IBM-Moto PowerPC deal isn't dead – honest
But pushing harder into embedded might mean it's dead in parts
The IBM-Motorola PowerPC alliance isn't dead after all. But that's what it says in the press release, so it seems reasonable to maintain one's doubts. The two partners have induced one Keith Diefendorf, editor in chief of The Microprocessor Report, it says here, to assuage our doubts about the ongoing viability of their PowerPC deal by giving good quote in the announcement of their new Book E PowerPC architecture. By providing a roadmap for future products Book E does indeed make it clear that the partnership is still in business, but the roadmap is for embedded PowerPC. The two companies started a joint embedded PowerPC effort in September 1997, and both have been pursuing this class of chip since. In between times their roadmaps for non-embedded PPC (one major customer, Apple) have diverged more than somewhat, so the latest effort to stay in step on embedded says nothing about the variety of chip that concerns Apple most. The reverse, in fact. There's little or no prospect of profit for either company in the continuing pursuit of mainstream CPUs, and the more effort they put behind embedded (which in any event was something of a bolthole for them to duck into when they recognised the mainstream effort had failed), the less future the other stuff is likely to have. Book E is specifically aimed at extending the use of embedded PowerPC into networking infrastructure and telecommunications, providing enhancements to the architecture while maintaining backward compatibility. IBM and Motorola are of the view that PowerPC processors are "becoming the processors of choice under the covers of more and more types of electronic products." That however doesn't mean they're yet a raging success - unless you compare them with the other PPC flavours... ®
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