid and resolving to use the word "lollygag" a lot more often, you no doubt heard elsewhere that Mac OS X 10.2, the world's first major operating system with enough self-confidence to get away with wearing animal prints, went gold master a couple of weeks back...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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