Motorola upgrades PowerPC G4

Slimline PPC 7410 aimed at embedded market

Motorola yesterday unveiled its latest PowerPC G4 processor, the 7410, but the new processor is unlikely to please Mac users looking for a chip capable of catching up with Intel's ever-growing megahertz lead.

To be fair, the new chip isn't meant for Macs. Motorola is aiming the 7410 at the embedded market, but it does highlight some of the new technologies the company is bringing to its desktop processor line.

The 7410 will be based on a 0.18 micron fabrication process with copper interconnects, allowing it to run cooler and draw less power than the PowerPC 7400, better known as the G4. Performance-wise the two chips are much of a muchness, but a 500MHz 7410 draws the same power as a 400MHz 7400. The 7410 is also about half the size of its predecessor.

The chip supports up to 2MB of external L2 cache. It will ship at 400MHz, 450MHz and 500MHz, though Motorola also promised a 550MHz version soon.

But where is the next major revision of the G4, designed to get the chip up to the 1GHz mark? Motorola isn't saying directly - though an announcement of progress on the 'G4 Plus' is expected next month at the Microprocessor Forum. Motorola announced the G4 Plus at the same venue, last year.

Then, the G4 Plus was being discussed as a 700MHz and up chip, but we expect that to be increased to within striking distance of 1GHz, primarily to make the chip a better competitor for Intel and AMD CPUs. PowerPC already gives x86 is pretty good run for its money, despite the difference in clock speeds, but try telling that to eager PC buyers who can't see past the numbers. Motorola is believed to be sampling the G4 Plus already, though it has yet to announce that officially. ®

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