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Apple to use 970, confirmed by IBM

post #1 of 138
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I work in IT for a large corporation and IBM gave us a presentation about the future of their pSeries and other systems today. Part of the presentation was about the Power processors. They talked about the Power 4, 4+, 5 and 5+. They also briefly discussed the blade servers running what they had listed as the Power 970. They mentioned the Vector unit but said it would not be used in their blade servers, it was for something else. I later asked the rep if the 970 was going to be sold to Apple and he said yes. He was sure of this, and seemed surprised that I knew anything about it. He said they (Apple) have them in their labs now, and that they plan to release them. He said the Vector unit (altivec) was for Apple and that IBM has been told to caution their customers that they have no plans to implement it in their Linux or AIX versions of the blade servers. I told him I heard that Linux may support it in the future, but he wasn't sure about that. He said the Blades would be available Q3 but didn't know when Apple would release them. I later asked if the Blades would be out before Macs and he didn't know. So it's possible we could see a 970 Mac at least as soon as the Blades come out, which would fit in with the timelines we've been hearing elsewhere.

Another interesting thing he talked about was the work they were doing on the Playstation 3. He said it was going to be a dual core chip, but one core would be for graphics. He also said they were implementing something with a company called (or a technology called) Blossom that was a grid computing system for the PS3. It had something to do with multiplayer gaming, but allowed the processing power to be shared, at least part of it, on the grid. Then I remembered Apple's XGrid trademark. I would say it's a safe bet that Apple intends to incorporate that sort of technology into future XServes.

They also listed the speed on the Blades as 1.7Ghz+. I suspect that was for marketing though, as the fastest Power 4+ they had on the roadmap for this year was 1.7GHz. So they probably will have 1.8's as reported elsewhere but didn't want to make it in any way seem faster than the POWER based boxes. They also listed a Blade+ but he never showed that slide and like an idiot I forgot to ask him. Although I'm sure it would be just info about the 980 and other things we've already heard.

Anyhow, I hope that's helpful. I'd consider this to be absolute confirmation that the 970 is going to be in Macs soon. The question now is when.

Cheers,
John
post #2 of 138
That's pretty interesting.

I've heard that 2.5Ghz was the top, but 1.7 seems reasonable for actual retail production. 2.5 is the number for future implementation I'm asserting.

It will be great to see the IBM chip back at Apple. I was one of the proud owners of a G3/350 IBM Chip in a B/W tower, that thing is a work horse and still goes head to head with my Dual G4/867 everyonce in a while; somethings I can't tell the difference in everyday use between the two.

IBM has the better mind for Chip making in personal/server computers. Where as my thoughts are that Moto perfers the embedded/portable chip markets.

Your statement seems highly likely because what I see usually happening with rumors is that a guy will predict 1Ghz, and then the chip actually ship @ 933Mhz. I've seen that happen about 3 times now which leads me to believe that the manufacturer's max clock estimate is different from Apple's standards.

Did they say anything about a 9800 PowerPC Power5? There has been some buzz about this, and if they didn't talk about it at the presentation, it's likely it's non-existant: for now.

addition>>
======
I had an IBM rep come from the (northern U.S.) to our college in Kansas and I talked to him for about half an hour about their processors centering the conversation around the 970, and the Power4. What he said is that it did have some Apple-specific features in it and that it was highly likely that Apple was going to pursue it as it's main high-end chip. That was in the Fall of 2002. So with your statement, it looks like things are look'n up.

-walloo.

[ 03-12-2003: Message edited by: willywalloo ]</p>
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post #3 of 138
Another piece of the puzzle...

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post #4 of 138
I keep looking a the needle on my BS meter to see if it's going up but so far it hasn't.
post #5 of 138
Well I like the promise of the Xgrid stuff.

I'm inclined to believe that this is definitely plausible. After all I though Workerbee was wrong and we know how that turned out.
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post #6 of 138
Thread Starter 
There was no mention of a Power 9800. I'm not sure what that is, is it the 980? There was a Blade+ section that he never went too. I was the only one who seemed at all interested in the Blades, everyone else wanted to hear about the big iron. Anyhow, I guess I was so damn happy that he confirmed the Apple rumors that I forgot to ask about the Blade+ or any future revisions. The PS3 thing threw me for a loop too. He brought that up to us on his own, I didn't ask about it or anything. Interesting stuff.

