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Motorola launches PowerPC G4

Look out, Katmai -- here comes AltiVec...

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Motorola's next-generation PowerPC processor, the G4, is on course to go into production by the middle of next year, the company said today. Speaking at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, California, Motorola PowerPC project manager Paul Reed, said the chip, aimed at the embedded market as well as the PC arena (Apple, at any rate), will offer 10-15 times the performance of the current PowerPC 750. The G4 is the first PowerPC to feature Motorola's AltiVec vector processing operations -- its answer to Katmai. AltiVec technology is designed to operate in parallel with the main PowerPC instruction set, and provide an more powerful way of manipulating streams of data of the kind more usually tackled by DSPs. The company hopes that will boost the chip's take up in the embedded arena, but it also provides a useful way of bringing much-improved graphics and multimedia handling to mainstream applications -- the very uses Intel designed Katmai for. The G4 supports 512K to 2MB of backside L2 cache, connected via 64-bit or 128-bit buses. Multiple G4s can access each other's caches, offering much improved multi-processing performance, said Reed. Based on 0.2-micron copper interconnect technology, the G4 crams 10.5 million transistors onto a 83mm x 83mm die, and consumes less than 8W of power at 400MHz. ® Click for more stories

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