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Apple a Chip Company? Maybe...

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Okay I understand that there are many G5 threads here. But I opened a new one to take a different approach to the situation. That is approach is this: Is Apple becoming a chip company?


Here is where I am coming from on this. A little while back Motorola abruptly changed it's roadmap for the G5. The G5 changed to 8500. Now Mot releases a revised roadmap and the G5 contains no Alti-Vec core. What is going on here?

Here is what's going on here: My guess is that Apple frustrated with the past performance history of Mot's G4's did not want to take a hit with fab issues on the G5 and get stuck with G5's at one speed for a year. So as we have heard in many rumors Apple has taken on a more involved role in developing the G5. Mot's stock has been in the tank as well as their business so I am sure that Mot has either sold or licensed the "core" of the PowerPC G5 to Apple, my guess being licensed. Apple has taken that core and developed further on it along with the big boy's help...IBM. Together Apple & IBM have designed the G5 that will ge used in desktops. Motorola is clearly targeting their G5 for the embedded market only through their recent roadmap. There is no reason to keep AltiVec off of the G5 roadmap, unless there isn't any reason for it to be there. Now Apple moves to G4's along the consumer line which keeps Motorola happy but that means no more G3's....well with IBM's involvement in the G5 that keeps IBM happy.

So let's take a look at the situation at hand. On one hand we have Motorola execs saying that the Apollo is set to ship first Quarter 2002. Well that cannot be good for the G5 hopes. It's a smokescreen of sorts. What Motorola is saying is indeed the truth, the G5 is being developed by Apple & IBM not Mot so my guess is the Apollo G4 will make it's way into the consumer machines. And if any of you remember a story on MOSR a while back saying that the low power and low heat of the Apollo G4 is intended for the consumer machines and the Powerbook, not pro desktops.

My predictions?

iMac G4
Powermac G5
@ MWSF.

Any thoghts? Lets discuss.
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post #2 of 44
I think you have some valid plausible points. Although I think if apple designed G5 insted of moto we might be waiting a bit longer for it than necessary,

I also remember that someone has said that newer generation moto chips may inherit features from previous generations that don't necessarily appear on the roadmap once they're standard issue.

BTW, what might apple do with the G5 if moto suddenly announced a breakthrough technology for their chips that Apple couldn't match. What a waste of Apple money if that happened. And I think moto are in reality likely to develop technology more than Apple.

I also believe that there is no reason why Apollo can't be used in desktops, if G5 is not available, after all Apollo = G4+SOI+256bit bus more or less, so the performance increase would be +/- linear to the increase in clockspeed, which we believe is about 1.33ghz, or about 30% better than 867.


Of course, everything you have said is quite a possibility
post #3 of 44
Thread Starter 
Of course the Apollo could be used in desktops, but I do not think that is Apple's intention. I really believe that if the Apollo is in desktops at MWSF Jobs did not want them there but it was a last resort.

As far as technological concerns, IBM has it all over Motorola. The G3 Sahara is only a 5 stage Pipeline processor but runs at up to 1 GHz. Mot had to increase the G4 to 7 stages to get it above 533MHz.

From IBM.com:
[quote]IBM was the first to introduce copper chip technology in 1997, first to introduce silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology -- another IBM materials breakthrough -- in 1998 and first to integrate both copper and SOI into its products in 2000. In 2000, IBM also introduced a new method to insulate chip wiring - low-k dielectric - which can deliver up to a 30 percent boost in computing speed and performance. Now, in 2001, IBM is demonstrating the capability to combine all of these technological breakthroughs into a single high-performance process, as illustrated on the 750FX.<hr></blockquote>
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post #4 of 44
This is quite plausible. We seems to have forgotten about Big Blue.
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post #5 of 44
Interesting theory, Bodhi. It certainly would explain the lack of news from Moto on the (desktop) G5 front.

[ 12-06-2001: Message edited by: Daver ]</p>
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post #6 of 44
Not a fair comparison. IBM was not able to clock the old G3 higher than 600 Mhz. Not much more than 533 Mhz or so for the old (Motorola) G4 design.

