February 1, 2005 2:34 PM PST

Apple on G5 PowerBook: Not so fast

For Apple Computer, releasing a G5 PowerBook continues to be a weighty issue.

Apple customers have been waiting for the company to deliver a PowerBook driven by the G5 chip for some time. The more powerful chip first arrived in the Power Mac line in 2003, and Apple began offering it in the iMac last year.

The computer maker is well aware that Mac fans want a G5 PowerBook, and technically, the company could offer one now. But given the relatively power-hungry nature of the IBM PowerPC 970FX processor--Apple has dubbed the 970FX and its predecessor, the 970, "G5" chips--a G5 PowerBook would require compromises in size, weight and other aesthetics such as noise production. Apple, and likely most of its customers, wouldn't be willing to live with that.


What's new:
Never ones to keep quiet about what they want, Mac fans have made their desire for a G5 PowerBook well-known.

Bottom line:
Apple knows Mac users want a G5 PowerBook. But the company also knows that making one now would mean design compromises most Mac users wouldn't be willing to swallow. While some observers think Apple could produce the hoped-for notebook within a year, for now, the wait is on.

More stories on the PowerBook

"It'd be this really thick, heavy notebook, and it would be loud as all get-out," said Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of the Microprocessor Report. "Those would not be design choices that Apple would want to pursue."

Apple acknowledges the design challenge.

"It is fair to say that incorporating a G5 into a notebook as thin and light as the PowerBook is extremely difficult," David Moody, vice president of worldwide Mac product marketing at Apple, told CNET News.com on Monday.

Instead of releasing the much-hoped-for G5 PowerBook, Apple on Monday introduced a new lineup of PowerBooks with slightly faster G4 processors. It also added more memory, as well as features such as a scrolling TrackPad and a motion sensor that protects the PowerBooks' hard drives if the machines are dropped. Moody wouldn't say whether the updated PowerBooks represent the last revision to the line before a switch to the G5, nor did he offer further details on when the company might offer a G5 laptop.

What's the holdup?
The main thing holding back a G5 PowerBook is the chip itself. IBM technical documents show that when running at 2.5GHz and 1.3 volts, the chip consumes a maximum of 100 watts of power, a fair amount of juice for a notebook. However, its power consumption can be reduced by lowering its clock speed or reducing its clock speed along with its voltage, IBM documentation shows.

An IBM representative declined to comment on the company's plans for the Power PC 970 chip line and did not return a follow-up call requesting comment on the technical document.

That's not to say a 100-watt chip cannot be built into a notebook. Dell's Inspiron XPS, for one, offers Intel's 3.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor, which is designed for desktops. Intel's thermal-design guidelines call for computers using the chip to be able to dissipate heat produced by a chip of nearly 110 watts.

But the Dell machine, which comes with a 15.4-inch wide screen, is a relatively hefty 2 inches thick and weighs just over 9 pounds with a CD drive and battery installed. Apple's 17-inch screen PowerBook measures 1 inch thick and weighs in at 6.9 pounds with a CD drive and battery. (Apple's 12-inch and 15-inch screen PowerBooks are 1.18 inches and 1.1 inches thick and weigh 4.6 pounds and 5.6 pounds, respectively. Dell's Pentium M-based, 17-inch screen Inspiron 9200 is 1.6 inches thick and weighs 7.7 pounds.)

Thus, to fit the G5 into a typical PowerBook-size chassis, Apple would have to throttle down the G5, causing the chip to run more slowly than current G4 mobile chips--or produce a bulkier laptop, probably with noisy cooling fans. The G4 also would likely still consume less power, the Microprocessor Report's Krewell said.

Although the wait might be painful for customers who want the latest technology from Apple, the company is likely to hold out for a low-power G5, a chip that could come later this year. The lower-power chip would consume less watts and also produce less heat, allowing Apple to fit it inside the thin chassis that's typical of a PowerBook.

Hadley Stern, who runs the AppleMatters blog and has published an iPod book, said aesthetics are important.