Cheers,
John

[ 03-12-2003: Message edited by: johnpg ]</p>
post #7 of 138
Then he got him drunk and he spilled the beans...

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post #8 of 138
(I recant the whole "one-liners" statement, as they provide for humor--on occasion.)

==the message for everyone

I think I'm going to dump the idea of the 9800. I am aware of the 980, but that seems some what far down the road in the Apple timeline. (as well as the theoretical 9800 was I'm sure, heh)

So IBM and Sony will be working together on the PS3, I haven't even looked at this. It makes a huge amount of sense. IBM does RISC processors. Sony uses RISC processors. Man, I can't even imagine using one of those proc. in a 'wrig dedicated with hardware and software only dedicated to gaming.

The PS2 is awesome, but the PS3 will be huge. UT2003 or UT3 -like. Did he/she say anything more on the PS3?

whoa,
-walloo

[ 03-12-2003: Message edited by: willywalloo ]</p>
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post #9 of 138
I'm not trying to "me too!" here, (really) but in case I haven't been clear in the past, I have similar confirmation straight from IBM employees.

I guess that's part of why I'm so baffled every time people say, "You know, we still don't even know if Apple will use the 970."

Believe it people. Tis good news.
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post #10 of 138
The only thing that doesn't smell right is the idea that the 970s in the blade servers won't be using Altivec. That doesn't make any sense.
post #11 of 138
If Apple can piggy back the Sony PS 3 in any way and there are an exchange of 'minds' 'tween Sony/Apple...then it will have serious implications for us transcending the minority tag.

I'll watching the whisper traces of Sony/Apple co-operation with great interest...

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post #12 of 138
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by BRussell:
<strong>The only thing that doesn't smell right is the idea that the 970s in the blade servers won't be using Altivec. That doesn't make any sense.</strong><hr></blockquote>Well Linux and AIX don't support Altivec, so I think that's what they mean. They don't want their customers to think it's going to make their software faster just because it has a vector unit. I think that there is support in gcc for Altivec though, so it's possible that Linux on the 970 might have some support for it. But he didn't know anything about that.

As for Apple and Sony, he did NOT suggest that Apple and Sony were in any way connected. I'm not saying it isn't true, but there was no suggestion of Sony and Apple working together on the PS3, 970 or anything else with IBM.

John
post #13 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Lemon Bon Bon:
<strong>
I'll watching the whisper traces of Sony/Apple co-operation with great interest...</strong><hr></blockquote>

You mean
<a href="http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=258_0_2_0_C" target="_blank">like this</a>? It's been out for a while but it's an interview with Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman and CEO of Sony, about meeting with Steve Jobs:

[quote] Idei: We actually met several times with Steve last year, in January, March, and June to try to work out a mutual strategy. But you know Steve, he has his own agenda. [Laughs.] Although he is a genius, he doesn't share everything with you. This is a difficult person to work with if you are a big company. We started working with them, but it is a nightmare. We have the exact type of guy like Steve within Sony. His name is Ken Kutaragi. They respect each other. So maybe if we can get them both together then they could figure out how the PlayStation and the Mac can work together. <hr></blockquote>

Ken Kutagari of course being the head of Sony Computer Entertainment.
post #14 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by BRussell:
<strong>The only thing that doesn't smell right is the idea that the 970s in the blade servers won't be using Altivec. That doesn't make any sense.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I am just guessing but maybe because Apple had a hand in making the technology that they get the rights to use it? Seems like a logical reason but I am not to sure myself.
post #15 of 138
It's more likely that AIX is not AltiVec-enhanced, and IBM doesn't see the point in adding AltiVec enhancements (or they don't have them anywhere near done).

