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Thursday, July 07, 2005, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

IBM unveils dual-core PowerPC chips up to 2.5GHz

Presenting at the Power Everywhere Forum 2005 in Japan, IBM today formally introduced a dual-core version of its PowerPC 970 (G5) processor, which could find its way into Apple Power Macs in the coming months.

The 64-bit chips, code-named Antares, contain two processing units per chip, each with their own execution core and Level 1 cache. Additionally, each core includes a storage subsystem with 1MB Level 2 cache, making the chips twice as efficient as IBM's current 970FX PowerPC G5 processors.

Officially labeled the PowerPC 970MP, the chips pack several power conservation features that allow frequency and voltage demands to adjust on the fly. It's also possible to completely cut power to one of chip's cores when high performance computations are not needed.

According to IBM, the 970MP will be made available in speeds ranging from 1.4 to 2.5GHz. It's believed that Apple has been working with prototypes of the chips since 2004 and could use them in a forthcoming update to its Power Mac G5 desktops, the company said.

Along with the dual-core 970MP, IBM today also officially introduced a new family of low-power PowerPC 970FX chips running at speeds up to 1.6GHz with a 512K Level 2 cache. PowerPC 970FX chips are currently used in Apple Power Mac G5 and iMac G5 systems.

Initially, the new 970FX chips will be available in three flavors: 1.2GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz. IBM says the 1.6GHz version will typically operate at 16 watts while the the two former versions require a cool 13 watts, possibly allowing Apple to release a G5-based PowerBook.

An official press release on the new chips is available in Japanese. As of press time, IBM had yet to update its US website with information on the new chips. A set of slides from the company's presentation are also available via ASCII24, a publication based in Japan.