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IBM

PowerPC Goes 64 bit 372

prostoalex writes "ExtremeTech runs a story about IBM planning to introduce a new 64-bit PowerPC architecture for desktops in October at the Microprocessor Forum. The conference agenda tells us that "this processor is an 8-way superscalar design that fully supports Symmetric MultiProcessing. The processor is further enhanced by a vector processing unit implementing over 160 specialized vector instructions and implements a system interface capable of up to 6.4GB/s"." There's also a News.com story.
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PowerPC Goes 64 bit

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  • Altivec? (Score:3, Redundant)

    by spookysuicide ( 560912 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:16PM (#4040873) Homepage
    Is that "160 specialized vector instructions" the infamous motorola designed altivec? Is this the next processor apple will use? Does this mean all that intel talk was well.... just talk?
    &nbsp
    anyone know?
    • the infamous motorola designed altivec?

      Infamous? It's shipping in all the G4's, so Apple is already using AltiVec. And what Intel talk are you referring to?
    • All that Intel talk was just talk.
      All this IBM talk is just talk too.

      Nobody with insider information is talking right now. That means that nobody knows a damn thing. Everyone is simply surmising about what could possibly happen. And they could all be full of crap.
  • eWeek Story (Score:3, Informative)

    by hatter3bdev ( 533135 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:16PM (#4040876)
    There is also an eWeek [eweek.com] story.
    • From eWeek link:
      "What I find is interesting is the fact that IBM can talk about it. If there was committed Mac design, you know (Apple CEO) Steve Jobs would have his hands around IBM's neck not to talk about this chip," said Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst at In-Stat/MDR. "The fact that IBM is talking about it indicates to me that it's not a mainstream Apple product at this time."
  • by pstreck ( 558593 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:16PM (#4040879)
    If these are as good as they sound, all those speculations and rumors of apple switchin to intel are going to be thrown out the back door.
  • by johnjones ( 14274 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:17PM (#4040887) Homepage Journal
    the fact that PowerPC high end is comeing down to the low end well who whould have that coming .....

    the intresting part will be a 1.2GHz ARM part from Samsung useing the Alpha technology
    (they say its ARM10 but I think thats wrong and its just ARMv5 complient but that sounds bad in marketing speak so thedy said it was like an ARM10(I think I am not sure) )

    regards

    John Jones

  • ars forum (Score:2, Informative)

    by pohl ( 872 )
    There are a few pages of good discussion here. [infopop.net]
  • by Jobe_br ( 27348 ) <bdruth&gmail,com> on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:18PM (#4040893)
    Motorola's 85xx processor, aka G5, is 64-bit, if this article [theregister.co.uk] is to be believed.

    Is this IBM just coming out with their own 64-bit PPC core? I thought Apple, Motorola and IBM were in an alliance? Seems to me that its quite a competitive alliance, eh?
    • I thought Apple, Motorola and IBM were in an alliance?

      Officially yes, but each partner has a different agenda. Apple wants desktops, IBM wants servers, Motorola wants embedded.

      MacSlash had some very good points about this in their article [macslash.org]: IBM's chip has "160+ vector instructions"; Motorola's Altivec has 162. IBM's chip has 6.4GB/s bandwidth; Apple is a founding member of HyperTransport, which is 6.4GB/s.

      Hopefully the dots will connect and Apple will get out of the Motorola doldrums.

  • by neurojab ( 15737 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:19PM (#4040907)
    PowerPC has been available in 64 bit since the introduction of the A10 in 1996.

    Here's [ibm.com] some proof.

    The new multi-code die is very interesting though...
  • by perlow ( 451482 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:22PM (#4040940) Homepage
    Back in 1993-1994 when IBM was still working on the OS/2 for PowerPC and WorkPlace OS, and Taligent and "Pink" were still on the drawing board, IBM was planning to release the PowerPC 620 Series, a 64-bit version of the PowerPC 604. They intended to use it to run a 64-bit version of OS/2 that ran on the Mach kernel.

    The design was scrapped because back then the manufacturing process was way too expensive to be cost effective in mass producing the chip. And we all know what happened to PowerPC OS/2.

    http://www.byte.com/art/9411/sec8/art5.htm
  • by Drakon ( 414580 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:24PM (#4040954) Journal
    I requested this at IBM's PPC booth at linux world in JANUARY
    what took them so long ;-)
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:27PM (#4040981)
    Sorry, but market forces are now as powerful as performance metrics. Apple no longer benefits from not being x86...cost being the biggest issue, and most of the time now they can't even claim a performance gain.

    Intel won the CPU war on desktop PCs. Look to servers, handhelds, game consoles, etc. for the the next CPU battle worth fighting.

