Where does the rest of Apple's line go from here?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Except for a few folks who kept chanting "Year of the laptop!", I think most of us expected the Power Macs to be the first G5 systems, with nothing else G5 announced simultaneously.



But what's next for updating, and how? The G5s outclasses everything else in the Mac line-up, so it's hard to decide what should be next for an update.



Let's take it as a given that Apple can't just snap their collective fingers and convert everything over to the G5 overnight. They might not even want to go all G5 any time soon, if they can still use the G4 (and maybe even G3) as a low-end, less-energy-hungry alternative. Whatever updates are made have to be spaced out for many reasons -- engineering time, switching over production lines, inventory management, getting good media exposure for each new product introduction, etc.



Considering all of the current products, it seems like a mind-boggling problem -- how to make an orderly, effective transition without leaving what hasn't yet been updated looking like a terribly, obviously antiquated bad value. Just to complicate matters, I think the product line really could use a new, cheap headless Mac as well.



I'm going to take a stab a transition sequence. In doing so, I'm going to speculate that Motorola isn't completely out of the future picture, and (realizing this might be a generous assumption) that Motorola still can play a useful role in the low-end and portable arena.



I'm having the hardest time deciding whether the Xserve or the PowerBook gets a G5 first. The whole issue of the 15" Titanium-to-Aluminum transition complicates matters. If the 15" goes G5 and Aluminum at the same time, the 12" and the 17" look much less appealing unless they go G5 at the same time.



Switching all three sizes of laptops together in the short term seems very unlikely. Leaving the 15" as-is for several more months also seems unlikely. Yet another unlikely-seeming scenario would be a mere form-factor update of the 15" to Aluminum style and features, while remaining at 1 GHz G4, or maybe going to 1.25 GHz.



Since none of the above feels right to me, I'm going suppose the mythical 0.13 micron 7457 G4 is coming along soon enough to help out. I'll call this a "G4+". My time line presumes that switching from one kind of G4 to another, or simply boosting speed, is a faster and easier change to make, and that more such transistions can be going on at the same time than G4->G5 transistions.
  1. XServe gets G5, maybe only a single processor if heat is a problem.

  2. Soon after, or simultaneously, 15" PowerBook goes Aluminum, and all PowerBooks switch to G4+, 12" at 1 GHz, 15" and 17" at 1.25 GHz.

  3. iMac updated to G5, with speeds up to 1.2 or 1.4 GHz.

  4. iBook and eMac go G4+, no L3 cache, up to 1.25 GHz.

  5. Somewhere in here, first G5 speed bumps for Power Macs, then Xserve, possibly G5s on 0.09 micron process.

  6. PowerBooks transition to G5, even more likely G5s on a 0.09 micron process.

  7. Headless G5 appears, something like a mini-tower or a neo-Cube.

  8. ...fuzzy crystal ball becomes way too fuzzy to continue.

If no G4+ materializes any time soon then, of course, this whole time table goes to hell. If the only possible upward move from the current G4 is going to the G5, that will make moving the whole product line forward very tough -- lots of motherboards to redesign, and possibly having to wait for 0.09 micron G5s for reasons of power and heat dissipation in some cases.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    The Xserve has to go G5 asap. If they can pack two into the 1U then do it now now now. Should have been announced today
  • Reply 2 of 46
    qaziiqazii Posts: 305member
    The main issue here is heat. From what I've heard about the current G5's, they aren't going in any other product. Ever.



    Once the .09 G5's come, things will be different. But until then....



    The first thing to realize is that now that the Powermacs have G5's, the iMacs and Powerbooks can get the fastest G4's. So I see the iMacs and Powerbooks getting as fast G4's as their cooling allows. Maybe even 1.42Ghz.
  • Reply 3 of 46
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    The Xserve has to go G5 asap. If they can pack two into the 1U then do it now now now. Should have been announced today



    Today would have been nice, but perhaps it simply wasn't possible. Next month's CREATE show in New York would make for a good time for an Xserve G5 update, with a good audience for the product -- if Apple can swing that timing.
  • Reply 4 of 46
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by qazII

    The main issue here is heat. From what I've heard about the current G5's, they aren't going in any other product. Ever.



    I thought the current G5s, if you ran them at around 1.2 GHz and at a lower voltage, weren't too outrageous for power and heat. Still, they do use more power and generate more heat than G4s at the same speed, which is why I'm postulating the G4+ as a possible answer.
  • Reply 5 of 46
    qaziiqazii Posts: 305member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by shetline

    I thought the current G5s, if you ran them at around 1.2 GHz and at a lower voltage, weren't too outrageous for power and heat. Still, they do use more power and generate more heat than G4s at the same speed, which is why I'm postulating the G4+ as a possible answer.