Non-SOI 0.18 740cx: 600Mhz/4 stages = 150 Mhz/stage
Non-SOI 0.18 7450 : 866/7 stages = 123 Mhz /stage

SOI, low-K 0.13 740fx: 1 Ghz.. 200 Mhz/stage
Im sure Motorola would be able to clock a G4 up to 1.3 Ghz using the same tricks. ( SOI, 0.13micron, Low-K Dielectric )

And btw.. The G3 ship is now over 4 years old. About time it disappeared from the desktop. Im sorry to tell you: But the G3 is old news.

IBM is no better than Motorola.
post #7 of 44
In June there was some coverage at The Register to the effect that Apple had an option to buy rights to the Motorola chip manufacturing for $500 Million.

Some interesting quotes from the article:
[quote]Apple is set to wrest control of the PowerPC platform away from long-time partner Motorola through a clause in its agreement with the chip maker that allows it to buy Motorola's PowerPC assets for $500 million next year.
Accelerating PowerPC up to 1GHz is the job of Apollo, which the email confirms as the PowerPC 7460. Interestingly, the Apple source suggests this will be the chip that brings G4 technology to the iMac and iBook rather than Apple's pro boxes.
The source claims the 7460 will be released alongside the G4's successor, the G5, codenamed Goldfish, the chip that will take the Power Mac family above 1GHz. Of the G5, the source claims it will tape out this coming autumn and go into production ramping through Q4 2001 in time for "systems [to be] ready for release at the January Macworld show".<hr></blockquote>

The Link:
<a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/20038.html" target="_blank">http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/20038.html</a>
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post #8 of 44
I've never really thought about that, Bodhi. You made some good and interesting points.
post #9 of 44
If Apple really does have the option to buy Mot's PPC business for 500 million, I think they ought to. It's clear that mot's interests in PPC are primarily for markets other than PC's.

On the other hand, if Apple gained control of the PPC, that'd probably be the final nail in the coffin of the Mac upgraders.

Anyone care to dredge up old PPC alliance news to see if there was any mention of this buy out clause way back when?
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post #10 of 44
It is my understanding that according to the AIM pact Apple has the right to buy out Motorola's ownership in PowerPC come midnight, January 1st, 2002, for $100 million dollars, a fixed price.

If they did this it would be a whole new ball game.
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post #11 of 44
[quote]Originally posted by Bogie:
<strong>It is my understanding that according to the AIM pact Apple has the right to buy out Motorola's ownership in PowerPC come midnight, January 1st, 2002, for $100 million dollars, a fixed price. </strong><hr></blockquote>

Bogie, can you give any insight as to how you came to this understanding? Post a link? I do agree that it would be a new ballgame.

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post #12 of 44
Well I can't believe it would only be $100 million, but if that's it then Apple would be foolish not to buy.
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post #13 of 44
fuel to the fire

<a href="http://www.eweek.com/article/0,3658,s%253D700%2526a%253D19537,00.asp" target="_blank">E-week article</a>

very interesting comments on the changes within the G4 line as compared to the p2 and p3 lines.
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post #14 of 44
I don't know why Apple would be so keen to do this. Motorola is very good at designing both elegant, low-power chips and DSPs. The more Apple moves toward portable and compact multimedia computers, the more important Motorola's processor design skills become. That's apart from its long familiarity with the design: The PowerPC was based in no small part on Motorola's 68K line of processors. As for Mot's fabrication tech, they appear to be doing well again, and now they're outsourcing what they can't do well to other foundries.

Besides, Apple does not want to rely solely on IBM. IBM still has an agenda (and a corporate culture) which (to understate) does not dovetail well with Apple's, and it's big enough to ignore Apple altogether. It's the most expensive chip foundry in the world, and it only sells manufacturing capacity left over after it has served its largest customer: IBM.
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post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by blabla:
<strong>Not a fair comparison. IBM was not able to clock the old G3 higher than 600 Mhz. Not much more than 533 Mhz or so for the old (Motorola) G4 design.

