A Apple G5 Laptop? Maybe Next Year. While Apple is quiet, several developments point to the possibility of a G5 Laptop to be released in the second half of 2004. That could mean a huge boost for Apple.
The current Apple G4 Power PC from Apple, will we see a G5 in 2004?
Christmas is in the air and that brings certain traditions for Apple lovers. Rather than eat Christmas cookies or chase their significant other under the mistletoe for a kiss, Apple fans start to speculate on what new gadgets fearless leader Steve Jobs will roll out at the semi-annual Macworld in San Francisco. The conference, which runs from Jan. 4 through Jan. 9, next year is a favorite place for Jobs to reveal his top-notch offerings to the friendly home crowd. The thinking now holds that Apple will mostly trot upgrades on the existing lines onto the stage in front of throngs of screaming fans.
That’s great, but not earth-shattering by any means. The real fireworks might start long after Macworld, in the second half of 2004. That’s when Apple lovers can expect to start hearing rumors of the long-awaited G5 laptop. The machines, which would incorporate the much celebrated 64-bit G5 chips, could spur huge sales in Apple’s professional laptop lines.
In fact, the chips appear to be falling Apple’s way for this to happen. With its IBM alliance and big bet on the G5, Apple has finally hitched its wagon to the right horse. IBM is steaming ahead full-speed with development of more powerful and higher performing Power PC chips, including improved versions of the PPC 970, which is the guts of the G5 processor
IBM says it hasn’t heard of any G5 laptop plans. And Apple, as usual, says it can’t comment on products in development. But Apple watchers and chip experts say all the pieces needed for G5 laptop are coming together.
Existing versions of the G5 chips can’t run in laptops because they create too much heat and are not power efficient. Laptops built with such chips would run down batteries in a flash. Keeping the inner enclosures of the laptops cool enough to prevent the processors from malfunctioning would also be difficult. Finally, chilling the exterior case of the laptop sufficiently to comfortably rest on someone’s lap would likewise be tough.
The solution to all of these problems is of course to introduce a low-power, slower-speed chip specifically for laptops. Apple and Motorola have done this in the past with G4 laptop chips. Intel has done this with its Centrino line of processors too.
The simplest way to reduce heat is to trim the amount of power going into a chip. That’s what IBM has just done with its Power PC blade servers, which are slated to hit the shelves in March, 2004. This implies that a low-power G5 laptop chip is just a small step away from the existing product. Combine this fact with the knowledge that chipmaking improvements that IBM is already fine-tuning at its production facilities are in full swing (Big Blue has sunk billions into installing state-of-the-art chip-fabrication technology into several of its massive production plant in Fishkill, N.Y.) and you can only guess that a cooler running more efficient G5 chip is next to come off the chip manufacturing line.
In 2001 when Apple introduced the G4 PowerBook net sales of their portable computers (including the iBook) rose 2%, even in the tough economy that existed. In 2004 if the economy is doing well as it seems to be now, things could look good for Apple if they’re able to release a G5 Notebook.