I know that some Linux distros (Yellow Dog comes to mind for some reason) are in fact rolling in AltiVec optimizations. I don't know whether to count the distro(s) that IBM is adopting.
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post #16 of 138
This sounds like pretty good news! The G4 is getting old. I wonder what the marketing of this chip will be. G5?
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post #17 of 138
I'd be really surprised if Linux doesn't support Altivec on the 970 since an IBM Linux engineer is doing some of the code. Remeber this <a href="http://gcc.gnu.org/ml/gcc-patches/2002-08/msg01480.html" target="_blank">link</a> from last summer and the excitement it raised. I can understand no AIX support, but the Linux support should be there. Also Red Hat and Moto had an annoucement pledging Altivec support in Linux in March of 2002 <a href="http://www.redhat.com/about/presscenter/press/2002/press_motorola/" target="_blank">Red Hat Link</a>
post #18 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by BRussell:
<strong>The only thing that doesn't smell right is the idea that the 970s in the blade servers won't be using Altivec. That doesn't make any sense.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Think about it though. What does a blade server really need vector processing for? I think it's more for the graphically challenged desktop/workstation user.
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post #19 of 138
In regards to IBM and Linux, I think IBM is heavily involved in "Redhat", but I'm not sure if there are any Altivec optimizations in that version. Anyone know?
post #20 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Lemon Bon Bon:
<strong>If Apple can piggy back the Sony PS 3 in any way and there are an exchange of 'minds' 'tween Sony/Apple...then it will have serious implications for us transcending the minority tag.

I'll watching the whisper traces of Sony/Apple co-operation with great interest...

Lemon Bon Bon <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" /> </strong><hr></blockquote>

who said they were cooperating?

Sounds like what this guy got from ibm guy is real but frankly i could have made this up and no ones bs meter would go up.

Anyway 1.8 for top speed powermac with the bus speed and other specs we're hereig about is still very damn impressive.
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post #21 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by MacJedai:
<strong>In regards to IBM and Linux, I think IBM is heavily involved in "Redhat", but I'm not sure if there are any Altivec optimizations in that version. Anyone know?</strong><hr></blockquote>

This came out about a <a href="http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0203/11.redhat.php" target="_blank">year ago</a>. Note that Red Hat has <a href="http://sources.redhat.com/binutils/docs-2.12/as.info/PowerPC-Opts.html" target="_blank">supported Altivec</a> for quite some time.
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post #22 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by willywalloo:
<strong>That's pretty interesting.

I've heard that 2.5Ghz was the top, but 1.7 seems reasonable for actual retail production. 2.5 is the number for future implementation I'm asserting.

[ 03-12-2003: Message edited by: willywalloo ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

2.5ghz is the top end for the .9nm version of the 970. The version or run we get first will only go to 1.8ghz like mentioned when the 970 was first announced to the public.
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post #23 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Rhumgod:
<strong>

This came out about a <a href="http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0203/11.redhat.php" target="_blank">year ago</a>. Note that Red Hat has <a href="http://sources.redhat.com/binutils/docs-2.12/as.info/PowerPC-Opts.html" target="_blank">supported Altivec</a> for quite some time.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Thanks Rhumgod. I'm not too informed about Linux . . . Guess I will be more informed soon though.

Thanks Again
post #24 of 138
[quote]2.5ghz is the top end for the .9nm version of the 970. The version or run we get first will only go to 1.8ghz like mentioned when the 970 was first announced to the public.<hr></blockquote>

Actually, it was confirmed today that the 2.3 GHz and 2.5 Ghz are .13 not .009, but that they won't be ready to go initially. The 1.8 GHz 970 is going to be the 'prime time' top of the line chip.
post #25 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by johnpg:
<strong>Well Linux and AIX don't support Altivec, so I think that's what they mean. They don't want their customers to think it's going to make their software faster just because it has a vector unit. I think that there is support in gcc for Altivec though, so it's possible that Linux on the 970 might have some support for it. But he didn't know anything about that.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

As someone who ports Linux to various PowerPC processors for a living, I can assure you that Linux supports Altivec (at least, for the Motorola 74xx series, if not the IBM). However, for the kernel (which Linux is), this merely means storing the altivec related registers on context switches if necessary.

