A brand that eschews market trends to focus on pleasing a devoted audience of die-hard loyalists. System hardware with smart industrial design that some have accused of being “underpowered” and “just for kids.” A proprietary PowerPC-based platform with CPU chips supplied by IBM. Rumors of muliple-G5 systems in the near future. Apple? No, Nintendo.

Nintendo is the “other” machine powered by IBM’s PowerPC chips, but the specs for its upcoming Revolution console could mean good news for Apple lovers — especially if you’ve been waiting for a new generation of Mac portables. Nintendo’s mum about its new hardware (though we may know more at the imminent E3 mega-show), but GamesIndustry.biz reports Nintendo’s memory provider is talking, suggesting mid-2006 as a ship date, while in another report in the same article a Chinese website claims the machine’s specs, among other things, will have FOUR custom 2.5 GHz IBM G5s.

Four G5s in an affordable consumer game machine by next year? Given that IBM can do things like this thanks to volume and improved manufacturing processes, it’s hard to believe there isn’t something in store for the Mac, too. Mac Minis? Sure, but if power and heat constraints are down in a cheap game machine’s G5s, could PowerBooks be far behind? While I’ve been speculating we’ll see ultra-fast G4s or dual-core G4 PowerBooks as the next generation, I may have to revise that to quad-G5 Power Macs and PowerBook G5s after all. Thanks to CDM’s tipster Elle for this — she suggests “Quadra” as a product name. What do you think, Cupertino?

Regardless, I can tell you my dual 2.5 G5 tower can take some serious punishment; just for fun I’ve been daisy-chaining CPU-hungry Space Designer reverbs in Logic to try to bring it down. No can do. (Part of my ongoing “adventures in idiotic benchmarking.”) Laptops have always been about a generation behind desktops in overall performance, PC and Mac alike. All I can say is, the next generation is going to be incredibly sweet for digital music creation.

Disclaimer: this article is based on non-journalistic idle speculation.

  • Indicator

    What could be better? Mario and Macintosh!

  • Guest

    The chip they are using is probably a big variation from the G5 that Apple uses. Apple's G5 is very similar to the Power4 Chip, but also took two years to create, so maybe IBM has taken off a lot of the general processing units and altivec from the Nintendo chip, kept the core, and create a new memory path that is more suitable for the specific processing needs of a video game machine.

    The needs of a general CPU are very broad.

    Hopefully this is a clear signal that they have worked out heat issues and the PB G5 is on the way!

  • admin

    Well, 3 3.2G chips versus 4 2.5G chips would depend entirely on the system architecture and how quickly it can address those chips. And yes, these folks are doing larger volume, though Apple's volume is nothing to sneeze at, either. But I agree, the MS specs are interesting, too, though the Nintendo specs come from a more credible source. I expect we might see more at E3 next week.

  • admin

    Absolutely — I’m not suggesting you’ll see the big N’s PPC chip in a Mac. But of course, major variations aside, part of the goal of the PowerPC platform was to be able to develop manufacturing processes and technologies that could work across markets — so, at least in theory, IBM would love to be doing things in a game design that benefits a server design that benefits the Mac.

  • Guest

    And the Xbox 360 is supposed to have three 3.2 GHz cores. Which is more interesting then 4 chips below current clock speeds.

    Of course I don’t remember Microsoft being part of the PowerPC alliance, but volume buys you better chips.

  • admin

    Next time I'll write Quadra?

  • Guest

    Uhm. “Quadra”‘s been done. http://lowendmac.com/quadra/index.shtml