While he would be interested in a more powerful PowerBook, "if the G5 PowerBook is quite a bit larger than the present form-factor, I may pass," he said. "I use my 12-inch PowerBook mostly for writing and checking e-mail and Web surfing. The G4 processor does just fine by me, and whenever I need to design, I hop on my (dual processor) G5."

Chris Holland, another well-known Mac blogger, said those drooling the most over the prospect of a G5 PowerBook are Mac fans who

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Speaks Volumes on Apple Quality
I bought a Dell Inspiron 5150 and I have to blow out the heatsink every 2-3 weeks (collects dust) or the processor overheats (throttles). Check out Dell's own user forums and you find I'm not the only one. No wonder Apple followers are so loyal. They take good care of their own.
Posted by phasam (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thank you
It's not every day you get to read a good comment about Apple
computers in a PC dominated world, so I just wanted to thank
you. As for your Dell I hope they can help you sort out your
problem. I've been there (used to use wintel solutions up till I
switched 3 years ago) so I know the hassle of dealing with this
kind of technical issue. If you end up getting fed up i'd
recommend going to an Apple Store for a consultation, no need
to purchase, just find out what all the fuss is about.

Thanks Again
Posted by Filip Remplakowski (91 comments )
Link Flag
The dust problem is your, not Dells
You have too much dust in your house and the fans are sucking it up. It happens to any machine with fans. Dust is an insulator, you get dust in the heat sink and all the processor fan does then is cool the dust.

I am not saying your house is dirty, as the dust particles are often quite small, but to blame Dell for it is very spurious.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Nonsense! Same problem with Powerbooks
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.appletechs.com/archives/00000077.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.appletechs.com/archives/00000077.html</a>

Dell forums you site speaks of fan problems not much on dust. Appls Powerbooks overheat, catch of fire etc etc as well. It a problem that can happen with many electronics. This certainly isn't a Dell vs Apple quality issue.
Posted by Buzz_Friendly (74 comments )
Link Flag
Something is wrong here
Let's see, 100W at 1.3 V that's about 77 Amps. I have 100A jumper leads and they are about 1/2" in diameter. I haven't seen anything like this in a notebook.

Posted by karolski8 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
64 Bit Chip/64 Bit OS Wintel laptop equal option?
Show me the money CNET.
Where's there a major computer company that offers a consumer
laptop with a 64 Bit chip &#38; 64 Bit OS that is only 1 inch thick &#38;
4.6 lbs to 6.9 lbs equal to the PowerBook?

OSX Panther is a modern 32Bit OS &#38; OSX Tiger is a 64 Bit OS that
is only months away (WAY ahead of MS shorthorn).
IBM/Apple G5 64 Bit chips have been in production &#38; available
for a consumer level desktop computer for years now...

With all of the money that the Wintel monopoly has, why are
they still behind a small company such as Apple?

Citizen Gates preaches about "the visionary future of 64 Bit
computing" to the masses, yet fails to deliver a full featured 64
Bit OS for the consumer's desktop computers. Future Vision?

64 Bit Chips on desktop consumer computers are here TODAY &#38;
have been for years for the Mac + UNIX computer users of
OSX Tiger 64 BIT OS is just a few months away &#38; history will
once again be made by Apple &#38; IBM over the Wintel cash cows.

If anybody can solve this problem &#38; with a technically powerful
&#38; elegantly design form factor, it is definately IBM &#38; Apple.