The GNU toolsuite (gcc, glibc, etc) also support Altivec. What the whole GNU/Linux package doesn't have is specific optimization of the GUI and/or applications for this (since it is expected to run on a variety of processors, this makes sense).

But, altivec enhanced applications could certainly be written and properly handled by the OS (say, an mp3 encoder or graphical tool).

John
post #26 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Rhumgod:
<strong>

Think about it though. What does a blade server really need vector processing for? I think it's more for the graphically challenged desktop/workstation user.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Can't altivec can be used to speed up encryption and decryption?
post #27 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by John Whitney:
<strong>Can't altivec can be used to speed up encryption and decryption?</strong><hr></blockquote>

I am not sure if there is sufficient data intensity in encryption/decryption that would benefit from alitvec processing.
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post #28 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Fran441:
<strong>

Actually, it was confirmed today that the 2.3 GHz and 2.5 Ghz are .13 not .009, but that they won't be ready to go initially. The 1.8 GHz 970 is going to be the 'prime time' top of the line chip.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Really? Damn, must've have missed that. So the move to .009 would get the 970 up there then. Nice, holds well for Apple's future.
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post #29 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Fran441:
<strong>

Actually, it was confirmed today that the 2.3 GHz and 2.5 Ghz are .13 not .009, but that they won't be ready to go initially. The 1.8 GHz 970 is going to be the 'prime time' top of the line chip.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I did not see this. Do you happen to have a link?

[Edit]: Ach! Nevermind. I see the info at MacRumors.

[ 03-12-2003: Message edited by: LudwigVan ]</p>
post #30 of 138
Wondering if Apple will overclock the 1.8GHz 970 to 2+GHz just like what they are doing with the G4
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post #31 of 138
Leonis, I don't think they will need to. Won't that be nice for a change?
post #32 of 138
At the very least, I hope they make it fairly straightforward to overclock them ourselves!

There'll be 2.5 GHz 970s running around one way or another :cool:
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post #33 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Fran441:
<strong>I don't think they will need to.</strong><hr></blockquote>

They will.....2 is 2, 1.8 is 1.8.....people want NUMBER!

Just snap a 20 lb copper heatsink on top of the chip it should be fine, I think

[ 03-13-2003: Message edited by: Leonis ]</p>
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post #34 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by johnpg:
<strong>Well Linux and AIX don't support Altivec, so I think that's what they mean. They don't want their customers to think it's going to make their software faster just because it has a vector unit. I think that there is support in gcc for Altivec though, so it's possible that Linux on the 970 might have some support for it. But he didn't know anything about that.

As for Apple and Sony, he did NOT suggest that Apple and Sony were in any way connected. I'm not saying it isn't true, but there was no suggestion of Sony and Apple working together on the PS3, 970 or anything else with IBM.

John</strong><hr></blockquote>

Precisely! Altivec is so much wasted silicon for customers whose software makes no use of it. Unless or until the customers have use of it there is no purpose being served by adding expense to the production process and extra spaces to reduce the potential yield.
post #35 of 138
Thread Starter 
To clarify, here is what the IBM rep said about Altivec.

1) It is for Apple. He said they needed it because their systems were "graphics intensive." His words, not mine. He told me that they wouldn't be using it and that they make a point of informing their customers of that. He also suggested that other people have caught on that it could be for Apple when they see the vector unit on the slide.

2) During the presentation he circled the little box that said vector unit and specifically mentioned that they weren't utilizing it. That could mean anything, but I took it to be a marketing message to their customers not to expect anything from it. Who knows what reality is. I know that IBM certainly mentions it in their press releases, so it doesn't all jive. But that's what the guy said both to the group and to me personally.

I think we're splitting hairs though. The key is that IBM without any doubt confirmed to me that Apple is going to use the 970. None of us doubted this, but it sure is nice to know for sure. This guy is almost certainly NOT a Macintosh user, so the fact that he was so obviously aware of Apple and the 970 really hit home to me.

