IBM debuts PowerPC 970FX; paves way for Apple PowerBook G5 with longer battery life, higher speed

“IBM said that it has started using a new method of manufacturing to make microprocessors that consume less power. IBM, based in Armonk, New York, said that it was using the method, which combines three existing technologies used in chip manufacturing, to build its PowerPC 970FX microprocessor in its new East Fishkill, New York plant,” Reuters reports.

“The current version of the PowerPC 970FX chip, the 970, is used by IBM in some of its computers as well as Apple Computer Inc. in its Xserve G5 computer server. With the new manufacturing process, the 64-bit chip, which can process vast amounts of computer memory compared with a standard 32-bit chip, can either run at faster speeds or use less power, said Richard Doherty, research director at Envisioneering,” Reuters reports.

“Given the chip’s reduced need for power, which means longer battery life, Apple may consider it for use in a notebook computer for gaming enthusiasts, Doherty said. ‘It’s logical that Apple would select the flexibility of this chip for a next-generation notebook computer, Doherty said. The manufacturing process uses high-performance chip-making technologies including silicon-on-insulator, strained silicon and copper wiring and is based on a 90-nanometer chip making process. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. That technology that shrinks the circuitry of the chip to make the 970FX, making it easier to put more transistors on a chip and increasing performance,” Reuters reports.

Macworld UK reports:

In-Stat/MDR’s February edition of the Micropocessor Report states: “Despite being smaller than the market-leading Pentium 4, the 970


  1. Given the chip’s reduced need for power, which means longer battery life, Apple may consider it for use in a notebook computer for gaming enthusiasts

    Huh?????????? Notebook for gaming enthusiasts????? I think this guy doesn’t quite understand the target market for powerbooks! Or am I reading this wrong?

  2. Given the fact that you cannot get an iBook from anyone in the UK at present (no stock) could we be about to see a whole change in the portable range? I seem to remember seeing lately delays in 12 and 15 Pbs too.

  3. Agreed. Apple isn’t in the market of selling 10 pound notebooks that give you 90 minutes of battery life like Alienware or somebody. These chips will go in the next revision of the PowerMac G5 for sure, but PowerBooks with G5s are still 6 or more months away minimum. The 970FX as it stands now is still too hot and power hungry to go into the PowerBook. It’s going to take a total redesign before the G5 comes in a portable Mac.

  4. I think they (G5 PBs) are not as far off as you think. Also, IMO opinion, the 17″ should have a Dual Processor option. Not full time, the second processor could be configured to only operate when a power adapter is pplugged into the wall, as full time dual processors will obviously decrease battery life below any convenient timeframe. This would increase the capabilities of having a multi-purpose laptop, you could do on-the-go things when you are on the go, but come home(or ofice, meeting, etc.), plug it in, and have a full-power G5 at your fingertips.

  5. According to IBM data sheets the 970fx consumes 12watts @ 1.4ghz.The current G4 power books consume 19watts, so extrapolate that and G5 powerbooks could give 1.6Ghz @ 19watts. So I don’t think they are as Far off as we think!!
    BTW a the same data sheet puts a 2.2ghz G5 at 42watts.

  6. I am on a laptop and am not a mega gamer but I do play some and will appreciate a notebook that can also play games (or pretty much handle whatever the hell you throw at it ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    We have a flat panel imac downstairs and that is nice there for the family (the positionable screen is great for my 2 year old), but for work I need to be able to just pick up and go and not dick around syncing all the time.

  7. “The 970FX as it stands now is still too hot and power hungry to go into the PowerBook.”

    The constant regurgitation of this statement only demonstrates the ignorance of the poster. The reality is that the 970FX is smaller, cheaper, cooler, and consumes less power than equivalent G4 processors being used in the PowerBook line today. That is simple fact. The 970FX is NOT the 970 that is being used in the current version of the PowerMac G5. This is a completely different chip, and as a result of the technologies cited in this article, it runs faster, significantly cooler, and consumes a fraction of the power of the original 970.

    Get a clue and stop posting the same tired drivel.

  8. Ben, Ben, Ben. How many times do I have to tell you. The guys at IBM know what they’re talking about. The guy said it’s good for notebooks? Then it’s good for notebooks!!!!



  9. I read somewhere that the 970fx chip is smaller in size than the 970, that would make it a lot easier to fit into the current powerbook with extra cooling or ventilation area if needed.
    That space could also be used for dual processors though i wouldn’t have thought apple would do that, as it would cut into powermac sales.
    I don’t see why apple can’t release new powermacs and powerbooks using the new processor in the next month (provided ibm can produce enough of them), with another possible update to the powermacs in the summer to bring the clock speed up to 3ghz.

  10. The current powerbook will be able to use the new g5 (regarding heat and power issues), but it’s a major design change for the motherboard. I’m sure they’re working on it, but it takes time. On the otherhand, expect new powermac announcement on Tuesday. IBM is spilling the ghz beans on Friday, so Apple has to beat them to it.

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