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Architosh Staff (info@architosh.com)
23 Oct 2002
 

Details on Motorola G5 Processor Emerge

< Continued from page 1

On the Mythical G5 - Code Named Eleven

We are not sure what happened to Steamroller. It was planned for 2002 and it may have been an embedded chip which on certain roadmap documents put it between the 7455 and the mythical Eleven. If so, then there was a two year spread between the 7455 (shown as 2001) and the G5 chip known as Eleven (shown in 2003).

Our sources have told us that Eleven was killed either in late 2001 or early 2002. Test boxes at certain locations we were made aware of were rumored to contain the Eleven processor(s). As we mentioned before (see late 2001 timeframe articles on Architosh) were heard these boxes were so fast that it was almost ridiculous when compared to Intel x86. Our sources at these test locations told us that in February Apple techs came and took the test units away. That was likely the ending point of the Eleven era at Moto.

The question you should have is why would these super fast processors die? Why would Apple kill them off? Or was it Moto?

It appears that Apple and Moto may have had some squabbling over the new proprietary bus by Apple called ApplePI Interface (ApplePI-BIU or Apple Processor Interconnect-bus interconnect unit). From Eleven's floor plan drawing, the ApplePI Interface runs along much of the entire side of the processor, connecting it directly to the functional units and L1 and L2 caches. This same ApplePI BIU (Apple Specific Bus-Interface-Unit) is slated to be in the IBM PowerPC 970. The question we have now is 'is this BIU based on RapidIO or is it based on AMD's HyperTransport?'

We believe the latter is the case. And remember you heard it here first.

In any case, Moto may have had a difficult time economically justifying developing a processor with a major architectural component meant solely for Apple's use. Currently other vendors use the G4 processors used in Power Macs, including Cisco. However, since IBM seems to have big Linux plans for the new 64-bit IBM PowerPC 970, the proprietary ApplePI may be of use to them as well and the two have likely struck a deal allowing IBM to use 970's with the ApplePI BIU included. If that is the case, that is a major item in the processor-platform wars going forward, for it effectively further ties IBM's Linux initiatives closer to Apple's OS X.

A Question of Heat

Another reason why Eleven may have been killed is due to heat. While Eleven had astounding performance potential (according to our info the 2.4GHz unit had integer performance three times, 300x, better than a unit running at 800MHz, which in itself was faster than a 7455 at 800Mhz.) the heat it generated was substantial. However it wasn't unreasonable.

Other Details

The Moto G5 was a true Book-E microarchitecture with a single core. A true 64-bit chip it featured dual 64KB Level 1 caches with parity and an integrated 512L2 cache with ECC. Central to the architecture was an integrated SDRAM controller with various DDR support, two RapidIO interfaces (presumably running at 500MHz or faster), CC-NUMA SMP scalability, and the integrated DMA and ApplePI-BIU. This chip was incredibly promising but it seemed to suck power like there was no tomorrow. But compared to AMD and Intel it seemed reasonable. The 1.5GHz unit used a max power of 29 watts and a typical draw of 15 watts. At 2.0GHz these numbers increased to 55 and 28 watts respectively.

Although the Eleven chip was apparently killed off, the recently updated roadmap document shows a chip which we think may be similar. However, unlike Eleven which was meant to ramp up in the summer of 2003, the 7457-RM (RapidIO-based) chip appears slated for 2004. The question is, who is that chip designed for? And does it have an ApplePI-BIU? If it did then Apple might end up with two suppliers in 2004.

Closing

Some final words are in order. We always welcome feedback on these types of articles and in general that is how our picture of the future gets clearer. We are indebted to our detective-like reader Ed, who warmly supplies us with tips and URL's to publicly available info.

That question that Mac users always have about waiting for the next big thing comes into to play here. And here is our response. Don't wait! It rarely makes sense...and this time it seems conclusive that Apple will roll out incremental updates to its Power Mac line. So waiting for that legendary "massive upgrade"—you know the one meant to kill Intel—ain't gonna happen. Folks, if you want a new Power Mac now...go get one! However, if you want a crystal ball to help you in your purchase planning, here's our best guess:

  • Macworld Expo Jan 2003: Power Macs 1.0 - 1.4 GHz duals (.13micron MPC7457)
  • May WWDC: Power Macs 1.25 - 1.5Ghz duals (same MPC7457 chip)
  • August (Expo Summer): Power Macs pushed to 1.67GHz duals (same 7457)
  • Macworld Expo Jan 2004: Power Macs 1.8GHz (IBM PowerPC 970 .13micron)
  • Mid 2004: Power Macs 1.8 - 2.4GHz (PowerPC 970 .09micron)

Such a rollout ramps up the performance pretty equally and rolls us to the expected timetable of the IBM PowerPC 970. Since that chip is not expected to introduce at above 1.8Ghz, we think the 7457 will tap out there as well. Likely the biggest wave to catch maybe when IBM rolls the 970 on a .09 micron process (coming from .13micron). There we could see a dual 2.4Ghz model or higher. But folks be reasonable, that is more than a year away. You folks looking for new Power Macs today need to act sooner than that.

Either way, its a very long wait but clearly Apple has some impressive machines now and some good ones in the pipeline. Once Apple moves to IBM, we think Moto will continue to deliver G4's with increased clock speeds for the consumer line, including the iMac and iBook. We also suspect that Apple will put the 64-bit PowerPC 970 into the Titanium PowerBook, making Apple the first computer maker to manufacturer a 64-bit laptop.

Now talk about the ultimate mobile workstation!

Additional Closing Remarks

Our timetable which we have highlighted in green text above is a conservative guess at best. Many folks in the MacNN forums have been angered by the pace of processor development. The pace issue is a true issue. It has been horribly disappointing, even in reference to other periods in the PowerMac architecture's past. Perhaps the best period was the G3 era with superb scaling of Mhz and faster chips than Intel. Boy those were the glory days! But back then as Mac users we had a superb but unstable OS. Today things are different. Our OS is so stable it could be called ROCK OS 1.0.

In addition to encouraging readers to buy Macs when they need them and not holdout for super upgrades that will never come, we would like to encourage angry Mac users to take a chill pill. Just because we have covered some credible info here doesn't mean Apple doesn't have something else up its sleeve. We can always be surprised and I encourage folks to be optimistic. -- AFR

Related Articles on PowerPC and Apple

IBM building 64-bit PowerPC chip for Linux? Evidence points to AltiVec support

IBM's new 64-bit PowerPC 970: Guide to the Future (note: we could use reader's help completing a PPC 970 vs AMD Opteron vs Pentium 4 chip chart. thanks in advance!)

Readers contribute info on IBM 64-bit PowerPC & G4/G5 AltiVec

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