G4 can't rev to 500 MHz as Intel reaches for 1 GHz

Last August, Apple Computer boldly announced its then-new PowerMac G4 line, which was to be driven by 400, 450, and 500 MHz Motorola G4 microprocessors. Like many of the other announcements Steve Jobs made that day, however, the arrival of the G4 was basically vaporware: Motorola hadn't been able to deliver the chip in any volume and had actually warned Apple not to pre-announce machines featuring the chips, especially the high-end 500 MHz version. Months later, a red-faced Apple had to belatedly overhaul its G4 line to include a slower 350 MHz version while indefinitely canceling the 500 MHz version, which has still not shipped over six months later. Other products that were announced that day, such as the Cinema Display and AirPort wireless networking products, eventually shipped months later than promised. But what happened to the 500 MHz G4?

It turns out that Motorola has yet to successfully fabricate this chip in volume, due to problems with the internal design of the G4. And though the problems appear to be fixed, Motorola's PowerPC partner IBM is now saying that the 500 MHz part won't see the light of day until mid-2000. Supplies of the high-end G4 are so low that Apple still hasn't been able to reintroduce the 500 MHz G4 they announced in August 1999.

Meanwhile, microprocessor juggernaut Intel Corporation, which supplies its chips to over 90% of the PCs sold today, recently revealed that it was closing in on speeds of 1 GHz, or 1000 MHz. Intel recently unveiled an 800 MHz Pentium III processor, and in late February, we'll see the next incremental speed bump along with lower prices for the current generation of chips. And a 933 MHz version is reportedly due by mid-year. As Intel finishes up work on its 64-bit Itanium processor, it seems that Motorola is being left even further behind. And with Motorola's tumble from performance relevance goes Apple as well. One can only wonder whether these developments will lead the company to finally resuscitate an Intel version of Mac OS X, previously known as Next OpenStep

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