New Dual Core Power Macs

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I began thinking about how dual core chips might affect the Power Mac's mechanical layout and even alter the product lineup. This discussion would likely get lost in the big thread, so I'll start a new one for the few of us who might be interested in such details. Thinking about all new Power Macs is also less depressing for me than thoughts of an interim speed bump. Hopefully however, the dual core Power Macs will appear within days and put an end to this thread.



What do we imagine the dual core G5 chips will do to the design and product offerings? Here are some thoughts I came up with. We might also throw in opinions about new features, like PCI Express and BluRay optical drives. These two seem so obvious to me that I cannot imagine Apple not having them in a major upgrade.



Now, regarding the dual core G5, it dissipates more power than a single core, but only one chip will be used for a dual G5 Power Mac. If we look at current Power Macs, there are two major air flow channels to accommodate the two chips in the dual G5 models, which are the best selling by far. Since there are relatively few single chip Power Macs today, it is not a bad compromise to simply leave the second air channel vacant in these models.



The dual core chip will change this approach to cooling it seems. The air flow channel for a dual core chip should be larger, to allow greater air flow and a larger heat sink. But if there is only one such channel, it may actually save space over two smaller channels. This means that the same size Power Mac case could accommodate maybe more expansion cards or more drives or both. It could also mean a smaller case for power Macs.



Needless to say there will be no single core Power Macs. But what about a quad G5? A quad will take two chips. With a much larger air channel for the chip, it is not as simple to just leave one of them empty for the dual G5. The Power Mac case would have to be larger, and leaving one of the air channels empty would waste much more space. It does not seem to be a good solution. Also, the percent of Power Mac quads, compared to duals, may not be nearly as great as the percent of duals to singles is today. So where does that leave us? One thing this line of thinking suggests is a new model of the Power Mac, or possibly an Xstation. A separate, larger case for the quad G5s.



Okay, these are a few thought I had. Anyone else care to imagine what the new Power Macs will be like? If we only get speed bumps now, we have more time to think about it -- maybe 2 to 5 months or so.



Jerry
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    garypgaryp Posts: 150member
    I'll take the Rev B XStation in September...
  • Reply 2 of 50
    I'm going to argue that the dual core chip's air channel will not be substantially bigger, if at all. Please keep in mind that the size of the G5 heat sink dwarves the actual CPU itself.



    As an FYI double checked myself, and the original .13micron process PPC 970 was 121mm squared, or about 1.21 cm squared. 2.54cm in an inch (0.19 suare inches). Since they are on a .09micron process now, the 970FX is no doubt smaller, and my guess is the MP will be marginally larger.
  • Reply 3 of 50
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    I'm going to argue that we don't need a 30th thread about dual core chips, or PowerMacs.
  • Reply 4 of 50
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ChevalierMalFet

    I'm going to argue that the dual core chip's air channel will not be substantially bigger, if at all. Please keep in mind that the size of the G5 heat sink dwarves the actual CPU itself. . .









    It's possible. The dual core essentially has two 970FX CPUs on one chip, roughly speaking. That likely means more power dissipation, even if IBM has made improvements in leakage. To move that heat out, we can have either a larger air channel and heat sink, or move the air at a higher velocity, with the smaller channel and heat sink. Knowing Apple's preference for quiet hardware, I think the larger channel would win out.
  • Reply 5 of 50
    brendonbrendon Posts: 642member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by snoopy

    It's possible. The dual core essentially has two 970FX CPUs on one chip, roughly speaking. That likely means more power dissipation, even if IBM has made improvements in leakage. To move that heat out, we can have either a larger air channel and heat sink, or move the air at a higher velocity, with the smaller channel and heat sink. Knowing Apple's preference for quiet hardware, I think the larger channel would win out.



    What I have seen rumored is down clocking the cores in a dual core situation. I would guess that IBM could go from 2.5 to 2.25 or 2.0 and still have much greater performance with 2 chips and 4 cores. If IBM has done a good job of fixing the leakage problem then by down clocking the cores 10% to 20% will save huge amounts on heat. From what I have seen the manufactures have all talked about this as a side benefit. Increase computing power and reduce heat especially heat density with the down clock and normal tweaking to the process. To me it appeared that they all wanted to take a step back on clock speed and save the engineers the pain of cooling a dual core chip that was clocked to the edge, when the real performance boost would come from the second core, not so much from the clock speed increase.
  • Reply 6 of 50
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by onlooker

    I'm going to argue that we don't need a 30th thread about dual core chips, or PowerMacs.





