Jul 9, 2004

The Ninety Nanonmeter Speed-Bump

Last Summer, Apple launched a serious upgrade with the Power Mac G5 and for the first time in a decade used a totally new PowerPC core not based on the PowerPC 603. With IBM's PowerPC 970, Apple is using a mainframe-level chip capable of massive parallel computing, access to hyper bus speed, and huge volumes of cache. Since the industry hit the wall shrinking to 90nm, however, the Mac community has expressed unrest at the clock-starvation: Memories of Motorola's 500 MHz Fiasco five years ago bubble up to the surface.

Kill your worry processes, Mac users. There's no clock-stall in the PowerPC's future any time soon. Motorola's failure to achieve speeds above 500 MHz was a result of it recycling the PowerPC 603 core far too many times, something that IBM avoids in using its Power series core. The speed-bump at 2.5 GHz is the result of a one-shot problem involved in shrinking the die. But let me explain in more detail.