Fake G5 PowerBook Press Release
Apple fans, and I am one of them, want so badly to see a PowerBook G5, they have taken to mocking up official Apple press releases coming up to WWDC 2005. There are some good reasons why we shouldn't really want a PowerBook G5. Power consumption, cooling loudness, and performance compared to the G4.
The PowerPC 970FX, which is the CPU currently used in all G5s has better efficiency when it comes to heat dissipation, but it still draws way too much power to be considered for a mobile. Think about the fact that the G5 case has nine fans, the iMacG5 has almost that many also, Apple's top G5s have to be liquid cooled. The PowerPC 970FX at full power about 1.2 volts, although I have reason to think that Apple has pushed it up over 1.3 volts for their newest G5s shortening the CPU's life to under 50k POH, consumes about 100W at 2.5 GHz. If you cap the speed at 1.6, and reduce the voltage to 1.15V you could probably weasel the consumption down to about 45W. Which still leaves you with a 1 1/2 hour battery life, a laptop about the size of an Abrahms tank that sounds like a subway tunnel all the time, that barely gets better performance than Apple's current line of PowerBooks.
Compare that 45W under extreme optimization to the dual-core Freescale CPU being produced that at 1.5 GHz has a power consumption of less than 20W and will work the 1.6 GHz G5 like there is no tomorrow. I think Apple's options are limited here for the moment. The best move is to the dual-core 32-bit G4. On top of everything else, the dual-core freescale G4 CPU has 1 MB of L2 cache for each CPU core. I'm afraid this is a no brainer. But wait, there's more. The new freescale dual-core chips are pin-for-pin compatible with the current G4 CPUs, which mean that Apple would have to perform next to no hardware changes. The freescale G4 chips look like a fantastic fit for the new PowerBooks, that is what we should be looking for, we really don't want a G5 PowerBook.
Still, compared with the old PowerPC 970, the FX looks like it is sippin' power, the PPC 970 consumed 42W at 1.8 GHz and 1.3V, at 2.5 GHz the speed, the FX is pulling 100W. At the same MHz rating, assuming one could get the old 130nm 970 up there, it would be consuming something like 200W and have a life of about 1 POH.
There are rumors around that the PowerPC 970GX is IBM's lower power version of the FX, although there is no evidence that this CPU is being produced, or sampled by Apple. It isn't even clear if its possible, Intel has recently announced that its next mobile processor will be dual-core, hyperthreaded and manufactured on the 65nm process. Given IBM's problems at the 90nm level with the FX, I wouldn't have high confidence that they can get it right at 65nm, which would be pretty much the only way they could get the power consumption of the G5 low enough to get it into a notebook with decent weight and power consumption characteristics.
It may make sense that the PowerBook G5 would use the new Intel 'Yonah' CPU. It will have very decent power requirements, and outstanding performance since it is reported to have 2 MB of shared L2 cache between both cores, and would give the PowerBooks a decidedly competetive edge, with a good looking laptop with comparable guts to go head to head with its PC counterparts. The only problem then is that the PowerBooks would run circles around the G5 desktops so I expect if this is the case, then Apple will release the new 970MP dual-dual core CPU systems at the same time.
Ahh, speculation pre-WWDC '05, isn't it great!