New IBM chip could serve a PowerBook G5, but is it too little too late?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
IBM's announcement of a low-power 970FX PowerPC G5 processor yesterday came as a bit of a surprise to some analysts and industry insiders who believe the chip could be the first worthy contender to power a G5-based laptop from Apple, but question if Mac maker will choose to use it.



Two variants of the chip -- a 1.2GHz version and a 1.4GHz version -- consume an approximately 13 watts of power, believed to be cool enough to operate inside a PowerBook enclosure with an advanced cooling system. A high-end 1.6GHz version consumes 16 watts.



By comparison, Freescale's recently introduced MPC7448 PowerPC G4, the successor to the chip used in Apple's current PowerBook G4 systems, will consume about 10 watts of power running at 1.4GHz, and just under 15 watts of power at its top speed of 1.7GHz.



"The [low-power 970FX] mobile G5 may surprise some given Steve Jobs' comments at his keynote that one of the key reasons why Apple is moving to Intel is that IBM cannot come up with a low-power G5 processor for use in a PowerBook," American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu wrote in a research note released to clients on Friday. "The irony of this is that these new mobile G5 processors consume 13 to 16 watts, very competitive with Intel Pentium M processors" which power today's Centrino laptops.



The current generation Pentium M mobile processors are believed to draw between 10 and 15 watts of power, with typical operation in the 13 watt range, according to Intel documents. By some industry standards, chips that consume less than 10 watts do not always require a cooling system, while those drawing a bit more power are often accompanied by cooling fans.



"For Apple, the good news is that it now has more choices on PowerPC processors to bridge the gap over the next two years as it transitions to Intel processors," Wu said. "But the bad news is that we believe it will remain a marketing challenge to say that Intel Macs are the future and at the same time be selling powerful dead-end PowerPC Macs over the next two years."



Tim Deal, an analyst for Technology Business Research, also believes Apple's switch to Intel chips may have buried any hope for a PowerBook G5 this late in the game. "Apple has made it quite clear that a PowerBook G5 is not in the company?s product roadmap," the analyst told AppleInsider. "After the company?s announced move to integrate Intel processors, the introduction of a PowerBook G5 would contradict Apple?s implication that IBM is unable to meet its ongoing product evolution."



Still, Deal acknowledges that demand for a PowerBook G5 exists amongst consumers. "If Apple could meet that demand, then there is likely a revenue opportunity in the introduction," he said.



The time between now and mid-2006 -- when Apple is expected to begin introducing the first Intel-based Macs -- has raised concern amongst some analysts who wonder if sales of PowerPC-based Macs will slip as consumers anticipate the company's first Intel-based systems. They fear changes in demand for Apple's current offerings could affect short-term Mac revenue growth.



Apple last updated its PowerBook G4 product line in January with 1.5GHz and 1.67GHz processors from Motorola's Freescale subsidiary. If Apple choose not to use IBM's new low-power 970FX G5 chips, it seems unlikely that any forthcoming PowerBook update would sport a processor faster than Freescale's recently announced 1.7GHz MPC7448 PowerPC G4.



The first PowerBook to sport an Intel processor is not expected until July 2006 at the earliest.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 90
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    July 2006 at the earliest? Where does that come from?
  • Reply 2 of 90
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    This will be a tough choice for Apple. If the power requirement is within specs, can Apple introduce a Powerbook with a 1.6GHz G5 processor when the current one has a 1.67GHz G4? Many might see this as a step back.



    I'm not sure that power would be an issue. If Freescale's 1.7 is 15 watts, and IBM's 1.6 is 16 watts, there isn't much difference there.



    Remember that a 1.6 G5 is about the same as a 2 G4. As the G4 usually compared has a 2MB L3 cache, and the 7447 and new 7448 has none, it might be equivelent to a 2.2 G4 here in the portable space.



    That's really not bad.
  • Reply 3 of 90
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    July 2006 at the earliest? Where does that come from?



    Jobs statement that the first machines would be out by the next Dev Conf.
  • Reply 4 of 90
    macnut222macnut222 Posts: 100member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    Jobs statement that the first machines would be out by the next Dev Conf.



    Yeah. "BY", as meaning BEFORE. Steve said they expect to have Intel-powered systems on the market by WWDC 06 - that means before he steps on stage - that means anytime between Jan '06-the day before WWDC '06.



