New Powermacs to use Cell Processor?

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  • Reply 21 of 220
    thttht Posts: 3,100member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Programmer

    You can't judge one processor by another. There are many design choices and trade offs made in every processor. Plus IBM has some tricks it hasn't yet rolled out into the 970 line of processors, at the 90 nm node.



    Yes, tricks... hmm.



    And btw, weren't one of those who said that we've reached the end of MHz scaling. If those tricks work...
  • Reply 22 of 220
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,409member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by THT

    Yes, tricks... hmm.



    And btw, weren't one of those who said that we've reached the end of MHz scaling. If those tricks work...




    Those tricks and design choices are typically trade-offs, so having them work usually costs you something else. I was saying we've reached the end of the cheap-and-easy frequency scaling that has been going on for over a decade. IBM's process tricks might give another 0.5 GHz on the 970FX, but that is a mere 20% over the current machine -- hardly remarkable, and not repeatable. More interesting is that it drops the power/heat on the current speeds.
  • Reply 23 of 220
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Programmer

    I was saying we've reached the end of the cheap-and-easy frequency scaling that has been going on for over a decade.



    To amplify this point, does anyone remember when Intel would get so much of a clock speed boost from a process improvement that they'd be able to milk it for an entire year or even two, using incremental upgrades? I'm sure Intel remembers them fondly.



    AMD taking it to Intel at the high end (of the PC market) began the end of that era, and 90nm finished it with a whimper.



    Now, if someone releases an update to a chip that runs 20% faster, it's because they just found a way to make the thing go 20% faster. And that's that, until they find another way.
  • Reply 24 of 220
    thttht Posts: 3,100member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Programmer

    IBM's process tricks might give another 0.5 GHz on the 970FX, but that is a mere 20% over the current machine -- hardly remarkable, and not repeatable.



    This is at 90 nm? If they do as you say, the 970fx would be going from 2 GHz to 3 GHz. That would be remarkable considering everyone elses troubles at 90 nm. Intel only did a little bit better with the Pentium 4 at 130 nm.



    Quote:

    More interesting is that it drops the power/heat on the current speeds.



    Yes, that is an interesting aspect since it would make mobile 970fx systems possible, and we all agree IBM will have to use a combination of micro-architecture design and process tweaking to get there. I'm just surprised that a Cell processor going into a small form factor box will be manufactured on a 90 nm node. A Power derived CPU with multiple "Cell" cores? Sounds like a big chip, just as hot as 970fx, and costly.



    If that have a process tweak which allows them to run at less power, through lower voltage or more efficient transistors or both, it good news for both clock rate scaling and mobile systems.



    On the really interesting side, the Cell CPU will be using XDR SDRAM. I'll be interested in the performance of that compared to DDR.
  • Reply 25 of 220
    Cell = PPC980
  • Reply 26 of 220
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,409member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by THT

    This is at 90 nm? If they do as you say, the 970fx would be going from 2 GHz to 3 GHz. That would be remarkable considering everyone elses troubles at 90 nm. Intel only did a little bit better with the Pentium 4 at 130 nm.



    Last time I checked the 970fx was shipping at 2.5 GHz and has been for 6 months. And the transition to 65 nm isn't expected to improve the clock rates / power curves much, if at all.



    Intel went from 3.15 -> 3.8 GHz on 90nm, which is about 20% as well. Of course they didn't gain anything on the first 130->90 switch, but they had tweaked out their 130nm process more than IBM had for the 970.



    Quote:

    A Power derived CPU with multiple "Cell" cores? Sounds like a big chip, just as hot as 970fx, and costly.



    You can't always make assumptions like that. Next week should bring answers.
  • Reply 27 of 220
    wow, powerful article about cell and Apples potential in using it. an intereting read, please post feedback...



    http://www.blachford.info/computer/Cells/Cell4.html
  • Reply 28 of 220
    thttht Posts: 3,100member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Programmer

    Last time I checked the 970fx was shipping at 2.5 GHz and has been for 6 months. And the transition to 65 nm isn't expected to improve the clock rates / power curves much, if at all.



