Your opinion on new powerbooks (which CPU, etc.)?

Posted by: Anonymous

Your opinion on new powerbooks (which CPU, etc.)? - 03/28/05 06:39 PM

I've been thinking on why Apple came out with the Mac Mini and come up with 2 really good reasons why:
1. To have an entry level mac (at low end price) to go together with the iPod in bringing new userts to the Apple world.
2. To reduce demand for iMac G5 as the entry level mac and free up IBM's G5 supply chain to be able to make more G5s to be the heart of some new machine that is coming soon. (Apparently there is a ton of G4 processors available right now).

With that second reason in mind, is Apple coming out with G5 Powerbook soon? I've heard that it is still 6-12 months away because of power use and cooling issues with G5s as well as supply issues with IBM making enough G5s to keep up with demand - and I tend to agree with that guess-timate.

In my mind I've come up with a likely scenario and wanted to bounce it off some other Mac- heads to see if it sticks. Maybe I'm completely of the deep end, hopefully I'm not.

This is nothing but an educated guess, but here goes...

Last year, Apple introduced G4 iBooks, which actually pulled the mid-low end powerbook market into the iBook line. With the same processors as the powerbook and less than 15% processor speed difference, many students and others who were concerned more with price than a wide screen or power-user features now had no problem making up their mind to get an iBook over a powerbook. Although some people really were beginning to hold their breath because maybe this G$ iBook was signalling the introduction of a G5 Powerbook.

But the big announcement at MacWorld was the Mac Mini and iPod shuffle... not new powerbooks. A couple of weeks later, Apple quietly lowered prices on the G4 Powerbooks, which mostly got lost amid the news of iPods and Mac minis. But this price drop was setting off a mental alarm in my head because there was less than $500 price difference between the iBook and powerbook line. Something just felt wrong - like Apple was trying to get rid of the 12" Powerbook. Why would they do this? Is this another sign of G5 powerbooks release coming soon?

After a few weeks though on this, I am leaning towards Apple introducing a new Powerbook at WWDC this spring, however, it will not sport the G5 processors that everyone has been waiting for. It will be a major redesign for a new G4 powerbook which includes dual-processor options ( Yes, twin G4 processors in a powerbook).

These "G4.5" powerbooks would still keep the 15" and 17" widescreens, but the smallest Powerbook would now have a widescreen as well (not sure of size - 10.6" to 13.3" range). The small one would be about $1600 for a single processor and $2100 for dual processors. Add roughly $500 and $1000 to those prices respectively for 15" and 17" models. The secondary processor would be idle when running on battery to extend battry life. There would obviously be other improved features as well, including a semi-redesigned case that would extend the life-cycle of the current Powerbook line out another 9-12 months..

My reasoning: (if you've been patient enough to read this far)
Apple and IBM really seem to be concentrating on sheer processing power and speed for the G5s right now - they are focusing on winning the battle over consumers' (and enterprise's) perceptions and mindshare that Apple really is the best. Not just in performance, but in specs too. We all know that Apple computers match PCs on performance any day of the week and we (most mac users) don't really care about having more MegaHertz. But a lot of people do and Apple needs to win them too, just like they did with the iPods.

If you think about it, we are just getting there. Just ask PC Gamers what the hottest gaming processor is and they will tell you the AMD Athlon FX55. That processor is 2.6GHz running at 64-bits with 1 MB of cache. The dual processor PowerMac is more than a match for that.

I don't think a G5 Powerbook plays well into that goal for perceptions and mindshare in the short-term. A G5 Powerbook right now would only be about 1.4GHz in order to keep power use and heat down. A notebook of 1.4 Ghz just doesn't sound like it is ahead of the pack. The dual processor option would give power users some real muscle and really take pressure off to hurry out a G5 Powerbook. It would also give Apple that "World's only..." tagline they love throwing out there - "The World's only dual-processor notebook"

This would also allow Apple and IBM to give the technology another year to get the cooling/power consumption/supply chain issues worked out and really come out with something special enough to meet people's expectations of a truly innovative Apple design.
There is certainly no end to the availability of G4 processors at a fair and reasonable price to keep up with the demand for Mac Minis, iBooks and even Dual-proceesor Powerbooks . So, over the course of the next year, I would expect G5 Powermac desktops to get bumped close to 4 Ghz and G4 iMacs to be just under 3GHz, while Apple waits to unleash a 2.5 GHz G5 Powerbook in mid '06.
Posted by: maestro

Re:Your opinion on new powerbooks (which CPU, etc. - 03/29/05 01:49 AM

Its hard to say whats comin up. I would say that a G5 powerbook is going to hit this year. Its
hot, but when you look at the PC side, there is not much difference. I think the iBooks will
stick with the G4 as enty level. The PowerMacs will be coming with Cell Processors. Yep, I
believe that is true. We just have to wait and see what happens.
-maestro
Posted by: Jias

Re:Your opinion on new powerbooks (which CPU, etc.)? - 03/29/05 02:13 AM

My take on the G5 Powerbook is that if they want to actually do it, not only will they have to go for a slightly slower G5, I don't know if they'd actually even use the same IBM processor. Consider:

When making the G5, Apple took the Intel route - f**k all on power consumption and heat: just make if fast and we'll get it cooled later (hence the many fans and the liquid-cooling in the G5 Powermac). It was speed over all other factors.

Now, this got the job done, but for the sheer power consumption, you wouldn't get much battery life. On the same token, you won't easily keep it cool (not only with the fans, but take a look at the heat sinks on these things).

However, what if they were to find a DIFFERENT processor - one that runs cooler (probably a bit slower too), and still gives you the 64 bit architecture of the G5? After all, one of the big deals with the G5 was the step up to a 64 bit rather than 32 bit arcitecture (like the G3s and G4s). That might do the trick. Would they call it a G5, or would they call it something else, and only offer it in laptops? I don't know.

This is just my thought on it, since it doesn't make sense to me to try and cram something that consumes a ton of power and positively SPITS heat into a laptop.

As for me? The G4 Powerbook I'm getting this summer will more than do what I need it to, thank you very much. smile
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re:Your opinion on new powerbooks (which CPU, etc. - 03/29/05 04:14 AM

I think Jias might be on the right track. Either they will make a new processor for the G5 powerbooks as he stated, or they will have to alter the present one. Otherwise its going to be a liquid cooled laptop with a serious battery on it laugh

I wouldn't expect to see one of these for at least another good 6 months. I mean, we are still waiting on Tiger, why release a 64 bit processor when you don't even have a 64 bit operating system in place. There isn't a whole lot of need there. My guess is that Tiger will be released in the next 3 months or so, then after it has been on the market a few months, they will release the powerbook. However, its possible that Jobs will release the powerbook and show it off with Tiger saying that its releasing as well. But, if thats the case, I wouldn't expect to see it until the new school year, when they could do something with the ibook line as well.

Post edited by: oojacoboo, at: 2005/03/29 12:17
Posted by: maestro

Re:Your opinion on new powerbooks (which CPU, etc. - 03/29/05 10:50 AM

The G5 works just fine in the iMac. Granted it is thicker, but these guys have some serious
engineering skills. I truly expect the G5 powerbook to come out when they release Tiger,
which is supposed to happen in April. Look for updates on the iMac and eMac as well. Battery
life sucks in the powerbooks they have now...so why not.
-maestro
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re:Your opinion on new powerbooks (which CPU, etc. - 03/29/05 03:12 PM

I got near 4-5 hours on my AlBook 12.1. without using a CD or any intensive processing.