    This one has a pretty narrow focus -- how might the dual core chips impact the Power Mac's design. Likely it will be a small thread, and the topic would be buried in a big, general discussion.
  • Reply 7 of 50
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    On the eve of a possible massive introduction of Mac upgrades, some shipping April 29th, I'm guessing that the Power Mac will continue to have the 970FX as Think Secret predicted. Okay, that really belongs on the other Power Mac thread, but there is a twist that crossed my mind. Up to now I believed that the 970MP from IBM was holding up this major Power Mac revision. Now I am not so sure. It's quite possible that the 970MP is ready to go, but something happened at Apple.



    Maybe Apple was counting on liquid cooling. With liquid cooling the heat sink can be smaller and the fluid will carry away the heat fairly rapidly. The radiator can be located elsewhere and be very large, allowing lower noise cooling for lots of power dissipation. If Apple changed to air cooling late it the game, it would mean a redesigned cooling system and likely a bigger air channel that I referred to. Something like this would be a setback for the project, but would give Apple the opportunity to completely rethink the Power Macs. The end result may be better systems than we would have had otherwise.
  • Reply 8 of 50
    powerdocpowerdoc Posts: 8,123member
    May be the dual core powermac G5 will introduce a new design and a new case.

    Perhaps it will be the first mac with PCI express slots, and a new memory : DDR2 (the current brand of DDR 2 has too much latency to be an advantage over the DDR 400)

    Let's also expect that Apple will listen to customers and that the new case will support more than 2 HD.



    I fear that we won't see this new mac before MWSF in january 2006 but it's just me.
  • Reply 9 of 50
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Powerdoc

    May be the dual core powermac G5 will introduce a new design and a new case.

    Perhaps it will be the first mac with PCI express slots, and a new memory : DDR2 (the current brand of DDR 2 has too much latency to be an advantage over the DDR 400)

    Let's also expect that Apple will listen to customers and that the new case will support more than 2 HD.



    I fear that we won't see this new mac before MWSF in january 2006 but it's just me.




    Dual 3.0+GHz MP processors,

    Room for 3 HD's

    PCI-E (x2 option on highend)

    3PCI-x

    1 PCI.

    SATA-2

    DDR3?



    Dare we speculate in such dark times.



    Won't matter to me anyway. I'm ordering a new computer with in the next few weeks.
  • Reply 10 of 50
    powerdocpowerdoc Posts: 8,123member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by onlooker

    Dual 3.0+GHz MP processors,

    Room for 3 HD's

    PCI-E (x2 option on highend)

    3PCI-x

    1 PCI.

    SATA-2

    DDR3?



    Dare we speculate in such dark times.



    Won't matter to me anyway. I'm ordering a new computer with in the next few weeks.




    I am sorry onlooker that you are obliged to buy a new computer in the next few weeks.

    It seems that the light will only come from dual core processor. I guess the answer belong to IBM.
  • Reply 11 of 50
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Powerdoc

    I am sorry onlooker that you are obliged to buy a new computer in the next few weeks.

    It seems that the light will only come from dual core processor. I guess the answer belong to IBM.




    I've held out for too long as it is. My current system is hurting my productivity.



    3 posts to 2000/
  • Reply 12 of 50
    I'm thinking two enormous air channels in the dual core Powermac tower, so big that they're accommodated by huge bulbous flares running along each side of the case. At the front, hulking turbines will be visible behind the openings, much like a jet engine. At the rear will be adjustable exit nozzles that change in diameter to maintain a constant airflow speed as the volume of air changes with processor usage.



    Remember those old Wintels with the "Turbo" button that never seemed to do anything? On these new Powermacs, hitting the Turbo button will open the turbines to full speed, permitting full CPU usage if the load demands it. Turn off the Turbo setting, and the turbine rpm are optimized for quiet operation, with less CPU performance (good for web surfing, playing iTunes, browsing porn).