Why don't you hold the WintelDell Cartel as accountable for this
problem in their clunky chunky legacy laptops as you are trying
to do here with IBM &#38; Apple CNET?
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There already is a 64-bit version of windows
just not availlable to consumers yet. What kind of windows do you think that itanium runs on, a 32-bit windows?
Posted by Pascoli (74 comments )
Link Flag
You say 'cash cow' like it's a bad thing ;)
Posted by markaufflick (4 comments )
Link Flag
How many 64 Bit X86-64 laptops do you want? Acer, HP, ASUS etc etc. So you are flat wrong the hardware.
You can quibble all day weather or not Windows has a 64 bit version it does and it works (it may not be YOUR choice but it is a CHOICE like it or not). You could argue it is not consumer well I can tell you first hand that it will run any consumer application that you can run on Windows 9x to XP. Is it costly sure but that should not be a concern form the Appplites around the world you can't get within $500 of the price of a x86-64 laptop vs an Apple ANYWHERE (unless its stolen)
Then you could run a 64 bit version of Linux on one of these laptops that is not only free BUT lowers the laptop price again over one loaded with XP.
Dont let evangelical beliefs in a platform be your excuse for blinders.
Posted by Buzz_Friendly (74 comments )
Link Flag
What about Linux?
There are flavours of this OS in 64bits or have you not noticed?
Posted by (79 comments )
Link Flag
Can You Say Transmeta?
IBM needs to partner up with Transmeta. Not only to save
Transmeta ass but get hold of the technology and bring the
Efficeon TM8800 to Linux computers, finally.
Posted by LinuxRules (222 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The real reason people want a G5 powerbook?
I find it ver hard to believe that Mac die-hards are waiting for the G5 powerbook because they skipped the G4 ... that would mean that they haven't upgraded their powerbook since early 2001. And laptops just don't last that long (as the gaffa tape on my (well-used) G4 Tibook can attest). The G3 or 3400 powerbooks are just far too slow to be running anything approaching current software.

Whatever, the real reason that _I_ am eager to upgrade to a G5 powerbook is because it will just seem so rediculous to be able to hold a 64 bit RISC unix workstation under my arm... but then that won't surprise those who know me :)

Now back to your usual news.cbsi.cbsi.com program...
Posted by markaufflick (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What I really don't understand is why they haven't integrated the
MPC7448. This is a 90nm pin-compatible G4 with 1MBL2 and a
200MHz bus interface. It burns 10W at 1.4GHz. Go figure!?!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
People are bitching about the PowerBooks...
Because they aren't keeping up with the rest of the industry. Simpe fact: The first generation Pentium M blew the doors off of the G4 back in '03. (look at www.barefeats.com search for Pentium M) The second generation Pentium M (Dothan) made even a bigger jump forward. So far this year Intel is pushing forward a new chipset that not only has a 533Mhz FSB but DDR2 and PCI Express support.

What has been done to the PowerBook architecture over the last two years? Answer: Jack freaking squat. Speedbumps that hardly do anything to overall performance, a new GPU here and there, lowering prices. Basically everything other then moving the platform forward. Think putting racting stripes, new headlights, mag wheels on last years car and calling it faster then ever.

What pisses me off most about this is the fact that apparently no one in Apple even thought about the PowerBooks while they and IBM were working their tails off on the G5. Or if they did they didnt do jack about it. Did it occur to anyone to have concurrent development on a mobile CPU while they were working on the G5 or is Apple and IBM incapable of such a task? (So much for being niche player not mattering or so some Mac fans keep telling us.)

Right now a 64-bit CPU is pretty much useless on a laptop. Unless you are planning on loading up multiple GB of ran on the thing its not going to do you jack squat worth of good. People arent clamoring for a G5. People are clamoring for a faster PowerBook that is at least in some way shape or form comparable to the Pentium M.

The G4 PowerBook was great 2 years ago. It officered a good balance of performance and battery life. As soon as Intel dropped the Pentium M bombshell on the world the game changed. And that is the game Apple has to play against. As I said before they dont need to be first across the finish line but for god sake at least place a close second. Right now they are dragging themselves across the finish line with their lips.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I couldn't find your refrences
I did a search for Pentium M on www.barefeats.com and came up
with nothing. I also looked on the system benchmark pages and
searched for Pentium M and also found nothing.

