Motorola sources have confirmed what Apple insiders tell us: that the next generation of PowerPC processor, the PPC 8500 - aka G5 - is now consistently coming off the production line at 1.6GHz, and that it is a very fast chip.
However, the source - who claims to be an engineer with Motorola's PowerPC Architecture Development Team - cast doubts on short-term fixes to some of the chip's main bugs and that AltiVec performance may not prove as good as the version currently available in G4-class PowerPCs.
The source, cited by MacOS Rumors, confirmed that the G5 will indeed be a 64-bit processor and that with the current iteration, version 0.5, "yields are up and we are now getting a consistent product running at 1.6GHz". Yields look set to improve further - "This processor seems to have a great potential for high success rates. The current poor yields are mostly due to tinkering with the die to get the bugs eliminated."
This, (s)he claims, should impact the cost of the chip very positively: "Prices reported on The Register are much higher than what we expect." (see PowerPC G5 performance 'stunning' - sources)
The source said the G5 is "blazingly fast", adding that the Specmarks we reported last week are "fairly accurate". We would echo the "fairly" since the figures cited by our own source rise at a higher rate than the chip's clock speed, which by all accounts is physically impossible. We suspect that such slight errors arose from our source hastily scribbling the numbers down or mistakes in recalling the figures from memory.
The Motorola mouth also confirmed the G5's cache problems our own source revealed. However, (s)he thinks it unlikely this will be fixed in version 0.6. "Many of us on the team are not as confident as major changes in the fabrication process might need to be made in order to address the issues," the source said.
And: "AltiVec performance has not been as robust as seen in the G4. This could be due to the cache problems, but honestly, we are not sure right now."
That's not likely to impress Apple, which, we hear, is becoming increasingly fed up with Motorola's progress at getting new PowerPC chips out of the door, an issue Apple has felt frustrated by ever since the clock speed debacle of late 1999. Back then, Apple had to drop the clock speeds of its three recently released Power Mac G4 desktops by 50MHz because of a bug that prevented the PowerPC 7400 operating at over 500MHz. Apple went as far as to issue a statement that its future financial position was under threat from Motorola's inability to ship sufficient processors. The Mac maker then signed IBM to produce G4-class CPUs in its behalf. ®
MacOS Rumors: Another update from the inside: G5 Futures