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IBM announces 64-bit PowerPC processor

Big chip Apple bound?

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Apple can look forward to a boost in speed and performance after news emerged of IBM's plans to produce a 1.8GHz 64-bit PowerPC processor next year. Maybe.

The PowerPC 970 will be a scaled down version of IBM's Power4 server chips and will be able to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications. The desktop-orientated part is expected to find a home in Apple PCs in a move which could see its machines leapfrog x86 desktops in performance, albeit at a much higher price.

That much is speculation, for now, since customers for the part remain unannounced and since Apple faces a sizeable number of technical issues in the transition, as our August article (IBM lays desktop PowerPC on Cupertino lawn) explains.

Mac PowerPC CPUs currently reach up to 1.25GHz, compared to 2.8GHz for the fastest Pentium 4 processors. AMD's 64-bit Hammer processors, due early next year, are designed with servers - rather than desktops - in mind.

IBM is expected to flesh out technical details of the processor at this week's Microprocessor Forum. ®

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