Friday, February 18, 2005

iPod mini to get colour screen?

In the last article we said that there might be an iPod mini update next week.

ThinkSecret says that the update will include a colour screen, and that 6 GB is possible. 6 GB does seem likely, as Western Digital and Hitachi both are making these drives in 2005.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

New iPod mini and iMac next week?

The iPod mini and the iMac now have shipping times at the Apple Store which have changed from same day shipping to 5-7 and 7-10 days respectively. Usually this means an upgrade is imminent. Furthermore, a post a few days ago at this blog from a supposed Apple employee suggested there may be "something big" coming next week:
i have to take one day off from apple, see, because the taping for def poetry requires it, but the good news is that i will fly to nyc on my day off, tape the next day, which is my day off, then fly out the next day, which is the only day i need off from apple.

but, here's the thing... something big is about to happen at apple, and they won't tell us what it is, but this big thing is happening on wednesday, my day off, and everyone in the entire call center is being put on mandatory overtime from wednesday to friday, which is when i want to leave. it's probably a new product release, probably the new operating system tiger, anyway, i've been told by the lady in charge of allowing for time off that i not only cannot have the friday off, but my normal day off of wednesday is being switched to tuesday for this week. like, with no asking, with no notice, just buh-blam.
Curiously, that post has since been removed.

However, such shipping delays could also simply signify manufacturing issues, especially with the iMac. Still, if you're considering purchasing either product, it may be prudent to wait until next Wednesday. If they are updated, we can expect the iPod mini to be bumped to 5 GB or 6 GB, and the iMac to be bumped to 2+ GHz, with or without GPU upgrades.

[Update: 2005-02-17]

The iMac page at the Apple Store now quotes 3-5 day shipping.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Cell's Power Processor Element: Cool enough for a laptop?

In the last Cell article, we quoted the 4 Watt spec for the Synergistic Processing Element (SPE) in Cell at 4 GHz, which means 32 Watts if one considers all 8 SPEs. However, one of the big questions for Mac users is the power dissipation of the remainder of the chip, most specifically the Power Processor Element (PPE), since it is this portion of the chip that could be most readily used in a Mac.

The RealWorldTech article suggests that at 4 GHz, the entire chip requires somewhere between 50 and 80 Watts. However, if the Sony PlayStation 3 really will use Cell with most of those SPEs at near 4 GHz, then one would expect the 4 GHz Cell's power dissipation to be closer to the 50 W estimate, since heat dissipation is a big concern for a console. This would also go along with the rumours that suggest that the PPE x 3 is similar to what will appear in Xenon, the chip destined for Microsoft's Xbox 2. A (lower clocked) three-core CPU based off the PPE would make for a chip appropriate for a console, but only if the PPE unit were relatively low power. The Electronic Design article gives a more specific estimate of approximately 60 Watts for the entire chip. If this estimate is close to accurate, it would suggest that Cell at 4 GHz without the SPE units would come in at under 30 Watts, which is perfect for laptop use.

What is unknown is how IBM's PowerPC 970FX (or some other unreleased 9xx series chip) is doing in terms of power utilization. IBM has hinted that they could hit the sub-30 Watt window with a G5 chip clocked at 1.9 GHz or less.

So what will Apple use in their next PowerBook? That is of course still unknown to us. However, while I do think it's most likely that Apple's future PowerBooks will sport a G5 variant, it is nice to see that there are several possible options:

1) IBM G5 970FX 1.8 GHz (with 512 KB L2) or 970GX (with 1 MB L2).
2) Freescale G4 7448 1.8 GHz (with 1 MB L2).
3) IBM Cell PPE 3.5-4.0 GHz (with or without integrated memory controller)
4) Freescale e600 1.8 GHz with integrated memory controller

The potential low power PowerPC options for Apple haven't looked this good for quite some time.