Analyst: I’d be surprised to see an Apple PowerBook G5 in 2005

“For Apple Computer, releasing a G5 PowerBook continues to be a weighty issue. Apple customers have been waiting for the company to deliver a PowerBook driven by the G5 chip for some time. The more powerful chip first arrived in the Power Mac line in 2003, and Apple began offering it in the iMac last year,” David Becker reports for CNET News.

“The computer maker is well aware that Mac fans want a G5 PowerBook, and technically, the company could offer one now. But given the relatively power-hungry nature of the IBM PowerPC 970FX processor–Apple has dubbed the 970FX and its predecessor, the 970, ‘G5’ chips–a G5 PowerBook would require compromises in size, weight and other aesthetics such as noise production. Apple, and likely most of its customers, wouldn’t be willing to live with that.” Becker reports.

“‘It’d be this really thick, heavy notebook, and it would be loud as all get-out,’ said Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of the Microprocessor Report. ‘Those would not be design choices that Apple would want to pursue.’ Although the wait might be painful for customers who want the latest technology from Apple, the company is likely to hold out for a low-power G5, a chip that could come later this year. The lower-power chip would consume less watts and also produce less heat, allowing Apple to fit it inside the thin chassis that’s typical of a PowerBook,” Becker reports. “Michael Gartenberg, an analyst for Jupiter Research, said he would be surprised to see G5 portables in 2005. ‘A G5 PowerBook is going to happen, but not as soon as a lot of people would like,’ Gartenberg said. ‘Apple is concerned about preserving the entire mobile experience, as opposed to just putting a G5 in a box and sticking a handle on it.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We wonder what happened to the previous editor in chief of the Microprocessor Report? You know, Peter Glaskowsky, the guy who said almost a year ago of the PowerBook G5, “I doubt it would be later than July or August [2004]. If everything had been just on a slightly different schedule we might have seen them at Macworld [San Francisco 2004].” More info here. The moral of the story: nobody outside Apple (except perhaps for Nick C.) knows for sure about the PowerBook G5’s progress and Apple sure isn’t about to spill the beans about when it’s coming while they’re trying to sell the world speed-bumped PowerBook G4s.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple unveils faster PowerBooks starting at $1499 with ‘scrolling TrackPad, Sudden Motion Sensor’ – January 31, 2005
Analyst: Apple PowerBook G5 to debut no ‘later than July or August’ – February 23, 2004

30 Comments

  1. Well Im still gonna wait for the G5 PowerBook.

    I plan to totally replace my G4 Dual 800mhz PowerMac with a G5 PowerBook when they are released and add a 22″ Apple Display.

    As it is going to be me main workhorse I need a G5 processor Laptop.

    I can wait…

    The new G4 PowerBooks are great machines, but the G4 processor is obsolete.

  2. “the G4 processor is obsolete.”

    You could not possibly be more mistaken; the G4 is far from obsolete. Its development has lagged, but the potential of the architecture has not been fully explored. This processor has a very long way to go before it’s obsolete, and with its excellent power consumption and heat dissipation characteristics, it could very well be the basis for some fascinating devices, not just laptops. If you think that’s nonsense, hang around for the multicore G4’s, and imagine an iBook outperforming dual-G4 PowerMacs.

    I believe that market expectation is pressuring Apple to create a G5 PowerBook, not because one is really needed. Multicore G4’s in Apple’s portables make a lot more sense than trying to solve the engineering problems with the G5 in the near-term. They need a G5 with low enough power to ensure acceptable heat dissipation and battery life, but not so low that later iterations of the G4 would outperform it and embarass Apple. Look at Intel’s position when the later Celerons and Pentium II’s outperformed the then-new Pentium III. It’s a delicate balancing act between marketing and engineering.

  3. You will see a Dual-Core 32-bit FreeScale PPC chip in a PowerBook long before you ever see a G5. BTW-You need a faster computer or more memory access?
    It’s getting awful late in the 970 90nm fab cycle to be spending tons of money on a cooler and lower power chip. FreeScale has converted it’s fab to 90nm and not had the heat problems that IBM has fought. The new MPC7448 chip will run rings around a power scaled 970FX & matches the current G4 chip pin-for-pin. If IBM isn’t ready REAL SOON you will be seeing Dual-Core FreeScale PPC Chips in PowerBooks at the WWDC this summer. Maybe IBM can get into the PowerBook when they drop the fab to 65nm. Remember FreeScale MPC7448, you will be hearing a lot about it later this year.

