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Apple switching back to PowerPC CPUs


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The key in this argument is P.A. Semi make industry leading low-power chips, and also founder Dan Dobberpuhl was a designer on the StrongARM project which, among many other things, produced the CPU for the Newton. Apple use ARM in all their portable devices currently and also by that virtue have a OS X ARM branch (the iPhone/iTouch version). Purchasing P.A. Semi would give them a chip design team on staff to design custom chips for these devices without having to outsource. P.A. Semi have no fab facilities so Apple aren't going into chip manufacture, they just want their own designs and found a convenient way to find the staff and expertise to do it. P.A. Semi only employ approx. 150 people so it's not exactly a huge leap.

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Dobberpuhl wanted to design a enormously powerful chip, based on the PowerPC architecture, that used little power. When Apple decided to quit using the PowerPC chip in favor of Intel microprocessors, the conversations with P.A. Semi petered out.

 

That hardly makes them the (or even a) PPC designer, Dana.

 

But still, if only...

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Dobberpuhl wanted to design a enormously powerful chip, based on the PowerPC architecture, that used little power. When Apple decided to quit using the PowerPC chip in favor of Intel microprocessors, the conversations with P.A. Semi petered out.

 

That hardly makes them the (or even a) PPC designer, Dana.

 

But still, if only...

 

The Forbes blurb (usual waffle from a non-technical source, alas) doesn't, but the dual core, 2GHz 64-bit 13W SoC they did end up creating does. It's real hardware - with real products using those SoCs. ( and this has to be one of the coolest looking pieces of PPC hardware I've seen :) )

 

(And it's preferably called Power Architecture now.)

 

Dana

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Dobberpuhl wanted to design a enormously powerful chip, based on the PowerPC architecture, that used little power. When Apple decided to quit using the PowerPC chip in favor of Intel microprocessors, the conversations with P.A. Semi petered out.

 

That hardly makes them the (or even a) PPC designer, Dana.

 

But still, if only...

 

The Forbes blurb (usual waffle from a non-technical source, alas) doesn't, but the dual core, 2GHz 64-bit 13W SoC they did end up creating does. It's real hardware - with real products using those SoCs. ( and this has to be one of the coolest looking pieces of PPC hardware I've seen :) )

 

(And it's preferably called Power Architecture now.)

 

Dana

 

Those don't look like G5's or even G4's to me. Those are probably POWER6 based which means they'll never be in a desktop machine.

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Those don't look like G5's or even G4's to me. Those are probably POWER6 based which means they'll never be in a desktop machine.

 

According to a reading of the chip's specs, plus a reading on the Power ISA, the chip is a 'system on a chip' (CPU core, plus what we normally call the "northbridge", consisting of memory controller and I/O controller,) that is fully compliant with Power ISA v2.04; which is the successor to Power ISA 2.03, which the PowerPC 970 (aka "G5") is compliant with. In addition, Power ISA 2.03 is a derivative of the PowerPC ISA 2.02. Essentially, "PowerPC" was rolled back into the greater "Power Architecture", with the G5 being the first mainstream "PowerPC" processor to be released under the new definition.

 

(Chip specs link goes to a Google cache since PA Semi's website is down at the moment.)

 

As for never seeing light in a desktop, that is almost assuredly because nobody makes PPC desktops any more. These are for either HPC clusters (like the linked 9-CPU box,) or for embedded uses. Plus, at 13W, this thing could very easily power a "PowerBook Air G5" that has better battery life, and better performance, than the existing MacBook Air.

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This is all over the internets.

 

Apple is going to rape and pillage PA so hard even Vikings will blush.

 

We won't ever see PPC in a tower again. Maybe a little girlyman sized wanna be laptop but that's it.

 

This is a grab for talent and IP. Nothing more.

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