New Powermacs to use Cell Processor?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
This mystery author, in a rather lengthy article, makes a case for the Cell Processor being the key to the advancement of the Powermac. I wonder what some of the more technically astute members of this forum might think about his ideas.



Article here.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 220
    yevgenyyevgeny Posts: 1,148member
    NO. NEW POWERMACS WILL NOT USE THE CELL PROCESSOR. NEW POWERMACS WILL USE THE G5 CHIP. CELL IS WILDLY HYPED.
  • Reply 2 of 220
    garypgaryp Posts: 150member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Yevgeny

    NO. NEW POWERMACS WILL NOT USE THE CELL PROCESSOR. NEW POWERMACS WILL USE THE G5 CHIP. CELL IS WILDLY HYPED.



    Well, I guess that settles it. Excuse me for breathing.
  • Reply 3 of 220
    Well I read the article and I must say it's an interesting theory. I wouldn't bet much on this scenario but I like it a lot!
  • Reply 4 of 220
    Cell is a great concept, and it's clearly a seed for a total paradigm shift that will have to occur in order for computers to become "faster." But it won't debut in macs anytime soon. It might wind up in a GPU, but I think it's going to be a while before we see widespread use of cell-like processors.



    For one reason, code needs to be largely rewritten, not just recompiled.
  • Reply 5 of 220
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,074member
    Quote:

    For one reason, code needs to be largely rewritten, not just recompiled. [/B]



    If that is true, then it would be easier to move to the Pentium than the Cell processor.



    Why is everyone so hot on the Cell and down on the Pentium?



    I know that 8088-family assembly language is crap, but that only affects the compiler writers...
  • Reply 6 of 220
    garypgaryp Posts: 150member
    So the most we are likely to see for awhile yet is multi-core G5 chips? I certainly wouldn't have any complaints about that.
  • Reply 7 of 220
    murkmurk Posts: 935member
    Henriok, in this thread link, noticed something in a statement from the Graphics and Media State of the Union presentation from WWDC '04 that I had missed.



    Quote:

    The presenter talks about Core Image as a "stream based processing model" and "mappable to GPUs, SMT CPUs and any other parallell architectures ".



    "Any other parallel architectures"? Like Cell, perhaps?







    PS- Here are links to other speculative articles by "Neo"...



    leap to MAN



    iPod-Live





    aacPlus



    GarageBand-Live



    Apple's Connexion to Boeing
  • Reply 8 of 220
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    If that is true, then it would be easier to move to the Pentium than the Cell processor.



    Not necessarily, since Cell contains a PowerPC, and the x86 lacks both a minimum binary compatibility and AltiVec or anything comparable. SSE and clones aren't even in the same league.



    Quote:

    Why is everyone so hot on the Cell and down on the Pentium?



    Because x86 is just the same basic style as the traditional PowerPC, only more poorly designed and more fragmented.



    Cell changes the rules.



    More to the point, Cell uses parallel SIMD processing, um, cells, which make it a very promising multimedia architecture. The Pentium offers all the pain of a transition to a wholly incompatible ISA, and no compelling features over a standard PowerPC core. (A fairly minor, transient speed differential doesn't count—there have been times when PowerPCs were faster, too). It would require a lot of work to get OS X to really use a Cell architecture, but at least the work would pay off with capabilities that conventional CPUs simply don't have.



    Quote:

    I know that 8088-family assembly language is crap, but that only affects the compiler writers...



    The endian issue affects everything, the lack of AltiVec severely reduces the functionality of some of Apple's basic apps and technologies, the lack of binary compatibility forces apps to be rebuilt to get any kind of performance at all, and the completely different design priorities require every app to be completely reoptimized—and possibly re-architected—to perform well.



    And again, this is true to some extent for Cell, but at least Cell gives us something we didn't have before, in the form of multiple, superfast SIMD cores. Also, a move to the Pentium would be a move back toward an architecture that still prefers big, single threads (even if there can be two of them now) and dual processing at best. Cell encourages multithreading and small, dedicated tasks—which Cocoa also encourages—and like PowerPCs generally, is much more MP friendly.



    Having said all that, the most obvious upgrade path for the PowerMac is the 900-series PowerPC. The Power5-derived member of that family should answer any performance objections (its big brother, the Power5, certainly has) and the total amount of work required to get OS X and OS X applications running well is just about zero—it's a straight-up PowerPC. Getting the kernel to exploit FastPath, if that makes it down from the Power5, shouldn't take too much work on the part of the kernel team, and no code outside the kernel should know or care whether FastPath is there.
  • Reply 9 of 220
    Quote:

    Originally posted by e1618978

    If that is true, then it would be easier to move to the Pentium than the Cell processor.



    Why is everyone so hot on the Cell and down on the Pentium?



    I know that 8088-family assembly language is crap, but that only affects the compiler writers...