    Brought to you by the word “specific”

  4. The iMac G5 as it is now is practically a laptop (albiet a lot bigger, but thin). The G4 mini crammed into something half the size of an xbox. Patience grasshopper.

  5. I’m still on my original 500mHz blue/grey/pinstripe G4, one of the first if not the first G4 that came out way back when. Still runs just as fast and well as it did the first day i got it. It may be obsolete but it is still working. It’ll be obsolete when it breaks down or fails and cannot be replaced with another G4. But thats OK. Then it G5 or 6 time.

  6. Maybe Apple will change the laptop structure by having the CPU behind the screen in an upright position a la iMac G5 for easy cooling. The base could just be keyboard, battery and optical drive and the 2 hinged pieces would be about the same thickness.

    The iMac G5 seems to be fairly quiet cooling in a vertical position.

    The problem with a dual core G4 is that it’s not 64 bit capable so no one wants it in a powerbook anymore.

  7. Al,

    And the truly cretinous thing about that is that so little of the software that people use is actually 64-bit savvy, either in terms of math or address space.

    The next revision of PowerBook will doubtless be a dual-core Freescale e600 (an 85xx, if I’m not mistaken) and we won’t see a 64-bit PB until IBM ship 65-nm components, namely the rumoured PowerPC 350 processor.

    The 350 was allegedly going to see first silicon in around six months, but I’d stick another six on that given IBM’s (and everyone else’s) difficulties in getting 90-nm fabrication working reliably – a shift to 65-nm won’t be any easier and Apple won’t commit to 350 until IBM can prove it can come out of East Fishkill like toothpaste.

    On that kind of timetable, you’ll see a 64-bit PowerBook around WWDC 2006 which – and I’m taking a wild stab here – is about the same time you’ll see a fully 64-bit version of Apple’s professional production tools.

  8. And I was mistaken: the dual-core e600 is apparently 8641D.

    Second half of this year, allegedly.

    But we’re still close to the era of Moto to believe that until we see it.

  9. Double the FSB of the G4 up to 333MHz, and get it to properly support DDR RAM. I would buy another PBG4 if they could remove a few bottlenecks from the design, and those are the major ones.

  10. Well the MPC8641D certainly is an exciting chip. It brings the G4, if you can still call it that, to G5 performance, or even better. Sure it’s not 64-bit, but I certainly don’t need it. I don’t use 2GB, let alone the max of 4GB.

    I hope it isn’t vaporware. I’ll feel pretty obsolete with my little Mac mini when that comes out.

    My prediction: The next PowerBook update, probably around October, will have this dual-core system-on-a-chip running at 1.8Ghz. The mini will also sport this chip. The iBook will host the single-core version.

    Both the PB and iBook will get thinner because there will be far fewer main board components. Video and memory will share the mainboard. The hard drive and optical drives and battery will all fit around the main board which will be a challenge in the 12″ model. The heat sink will equal the entire surface area of the 12″ models.

    I won’t specualte on wireless options, I expect Apple to have a separate card that fits next to the DDRII memory. I’m not sure Apple will use DDRII though, it may be too hot for such a thin laptop.

    As for the new power-saving G5, it will be used for even higher-density Xserves. I don’t think it will be in Powerbooks yet this year. Maybe next.

    People holding off to upgrade because there’s no G5 PowerBook should change their priorities. Waiting is good. It saves you money and planet resources, but today’s G4 is a whole lot better than the 500 MHz chip you have in your system.

    Now, as for the 65nm chips coming out next year (suppossedly): what makes you think they will be any better than the failure that 90nm was? Power leakage is not your friend. It seems to me that the problems with 90nm would be even worse with 65nm, unless the techniques used to move electrons around are significantly different in 65nm, but I haven’t seen much of the technology. Seems like we’re ramping to 65nm awfully fast.

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