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Wednesday, August 17, 2005, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

IBM ready to deliver dual-core PowerPC G5 processors?

IBM is prepared to accept customer orders for its new dual-core PowerPC 970MP (G5) microprocessors, which it will be capable of delivering in quantity very soon, says one Wall Street analyst.

The company officially unveiled the processors last month at its Power Everywhere Forum in Japan. At the time IBM representatives commented that Apple had been working with prototypes of the processors since 2004 and could use them in a forthcoming update to its Power Mac G5 desktops.

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.

"While declining to be specific regarding customers, IBM has confirmed that it has sampled these new chip versions and is [now] prepared to accept customer orders," Caris & Company analyst Mark Stahlman said in a research note released earlier this week. The analyst speculates the processors could make their Apple debut in a revision to the PowerMac G5 line at September's Apple Expo in Paris.

Prior to Apple's announced switch to Intel processors, extremely reliable sources said the Mac maker was preparing to release PowerMac G5 models based on the processors later this year. A company roadmap seen by AppleInsider had showed the high-end model to include two of the PowerPC 970MP processors, for a total of four cores. However, it's unclear if Apple's plans have changed in light of the Intel announcement.

Potentially adding a dab of support to the rumor is the emergence of two new PowerMac-based Apple logic-boards in freshly dated Apple material — the PowerMac12,1 and PowerMac11,1. Whether the boards pertain to a forthcoming PowerMac G5 revision or some other product are still unknown.

According to a purported version of Apple's current Intel roadmap, the PowerMac will be that last of the company's Macintosh offerings to move to Intel processors, sources have told AppleInsider. This suggests that at least one more PowerPC-based PowerMac revision could be warranted.

IBM says the PowerPC 970MP will be made available in speeds ranging from 1.4 to 2.5GHz.