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Motorola hurries release of 0.13µ G4

Q4 production brought forward to Q3

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Motorola appears to have brought forward volume production of the next major G4-class PowerPC processor, the MPC7457, from Q4 to Q3.

The 7457 remains the leading contender for upcoming Apple PowerBooks. While some Mac users hoped IBM's 64-bit PowerPC 970, which Apple is calling the G5, would make it into PowerBooks, the chip's significant heat dissipation prevents it from taking on such a role.

When Motorola unveiled the 7457 back in February, it said the chip would sample in March followed by full production in Q4. Today, Motorola customer Synergy Microsystems, which produces motherboards for the embedded market, said it had begun shipping evaluation boards supporting single and dual 7457s.

Final 7457 boards will ship in Q3, says Synergy, "when production quantities of the [7457] become available".

The 7457 is Motorola's follow-up to the current top-of-the-line G4, the 7455. It not only doubles the G4's on-die L2 cache to 512KB, but expands its external L3 cache support to 4MB (though only 2MB can be used as cache per se; the rest is available as "private memory"). The clock speed will max out at 1.3GHz, but the extra cache sizes should improve performance even on the 1GHz version compared to current G4-based PowerBooks. So too will its 200MHz frontside bus, which paves the way for 400MHz DDR SDRAM support.

The 7457 will be fabbed at 0.13 micron, and Motorola claims the chip consumes just 16.6W at 1.3GHz, compared to the 0.18 micron 7455's 15W at 1GHz. By contrast the G5 consumes 42W at 1.8GHz. All three chips have a core voltage of 1.3V.

With new, 15.4in PowerBooks said to go into production during the second half of the year, the 7457 remains the most likely candidate for that machine's processor, possibly in dual-CPU configurations, if some rumours are to be believed.

Hints from a variety of sources that Apple might be refreshing the ageing Titanium 15.2in PowerBook this week appear to have proved unfounded. However, the machine is due an upgrade as it lacks not only the other PowerBooks' DDR SDRAM-based architecture but support of AirPort Extreme, Apple's second-generation, 802.11g-based wireless networking system and integrated Bluetooth. ®

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