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IBM PowerPC 970: new details

Initially announced by IBM Microelectronics in October at the Microprocessor Forum, the new PowerPC 970 caused a significant response in the press and industry. Not often you see the desktop low-end 64-bit chip close to Power4 used in IBM Regatta servers (PowerPC 970 will feature one core unlike the dual-core Power4). Besides, the new processor seamlessly supports the 32-bit software and 32-bit operating systems like Linux, Unix, or Apple Mac OS X. At the same time, the 64-bit addressing, similar to AMD Hammer, will enable the transition to 64-bit OS and apps in the future. The interest raised even higher after it has become known about the possibility of using PowerPC 970 in the next-generation Apple desktops.

In addition to the MPF 2002 story, IBM posted more details about PowerPC 970 on its website. Having compiled this data, we can state the following features:

  • Basic design: IBM PowerPC POWER4
  • Initial clock of the first IBM PowerPC 970: 1.8GHz (H2 2003)
  • Computing method: 64-bit core with Altivec extended vector instructions for multimedia and parallel (up to 16 chips) systems
  • 64Kb instruction cache, 32Kb data cache
  • 512Kb L2 cache
  • PowerPC 970 crystal size: 118 sq.mm (Northwood Pentium 4 131 sq.mm)
  • 32/64-bit architecture support: the special flag enables the 32-bit mode and high instruction and data bits are ignored. In both (32/64-bit) modes CPU performs up to 8 instructions/clock. All 32-bit PowerPC specifications remain the same
  • Handling up to 5 instructions/clock (including 1 branching), up to 8 instructions/clock in the processing queue.

  • Extended PowerPC instruction set, including 162 SIMD (Single-Instruction, Multiple Data) instructions
  • Elastic I/O interface bus clock: up to 900MHz, performance: up to 6.4Gb/s
  • Process technology: 0.13-micron on 300-mm silicon wafers with SOI (East Fishkill, NY, IBM fab; to be moved to 90-nm process in H2 2003)
  • Future plans: raising the clock over 2GHz, releasing lower-power PowerPC 970 for notebooks

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