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Apple: no 3GHz G5 'any time soon'

Broken promise

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs' promise to announce a 3GHz Power Mac G5 within a year of the processor's launch will not be made, a senior company staffer has admitted.

The reason: the "challenges" of moving to the 90nm node have proved rather less surmountable than they appeared almost 12 months ago when Jobs made his prediction.

Says who? Tom Boger, Apple's director of Power Mac product marketing, quoted by MacCentral.

"When we made that prediction, we just didn't realize the challenges moving to 90 nanometre would present," he said. "It turned out to be a much bigger challenge than anyone expected."

So: "No, we are not getting to 3GHz any time soon."

The blame lies more with IBM than Jobs or Apple. The chip maker has always been rather bullish about its shift to 90nm and the new technologies it has implemented to reduce leakage, that nasty phenomenon that causes a chip's transistors to waste energy when switching off. The smaller the transistor, the greater the potential for leakage.

IBM hoped that its established silicon-on-insulator technology - which does limit leakage - plus newer techniques, such as strained silicon, would ease the problem when it took the PowerPC 970 to 90nm (as the 970FX).

Boger's comment suggests that those tricks have proved less successful than IBM anticipated. That's undoubtedly one reason why Apple has adopted a liquid cooling system for its new, top-end 2.5GHz dual-CPU Power Mac G5, launched today.

IBM admitted earlier this year that 970FX yields were not as high as it had anticipated.

Equally, Boger warns that we shouldn't expect a PowerBook G5 any time soon. Again, the 970FX was seen as the part that would make such a product possible. Apple may yet pull something out of its hat, possibly thanks to the same liquid cooling technology found in the new G5, but we are unlikely to see it "any time soon", according to Boger. "Certainly not before the end of the year," he said. ®

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