Non-SOI 0.18 740cx: 600Mhz/4 stages = 150 Mhz/stage
Non-SOI 0.18 7450 : 866/7 stages = 123 Mhz /stage

SOI, low-K 0.13 740fx: 1 Ghz.. 200 Mhz/stage
Im sure Motorola would be able to clock a G4 up to 1.3 Ghz using the same tricks. ( SOI, 0.13micron, Low-K Dielectric )

And btw.. The G3 ship is now over 4 years old. About time it disappeared from the desktop. Im sorry to tell you: But the G3 is old news.

IBM is no better than Motorola.</strong><hr></blockquote>

The IBM G3 has scaled much better than the G4's. The Sahara runs at up to 1 GHz with a 5 stage pipeline.

Apple has a lot to gain from getting more involved in the development. Sure they are licensing the core (supposedly) from Mot but they are developing a lot of themselves with IBM which means they gain a larger profit margin on the chip which lowers the cost of the chips.

Mot is a great company but when it comes to technological advancements IBM is far superior. The Apollo is still on a 0.18 process.
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post #16 of 44
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by Amorph:
<strong>I don't know why Apple would be so keen to do this. Motorola is very good at designing both elegant, low-power chips and DSPs. The more Apple moves toward portable and compact multimedia computers, the more important Motorola's processor design skills become. That's apart from its long familiarity with the design: The PowerPC was based in no small part on Motorola's 68K line of processors. As for Mot's fabrication tech, they appear to be doing well again, and now they're outsourcing what they can't do well to other foundries.

Besides, Apple does not want to rely solely on IBM. IBM still has an agenda (and a corporate culture) which (to understate) does not dovetail well with Apple's, and it's big enough to ignore Apple altogether. It's the most expensive chip foundry in the world, and it only sells manufacturing capacity left over after it has served its largest customer: IBM.</strong><hr></blockquote>


You have to realize Apple's and it's customers frustrations with Motorola. Apple even had to lay blame on Mot during an earnings call. In other earnings call's they even had to mention that they may not be able to hit the targets if their microprocessor suppliers could not increase speed as needed. Apple may have the MHz myth all played out well and all but they are a computer company and as sad as it may seem MHz still matters. I am sure Apple is really sick of this. Plus Motorola is bleeding money right now and by taking on this technology and development Apple is protecting itself from having such a close tie with one manufacturer of processors. That was the problem with the 500MHz debacle. Too reliant on one company can hurt you. You get more hands in the pot you cover your ass better. Who knows where Mot's chip business will be two years from now. Analysts are screaming for them to sell it off and after a while with enough shareholder and wall street pressure companies will cave and do it. Apple does not want to be caught with it's ass in the wind. If this is indeed happening or something like it then kudo's to Jobs, honestly. This may be just the thing that puts Apple in the most secure postion for the future than they have been in a LONG time.

[ 12-06-2001: Message edited by: Bodhi ]</p>
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post #17 of 44
[quote]Originally posted by Mike D:
<strong>fuel to the fire

<a href="http://www.eweek.com/article/0,3658,s%253D700%2526a%253D19537,00.asp" target="_blank">E-week article</a>

very interesting comments on the changes within the G4 line as compared to the p2 and p3 lines.</strong><hr></blockquote>


WOW, very interesting indeed. So now it's really starting to look good as this info is coming from someone other than the "mole".

Plus, applenut said he heard G5's at MWSF and I'm starting to have hope again.
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post #18 of 44
Oh, on topic IBM does already have a chip by the name or model of "G5"- it's a server class chip.

I thought that was interesting.
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post #19 of 44
Seems like everyone is talking like the Sahara is a shipping product. I didn't think the Sahara chip was shipping and wouldn't be shipping at least until the 1st quarter of next year??

If by some miracle the G4 MPC 7460 is manufactured using HiP7(0.13µ + SOI) and is shipping the 1st quarter of next year it should run at what, 1.3 -1.4 GHz.

Maybe it's just an example of IBM more willing/able to announce chips that aren't shipping???? and not worried about pissing off Steve J.???
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post #20 of 44
Bodhi wrote:

[quote]You have to realize Apple's and it's customers frustrations with Motorola. Apple even had to lay blame on Mot during an earnings call.<hr></blockquote>

You don't have to remind me of the 500MHz debacle. I remember it just as vividly as anyone else does. And I remember that it came at the worst possible time, too.

