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Motorola Behind New PowerBook, iMac Delays?

On June 2nd Apple cut prices on its 12" and 15" PowerBook G4 models in order to flush channel inventory for a rejuvenated PowerBook G4 line. Speedier versions of all PowerBook models exist and have been expected since late June, but have yet to surface.

According to sources, all models of the PowerBook G4 are to be brought up to specification with the current 17" PowerBook Powerbook. These alterations include the addition of FireWire 800 to the 12" and 15" models, as well as wireless BlueTooth and AirPort Extreme technology to the 15" inch configuration. All models are rumored to be powered by Motorola's PowerPC 7457 G4 processor, code-named 'Apollo 7."

The PowerPC 7457 will take its place as the successor to the PowerPC 7455, moving the processors from a 0.18 micron to a 0.13 micron process. The revised chips are said to provide a 40 percent speed increase, while elevating the G4 to 1.33GHz. The 7457 will also expand the chips' on-die Level-2 cache from 256KB to 512KB and provide support for a 200MHz system bus and 400MHz DDR SDRAM.

"Motorola promised Apple sufficient quantities of the 7457 by mid-May 2003 but they have yet to deliver on these claims," one source told AppleInsider. Apparently, Motorola continues to experience problems with their 0.13 micron process and are seeing very poor yields of the faster 7457 chips.

While Apple has PowerBook G4 units ranging from 1GHz to 1.3GHz ready for production, their supply of 7457 chips has been far short of what would be required to back a new product launch. Apple CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs, is said to be so irate over the issue, he often uses profanity when expressing his displeasure with the semi-conductor sector of Motorola.

Numerous reports from reliable sources indicate that Apple had originally hoped to launch the new PowerBooks during its World Wide Developers Conference in late June. Once these plans were foiled, the company took aim at a Macworld New York introduction a month later. Again, a lack of PowerPC 7457 chips was said to spoil the party.

Further information received in July suggested that the company had intentions of boosting its iMac line of person computers with versions of the 7457 chip alongside the PowerBooks at Macworld NY. Once again, an insufficient supply of faster chips was said to be the culprit.

Current sales of Apple's iMac computers have been weak, as the product line has not been revamped since February 4th. The last alterations to the PowerBook G4 line date back even further, with their introduction the first week in January.

The computer maker traditionally refreshes its consumer and portable product lines in preparation for the educational buying season. With the buying season winding down and ample supplies of faster G4 chips not expected for several more weeks, Apple may see a shortfall in revenue for the fiscal quarter ending October 15th.

Apple has a policy of not commenting on rumors. Media representatives from Motorola's Networking and Semiconductor division were not available for comment this morning and failed to return calls by press time.

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