    On a more serious note, I highly doubt IBM will clock the 970mp lower than the 970gx. It would be too confusing to consumers and far too difficult to market effectively. Americans are trained to believe that BIGGER=BETTER, and dual core or not Apple isn't going to change this belief. Technically, speed parity between the single and dual core 970 variants seems possible. The mp will essentially be the equivalent of two gx's paired together, and as long as IBM can effectively disperse the thermal output across the area of the mp chip, clock speed shouldn't need to be compromised (in my totally non-expert opinion!).



    It seems that for Apple, the greatest challenge isn't cooling the 970mp, but keeping it well fed. Apple likes to be so cheap with their motherboards that I find it more likely that they will starve the dual core CPUs because they used an outdated type of RAM or went cheap on the mobo in some other way.
  • Reply 13 of 50
    Quote:

    Originally posted by onlooker

    ... My current system is hurting my productivity.



    3 posts to 2000/




    Love the irony.
  • Reply 14 of 50
    gargar Posts: 1,201member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Carson O'Genic

    Love the irony.



  • Reply 15 of 50
    hobbithobbit Posts: 532member
    Looking at the arguments for air/liquid cooling possibly holding up the new dual core PowerMacs I wondered whether this is related to the still M.I.A. PowerBook G5 with its mother of all cooling challenges.



    From my understanding dual core CPUs do run hotter than single cores of the same speed, hence Intel releasing duals with lower GHz speeds.



    Perhaps Apple tries to kill two birds with one stone, finding a cooling technology which not only cools G5 PBs (with a single dual core CPU) but also dual dual core PowerMacs, XServes or XStations.



    Dual dual core CPUs running at 3GHz would surely be a dream Xstation machine. But also likely the mother of all cooling challenges in a desktop...

    Especially if Apple doesn't want to increase the size of that machine to twice the size of a current G5 PowerMac.



    Since the G5 PowerBooks are still not here, it seems to suggest that cooling solution has not been found yet. Delaying with it also the dual core PowerMacs.

    I'm sure it can be done with today's technology but it's likely very noisy. And we know Steve hates noisy computers.
  • Reply 16 of 50
    thttht Posts: 3,313member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by snoopy

    What do we imagine the dual core G5 chips will do to the design and product offerings?



    Who knows what Apple will do. They design a lot of things from the outside in, and in the process sacrifice a bit of functionality.



    For the Power Mac G5, they can make the computer more functional by just making it a little bit more ugly on the inside. I think I would go back to using a flip-down door like in the PMG4, but preserve the outside look of the PMG5. Perhaps make it an inch deeper. I would arrange the zones, from bottom to top, to be like: power supply zone on the bottom, PCI zone, CPU zone 1, CPU zone 2, and the hard drive zone on the top.



    The PCI zone would contain slots in this order: PCIe x16 slot on the bottom, PCIe x1 slot, PCIe x16 slot, 64b 33 MHz PCI slot, and a combo PCI/PCI-X slot at the top of the zone. This zone would be larger than the current one, but the hard drive zone will be smaller in exchange.



    Each CPU zone would have 1 CPU and its heat sink in back with 4 memory slots and the 5.25" external bay in front. The memory slots could be angled if clearance is an issue. The 5.25" external bay is attached to the box frame and doesn't swing down along with the motherboard. I would integrate the heat sink fans right on to the heat sink themselves - it would be more efficient that way. The external bays would be positioned so that it is centered on the front fascia.



    The hard drive zone on top would be half as high as it is now, but should have enough height for 1" 3.5" hard drives and its rails. 4 SATA hard drives would fit in this zone plus fan.



    In the end, there would be 2 5.25" external bays, 4 3.5" hard drive bays, 5 slots and 2 CPUs all in a box of about the same size (20x19x8), perhaps 1 inch deeper (20" tall, 20" deep and 8" wide). Plus, there would be a flip-down door.



    The fan arrangement for the current CPU heat sinks seem horribly inefficient. I can't quite understand the reason for those removable fans in front of the heat sinks, given that there are also heat sinks in back. Just integrate the fans right on to the heat sink, so that the radiators receive the most air flow and put in sound insulation. Can't imagine 1 fan in front and 1 fan in back would decrease the RPMs that much compared to making the fan an integral part of the heat sink design (which should be smaller as well).
  • Reply 17 of 50
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hobBIT



    . . . Dual dual core CPUs running at 3GHz would surely be a dream Xstation machine. But also likely the mother of all cooling challenges in a desktop...