    • "Intel won the CPU war on desktop PCs."

      Really? I can't help but notice that AMD has been able to fight back a bit and claim some land in this war. Maybe they aren't winning by a huge margin yet, but they are fighting, and doing well.

      Until everyone in the consumer sector owns an intel (which almost was several years back in the pc market...) and continues to buy only intel, intel hasn't won yet.
    • Apple no longer benefits from not being x86...cost being the biggest issue

      C'mon, you can't be privy to internal Apple component pricing and not share it with us... You are sure they pay more than Intel would charge, even though they buy processors in lots of a few hundred thousand or so, right?

      and most of the time now they can't even claim a performance gain.

      And the 8-way superscalar 64-bit G4 still won't help, right?
    • by CynicTheHedgehog ( 261139 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:56PM (#4041188) Homepage
      And yet Apple produces desktops and servers that are as fast as the user needs them to be. That is, the user interface is responsive while still aesthetically pleasing; gamers don't suffer paging or poor frame rates when playing games; and programmers are not lacking in development tools and do not lament the speed of their compilers. And they do this all without a fan on their processor.

      As an owner of a 700MHz G3 iBook, I can say that I never once have thought, "damn, I wish this thing was faster." Apple may not be for the hardcore overclocking benchmark junkie, but they're just fine for the rest of us who just want to get some work (or play!) done.

      Personally, I'll sacrifice performance I'll never realize in return for a beautiful, intuitive, and responsive interface housed in a quiet, attractive package.
      • I say to myself. "Self, I wish this damn iBook wasn't burning a whole through my pant leg."

        I do have to say that the iBooks are VERY nice though. Good performance at a great price. My wife loves hers, the only complaint either of us have with it is that it does heat up under the hard drive, and a small fan couldn't possibly hurt to push the air around and out the large vents on the left side where most of the heat builds up.
      • I had a 500mhz iBook running 10.1, and while the OS was pure heaven, the speed of the iBook was pure hell. I constantly said "damn, I wish this was faster" until I finally gave up when I noticed it'd take me twice as long to browse the web as on a PC. What a drag. I sold it and am looking forward to the day when I can get a decently fast iBook. Maybe the 700mhz model is a lot faster, but I'd be surprised.
        • The 500MHz iBooks very much slower. The problem is that they still used 66MHz system bus and memory. 600MHz iBooks use 100MHz system bus and memory and the 700 iBooks have double the L2 cache as the 600MHz iBooks.
        • I sold it and am looking forward to the day when I can get a decently fast iBook. Maybe the 700mhz model is a lot faster, but I'd be surprised.

          The 700mhz have a larger cache and faster bus if I recall correctly.

          On the other hand, I am posting this from a Powerbook G3 running at 333 Mhz, and I'm comfortable with the speed of normal applications. My secret? RAM, my friend, boatloads of RAM. Actually, 320 MB really isn't considered a boatload any more, but it's enough that the OS and most apps speed remarkably.

          Of course, when I'm encoding mp3s or doing other signal processing stuff like photoshop, or recompiling PHP, I do sometimes wish for some more speed.

      • by GreenKiwi ( 221281 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @03:57PM (#4041745)
        Personally, I'll sacrifice performance I'll never realize in return for a beautiful, intuitive, and responsive interface housed in a quiet, attractive package.

        Wouldn't we all... especially if she'll do the dishes too...
      • That's funny, I have the 600 mHz ibook and I say that all the time.

        Your L2 cache may have saved you this time, but PC laptops have been Fast Enough for a year or two. Sure, *now* Apple's hardware is all fast enough, but it's not like that's been a continuing design decision.
      • And yet, Apple has 4% market share. If Apple is a corporation, than it has a duty to expand this share and make bigger profits for shareholders. Otherwise they are just philanthropists and not capitalists. Judging by Jobs' smarmy marketing tricks over the past 5-7 years, they're trying to be a big playa and failing because of ideological inertia.

        If Apple is smart, they will try to dominate the handheld market b/c they are the champs at logical interfaces. Or rather, I wish they would, becuase that is where the most cpus will eventually go, and i really don't want all gadgets to suck as bad as Windows.

    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @03:06PM (#4041256)
      Sorry, but market forces are now as powerful as performance metrics. Apple no longer benefits from not being x86...cost being the biggest issue, and most of the time now they can't even claim a performance gain.

      Intel won the CPU war on desktop PCs. Look to servers, handhelds, game consoles, etc. for the the next CPU battle worth fighting.


      Until we have a monoculture in all our products, and have eliminated every trace of competition or choice, everywhere?

      You waive your hands at the "invisible hand" of the free market as an argument for competitors to not even try competing for a portion of the marketplace, in effect advocating the replacement of a market with competitors with an intel monopoly.

