Apple to go 64-bit with IBM PowerPC 970

“Macs are about to get a serious boost. Industry sources say that IBM plans to announce a new 64-bit processor on Monday – known as the PowerPC 970. It will run a new line of Macintosh products that could be available by the end of next year. The chip promises to goose Macintosh clock speeds, which right now trail Intel’s Pentium line significantly. “Pete Sampson, IBM senior PowerPC architect, says that the PowerPC 970 will reach clock speeds of 1.8 GHz and will also be able to do a lot more with each processor cycle. Current G4 CPUs can issue three instructions per cycle; the PowerPC 970 will issue eight. Macs will also be able to use colossal amounts of memory with these new chips — up to 4 terabytes, according to IBM’s Sampson – because of their 42-bit address space. Current G4s have only a 32-bit address space, and are limited to 4 GB of memory. Though sources close to the company confirm that Apple will be using the PowerPC 970, the company did not return calls requesting comment and has been tight-lipped about its 64-bit processor plans,” writes Wired here. The PowerPC 970 has 52 million transistors and will be built in a new IBM chip factory in East Fishkill, N.Y. In addition to high-end Apple machines, IBM expects it to be used in servers, workstations and communications gear. The chip will be available sometime next year, but IBM will unveil details about it at the Microprocessor Forum being held this week at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.

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