    Intel went from 3.15 -> 3.8 GHz on 90nm, which is about 20% as well. Of course they didn't gain anything on the first 130->90 switch, but they had tweaked out their 130nm process more than IBM had for the 970.




    We're arguing over what is remarkable here. Do you believe IBM could have shipped a 2.5 GHz 130-nm 970? If so, I would agree that a 3 GHz 970fx is hardly remarkable. But if you don't think so, what clock could IBM have shipped that 130-nm 970 at? If it is 2 to 2.2 GHz, then a prospective 970fx clock increase to 3 GHz is pretty good scaling for all the troubles seen at 90 nm. That's proportionately better than Intel had done or has chosen to do with Prescott.



    Quote:

    You can't always make assumptions like that. Next week should bring answers.



    The session description says Cell is a "64 bit Power architecture." Once again, it's a question of nomenclature. I'm only taking the terms as they are known to be, and Power means either Power 3, Power 4, or Power 5, and Power 5 is mostly an SMT extension of the Power 4. So, this prospective Cell is a single core Power 4 with auxillary SIMD (streaming) units onboard, I/O and an integrated memory controller fabricated at 90 nm. Sounds very much like a 970fx type of processor in terms of power consumption and die size to me.



    If it is a brand new Power ISA microarchitecture, then of course, all bets are off. If it is a Power chip as we know it, than I think it is good news all around. Whether it is a process tweak or a better design for power consumption, I'm sure they can make their way into processors for Apple.
  • Reply 29 of 220
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,409member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by THT

    [B]We're arguing over what is remarkable here. Do you believe IBM could have shipped a 2.5 GHz 130-nm 970? If so, I would agree that a 3 GHz 970fx is hardly remarkable. But if you don't think so, what clock could IBM have shipped that 130-nm 970 at? If it is 2 to 2.2 GHz, then a prospective 970fx clock increase to 3 GHz is pretty good scaling for all the troubles seen at 90 nm. That's proportionately better than Intel had done or has chosen to do with Prescott.



    I doubt a 2.5 GHz 130 nm 970 was practical to ship, especially given Apple's desire to keep its machines quiet. It may not have even functioned if there was a specific problem with the design.



    IBM's 90 nm performance does look like one of the best, but remember that they took one crack at 130 nm and then switched to 90 nm. Intel did quite a bit of refinement on 130 nm, plus they were at a higher clock rate already and the relationship between power and frequency is highly non-linear. Intel has also shown a willingness to ship really hot chips. As a result its hard to compare the two. Compared to the last 10 years, however, a further 20% increase isn't particuarly noteworthy.



    Quote:

    The session description says Cell is a "64 bit Power architecture." Once again, it's a question of nomenclature. I'm only taking the terms as they are known to be, and Power means either Power 3, Power 4, or Power 5, and Power 5 is mostly an SMT extension of the Power 4. So, this prospective Cell is a single core Power 4 with auxillary SIMD (streaming) units onboard, I/O and an integrated memory controller fabricated at 90 nm. Sounds very much like a 970fx type of processor in terms of power consumption and die size to me.



    http://www.power.org



    That is what Power architecture means. Wait until next week and you'll see what I mean.



    Quote:

    If it is a brand new Power ISA microarchitecture, then of course, all bets are off. If it is a Power chip as we know it, than I think it is good news all around. Whether it is a process tweak or a better design for power consumption, I'm sure they can make their way into processors for Apple.



    There are shades of grey between the options you outline. Processors are big and complex things, and there are a lot of options even within a single design.



    I never said Apple couldn't use them.
  • Reply 30 of 220
    pbpb Posts: 4,232member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mikenap

    wow, powerful article about cell and Apples potential in using it. an intereting read, please post feedback...



    http://www.blachford.info/computer/Cells/Cell4.html




    This looks to me as if we were about to break some laws of physics (performance-wise). Can anyone in the know tell something on this article?
  • Reply 31 of 220
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Programmer







    http://www.power.org



    That is what Power architecture means. Wait until next week and you'll see what I mean.







