Well one thing is rather clear it appears that Apple will have to employ a laptop processor that id based on one or more current designs. I say this because it is fairly clear now that the 970 will not make a viable laptop processor even with a die shrink. The 700 series is a bit dated and would need modifications for vector processing and possibly other usages. Considering this and the fact that the 400 series has been around a bit, you could see Apple and IBM using this as a base for a new processor. Given information floating around that Apple and IBM are wroking on a low power processor it is not unreasonable to suspect that this is a path they are following.
As to the issues of scalability if they can get 10% better performnace clock fo clock then that 800MHz machine would perfrom almost like a 900 MHz placing it fairly close to several Apple machines currently on the market. Considering the process technologies that IBM has available to tap, one could reasonably believe that a new variant of this processor could hit much higher frequencies. One must understand that the 440 series is an embedded processor and as such was designed to meet perfromance specs other than clock rate. In a sense you scale in the same manner as all processor technologies of the past. You shrink the circuitry or improve the circuitry and keep the same basic design. Or you tweak the hardware so that a minmal investment in transistors yields the greast pay off (SMT & Cache). Scalling is a non issue.
Like I said before I don't know what Apple is up to and I don't know if there is any validity to this report. What I do know are described below:
1. Apple has been forced to spend a great deal of effort to optimize its OS and system libraires to support multithreaded operation. It is to the point now that it is very worthwhile to leverage this in new hardware designs.
2. It does not appear that the 970 will be a viable laptop processor anytime soon. Process shrinks or not the market is going to demand good performance and long battery life. Intels Centrino will soon be the benchmark here.
3. There has been little public information with regards to the 700 series. Makes one wonder if IBM punted on this one.
4 Lots of public discussions with respect to dual core G4's coming in the future. This could easyly be an alternative for Apple if the R&D effort around this rumored system fizzles out.
5. SMP systems offer alternative ways to manage power in laptops and other power constrianed PCs.
6. To remain more than competitive Apple will need to cut power usage by more that 1/2. One of the primary motivators behind many Apple laptop purchases has been time on battery for a given size machine. Intel now has machines that exceed what Apple can deliever here.
So given the above, it is very possible that Apple will take drastic action to lower cost and improve power. SOC technology and the low power associated with it are one consideration in reaching this goal. As far as how and R&D effort based on the 400 series translates into a real product we can buy, well that is up in the air. Every indication is that we will most likely see a new family of processors targeted towards laptop usage. Maybe not this year or even early next, but certainly in the future. That such chips may employ SMP and SOC features are very real possibilities. In the end Apple has little choice but to innovate here.
Originally posted by Tomb of the Unknown
Yeah, well, it's still a 7 stage pipeline.
But you're right, I forgot that they moved to the G4. But that doesn't change the fact that the product specs for the 440GX are still listed at 650 MHz at the top end. IBM may ship another version (possibly even the mythical 440VX with altivec) running faster. But it's unlikely you'd see anything faster than 800 MHz without radical changes in the process and the implementation.
Why would Apple jump to a very mature implementation that's at the top end of it's scalability lifecycle for a new Powerbook product? What do they do for speed bumps? Add more cores? No, can't do that cause you'll start hitting the same power/performance curve as the PPC970 because adding more cores adds more transitors (and exponentially increases costs). So what do you do?