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IBM to Apple: eat these chips

PowerPC revved again

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As a parting shot to Apple, a piqued IBM today announced two new lines of its PowerPC 970 processor, better known as the G5. And they're impressive beasts.

A new, low-power 970FX consumes between 13W and 16W at frequencies of 1.2GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz. That's more than the 10W that the Freescale MPC7448 found in today's 1.5Ghz PowerBooks consumes, but around half the maximum power consumption of Intel's Pentium M, which powers today's Centrino laptops. IBM is also unveiled the dual-core 970MP codenamed 'Antares', at clock frequencies of 1.4GHz to 2.5GHz. Each core has 1MB of L cache, and one core can be turned off to save power.

Contractual commitments and supporting remarks from IBM since the WWDC announcement suggest that these processors will form the final PPC-based Macs that Apple produces, despite the ill-tempers raised by Apple's switch to Intel.

Clearly responding to the belief that only Intel can afford to invest and manufacture in volume, IBM showed a slide that the pointed to the investment in its semiconductor platform. Between them, IBM, AMD, Sony, Samsung, Infineon and Toshiba have invested $17bn worth of capital expenditure on silicon, compared to $12.6bn by Intel. The PPC and Cell will form the heart of games consoles from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony over the next 12 months.

Exactly ten years ago, Apple's board agreed to sell the company to IBM, which was trying to create a volume business for its PowerPC chips. The deal was done and dusted, and only fell apart at the signing ceremony. Now IBM looks like it will finally have a volume business - but Apple won't be part of it. ®

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