But if you're laying blame, there's <a href="http://www.texnews.com/biz97/mac091297.html" target="_blank">plenty to go around</a>. The PowerPC was originally meant to be the heart of an open platform, and the AIM alliance was organized around that principle. IBM and Motorola both lost a great deal of incentive to continue the alliance when Jobs killed the clones and mooted CHRP. Yes, it was good for Apple. No, it was not good for AIM.

All that's neither here nor there at this point. AIM survived Apple's abrupt change of course, and Mot survived the MPC7400. Since the 7410, their chips have been delivered on time, and they've scaled well, and with help from IBM and AMD (and lately, offshore foundries), Mot has been relatively quick to adapt them to better and better process tech.

[quote]Plus Motorola is bleeding money right now and by taking on this technology and development Apple is protecting itself from having such a close tie with one manufacturer of processors.<hr></blockquote>


But the solution to the problem of being too closely tied to one processor supplier isn't solved by partnering entirely with one processor supplier (IBM). If anything, Apple should be courting AMD to get one more company in, rather than trying to buy Motorola out.

[quote]Who knows where Mot's chip business will be two years from now. Analysts are screaming for them to sell it off and after a while with enough shareholder and wall street pressure companies will cave and do it.<hr></blockquote>

Analysts scream all kinds of silly things. Look at their coverage of AAPL. Mot Semiconductor is on probation right now, but they're also delivering right now, and securing contracts with major clients like Cisco. In the worst case Apple could buy Mot's PPC-related patents and rights, and hire away any PPC designers that didn't defect to AMD or Intel; but that's the worst case. Right now Mot has the designers and some good process tech, IBM has excellent process tech, and Apple has the platform. I don't see anything wrong with that.

If the rumblings about a G5 shipping at MWSF pan out, I expect the grumbling about Mot to cease abruptly. Time will tell.

[quote]This may be just the thing that puts Apple in the most secure postion for the future than they have been in a LONG time.<hr></blockquote>

Possibly. Although I cannot emphasize enough that Apple and IBM are still oil and water. IBM lost its main reason to contribute to the PowerPC when CHRP died, and there's been nothing to replace that yet.

[ 12-06-2001: Message edited by: Amorph ]</p>
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post #21 of 44
I would actually love to elaborate on my info source ... but I can't find it, feel free to take it with a great grain of salt since I am talking from memory, the money is most likely way off but I do believe I got the date right and that it is a fixed price. If I do run across it I will post it, otherwise anyone else who has read about this please chime in even if you have a link that says I am way off, at least that way we will know what we are talking about.
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post #22 of 44
question:

what makes you think Apple could do a better job?
post #23 of 44
Thread Starter 
[quote]But the solution to the problem of being too closely tied to one processor supplier isn't solved by partnering entirely with one processor supplier (IBM). If anything, Apple should be courting AMD to get one more company in, rather than trying to buy Motorola out.<hr></blockquote>

Let me express that what I have posted so far isn't set in stone and up for debate. It could be very well that Apple IS pairing with Mot, IBM & AMD for the G5, we have no idea. Actually it would be a great idea to get AMD in the mix.

Applenut wrote:
[quote]question:
what makes you think Apple could do a better job?
<hr></blockquote>

I think if Apple hired the right people and invested enough money in hiring the right people they could make a significant contribution. Look at everything else they do...they do it well. Apple of course is in no position to completely design and fab a processor from the ground up, they need Mot & IBM's expertise on that. But if Apple took the approach that if Mot had more manpower and had more resources dedicated to the PowerPC than maybe the 500MHz debacle would not have happened, well maybe Apple could offer that manpower and resources and engineering to give the entire process that bump it needs and then some. I can understand where Mot doesn't really have the reason to devote everything towards the PowerPC. With Apple really as the only customer for the G4 until recently why put all the resources towards it? Well Apple probably wanted to make up that difference.
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post #24 of 44
Man, I haven't heard CHRP in a LONG time.
post #25 of 44
post #26 of 44
Well said, Airsluf.