    Especially if Apple doesn't want to increase the size of that machine to twice the size of a current G5 PowerMac. . .









    I think it can be done with two separate air channels, larger than the channels on the current Power Macs, to cool the dual core chips. It does mean a larger enclosure, but no where near twice as big. With large enough channels and heat sinks the air velocity can be kept lower to reduce fan noise. Another way to cool these dual core chips is liquid cooling, provided Apple found a superior solution to what the Power Macs have today.



    A larger box is not all bad. There can be room for more drive bays and PCI slots, which have been requested many times. I think there is a good chance for something like this at WWDC. It could coexist with current Power Macs for a while.



    Going one step further in this train of thought, it is fair to ask what will eventually become of the Power Mac once there is an Xstation? My guess would be that the Power Mac will be redesigned to take just one 970MP. With a single, larger air channel, the enclosure should still be a little smaller than the current Power Mac, with its two channels. With one chip and air channel it has fewer parts. Also, the 970MP should be priced less than two 970FX chips, once IBM's manufacturing process is running smoothly. This could means somewhat smaller and lower priced Power Macs, with Xstations serving the higher end of the market.



    Logical or just wishful thinking?
  • Reply 18 of 50
    hobbithobbit Posts: 532member
    I would go a step further.



    If Apple really can find a physically small yet workable solution to cool a dual G5 in PowerBooks which doesn't cost an arm and a let, they could apply this to desktops too. A stacked set of Pelltier elements was suggested for example.



    With such a physically small yet effective cooling solution Apple could do the following:



    1) finally release G5 PowerBooks, at least one model with a dual core chip.



    2) reduce the size of current PowerMacs as smaller heat sinks and fans will do (when used together with this 'PowerBook' cooling solution).



    3) either cram a dual core dual CPU Xstation motherboard into the current G5 enclosure, or minimally increase its size to fit in some extra media / HD space.



    It could make sense for Apple to introduce another modular Mac model between the Mac mini and PowerMac G5 size. A size-reduced PowerMac would fit perfectly. Although that might not come before the end of the life cycle of (hopefully) tomorrow's announced updates.
  • Reply 19 of 50
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,299member
    The upcoming Powermacs specs smacks of Apple surveying the situation and saying



    "we can't do what we want to right now so we'll just delay our project another 6 months"



    We're right on the cusp of some big changes in computing hardware. Dual-Core, SATA II, PCI-Express and more. I could easily see Apple simply delaying the newest hardware another 6 months until they can deliver the system they really want to. Apple is in the lucky positon to be able to do this and not be hurt.



    Sure a few people will grumble but those who really need a computer will buy. I think it's important to realize that Powermac sales will never just explode. They are targetted at a small market that only has so much buying power. Sure consumers buy the Powermacs but Apple really isn't making any move to make them more affordable for the home crowd and I don't expect the next generation to move any closer to home.



    Hell I say ship the new units and keep working hard on the nextgen hardware. There are lots of cool things that might make it in time for MWSF 2006
  • Reply 20 of 50
    powerdocpowerdoc Posts: 8,123member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    The upcoming Powermacs specs smacks of Apple surveying the situation and saying



    "we can't do what we want to right now so we'll just delay our project another 6 months"



    We're right on the cusp of some big changes in computing hardware. Dual-Core, SATA II, PCI-Express and more. I could easily see Apple simply delaying the newest hardware another 6 months until they can deliver the system they really want to. Apple is in the lucky positon to be able to do this and not be hurt.



    Sure a few people will grumble but those who really need a computer will buy. I think it's important to realize that Powermac sales will never just explode. They are targetted at a small market that only has so much buying power. Sure consumers buy the Powermacs but Apple really isn't making any move to make them more affordable for the home crowd and I don't expect the next generation to move any closer to home.



    Hell I say ship the new units and keep working hard on the nextgen hardware. There are lots of cool things that might make it in time for MWSF 2006




    I think that you are right on the spot. Perhaps IBM has some dual core chips ready, but Apple do not want to go in an another Yosemite fiasco. The dual core G5 will be a new design, scheduled to last 2 years. Apple is not a giant corp and can't afford making new mobo and case designs every six months.
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