Saturday, May 10, 2003

Long live the G3?

Mac Rumors has compiled a very comprehensive look at one of the more silent rumor topics as of the past few weeks. That topic: processors, processors, processors!

With the level of "sure-thingedness" surrounding Apple's coming adoption of the PowerPC 970, many processor rumors have gone overlooked. While Mac Rumors admits that this comprehensive look has a lot of unconfirmed speculation in it, it's interesting nonetheless.

The most relevant information surrounds the G3 "GOBI" chip, supposedly being made by the good folks at IBM. Think Secret first reported on the GOBI back in December, claiming it would make it's way into future iBook releases. The GOBI, while still only G3, would break the gigahertz barrier, and some of Mac Rumors unconfirmed info suggests speeds of up to 1.4 or possibly 2.0 GHz.

Also of interest is a bit of a name game. The GOBI may have received the codename Mojave. Although other rumors suggest that the two are similar, but different, processors.

As for GOBI specs, rumors range in ideas. Some earlier and slightly less speculative talk suggests that it may just be a faster G3. More recent unverified rumors call for a derivative G3 with Altivec, pushing clock speeds up to 2 GHz, due this summer. Other rumors push the notion that the GOBI and Mojave are different processors, claiming the GOBI to arrive this fall at 1.4 GHz and the Mojave to appear late in the year, sporting Altivec at 1.5 GHz.

But why all this confusion over the G3 of all processors? Many people are quite insistent that Apple will end the old processor, which only appears in iBooks right now. There's a problem with such a theory, though.

The G4, while a good processor, is slightly problematic in portables. It consumes more power and tends to get hotter than the G3. On top of that, the G4 is starting to reach it's maximum speed (I mean, would you really make something 1.42 GHz if you could go for 1.45 or 1.5?). If Apple wants a faster portable processor, they may have to make a new one.

Here's a scenario to consider. This summer (at WWDC) Apple announces a PowerPC 970 Powermac and Powerbook (I'm going to ignore the Xserve). The whole Pro line goes 970. Now only the iMac and eMac are G4, and the iBook is G3. For the next step (at MWNY) Apple announces a 970 iMac (as always, the eMac will intentionally lag behind, and I'm not going to give it much attention). A little while later (definitely after Powerbook 970s ship) Apple announces a GOBI (or Mojave or whatever) iBook and labels it as a new processor. The G3 is gone, but not really.

Sure, that's just a scenario that I took five minutes to write. It's one that I'm sure would bother those who are quite insistent when they claim that Apple won't put the 970 in the Powerbook right away (listen, I'm really sorry you spent that $3300 on the 17" Powerbook, but a simultaneous Powermac/Powerbook announcement makes a whole lot of sense). But it at least can give you an idea (if you didn't already have one) of why this whole "GOBI" and "Mojave" G3 stuff is so freakin' important.

Or maybe Apple will just put a 970 in the iBook (I'm kidding, of course)...


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