PowerPC G4 delayed to 2000

Motorola way late, say sources. Bugger, says Apple

Motorola's next revision of the PowerPC architecture, the G4, also codenamed 'Max' and known officially as the PowerPC 7400, has fallen behind schedule, and the company may not now begin volume production until next year. That's way beyond the original "middle of 1999" production schedule Motorola outlined last October. According to unnamed sources cited by the AppleInsider Web site, Motorola is having real problems getting sample G4 silicon to developers, including Apple, and has "missed deadline after deadline". The sources claim that the second and third revisions of the G4 silicon -- Apple alone already has first revision silicon -- are now already six to eight months late. They also suggest Motorola has not yet issued an updated release schedule -- not a postive sign -- and reckon that it will have a real job getting production chips to market before Q1 2000. Reasons for Motorola's delay are unclear. One suggestion has it that the company is having a problem implementing copper interconnect technology, but this seems unlikely given IBM's success with the technique. And the two companies are now, of course, the best of friends. More likely, Motorola is having a tougher time integrating the AltiVec vector processing module onto the same silicon as the main CPU core. The AltiVec unit isn't too complex in its own right (as these things go), but connecting it to the CPU core might well prove trickier than Motorola imagined. AltiVec is designed to operate in parallel with the processor and is rather more complex that the PIII's Streaming SIMD Extensions. Whatever the cause, it still leaves Apple in a very sticky position. It had intended to use Max to give its next Power Mac release, the Power Mac G4, a major speed hike. The Power Mac G4 is set to contain an updated motherboard that implements Intel's 4x Advanced Graphics Port (AGP) spec. AGP provides graphics cards with a dedicated channel to the processor and direct access to the computer's main memory. The slower 2x AGP spec. is now a standard in Wintel boxes. The Power Mac G4 was due to ship in the Q2/Q3 timeframe, but clearly Apple will now have to delay it for over six months or ship the machine with a PowerPC 750 (aka G3) processor. With the G3 being increasingly outpaced by the Pentium III, that's not good news for Apple, though faster G3 clock speeds will help, suggesting a release sooner rather than later. Still, Apple will be preparing Q1 2000 for its major new operating system (MacOS X) roll-out, so promoting a major new processor architecture (G4) at the same time may not be such a bad idea, and could be just the filip Apple needs to attract buyers to MacOS X. ®

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