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IBM outs dual-core PowerPC

G5-class 970MP revealed

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It's official. IBM has confirmed the existing of 'Antares', the dual-core G5-class PowerPC chip formally dubbed the 970MP.

The company this week posted an advisory note on its website informing hardware developers how to use the chip's on-board temperature monitors - two thermal diodes - to ensure the chip doesn't overheat.

The note marks the first time IBM has publicly mentioned the chip or its name, confirming rumours going back to August 2004 that the company had something called the PowerPC 970MP in the works.

The note confirms the 970MP's dual-core nature, with each core possessing its own 1MB L2 cache. The note suggests the chip is likely to be clocked higher than today's top-end PowerPC 970FX chips, which Apple uses in its iMac G5, Power Mac G5 and Xserve G5 machines.

This means higher power consumption levels and higher operating temperatures. That in turn means more aggressive cooling facilities, so we're likely to see a greater usage of liquid cooling systems in dual-core desktops. Apple introduced liquid cooling to the Power Mac range with its 2.5GHz dual-processor desktop machine last Summer.

This week it emerged that Apple's hardware performance testing tools had been modified for the 970MP, although there was still no official confirmation of the chip's existence from IBM. The tools also include support for quad-processor systems, which makes sense if Apple is planning twin dual-core systems: these would likely appear to Mac OS X as four processors not two.

The IBM note does not refer to the anticipated single-core version of the 970MP, the 970GX. ®

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