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Freescale to launch 90nm PowerPC G4 today

MPC7448 to take Apple notebooks to next level?

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Motorola's erstwhile chip division, Freescale, is expected to launch its latest G4-class processor, the MPC7448, today at its Smart Networks Developer Forum, being held this week in Frankfurt.

The new chip is Freescale's first 90nm G4 and is based on the company's e600 core, the foundation for Freescale's upcoming line of dual-core chips. The 7448, however, contains just one core, clocked to beyond 1.5GHz. It contains 32KB of L1 cache and 1MB of L2, double the 512KB of L2 found in the MPC7447A currently driving Apple's PowerBook G4 and iBook G4 notebooks.

Indeed, the 7448 is likely to provide Apple with its next notebook speed bump, as the company struggles to fit the hot-running PowerPC 970FX - aka the G5 - into a laptop.

However, it will have to wait: the 7448 is not expected to sample until H1 2005, Freescale said.

Unlike other e600-derived chips, the 7448 lacks an integrated memory controller. Instead, it talks to a North Bridge chip across a 200MHz MPX frontside bus, up from the 7447A's 167MHz. That's presumably for better compatibility with existing G4-based systems and, indeed, the 7448 and 7447A are pin-compatible.

The 90nm 7448 provides 0.9, 1.0 and 1.1V operating voltages, yielding power dissipation of 10W at 1.4GHz, Freescale claims, with compares well with the 7447A's typical and maximum dissipation figures of 21W and 30W, respectively, at 1.4GHz.

While the 7448 is clearly geared toward existing G4 roles, the dual-core MPC8641D, also based on the e600 core, is targeted at embedded applications. Each core has its own 1MB L2 cache and AltiVec SIMD engine, and the chip also features a dual 64-bit DDR 2 memory controlled clocked at up to 667MHz with ECC. The chip also contains two PCI Express 1x-8x bus controllers and a 1x/4x Rapid IO bus controller. The dual-core part uses a 960-pin interface.

Cunningly, the 8641D can not only appear to the host OS as two processors, but is capable of running a separate operating systems on each core.

The 8641D - and a single core version, the MPC8641 - will sample H2 2005. ®

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