    Because the x86 is an architecture that consumes a lot of electrical power to reach the amount of computational power that it does. That is, it is inefficient. It also has the dumbest FPU implementation ever, and a hugely superfluous instruction set. Even the Penitum-M is inefficient. It just knows when to curb the clock.



    The current state of the Pentium is purely a manifestation of Microsoft's habit of releasing new OS's for the X86 that require more and more overhead, in conjunction with the consumer fixation that higher clock speed is better. Intel wishes the X86 were dead. Upgrading it siphons off a lot of good engineers that should be working on more promising architectures.



    Otherwise, Amorph covers the topic well.
  • Reply 10 of 220
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    Intel wishes the X86 were dead.



    Ah, yes, thanks for reminding me of that detail. Yes, Virginia, Intel has been trying to kill x86 for the last decade.



    It's hard to do when the world's most entrenched operating system depends on it, though.
  • Reply 11 of 220
    Could someone point me to a resource where I could learn about cell? I have some learning to do.
  • Reply 12 of 220
    screedscreed Posts: 1,077member
    <cough>Google</cough>



    Linky



    Linky
  • Reply 13 of 220
    sc_marktsc_markt Posts: 1,393member
    I wonder if Kormac eluded to the cell processor in any of his posts?



    I hope Apple ends up using it in some way if it gives their machines a big performance boost.



    Should be interesting next week at the International Solid State Circuits Conference.
  • Reply 14 of 220
    Read this repeatedly until a light bulb turns on above your head:



    Quote:

    Session 10.2: The Design and Implementation of a First-Generation CELL Processor



    A CELL Processor is a multi-core chip consisting of a 64b Power architecture processor, multiple streaming processors, a flexible IO interface, and a memory interface controller. This SoC is implemented in 90nm SOI technology. The chip is designed with a high degree of modularity and reuse to maximize the custom circuit content and achieve a high-frequency clock-rate.





    Category: "Things that make you go Hmmmm..."
  • Reply 15 of 220
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    You should sign NDAs more often, Programmer. Every time you do, your signature gets more true.



    BadAndy at Ars also followed that line of thought, apparently with a little help from a friend (way to call him out, too): The real appeal of Cell is that it's not just built around a 64 bit PPC&mdash;er, excuse me, Power architecture processor (gee, like what?), it's a modular architecture. So Microsoft can get one thing for their Xbox, and Sony can get something else for the PS3, and Apple can get something else, and IBM takes it all to the bank.



    It's like Book E for performance mavens.



    Hmm indeed.
  • Reply 16 of 220
    daveleedavelee Posts: 245member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Amorph

    So Microsoft can get one thing for their Xbox...



    Would Sony really license the tech to a rival (I assume it is jointly designed)?

    Everything I have heard until this point is that Xbox2 will not use Cell (just a customised PPC). If this is the case, where do the patents exist for IBM, say, to design a similar core for M$?



    (I really don't know with jointly-engineered projects like this.)



    [Edit: Just re-read your post. Sorry, I was assuming you werre talking about Cell specifically rather than IBMs use of Power.]
  • Reply 17 of 220
    thttht Posts: 3,114member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Programmer

    Category: "Things that make you go Hmmmm..."



    Cell is going to be built on a 90 nm process? Isn't that going to be a rather power hungry processor judging from the 970fx? Hmmm...
  • Reply 18 of 220
    rickagrickag Posts: 1,626member
    What's with all the "hmm's"?



    Could someone help this poor ignorant bystander and provide a better explanation, please?



    I feel like I'm perpetually in a state of confusion.
  • Reply 19 of 220
    Quote:

    Originally posted by DaveLee

    Would Sony really license the tech to a rival (I assume it is jointly designed)?

    Everything I have heard until this point is that Xbox2 will not use Cell (just a customised PPC). If this is the case, where do the patents exist for IBM, say, to design a similar core for M$?



    (I really don't know with jointly-engineered projects like this.)



    [Edit: Just re-read your post. Sorry, I was assuming you werre talking about Cell specifically rather than IBMs use of Power.]




    BA's point, over at Ars, is that the Power core looks like it is common between the two. This part is clearly IBM IP. The fact that SMT is talked about implies some kind of a relationship to POWER5, as does the timing (a year after POWER5 arrived). The POWER5's emphasis on low power consumption also fits nicely.



    Cell is a whole lot more than the Power core.



    Quote:

    Cell is going to be built on a 90 nm process? Isn't that going to be a rather power hungry processor judging from the 970fx?



    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.
  • Reply 20 of 220
    murkmurk Posts: 935member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by rickag

    What's with all the "hmm's"?







    hmm=Home Media Mac

    hmmm= Home Media Mac Mini





    (Just to confuse you more. Maybe that way someone will be even more confused than I.)
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