Motorola will announce a new PowerPC processor within the next few weeks which has the potential to be clocked at 300MHz - 20% faster than anything available today.
The current 603 and 604 PowerPC processor families are eight months ahead of the published roadmap in terms of clock speed. The fastest 603 and 604 chips today run at 240MHz. The new PowerPC chip will initially come in 200MHz and 250MHz versions. Later, its speed will be increased to 300MHz, according to sources close to the company.
The processor, based on the 604, uses a new 0.27 micron manufacturing process. This is more advanced than the 0.35 micron technology Intel uses for its Pentium Pro chip, enabling Motorola to build a faster chip with a lower power consumption.
According to one source at IBM, Motorola's partner on PowerPC chip designs, power consumption is down to 2.8W on the new chip, compared to 3.7W on the current 604e. This suggests the processor may become a successor to the 603e in the mobile computing market.
The new processor will boost the speed of Apple's PowerMac computer range.
The fastest PowerMac today is the 9500, which is equipped with a 200MHz 604e.
James Dingwall, UK enterprise business manager at Apple, said: "The PowerPC architecture is really moving. We are sufficiently confident on the PowerPC this time round. Today we are launching a PowerMac at 233MHz based on the 604e."
IBM and Motorola, which jointly develop the PowerPC at Somerset Labs in Austin, Texas, have continually ramped up the speed of the Risc architecture.
Rupert Deyton, communications manager at IBM, said: "Since we introduced the 603/604 we have pushed the speed limit more than four times. We are keeping up this pressure. The next generation of PowerPC chip, the G3, is on course for mid-year."
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