    This presupposes that Apple's still willing to depend on Moto....
  • Reply 6 of 46
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,742member
    I think I like most of your timeline speculations Shetline. I only question the iMac geting a G5 before the PowerBook line up does. I totally agree with your issues about the 15" rev path. It would be difficult to market a G5 15" and a G4 (plus or otherwise) 17" at the same time and make either look like an appealing value. Both would appeal to the highend, money is no object crowd, yet both would feel limited in one way or another. I think this crowd would wait for the 17" to be as fast as the 15".



    Back to the G5 iMac before the G5 PowerBook. I honestly don't know, has the iMac ever used a faster proc than the Powerbook?
  • Reply 7 of 46
    But if Apple kept the G4 around, we're talking at least two years. I think the next step is getting everyone to 64 bits for Panther's sake.

    How low does a G5 scale down?
  • Reply 8 of 46
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,742member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Francisco_G

    But if Apple kept the G4 around, we're talking at least two years. I think the next step is getting everyone to 64 bits for Panther's sake.

    How low does a G5 scale down?




    I think early speculation had said the 970 would range between 1 and 1.8 Ghz. So, I guess the could grab a bunch of lower clock 970 and throw them into the other lines. Even if the Powerbook and/or imac lines went to 1.2, 1.4 and 1.6 G5's for their processors they'd be able to be classed as G5. My best guess is that Apple will wait for the .9 process for heat reasons, for the Powerbook line, and so will wait for the same for the iMac line.
  • Reply 9 of 46
    o and ao and a Posts: 579member
    iMacs - Probably 1.4ghz g4 (maybe dual???)

    eMac - 1.2



    Would be interesting to see dual processor imacs.



    I suspect iMac will get g5 same time as powerbook when the g5 doesn't need 9fans...maybe january?
  • Reply 10 of 46
    pesipesi Posts: 424member
    xserve will definitely be the first to use a G5. but i don't think it will even be announced until a month or so after the power mac G5 ships.



    between now and then we may see a bump in iMac and PowerBook specs to higher speed G4s.



    i don't think the G5 is going to show up in any product other than xserve and power mac until next year. there's only going to be four months (more realistically three) left in this year after the first G5s actually ship.
  • Reply 11 of 46
    kraig911kraig911 Posts: 912member
    maybe their relationship with IBM prohibits them too. Maybe an all new xserve line, an apple blade thing, that'd be cool.
  • Reply 12 of 46
    addisonaddison Posts: 1,185member
    I think the iMac will get the 1.6ghz G5 possibly in January, and the PowerMacs will move to something like 2.0, 2.2, 2.4. I don't think we will ever see a G5 below 1.6ghz.



    There is no doubt that Apple will want to roll out the G5 accross the board asap as sales of the legacy products (G3 & G4) are going to stagnate now. The only thing that will hold them up is re-designing the motherboard and product diferentation.
  • Reply 13 of 46
    i don't know about anyone else but i for one am expecting something in august when the g5's ship.



    either that they move the rest of the range up, with powerbook going g5 and ibook etc going g4 or atleast better g3's



    or



    a price drop for the g4's and g3's



    if neither happens i'll be more than a little miffed. after all g5's being better, depreciates the value particularly of the g3's.



    and since i was going to buy an ibook in july i've decided to wait til august to find out if price drops or its updated.



    if they just leave the prices and specs as they are in light of g5's then it would be horrendously unfair, because the price gaps the same roughly as the old powermac g4's yet the g5's are much better.
  • Reply 14 of 46
    rolandgrolandg Posts: 632member
    The line that is in need of an update the most is the iBook-line. The G3s - at least the ones they are using now - do look pathetic in the light of the G5s and the competition's offerings.



    But for the iBooks to be updated the PowerBooks need to get an update first.



    And - from looking at the massive cooling system used in the towers - I do not think we will see PPC970 G5s in them.



    What is up with the rumored desserd-named Über-G3s IBM is supposed to have in the pipeline? Maybe Apple and IBM are working on a G5-m (similarity to Intel's Pentium-m intended) putting massive efforts into energy saving mechanisms? I hope they do!



    Concerning the Xserves: They need to get the G5s as soon as possible to maintain an attractive price/performance ratio. Maybe they can sacrifice the harddisks and the oprical-drive in favor of the necessary cooling. They aren't needed for number-crunching tasks anyway and it would redouce costs, too. The systems could be booted off a NetBoot-server (keeping an old style Xserve G4 as management server) or they could leave a single harddrive (not necessarily the Xserve-style ones but rather a hotplugable notebook drive).