    Regardless of what analysts and others think, I'm sticking to my hypothesis that we'll see the first Intel-powered Macs at MWSF 06 and I think the first systems up will be Apple's PowerBook - maybe the iBook, as well.
  • Reply 5 of 90
    9secondko9secondko Posts: 929member
    The low powre G5 is a face save for IBM. very last minute. They just handicapped a 970 FX to get the power down. sure, it consumes watts just a little less efficienct than Centrino, but then angain, the Centrino is just as fast, clock for clock as the G5. Add to that the fact that 2.1 GHZ Centrinos are out NOW and the idea of a mobile G5 just looks terrible - especially considering that the next G4 may outperform it on average. Low Power consumation, but low power output too. bummer. I suppose it would perform marginally faster than the current G4, but my goodness, it should be much further along. anyway, at least now we have good proof that IBM was not innovating and Apple HAD TO go Intel. At least they improve year on year, even if the last year was marginal(industry wide).



    I cannot wait for my Merom based PB. We will probably see Yonah based Ibooks and Minis and Merom based Imacs and PBs while Powermacs will probably get whatever killer CPU is out in two years.



    In either case, I love the current PB so much, I would probably buy it with a 1.8 GHZ G5 (factory overclocked or not), but not 1.6. I just do not see how Apple could improve upon its design.
  • Reply 6 of 90
    sdfishersdfisher Posts: 59member
    "The first PowerBook to sport an Intel processor is not expected until July 2006 at the earliest."



    This should read:

    "The first PowerBook to sport an Intel processor is expected between January and July 2006."
  • Reply 7 of 90
    I agree, at MWSF we should see some sweet stuff with an Intel logo slapped on it.
  • Reply 8 of 90
    hasapihasapi Posts: 290member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by 9secondko

    The low powre G5 is a face save for IBM. very last minute. They just handicapped a 970 FX to get the power down. sure, it consumes watts just a little less efficienct than Centrino, but then angain, the Centrino is just as fast, clock for clock as the G5. Add to that the fact that 2.1 GHZ Centrinos are out NOW and the idea of a mobile G5 just looks terrible - especially considering that the next G4 may outperform it on average. Low Power consumation, but low power output too. bummer. I suppose it would perform marginally faster than the current G4, but my goodness, it should be much further along. anyway, at least now we have good proof that IBM was not innovating and Apple HAD TO go Intel. At least they improve year on year, even if the last year was marginal(industry wide).



    I cannot wait for my Merom based PB. We will probably see Yonah based Ibooks and Minis and Merom based Imacs and PBs while Powermacs will probably get whatever killer CPU is out in two years.




    That's what i was thinking - what are they talking about? - Pentium M's are at 2.13GHz right now - these things are at 1.6G max? for now? how does that compare - sure theyre dissapation specs clock for clock look very similar but pointless if you cant match the max clock for Intel?.



    I think well get Yonah based PB's before the next gen Merom's, but im really happy with my 1.25 PB 15" at least for now!.



    Anyway,
  • Reply 9 of 90
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by sdfisher

    "The first PowerBook to sport an Intel processor is not expected until July 2006 at the earliest."



    This should read:

    "The first PowerBook to sport an Intel processor is expected between January and July 2006."




    We really have no idea. I'd expect it would be between January and June, but who knows? Jobs said that some Mac would have an Intel by June 2006, but whether that's a PowerBook or not is unknown. It theoretically could even be before January 2006, although that's unlikely. But I don't know where they got this "July 2006 at the earliest." Is it new information, or just speculation based on the WWDC 2006 reference - which is in June, not July, I believe.
  • Reply 10 of 90
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by macnut222

    Yeah. "BY", as meaning BEFORE. Steve said they expect to have Intel-powered systems on the market by WWDC 06 - that means before he steps on stage - that means anytime between Jan '06-the day before WWDC '06.



    Regardless of what analysts and others think, I'm sticking to my hypothesis that we'll see the first Intel-powered Macs at MWSF 06 and I think the first systems up will be Apple's PowerBook - maybe the iBook, as well.




    For you and the other guys afterward who are *hoping* that what you say is correct: forget it!



    That's wishful thinking, and you know it. "By" means *possibly* late spring. The chips Apple needs won't be out till then.



    Don't knock this new FX either. A 1.6 GHz model can compete with a 2.2GHz x86. A 2GHz G5 has been shown to compete with a 3GHz P4 quite well.
  • Reply 11 of 90
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    We really have no idea. I'd expect it would be between January and June, but who knows? Jobs said that some Mac would have an Intel by June 2006, but whether that's a PowerBook or not is unknown. It theoretically could even be before January 2006, although that's unlikely. But I don't know where they got this "July 2006 at the earliest." Is it new information, or just speculation based on the WWDC 2006 reference - which is in June, not July, I believe.



    It is June. That's why I refer to the Dev Conf rather than an actual date.
  • Reply 12 of 90
    iikeiike Posts: 6member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    Jobs statement that the first machines would be out by the next Dev Conf.



