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International Business Machines had been struggling hard to deliver 2.50GHz microprocessors for Apple Computer’s latest PowerMac G5, however, there are reports that the company has a yet another height to conquer: dual-core chips for Apple machines early next year.

A report over Think Secret web-site suggests that IBM has a chip code-named Antares with two PowerPC cores inside in the roadmap. The microprocessor will presumably be officially called PowerPC 970MP and will be intended for Apple’s desktops, workstations and servers.

Each core of the PowerPC 970MP chip will have its own L2 cache of 1MB and will be clocked at about 3.0GHz. The PowerPC 970MP will feature a copper bus with 10 layers of metal: the dual cores will share a single Elastic Interface (EI) bus supporting a wide range of bus ratios and opening the door for higher that 1000MHz bus speeds, the report claims.

IBM’s PowerPC 970MP chip will be made using unknown CMOS SOI10K fabrication process at IBM. Its die will be about 154 square millimetres, only a bit larger compared to today’s AMD Athlon 64 microprocessor.

Besides Velocity Engine instruction set and IBM’s PowerTune technology for power-saving purposes, the new PowerPC 970MP chips will feature ABIST (array built-in self-test) diagnostic for test and qualification simplifications.

Unofficial information cited by the web-site claims that the first prototypes of IBM’s first dual-core chip for consumer applications will be available in August, 2004, while the production is slated to begin in January, 2005, which means that Apple’s customers are likely to experience the dual-core technology next year.

Neither IBM not Apple commented on the story. Earlier IBM changed plans even after official announcements. Unofficial things are typically even more subject to change.

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