Please post a link

Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Now now...
I won't disagree with your feedback. Afterall, I'm using a T21 thinkpad and its quite fast enough for my needs. But before this little notebook, I had a G4 titanium. Yes, the one with the bad hinges and Powerbook lettering that transferred to the lid. And the keys the left marks on the screen. And the heat that went through a blanket to my thighs while sitting in a plane.
But Apple is about COOL. Apple did have the first 3.5" floppy while PCs were at 5.25". And the powerbook is not a workstation-class machine (though I know a few folks that edit DV and create animation on them) yet you could use it as such.
The Centrino and Pentium M (mobile) were designed SPECIFICALLY for mobile use. The G4 is a completely different beast and profitable (its still going...try that with P3).
My only gripe is that I can get a 15" notebook with IEEE1394, USB2.0, 802.11g, DVD-CDRW, 512M, 60GBhd for under $1K. Apple's 15" Powerbook is double that (ok, so you get bluetooth and backlit keyboard).
I'll pay 30% more for 5% more features. Only because I know Apple products. But I won't pay 100% more ...that's ridiculous.
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Link Flag
Dropped what bombshell they knew what we had known for a
while... MHz doesn't matter and thats why no one bought the
first ones, because the processor "speed" as so low
Posted by Filip Remplakowski (91 comments )
Link Flag
AMD64 Notebooks?
HP's Pavilions zv5470+ have AMD's Athlon 64 CPUs.

Add Linux - Gentoo or recent Fedora - and you got complete 64bit OS.

Try it. You will love it.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linux anyone?
People run Linux on PPC especially on old Apple notebooks.

I have had troubles finding help to install YDL on my G4 iBook 14", since most of users are using OldWorld - G3 - systems.

Go figure.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linux? Ummm. No.
Linux has ZERO support for any multimedia content. DVD authoring? No. Adobe products? No. High Def video encoding? No. Multimedia integration? No.

The best linux can even offer is Open Office. And what's that photoshop rip-off? Gimp? Not a giant step forward, especially with its nasty UI.

Linux is not a comparable OS to OS X. It may be more stable than Windows, but its hardly something most people want to get involved with. Don't get me wrong, Linux is alright, but until it gets native support for all teh applications, or very good counter-parts of them, I, nor will most people, get into it.
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
Hey Apple, is G4 fast or slow?
At the Apple Store I've been told a number of times by salespersons that the new iMacs are great because they now have the faster G5 as compared to the previous generation which had the "slow" G4. They have told me that the G4 doesn't have great performance for certain applications.

But when talking about the PowerBooks, the G4 is billed as a "fast" processor (see their add on their website). So what gives? Is it fast or slow? I held back from seriously considering the purchase of a PowerBook because of the impression I was given about the G4 by their own salespersons.

I think they really need to develope a mobile version of the G5 as soon as possible.
Posted by (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The G4 is plenty fast enough
Perhaps people should be writing articles about not buying
WinTel machines until longhorn comes out. There will
always be "another new thing" just around the corner.
Posted by CitizenX (522 comments )
Link Flag
Much About Nothing
Let me see ... hmmm COLSA uses the G5 to power a 24 tflop
supercluster, and Virginia Tech did the same thing to build a
10+ tflop supercluster. Thats really fast for all you rabbits out

But wait! Lo and Behold, I just want to do my work. Whether it
be a graphics artist, musician, engineer .... unless I need to do
real time thermodynamic modeling, or real time movie editing
with in-motion graphical layers, 3-D modeling that is as fast a
30fps ... naaah, i don't do that stuff.

Look the bottom line is what do YOU want to do and BUY
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
You misunderstood
The G3 is slower than the G4, The G4 is slower than the G5, The
G5 is slower than the G6.....

Doh! Everything is/was fast/slow.
Posted by cutekangaroo (29 comments )
Link Flag
if all you wanna do is have some fun
yeah dude the G4 is plenty fast for all sorts of things. heck, video editors make movies and tv shows with these suckers. to me, that qualifies them as fast.

you should buy a computer based on your needs though. so if you need more computing power than is required of software like pro tools, final cut pro, various avid programs, and some random scientific stuff, then maybe you should hold out for a G5 powerbook. otherwise, the current lineup holds on pretty well.
Posted by Dibbs (158 comments )
Link Flag
Wanted: Innovation in Apple Powerbook G5 Engineering
Two words: battery and heat. Those are the problem areas of having a G5 processor in a Powerbook. If Apple put a little more effort as they do in their industrial designs into their engineering, perhaps the Powerbook G5 won't just be a fantasy. For example, IBM Thinkpads now have a "radiator"-type setup to dissipate heat quicker. As a result, not as many hot laps and/or heat derived "meltdowns." Come on Apple, beauty without brains is just a fad.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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