    /* Edit: Totally forgot about the Xserve Cluster Node that pretty much is the Xserve G5 is described above but with G4s instead of G5s which I think can be put in it very well using heat-pipes etc. */



    A little off-topic: Why do they still not use the Xserve harddisks in the G5 tower? They use SCA-connectors, so SATA wouldn't be a problem either.
  • Reply 15 of 46
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by qazII

    This presupposes that Apple's still willing to depend on Moto....



    Oh, I know I'm doing a lot of presupposing here. It's just that of all the unlikely-seeming scenarios, presuming a G4+ will soon be available helps me better imagine how Apple's whole line-up might be updated as smoothly as possible.



    I suppose IBM could update their G3 by adding Altivec and making it faster, essentially creating a new G4. I'm not sure which seems more likely, however: IBM gets this new chip out in actual mass production in a couple of months, when the closest planned IBM product I've heard about is Gobi, or Motorola finally gets its act together and produces the 7457, which we know they've been planning for some time.



    I'm presuming that a G4+ will be pin compatible with the current G4, saving Apple any major effort in motherboard design so that they can focus their hardware development efforts on products going from G4 to G5.
  • Reply 16 of 46
    rickagrickag Posts: 1,626member
    Now that Motorola has placed the 1.25 and 1.42GHz cpu's on their official anyone can buy list, either the MPC7457 is very close or it's a fire sale and Apple may be going all IBM.



    But for Motorola to stay a supplier for Apple the MPC7457 has to be ready [email protected]#n fast. The remaining G4 Apple computers now look sad in comparison to the G5's especially in price/performance. (oh great googly moogly, lame a%% 167MHz FSB)
  • Reply 17 of 46
    I figured the low power consumption of the G5 would equal low heat output, I was wrong. I suppose the heat issue will be more of a concern for the laptops but it shouldn't be a problem for the iMac, just change the pretty plastic dome to the scary metal cheese-grater of death look. I'm sure Ives could figure out how to put 2-3 fans in the iMac to create some crazy cyclonic cooling effect.

    I don't think they need to put 1.6 G5s in the iMac 1-1.4 will do consumers just fine. But I for won't upgrade from DV+ until the chip is changed. Although I may have to be very patient in waiting. Apple can justifiably keep the eMac and ibook running G4s and plop and G4 into the ibook once the iMac and Powerbooks go G5. Although, given the freakish amount of heat the G5s puke out I imagine Apple will have a harder time G5ing the PBs, Unless the 1-1.4 don't generate as much heat. I just hope I don't have to wait too long because I highly doubt that my G3 450 will be able to handle Panther and iChat AV seems to suggest it won't.
  • Reply 18 of 46
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,215member
    According to IBM the 1.1volt 1.2Ghz G5 dissipates 19watts.



    That's just fine for an iMac and suitable for a Powerbook. Who knows if they plan to use it.
  • Reply 19 of 46
    brunobruinbrunobruin Posts: 552member
    The PowerBooks and iMacs are stuck at 1GHz until the 7457 comes along (assuming it does). The faster chips in the G4 Power Macs are high-voltage parts that require the massive heat sinks in the MDD. You won't see those in the iMac or a laptop.



    Traditionally the laptops (and, I assume, the iMac, given the space constraints) have used a lower-power variant of the G4 in the Power Macs. I suspect the 7455 has hit its limit and won't scale any further.



    My understanding is that the still-MIA 7457 is pin-compatible with the 7455 and will drop right into the PowerBooks and iMacs. I'd be happy with that for another year. Higher clock speeds and a faster bus would be a nice improvement until we get smaller-process 970s.



    iBooks can go to the G3+Altivec. Heck, maybe the PowerBook will too. From what I recall reading, IBM was talking speeds of up to 2GHz and very low power consumption. Fine by me.
  • Reply 20 of 46
    rolandgrolandg Posts: 632member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BrunoBruin

    iBooks can go to the G3+Altivec. Heck, maybe the PowerBook will too. From what I recall reading, IBM was talking speeds of up to 2GHz and very low power consumption.



    Don't you also think that Apple should look for/develop together with IBM a true mobile similar to the Pentium-m? I think the "G3+Altivec" is a pretty good base chip to work upon. It just needs the cool "shut-down-what-you-don't-need"-functionality the Pentium-m offers - hope they don't hold too many patents that prevent Apple from doing this.
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