But I think Motorola didn't see things that way. They got Apple back for it--although it appears that they are finally finished savoring the 500 MHz revenge.
post #27 of 44
hasn't AMD expressed interest in the PPC?

That could be an interesting senario....

Apple buys PPC from Moto, gives it to AMD to R&D.

Its very possible that someone other than Moto will be making the G6 and G7.
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post #28 of 44
A mod made the statement that the PowerPC architecture/platform is based heavily on Motorola's 68k line. For the sake of the record, with the exception of 68k emulation code, there is nothing about the PPC that is 68k. It is true, however, that the PPC's internal bus design was/is based on Motorola's own RISC desktop chip line.

Those RISC chips were to be the replacement for the 68k series, but Apple decided on the PowerPC instead; the AIM alliance was born. Not too much was disclosed about the Motorola RISC chips, but they were said to have provided great performance (relative to the early 1990s). The AIM alliance decided to adopt Motorola's RISC chip bus design in the PPC, which was a compromise measure.
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post #29 of 44
AirSluf wrote:

[quote]History Lesson:<hr></blockquote>

I know the history.

The simple fact is that both Mot and especially IBM signed on because of the goal of an open hardware platform, not just to get into the Mac market. CHRP was intended to run other operating system as well. Read the article I linked to.

Killing the clones hurt Mot once, for $100 million or so. Killing CHRP - which is not just a design intended for the clone market, although MacOS was one of the target operating systems - alienated IBM. The fact is that nothing has replaced CHRP to interest IBM, so they're targetting the embedded market with PPC now. Just like Mot.

[quote]No Apple, no Mac OS, no need for PPC chips in desktop computers<hr></blockquote>

OS/2. Windows. BeOS. BSD. AIX. At the time (or around that time) all of these were contenders in various markets. Some still are. Remember that the PPC was designed to compete with Intel's hardware platform, and it was hoped that it could compete in the markets Intel dominated as well as markets that it hadn't yet penetrated.


[quote]Clone killing was an ugly necessity as they didn't expand MacOS market share, just fragmented up what little was there. Wish it worked out differently but...<hr></blockquote>

I don't disagree that Apple had to kill the clones to survive. That's not entirely germane to my point, however. IBM, the company I was talking about, never released clones to my knowledge (although they had been working on some). They wanted a non-Intel hardware platform for their own uses, not (just) a piece of the Mac market. And, to go back to my original point, if there's no reason for IBM to be interested in the PPC as a desktop platform then it's dangerous for Apple to depend on them.

Big Mac wrote:

[quote] A mod made the statement that the PowerPC architecture/platform is based heavily on Motorola's 68k line.<hr></blockquote>

That was me, because I had read in many places at the time the PPC was introduced that it was. I should have been clearer: the PPC ISA was, to some extent, an adaptation of the 68K ISA to the RISC philosophy, to ease the transition over to the new platform. The chip architecture was necessarily different, because the RISC approach to chip design is different, and because it also dovetailed with IBM's POWER architecture.
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post #30 of 44
[quote]Originally posted by Bogie:
<strong>It is my understanding that according to the AIM pact Apple has the right to buy out Motorola's ownership in PowerPC come midnight, January 1st, 2002, for $100 million dollars, a fixed price.

If they did this it would be a whole new ball game.</strong><hr></blockquote>

It was reported to be $500 million, and it was reported by none other than MOSR. nuff said.
post #31 of 44
Thread Starter 
[quote]And, to go back to my original point, if there's no reason for IBM to be interested in the PPC as a desktop platform then it's dangerous for Apple to depend on them.
<hr></blockquote>

