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PowerPC G5 enters ‘volume production’ – source

Power Mac G5s soon rolling off the production lines?

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The PowerPC G5 has been passed for full-scale manufacture, a source close to Apple has claimed.

And the Mac maker is still on course to ship Power Mac G5 desktops at Macworld Expo San Francisco in just over a months' time - provided Motorola can increase the chip's yield.

According to our mole, the G5 is tentatively being produced in three versions: 1.2GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz. We say 'tentatively' because there still appears to be some concern that there will be insufficient 1.6GHz parts for a commercial release. Says our source: "The chips that are testing at 1GHz are being set aside in case there are not enough 1.6GHz chips to release that machine."

In short, if Apple can't do 1.2GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz Power Mac G5s, it will release 1.0GHz, 1.2GHz and 1.4GHz-clocked machines. Presumably depending on the yields demonstrated over the coming weeks, the low-end box will go into production on 14 December, followed by the mid-range machine in 20 December. The fastest Power Mac G5 will start rolling off the production line on 3 January 2002, our correspondent claims.

The machines will all ship with DDR SDRAM memory, a "much faster" frontside bus and Gigawire.

Now, we're not sure what Gigawire actually is, but we note that it is an Apple technology - at least, the Mac maker applied for the name as a registered trademark on 5 September. The trademark application doesn't describes Gigawire per se but it's clear it's some kind of cabling technology. A faster version of Firewire seems likely, indeed we've already been told that the new machines will ship with IEEE 1394b, which we've heard described separately as "Gigabit 1394". The official 1394b spec., finalised last May, provides for 800Mbps data throughput, rising to 1.6Gbps and even 3.2Gbps with optical cabling.

Our source chooses not to - or (s)he can't - provide more detailed specifications for the Power Mac G5s and their component technologies. Previous reports from the source have claimed the frontside bus is 400MHz and the chip contains 512KB of on-die L2 cache.

Apple may not be the only customer: our source claims Cisco has expressed an interest too. Certainly Cisco has already committed itself to basing future router products on the PowerPC 7450 - aka G4 - so there's no reason why it won't be keen on the G4's successor. But that's a long way from a commitment to buy the new chip. ®

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