Saturday, August 21, 2004

NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL video cards causing Power Mac delays

People are receiving letters now that their Power Mac orders are delayed, but not because of G5 contraints. There are delays with the NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card. The interesting part is that Apple is offering to ship the machines with the ATI Radeon 9600 XT, and then will ship the NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL a few weeks later. There is no indication yet whether or not the Radeon 9600 has to be returned.

The email from Apple is as follows:
Dear Apple Customer,

Thank you for ordering the new Power Mac G5 with NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL Graphics card. Due to an unexpected delay, we cannot meet your estimated August 31st ship date.

Your satisfaction is important to us and we’d like to get your order to you as quickly as possible. In order to do so, we will configure and ship your G5 with an ATI Radeon 9600 XT w/128MB SDRAM card by September 3rd so that you can begin to enjoy your new PowerMac. Additionally, we will send an NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL Graphics Card Stand-Alone Kit by September 17th. There will be no additional cost to you.

If this solution is acceptable to you, no further action is necessary.

If you plan to use your new system with an Apple 30” Cinema HD Display that only works with the NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL Graphics card or you would like your system to ship with the NVidia card installed, please reply to so that we can process your order accordingly. If you choose this option, we expect to ship your G5 order by September 13th. Please rest assured that we fulfill all orders in the order they are received.

There is no need to contact us if the solution specified above is acceptable.

Contacting us is easy:

By email: Forward this note to and check the option below.

____ Please ship my system with the NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL Graphics card installed by September 13th. My order number is xxxxxxxx.

____ Please cancel my order. My order number is xxxxxxxx.

By telephone: Please call 800-676-2775, extension 55850, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. central time and Saturday and Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. central time.

The Apple Store Team

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Dual-core G4 in October

Freescale will introduce its dual-core G4-based e600 chip (PDF) on October 5th at the 2004 Fall Processor Forum.

The dual-core support in this 2+ GHz G4-class chip is interesting, but just as interesting is its integrated memory controller, which is a long time coming. The current G4 (MPC7447A) does not have the ability to communicate with memory at DDR speeds. Thus, any machine using DDR with a current G4 has effectively half the memory bandwidth when communicating with the CPU. The new dual-core e600 (and possibly single-core variants) will go a long way to alleviate the memory bandwidth constraints plaguing current G4 designs.

One may ask if this chip can compete with the G5. In many ways, yes, most definitely. Freescale is not known for being at the forefront of process technology or raw performance, but it is very well respected when it comes to low power embedded designs. Freescale's e600 will undoubtedly offer a very good speed to wattage ratio, and it will most likely compete favourably with IBM's 970FX in comparative MHz-for-MHz performance, at least when it comes to integer and Altivec code.

However, it's hard to see where a dual-core e600 will fit into Apple's lineup, at least in the near term. The new iMacs and Power Macs are using IBM's G5 970FX, and it's likely that the PowerBook will get this chip as well, in 2005. That leaves the eMac and iBook. Of these two machines, the most likely machine to use a next-generation G4-class chip would be the iBook, but dual-core is not necessary. Thus, it will be interesting to see what Freescale has to offer in single-core G4-class designs in the near future. At this point it is not clear if Freescale will be able to bring a single-core e600 variant to market quickly, or if it will continue to scale its current G4 design (which does not have true DDR support) to higher speeds. Possibly both, with the single-core e600 coming later. In the meantime, the iBook still has room to scale, since the G4 7447A is already available up to 1.5 GHz, and the current top-end iBook is at 1.2 GHz.

Update August 20, 2004:

The Register last year published an article that suggests Freescale could produce this chip with a power spec of 25 Watts at 1.5 GHz, utilizing a 90 nm process. That seems rather optimistic, but if true, then it would mean that a dual 1.5 GHz (or possibly even a dual 1.8 GHz) G4 PowerBook is feasible. However, this assumes that the 25 Watt spec is true, that Apple wants another 32-bit PowerBook, and that Apple is willing to bet on Freescale's 90 nm shrink (despite Freescale's history of delayed process shrinks compared to the competition), when IBM has already solved its 90 nm problems and could ship a laptop oriented single-core G5 970FX chip (perhaps up to 1.9 GHz) in fairly short order comparatively.

We shall see in 2005.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

New iSight available

The iSight has undergone some minor modifications and now comes with a magnetic mount, compatible with the new Cinema displays. The new SKU is M8817LL/B. The previous model was M9330LL/A.

Otherwise, besides the new magnetic mount and some changes to the plastic attachments, the iSight appears identical.

It's unfortunate that the new H.264 based iChat AV is not yet available. That is coming with Tiger, and will improve image quality dramatically, and will allow multi-user conferencing.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The 130 nm G5 970 is (still) dead

I previously wrote that the 130 nm G5 970 has now been retired. Further evidence to support this is that the current G5 2.0 also shares a motherboard with the G5 2.5, and the machine is recognized as a different one than the original G5 2.0.

If one types "ioreg | egrep Power" in the Terminal, one will see that the current G5 2.0 is called "PowerMac7,3". The previous G5 2.0 was called "PowerMac7,2". Apple's published G5 block diagram also shows a common motherboard for the new G5 2.0 and the G5 2.5.

I'm not aware of all the differences between the previous and current motherboard revisions, but one notable difference is that the HyperTransport speed has now been increased to 4.8 Gbps (vs. 3.2 Gbps in the original Power Mac G5).