      I suspect you do not even see the contradiction in your argument, so let me spell it out for you. Monopolies are antithetical to a functional Free Market. Without competition the entire basis for capitalism functioning in any worthwhile capacity at all is removed and no free market exists. In short, without competition capitalism dies, and the free market "authority" you are alluding to becomes meaningless.

      It astonishes me how people can argue "the market says" with one breath and "everyone should cave and give company X a monopoly" with the next. Indeed, one is forced to wonder if much of the current economic chaos isn't a result of an entire graduating class, perhaps an entire generation, not understanding even a little of economics in any context other than the inflated (and as it turns out largely fradulant) boom of the 1990s.

      I won't even get into the fact that free markets are but one force, one tool, necessary for a functioning society or culture, another point often ignored in our western myopia, but that is a discussion for another thread.
    • Hrm.

      Did this [apple.com] somehow slip past your notice as an Apple product?

      In addition, I've a hard time believing the time (and, by way of paychecks, money) spent porting would be worth the (probably moderate) savings in chip costs. Granted, since Darwin's written based on a portable OS (NeXTStep, itself based on 4.2 BSD), porting it to another processor architecture wouldn't be any big feat (espeically considering this already happened at Apple to get from mac68k to macppc), but I'm not so sure it'd be saving Apple any money to do so.
    • What are you talking about? Apple's money is mostly made on hardware sales. I don't know what it is with you people that think Apple should move to Intel, but it's a bad idea. Take note of this next sentence:

      Apple relies on being on a seperate platform from Microsoft to survive.

      If Apple ever moved to Intel, they would be crushed. Steve Jobs said a long time ago that the desktop war had been won by Microsoft, and he's right. Switching to Intel would be suicide.

      The Mac isn't about being the fastest machine on the block, it's about being the best designed, easiest to use, most useful machine on the block.
    • by SoupIsGood Food ( 1179 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @05:03PM (#4042275)
      The battle for the 32bit desktop processor has been won, you mean. It's been a long, bloody battle, and for a time in the mid-'90s, when Apple was on the ropes, the victory looked complete. Intel and AMD have finally emerged victorious, laying claim to the most powerful 32bit processors on the planet.

      But, to be frank, Itanium sucks... even Linus thinks so. Nobody wants to use it, Dell, SGI, even HP is still developing PA-RISC silicon, and is incredibly hesitant to commit to the "next generation" IA-64 chip it designed partly in-house. Yamhill is a nice idea, but Intel has no plans to go that route yet, and what's more, denies it's even considering them.

      AMD's 64bit offering are, as yet, vapor... and unlikely to pack the punch of the Power4, nevermind a dual-core Power4 with Alti-Vec.

      Meanwhile, PowerPC's been 64bit since '96.

      Indeed, the PC will continue to kick Apple's butt in 32bit systems, except in notebook applications, which is the only place Apple will keep using 32bit PowerPC processors. D'oh.

      So, yes, x86 is irrelevant and outclassed by PowerPC, Itanium is a floundering wreck, leaving Hammer to look very lonely and small up there all buy itself, shoulder to shoulder with UltraSPARCs, R2400s and Power4s. Economy of scale? What scale? When it comes to 64bit hardware, RISC/Unix =is= the scale.

      Game on!

      SoupIsGood Food
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I find it amusing that the old i486 machine had
    235 instructions. The "RISC" PowerPC originally
    had 225 instructions. It now has 160 more
    instructions. Compare this to 69 for Sparc
    and 94 for MIP-Rx series of RISC processors.
    Perhaps we need a new definition for "Reduced"
    as it applies to the PowerPC. On the upside, at
    least you can't say the PowerPC designers are
    stuck on dogma =)
    • RISC [ibm.com]
      PowerPC architecture is an example of a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) architecture. As a result:

      • All PowerPCs (including 64-bit implementations) use fixed-length 32-bit instructions.
      • The PowerPC processing model is to retrieve data from memory, manipulate it in registers, then store it back to memory. There are very few instructions (other than loads and stores) that manipulate memory directly.

      Technically, a developer can use any GPR for anything. For example, there is no "stack pointer register"; a programmer could use any register for that purpose. In practice, it is useful to define a set of conventions so that binary objects can interoperate with different compilers and pre-written assembly code.

      • In practice, it is useful to define a set of conventions so that binary objects can interoperate with different compilers and pre-written assembly code.

        As a point of general information: These conventions are referred to as a platform's ABI, or Application Binary Interface. The ABI sets the necessary register use (e.g. stack/frame pointer policy), parameter passing (in registers/on stack), and function calling conventions for a given hardware platform. This is typically C/C++ centric. FWIW, compilers which don't depend on C/C++ link level compatibility need only obey the ABI when calling external code.

