Motorola showed off a new G4 line at their Smart Networks Developer Forum in New Orleans earlier this week. The new Motorola 7440 G4 series will run at speeds of 600MHz and 700MHz and has been designed with the goal of high performance with even lower power consumption and heat generation. The 7440 series is expected to sample in the third quarter of this year and begin shipping in the fourth.
Also at the show, Motorola announced a new, lower-power 450MHz version of the 7410. This new processor will also be available in the fall. Finally, Motorola announced a new digital signal processor that will be the first to use the company’s latest 0.13-micron copper fabrication process.
Apple currently uses the Motorola 7410 processors in the 466MHz and 533MHz G4 tower models. In the high-end 733MHz G4 tower, Apple uses a Motorola 7450 G4. The lower power needs of the 7440 could make it attractive for Apple’s high-end portable products.
The 7440 processors have been designed to consume even less power than their 7450 cousins while delivering similar performance. At 600MHz, the 7440 processor requires 1.5V and typically dissipates 11.4-Watts. Comparatively, a 533MHz 7450 processor requires 1.8V and dissipates 14-Watts. Lower power consumption and heat generation are ideal features for networking, where power cost is an issue and moving parts such as fans decrease reliability. Motorola says that the 7440 will be targeted to the embedded, networking, telecommunications and computing markets.
The 7440 is physically smaller than the 7450 and lacks the pin-out connectors for an external L3 cache. However, the 7440 has a 256K on-die L2 cache as well at 32K data and 32K instruction L1 caches. Apple currently uses an external L3 cache on its highest-end G4 towers. The 7440’s inability to have one may discourage its use in desktop G4s. The 7440 is not intended to replace the 7450, rather, according to Motorola, it is intended to provide more options to its customers who may not need all of the features of the 7450.
Like the 7450, the 7440 series processors use Motorola’s MPX bus interface (Motorola’s newest method for allowing a processor to communicate with other devices on the motherboard) and also maintains compatibility with the legacy Motorola 60x system bus. The bus frequency of the 7440s is 133MHz, identical to the 7450s. The new processors support all the necessary cache coherency protocols for multiprocessing and use a seven stage, 32-bit pipeline. Again identical to the 7450, the new 7440s will be manufactured using a 0.18-micron six-layer fabrication process.
Finally, the 7440s have four AltiVec processing units. AltiVec can be exceptionally beneficial to network processing, as many encryption processes — essential in networking — can derive a significant performance boost from AltiVec.