I do not think that Apple is putting all of its eggs from the Motorola basket and putting them in the IBM basket. They would gain nothing other than better engineering, but still dependant on one company. I think since the G5 was a new chip and was open to ideas and Apple stepped in (being the largest customer) and worked out a way for more to be involved in the process. Kinda like everyone checking themselves. I would not be surprised if IBM and Mot have a hand in the G5 pot along with AMD who is a partner of Mot. My theory in the beginning of this thread was that Apple wasn't coming up with a technological and engineering breakthrough but was in a sense covering its ass for the future, getting more involved in the process instead and standing on the sidelines hoping Mot comes through and then taking all of the heat of they do not. Everyone can say all they want about Mot and how great they are and how technologically advanced they are...they have affected every Mac user and Apple's management in a very negative way these past two to three years. Everyone is saying how the G4 has scaled nicely since the 500MHz situation....how easily people forgive and forget. I doubt Apple's board and senior management forgive and forget as easily. Killing clones? Mot and IBM should deal with it, it's called doing business. Some things work and some do not. Apple took a hard hit financially and image-wise with the Cube.

[ 12-07-2001: Message edited by: Bodhi ]</p>
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post #32 of 44
[quote]Bodhi
"so I am sure that Mot has either sold or licensed the "core" of the PowerPC G5 to Apple, my guess being licensed."<hr></blockquote>

That's a mighty big guess.

If Apple wanted to go in the direction of IBM, wouldn't it be much easier to just ask IBM to implement their own version of Altivec. Don't all power pc chips both ,IBM & Motororola, meet Book E specificaitons(including Altivec). Maybe require some instruction changes/additions, maybe not(re: I haven't the expertise or knowledge to know).

Problem is, I think, that IBM manufactures embedded chips and high end chips, not desktop chips for only &lt;5% of the market. Motorola's main market is embedded chips. Apple is between a rock and a hard place.
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post #33 of 44
IBM will manufacture chips that will be bought. Do you think they own &gt;5% of the server market (PowerPC servers only; not x86)? They still make chips for those servers and it's profitable for them. They would do the same for Apple if it was worth their while.
post #34 of 44
Thread Starter 
Outsider -

Exactly.

I am sure that IBM could come up with their own AltiVec type instruction set. They actually announced achip within the past year that has had one, but that would require some code revisions and in my opinion Apple doesn't want to go there right now. It's hard enough getting apps ported to OSX, not go back and rewrite some of that AltiVec code...I dont think that will happen.
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post #35 of 44
Just thought maybe some code revisions, if necessary, would be an easier pill to swallow than setting up a department/division to design their own cpu's.

Outsider, how much do the server chips cost? Maybe that has something to do w/ profitability over a desktop chip?? I don't know just asking.

If any company, IBM, Motorola, Intel, AMD could make a profit selling a chip I believe they would. One of Apple's problems may be that other companies don't think they can make a profit selling chips to Apple, just a thought.

[ 12-07-2001: Message edited by: rickag ]</p>
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post #36 of 44
Thread Starter 
Motorolla and IBM would not be manufacturing G3's and G4's right now if they were not making any money off of them.
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post #37 of 44
rickag, I don't know how much they cost because IBM doesn't sell the POWER4 to outside vendors so it cost's nothing for them to use, just to produce and manufacture. The Power3 is sold to other vendors (Bull computing in France for example) but I have no idea the cost. I imagine a pretty penny.
post #38 of 44
post #39 of 44
[quote]Originally posted by Mike D:
<strong>fuel to the fire

<a href="http://www.eweek.com/article/0,3658,s%253D700%2526a%253D19537,00.asp" target="_blank">E-week article</a>

very interesting comments on the changes within the G4 line as compared to the p2 and p3 lines.</strong><hr></blockquote>

That's interesting, especially the RapidIO part. I'm currently building an Athlon system and I was waiting for new motherboards based on NVidia's NForce chipset to come out. That set uses Hypertransport between the different components. It also utilizes a new memory architecture to achieve much higher bandwidth between the DDR-SDRAM and the CPU. Unfortunately, the first few boards released aren't really performing better than the KT266A chipsets because the Athlon can't currently handle that much bandwidth. I'm not a chip engineer, but perhaps RapidIO could be used to allow a Motorola chip to take full advantage of the NForce. (Although I'm not certain that the same couldn't be accomplished by fully utilizing Maxbus). Anybody know?
post #40 of 44
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