Does Moore’s Law dictate PowerBook G5 debut in six months?

Before Steve Job’s took the stage at last week’s WDDC, Apple’s problem was that for four years its processor upgrades have fallen short of Moore’s Law. Now everything’s changed.

“The G5 is revolutionary: a 64-bit machine running, at its heart, a variant of Unix, able to use up to 8Gb of RAM and address up to 18 exabytes (18,000 billion gigabytes) of disk space. It whirls data about on a processor bus running at 1 Ghz – faster than that on Intel machines now, which run at up to 800Mhz. And it is very fast when you’re in the driving seat – applications start so quickly that you feel like the weak link in the chain as you dither over the keys. Intel, meanwhile, insists it will stick with 32-bit machines; the move to 64-bit will be painful for Windows users, and seems to be years away,” reports Charles Arthur for The Independent UK.

Arthur continues, “Meanwhile, many Mac fans lapping up the details of the G5s are asking: how soon can we get a G5 laptop? Apple executives were guarded about this last week, because the chips are so hot: the G4 consumes about 41 watts in a desktop; the G5, nearer 80 watts. That means shorter battery life and a hotter lap. Rely on Moore’s Law to shrink the size, and hence power consumption and output, of the circuits enough to make a laptop feasible. When? “Not any time soon,” said one Apple executive last week. A quick calculation suggests that six months would be a reasonable period – now that Apple is once more obeying the laws of computing.”

Full article here.


  1. by the sheer size of those heatsinks, I think we’re talking more than 6 months. We’re talking about a processor that could practically cook your dinner.

  2. word on the street is that the PowerBooks will continue using the G4 for a while. as long as they increase the system bus to fully take advantage of DDR i have no problem with that – it will be a while before laptops will kick as hard as desktops. those boxes are so big for a reason…

  3. I dunno.. things may happen in Apple’s laptop division faster than most would expect. Steve has stated several times in the past year that he sees laptops, not desktops, as the future of computers.

    He, also, appears to have more clout with IBM’s microchip division than he did with Motorola’s. Placing Steve at the helm of a microchip company should scare the hell out of Intel.

    I think we will continue to see major innovations in size, weight and speed in his laptops.

    C’mon… a 17″ iMac with a floating monitor is cool…

    … but a 1″ thick 17″ Mac that is full-featured (burns DVDs), sits in your lap, and has a keyboard that automatically glows in dim light is VERY COOL!!!

  4. The best things in life are worth waiting for.

    The primary reason I buy Apple is because their products are easy to use, “just work”, and are so cool to look at. Apple (actually at the mercy of IBM) will have it’s hands full cooling down the G5 (add 9 months to get a factory retooled to build a new PowerBook) and won’t rush to the market.

    Not rushing to market is “a good thing”(tm).

    Look at the what the copy-cats have done with their poorly engineered iPod clones that no one is buying. They break the record on one specification item, and leave out key features (such as great software to manage the device with).

    Be patient.. the new AlBook’s are the best thing out there for the foreseeable future. It’s all about leap-frogging. Toshiba just previewed a 17 inch screen. The market will say “look! it’s just the same as a PowerBook 17, $1200 less!!!”. They just don’t get it. It’s the other things that the market doesn’t think about (because they never had the privilege of owning a Mac) that make it worth the $1200 (Unix, auto backlighted keyboard, Bluetooth, 802.11g, etc.) . About the time the Wintel market actually can spank Apple in the laptop market, Apple will come out with a new PowerBook and once again lead the market (like they do for now).

    Innovation is coming up a good idea.
    Getting an innovative idea into your hands takes time and skill (still waiting for my $500 Segway which my city won’t allow).

  5. Moore’s law has nothing to do with clockspeed directly. Nothing! Moore merely said that the number of transistors on a chip would double every 18 months. Clockspeed is irrelevant to discussions of Moore’s Law.

  6. The definition of Moore’s Law, as described by Dan earlier, is not entirely accurate. In 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that the trend of the doubling of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits every 12 months would continue (not 18 months). This did slowdown in subsequent years. However, data density has doubled approximately every 18 months, and has come to be associated with Moore’s Law and which today is actually part of the definition of Moore’s Law. He himself endorses this definition, and continues to believe that this trend will continue for at least another 20 years.

  7. From what I’ve read, the G5 probably won’t make it into a portable until the 980 comes out which is supposed to be much smaller and run much cooler. This may coincide with the 3gig chip that Jobs spoke of, so it may not be until next year sometime.

  8. Gordon Moore, of Moore’s Law fame, was Chairman of Intel. Moore’s Law is not a law of nature, it is a law of Intel. This is the crux of the MHz myth.

    Intel wins the MHz race, because Intel’s development department is guided by Moore’s law.

    Moore’s Law doesn’t talk about cooler. Notice how well the P4 does in laptops? Try flying from NY to LA with an Itanium on your lap.

    Motorola’s development has not been driven by Moore’s Law. It has been driven by the portable device market.

    IBM is neither Motorola nor Intel.

  9. The G5s don’t need much power when ran at lower speeds. For example, the G5 at 1.2Ghz uses only slightly more power than does the G4 at 1Ghz. At 1Ghz, the G5 uses less power than the 1Ghz G4.

  10. Obviously no one here is taking the time to do any research. Yes, the 2Ghz G5 uses about 80 Watts of power and produces more heat than the G4’s being used right now. However, as Nick mentioned, it actually draws less power and produces less heat once you take it below the 1.4Ghz speeds. Then it is actually more portable friendly than the currently shipping G4’s. The real issue is not heat, but cost. How much do you think it would cost to make a 400Mhz motherboard for a laptop with 400Mhz 128-bit DDR-RAM? Remember, the G5 desktops went up in price due to component costs. That same thing would happen in a laptop, but just a little more than on the desktop. Apple probably doesn’t want raise laptop prices just yet, as the laptops are currently their best selling market sector. They would prefer to first move up to the newly announced (and possibly already shipping to Apple) G4 7475. This chip has 200Mhz frontside bus support and can scale up to 1.4Ghz while still within Apples preferred Wattage to heat ratio. I predict we will see this first and once the component cost drops in price some, we will see Apple promoting the heck out of a 64-bit laptop.

  11. IBM announced the 1.4GHz version of the 970 used 18 watts. You could certainly build a PowerBook with such a part. On the other hand it may be worth waiting 6 months or so to milk as much as you can from the current PBs and release something when the 0.09 micron process is cranking 970s out…

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