  • by romanval ( 556418 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:35PM (#4041040)
    The original specs for POWER/PowerPC CPU's were 64/32 bit anyways. This was set in stone over 10 years ago.

    The great thing is that PPC-64 is that it's natively code compatible with PPC-32. No ISA 'extentions' (like x86-64), or instruction convertion (like Itanium), just a simple processor mode switch.

    Apple would be a fool not to jump on this CPU for their high-end workstations or low cost servers.
    • Funny you should say that. When I read the X86-64 documention, I was struck by how similar it was to the way PPC scaled from 32 to 64 bits. Now, I still think PPC is the better architecture, but your pat dismissal of X86-64 is off target IMHO.

  • They're been delayed so long now I'm starting to wonder if they're hanging out with Duke Nukem, or even Prey fer chrissakes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There's a fair amount of discussion in comp.arch [google.com] on this chip. Guesses are that it's adopting the Motorola e500 vector instructions [google.com], ones that work on general-purpose registers. Considering that the Power4 has a very, very, very good floating-point unit that works with the memory units to get vector-like performance, I doubt if they need FP vector ops...
  • Mutant Power4? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Duck_Taffy ( 551144 )
    This sounds like a beautiful processor, and I'm guessing it's why they contracted a plant in upstate New York to manufacture the .1-micron chips. I'm thinking that this is the mutant brain-child of the Power4 and the G4. Kind of like a miniaturized Power4 with a vector-processing unit, running at 64-bits and possibly with 32-bit PPC binary compatibility built-in. It would be nice if they could apply double the SMP capability to 32-bit code.

    Hopefully they'll write a really efficient compiler for it. This could be the chip to launch Mac OS X into the enterprise market.
  • by Fehson ( 579442 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @02:54PM (#4041176)
    If I recall correctly, when Nintendo had IBM create the processor for the gamecube, IBM retained the rights to fiddle the their specialized PPC chip, then resell it. I'm wondering if the vector instructions are spillover from the Gamecube chip (I know it does a lot of fast vector math).
  • Will Linus soon be praying that AMD and Intel switch to these babies?
  • PowerPC 64bit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dlawson ( 209945 )
    Power 4 architecture has an I/O architecture that is WAY too expensive for workstation/low end server use. The PowerPC 64bit, however, would be quite a CPU. To see if Apple is interested, look to see if BSD runs on Power Architectures ...

    It's already there, been there for some time, and IBM told me that Apple had Darwin and some GUI running. Apple just needs the market to see that it weould be worth the investment in a new mobo/system design.

    • They could always put it in a black cube. How much industrial design is needed for that?

      For the uninitiated, IBM favors black, blocky systems and the NEXT computer company put out a model that was a black cube many years ago.
  • This should be interesting to check benchmarks with. Now we'll be able to look at Itanium vs. Hammer vs. PPC-64. That might be a bit interesting..

    PS. Check out my friend's band on this site [netmusiczone.com]. They're called Hat Trick of Misery.

  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Friday August 09, 2002 @03:02PM (#4041227) Journal
    Based on the award winning Power4 design, ...

    Power4 has *huge* cooling requirements, despite being copper-interconnect and all that. (it also has something like 5800 pins, btw, drawing somewhere in the range of 100A worth of current, IIRC) -- I wonder how much cooling needs to be for the 64-bit power PC if they are based on the Power4 design?

  • I think it deserves mention that OpenPPC.org [openppc.org] is an IBM-supported initiative to bring OpenPPC-based machines to us commoners.
  • First off, I know almost nothing about the technical aspects of processors, so if this sounds like a clueless question, my apologies. However, I am aware that programs compiled for 32-bit processors won't work on a 64-bit processor. If that's the case, what happens if Apple should jump to this chip? Does that mean we Mac users have yet another OS 9-to-X-type wait while developers drag their feet updating their apps or is there some way that a 64-bit processor can also handle 32-bit apps? As far as I can see, that's the only problem with Apple going to this chip. I'm not sure how eager Apple will be to annoy users who are finally seeing the light at the end of the OS X tunnel.

  • Based on the award winning Power4 design, this processor is an 8-way superscalar design that
    fully supports Symmetric MultiProcessing," the description says. "The processor is further
    enhanced by a vector processing unit implementing over 160 specialized vector instructions and
    implements a system interface capable of up to 6.4GB/s.

    It's the 8-way ss + new vector instruction set that's new. The 8-way would drive the overall bandwidth requirement.

    Clearly this is no longer a RISC design because the original PPC instruction set had what, 174 instructions? So add 160 more and you have 334.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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