    I saw (heard) that. That only means that they will be out no later then. I predict MacWorld San Fran. for the first ones.



    I personally guess: mac mini and iBook and maybe (maybe) a powerbook. Something tells me (no inside info) that Apple was ready to go on 6/6/05. However there is the whole ramp up time of people getting used to the idea.



    I do think the first computers wil be out at Mac World San Fran and will be shocked if they show up any later.
  • Reply 13 of 90
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by iIke

    I saw (heard) that. That only means that they will be out no later then. I predict MacWorld San Fran. for the first ones.



    I personally guess: mac mini and iBook and maybe (maybe) a powerbook. Something tells me (no inside info) that Apple was ready to go on 6/6/05. However there is the whole ramp up time of people getting used to the idea.



    I do think the first computers wil be out at Mac World San Fran and will be shocked if they show up any later.




    Nah. From what I hear from my own in Apple is that the OS isn't completed as yet. There are also driver issues. Apple needs to have a *lot* of them upon release, and the driver model for Intel is different. The other question is how Apple will handle the boot-up process. Open Firmware is out. It isn't supported in x86 chips. While Apple seems to be using a BIOS in the dev kits, it isn't believed that they will use it in the final machines. Intel has a proposed model similar to OF, but hasn't been too successful in getting PC makers to adopt it. It's thought that Apple will be the first hi profile company to adopt this.



    But it will take time. That's why I'm not optimistic about anything before, say, April, at the earliest.
  • Reply 14 of 90
    mike12309mike12309 Posts: 135member
    im the biggest proponent of... erm... or rather antiponent or whatever the word is of intel, but if the arrival of these chips is Jan 06 or later, yeah its too little, WAY too late.
  • Reply 15 of 90
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mike12309

    im the biggest proponent of... erm... or rather antiponent or whatever the word is of intel, but if the arrival of these chips is Jan 06 or later, yeah its too little, WAY too late.



    "Anitponent". I like that. Can I use it?
  • Reply 16 of 90
    macnut222macnut222 Posts: 100member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    For you and the other guys afterward who are *hoping* that what you say is correct: forget it!



    That's wishful thinking, and you know it. "By" means *possibly* late spring. The chips Apple needs won't be out till then.




    Of course it's wishful thinking. Nonetheless, it still possible given the broad timeframe that Steve provided.



    Quote:

    Don't knock this new FX either. A 1.6 GHz model can compete with a 2.2GHz x86. A 2GHz G5 has been shown to compete with a 3GHz P4 quite well.



    Of course the Pentium M (and desktop-based versions) are different beasts than the Netburst-based Pentium 4. They're much more efficient. Our current ideas about PPC vs Pentium need to be re-evaluated.
  • Reply 17 of 90
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by macnut222

    Of course it's wishful thinking. Nonetheless, it still possible given the broad timeframe that Steve provided.







    Of course the Pentium M (and desktop-based versions) are different beasts than the Netburst-based Pentium 4. They're much more efficient. Our current ideas about PPC vs Pentium need to be re-evaluated.




    They are. The integer performance is better. But floats are still better in the G5, and Altivec, for those who need it, still covers a lot of things.
  • Reply 18 of 90
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    The problem is what to do between now and say January 2006 (if that's the earliest Intel Powerbook).



    I suppose Apple could do nothing...since a using Freescale's chip would be such a minor update, it's almost not worth it. The FSB is faster too, but not much.

    So, assuming Jan 06 is when we get the Intel models, it'll have been a whole year between updates, which based on recent history, is not that unexpected.

    The only problem with that is that it holds up any possible updates to the iBook.
  • Reply 19 of 90
    mcdawsonmcdawson Posts: 16member
    I think that if the 1.6 G5 could run Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, etc (high end apps) say 15% faster than the current 1.67 G4, I think Apple might go for it--it certainly wouldn't hurt to do a "stop-gap" release before the Intel ones. It wouldn't be a "major" release, but it's likely that they've prepared for it (they wouldn't be surprised by this announcement) AND they DO need to keep selling PB's until the Intel's are ready, so even a modest speed bump would be better than none--waiting another 11 months (at most) for Intel w/o a speed bump along with the anticipated Intel machines would temporarily kill PB's after MW SF (Jan) (my opinion, of course). I think a 1.6 G5 might slow down the loss,, but not prevent it--but that's better than nothing.
  • Reply 20 of 90
    big macbig mac Posts: 480member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ThinkDifferent

    I agree, at MWSF we should see some sweet stuff with an Intel logo slapped on it.



    Dude, you're getting a Dell.
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