The Performance Edge: A Gigahertz PowerPC Chip Coming To A Mac Near You? Three And Four Gigahertz Models To Follow Shortly?

According to a New York Times story, IBM will be presenting a paperdescribing a complete PowerPC processor, that runs at 1 gigahertz, at the International Solid State Circuits Conference that opened Monday in San Francisco. IBM says that these gigahertz chips (that's a billion cycles per second to you and me) should reach production status in the second half of this year.

The article goes on to state that these processors will first appear in servers where the demand for high-end chips to expedite Web page serving and e-commerce order processing, is great. Demand for these chips is also expected to be driven by computational intensive applications such as voice recognition and video.



According to Randall D. Isaac, a vice president at IBM Research, "The gigahertz era has arrived, and it looks like we have room to move up to the 3 or 4 gigahertz range very rapidly. Everyone talked about these limits, the end of Moore's Law, everything was going to slow down. But everything seems to be speeding up."

The PowerPC gigahertz chip that IBM expects to be shipping in the second half of this year will be a 64-bit version. They also plan to introduce a gigahertz version of the System 390 processor that is mainly used in mainframe computers.

Not to be outdone Intel said that it has a gigahertz version of the 32-bit Pentium III in the works, and is suppose to outline details of its 64-bit Itanium processor at the conference. Both chips are slated to be released in the second half of this year.

AMD also said they will have a gigahertz version of their Intel compatible Athlon processor ready for the second half of the year.

It will be interesting to see if these manufacturers can keep to these time tables and get the chips out the door in the time frame planned, or whether this is more of a spitting contest at the conference. Motorola has been having problems supplying the 500Mhz G4 processor due to manufacturing problems, but we are unsure whether the IBM chip will be a G3 or a G4 chip.

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