Hmmm.... so if Apple were to announce the 970 at WWDC, it could essentially have a free ride for at least a year in the consumer 64 bit processor space? Would turn MHz gaps into bit gaps. Maybe much of Panther will be girding OS X for 64 bit processing (64 bit processors don't run all data in 64 bit chunks but do require much optimization to make good use of the potential).
I really don't think Panther would have any 64-bit capability because the 64 bit chips are still largely confined to the very high end, although I believe the next MacOS update would include some 64 bit coding.
Chealion, if Apple were to use the 970 as its next gen chip, wouldn't it force them to optimize OS X for a 64 bit processor? I mean, is there any point to running 970 in 32 bit mode? I haven't followed this but it seems that the IBM 970 is definitely on the cards for the "G5" Mac. I've no idea how much new coding would be needed, although there are variants of *nix that run on 64 bit cpus (albeit in high end iron).
Apple is seen as an innovator. Being the first to put 64 bits onto your desk might be a real coup for increasing marketshare (but we've heard that before...).
jwoodget - I agree with you, its just with Panther so close to being released, and the 970 not being guranteed, I feel Panther won't be optimized for the 970 at all. However the next release in a year, or 18 months or so would most likely use the 64 bits if possible like how OS X currently uses the AltiVec engine if possible.
Accordingt o reports that I have read, the 970 is supposed to hit "Volume Production" around this fall, so while they may be annouced at MacWorld -or more likely seybold or another fall conference- I doubt we'd see them until November/December. Of course, I am used to estimating Apple Product Turnaround based on Motorola fab times, so I could be totally wrong.
First a bit is a spot in the memory of a machine, either RAM or ROM, it can also be a measure of how much data moves at one time along a particular path in a CPU, for graphics cards my move 64 or 128 bits of data around at once. A bit may also refer to the size of chunks of data that a CPU processes in one cycle of a cpu. Todays machines are considered 32 bit proccors , ie Pentium 4, G4 , G3 etc. So basically a G4 takes a batch of data and computer instruction code and breaks it up into 32 bits at a time and sends it through the CPU to be decoded and perform any logical or mathamtical operations. It really is marketing because different parts of a CPU shuffle data of different size chunks at one time, ranging from 32 to 256 bits in a G4 depending on what part of the operation you are at..
For example, a Commodore 64 from the early 1980s was an 8 bit cpu, while the Nintendo 64 was a 32 bit cpu, so there is some bullsplat here.
A 64 bit CPU can proccess larger chunks of ddata at one time, so it should be faster.
Also a 64 bit cpu can have access to huge amount of RAM memory , probably hundreds of gigabytes of ram would be possible.
Most programs written between 1989 and 2003 have been made for 32 bit cpus, so they are saying that a compatibility mode is being built into the new IBM PPC 970 to run the old 32 bit apps and also run the new 64 bit apps as they are created.
Time will tell when or If it all comes to pass, we have a generation of computer users who have accepted 32 bit machines for 14 years.
Is it important? Not yet, nut soon, maybe a year or three.
Im not a big expert on how CPUs work, so if this doesnt seem correct to anyone, feel free to correct me, this is just my opinion of how things are .
There are four main rationales for 64 bit cpus as far as I can see:
1. To break through the current RAM access limitation (which is about 4 Gb I think). This is actually a very good reason considering the explosion in RAM usage. I can remember when 16K was an expansion pack! My desktop has 1 gig of RAM and its maxed out. RAM is faster than magnetic disk so keeping more stuff in RAM makes things go faster.....
2. Improvements in processing efficiency. This is not so obvious to me due to the need to reprogram applications to make the best use of 64 bit OSs. When Apple moved from 24 bit to 32 bit about 8 years ago (?) there was a fair amount of nashing of teeth as software authors hadn't obeyed rules about memory addressing. That wasn't even a true architectural change. After a period of catch-up and learning of new coding tricks that optimize 64 bit processors, there should be significant speed advantages.
3. To get us back onto the upgrade cycle. These poor computer companies need to feed their jets. We seem to be reasonably content with only throwing out a perfectly good computer every 4 years now, rather than every 3. This unhealthy practice has to stop people! You shall buy new. What do you think your computer is? A car? A comsumer electronics device? It's meant to be disposible.