He seemed impressed that I knew about the Apple connection and the chip details in general. There was no NDA, btw. I didn't get the impression that they were discussing anything that wasn't available on their website. The only thing that might have been somewhat secretive was the PS3 talk. But much like the 970 chip he discussed that with me privately and also to the whole group. So it couldn't have been that big a deal. There were several other reps their too. So either they're clueless or the info isn't that secret.

Cheers,
John
post #36 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by johnpg:
<strong>1) It is for Apple. He said they needed it because their systems were "graphics intensive." His words, not mine. He told me that they wouldn't be using it and that they make a point of informing their customers of that. He also suggested that other people have caught on that it could be for Apple when they see the vector unit on the slide.

2) During the presentation he circled the little box that said vector unit and specifically mentioned that they weren't utilizing it. That could mean anything, but I took it to be a marketing message to their customers not to expect anything from it. </strong><hr></blockquote>

I can say with absolute certainty if he said that he doesn't really know (or he has been misinterpreted). IBM definitely isn't planning to withhold the Altivec unit from customers.

[quote]Originally posted by johnpg:
<strong>So either they're clueless or the info isn't that secret.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Everything there is pretty much freely available or was due to be available at the end of the CeBit conference except the stuff about Apple.
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post #37 of 138
Most likely IBM just won't be supporting the altivec through their marketing plans. That doesn't mean it won't be usable, just that it won't be supported by IBM.

It will be there for Apple and anybody else who can figure out how to benefit from it. No doubt, there are a lot of folks who will figure out how to use it, and in the end that will likely benefit development for Apple as well.

As to the 2.5ghz chip, my understanding from the beginning was that they are getting a surprisingly larger number of 2.5 ghz yields then expected out of the .13 process, but probably not enough for initial introduction and release. Therefore they will be introduced later, possibly as an incremental increase prior to the eventual 980 on the .09 process.

What I am expecting is that sometime not too long after MacWorld (not at Macworld) the 970 Apple boxes will be introduced with a single 1.4, dual 1.4 and dual 1.8 at very reasonable pricepoints. The 1.4 970's will be noticiably faster then the 1.42 motorola G4 with true high speed bus and a lot more. Even the low end single 1.4 will be quite nice, the rough equivelent of a 2 ghz G4.

The 1.2 ghz will be reseved for portables, with its low heat and miserly power use, but will outperform the current 1 gig Powerbooks by a comfortable margin.

Then again, that is purely my speculation, and I have been wrong before.

The new limiting factor will be the speed of "affordable" memory.

[ 03-13-2003: Message edited by: Shaktai ]</p>
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post #38 of 138
Aw, man, this is no fun. We finally know about the next generation processor for sure, and it's not due out for half a year. BAH! Remember all those good times the G5 (the MOT 8500) gave us? There were at least three excitedly over-hyped expos before the idea started dying. This is all *too* certain.

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post #39 of 138
A full PowerPC Blade-rack armed with 970 with Altivec, run on Linux with applications like BLAST most certainly will make use of Altivec even if IBM them selves doesn't.

Sun are releasing special blade-modules just for SSL-encryption som I guess that IBM could make something similar and take advantage of Altivec's strength when it comes to encryption.
post #40 of 138
[quote]Originally posted by Shaktai:
<strong>...
The 1.2 ghz will be reseved for portables, with its low heat and miserly power use, but will outperform the current 1 gig Powerbooks by a comfortable margin.

Then again, that is purely my speculation, and I have been wrong before.

The new limiting factor will be the speed of "affordable" memory.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

It's even possible we see another G4 speed bump in the powerbooks to a 1.25Ghz G4 before we get a 1.2 Ghz 970 in them. that's still a much larger step than the transition from G3/400Mhz to a G4/400Mhz

i also think that the G4 7457 still has a future in apple's. albeit i would love to see ppc 970's across the line. i think that will take another year/year and a half.

besides that i think the limiting factor won't be the speed of affordable memory, but will be apples roadmap. what do they plan to release after the release of the powermac with 970.

[ 03-13-2003: Message edited by: gar ]</p>
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