Xbox 2 to get 65nm CPU – report

Just like the PS3

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IBM's processor for the Xbox 2 will be fabbed at 65nm, and experimental versions of the chip have already popped off the end of the company's production line.

So claims TeamXbox citing confirmation from unnamed sources that Xbox 2, like the next generation of the PlayStation, will be based on 65nm technology.

"IBM has already taped out experimental samples at its East Fishkill fab but it will take between 12 and 18 months for them to deliver commercial parts," the site's deep throat alleges. "Anyway, they're way ahead of Intel."

That schedule would put the processor's availability in a mid to late 2005 timeframe, which is a reasonable estimate. Certainly 18 months is a more likely deadline than 12. Both Intel and AMD are expected to debut 65nm chips in the second half of 2005, and while IBM may be "way ahead", we doubt it's that far.

The 90nm PowerPC 970 - aka the G5, officially the 970FX - isn't expected to ship in significant quantities until the middle on next month, six to eight weeks after Apple announced the Xserve G5, which uses the new CPU. By then, Intel should also be shipping the 90nm Pentium 4 - 'Prescott'. AMD's 90nm chips are due next quarter, or early Q3. So the major chip makers are running broadly neck-and-neck.

Where IBM is ahead of Intel is in thermal characteristics, with the 970FX consuming less power clock frequency for clock frequency than the 130nm 970. Prescott, by contrast, consumes more power than the previous, Northwood generation of the P4 (though to be fair, it also sports more extra circuitry than its predecessor).

TeamXbox's source suggests 65nm will allow IBM to ramp up clock speeds: "The 65nm technology will allow them to break the 3GHz barrier for sure and get closer to the 5GHz mark," (s)he says.

Apple's Steve Jobs has promised 3GHz G5-class CPUs next summer, so this doesn't seem too unreasonable. We reckon the next generation of G5, believed to be called the PowerPC 980, may be the part to deliver that clock speed, not least by offering the longer instruction pipeline necessary to deliver higher clock frequencies.

The 980 is expected to be fabbed at 90nm, however. ®

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