    Anybody have any ideas why Apple is still absent from those on board on IBM's power list?
  • Reply 32 of 220
    rhumgodrhumgod Posts: 1,289member
    Guess we'll find out Monday what it's all about. As far as Apple is concerned, Hannibal at ARS thinks it will not happen just yet.
  • Reply 33 of 220
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Of course, Apple being Apple, if it does happen then they're going to want a veil of absolute silence over it.



    So IBM might well show off a variant of the Cell architecture that has no business in a Mac, but since Cell is highly modular, all bets are off in the general case.
  • Reply 34 of 220
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,657member
    Anybody notice that this cell processor sounds a lot like a product made by Cyberdyne Systems?



    You know, for Sky-Net?
  • Reply 35 of 220
    Quote:

    Originally posted by PB

    This looks to me as if we were about to break some laws of physics (performance-wise). Can anyone in the know tell something on this article?



    That article is crap -- you don't need to know anything about Cell to tell that.
  • Reply 36 of 220
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    Seconded. Fanboi stuff.
  • Reply 37 of 220
    mugwumpmugwump Posts: 233member
    Super Cell article









    First of all, down the road Apple could be in a fine position to take advantage of such tech advances. Doubtful if Intel, MS, and Dell could be so nimble.



    As an aside, I wonder if it would be the approach for TV's to render raw digital data on the fly. That would circumvent half of the current workflow of content creation, computer rendering, compression, and delivery.
  • Reply 38 of 220
    pbpb Posts: 4,232member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Programmer

    That article is crap -- you don't need to know anything about Cell to tell that.



    Thanks, for a moment I thought that my common sense detectors were completely off.
  • Reply 39 of 220
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mugwump





    First of all, down the road Apple could be in a fine position to take advantage of such tech advances. Doubtful if Intel, MS, and Dell could be so nimble.



    As an aside, I wonder if it would be the approach for TV's to render raw digital data on the fly. That would circumvent half of the current workflow of content creation, computer rendering, compression, and delivery.





    Wow indeed mugwump!



    Sony and Toshiba are already positioning the Cell into their TVs



    Cell would seem to be able to create mini render farms on the workstation which would, as you say, reduce by half the effort of content creation. (with perhaps game coding aside)



    Rendering and compression are ideal Cell tasks and should show dramatic improvements over current practices. Imagine Core Video being processed by the Cell in everything from the user interface to FCP.



    delivery delivery? delivery!



    MPEG4 - H264 part 10

    IPTV - TV over broadband

    INdTV - Al Gore's new venture

    1394 - Firewire



    THE VISION for the Cell processor as proclaimed by IBM, Sony, and Toshiba.



    "Breakthrough microprocessor architecture that puts broadband communications right on the chip."





    I'm doing a bit of connect the dots here, but I have this sort of unifying theory that mugwump has started with his post.



    I'll take Apple's low profile with Power.org as a further manifestation of Apple's obsessive desire for holding their cards close to their chest. To continue the analogy, Apple also has an ace up their sleeve on this one that they will play soon. Core services in Tiger are the smoking gun here for me.



    The turn on a dime from all their professed views as shown with the new mini's may also be indicative of how fast Apple could embrace the forgotten spoke to their digital hub - TV and not just any old TV, HDTV!



    Get ready for the Apple channel! What does Al Gore know that would cause him to spend 70 million on a cable TV channel?



    Quote:

    "Among those on the company's advisory board guiding the growth of INdTV is Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The company's COO Mark Goldman was formerly with News Corp. He built a satellite venture in Latin America. Goldman was the president and COO of Sky Latin America Partners prior to teaming up with Gore's venture."



  • Reply 40 of 220
    murkmurk Posts: 935member
    Core is a important clue. Routing this stuff through the GPU is a revolutionary change in the computer/software model. Apple is doing it now. Most importantly, they are doing it without breaking all the existing apps. Wouldn't that model work well for Cell? Hand off Quicktime, OpenGL, Core and other intensive stuff. Using the power where you really need it, my friends, is the future.
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