Microsoft's choice of 3.2GHz PowerPC processors in its new Xbox 360 could suggest significantly faster Macs when the console ships at Christmas.

Microsoft's newly-unveiled console is powered by a custom-made IBM PowerPC-based three-core chip running at 3.2GHz, and supported by 512MB of GDDR3 RAM.

The Register last year claimed these customised processors to be based on IBM's PowerPC 976 chip, itself based on IBM's Power 5 architectire and fabricated at 65 nanometres.

Each processor offers multi-threading technology, allowing it to process two program instruction streams at the same time. The company claims the processor "delivers 1-Terraflop of system-level, floating-point performance".

EE Times describes the system as, "marking a further step in the evolution of videogame consoles into powerful home entertainment servers".

Apple's G5 promise

Apple's G5 processors are also variants of IBM's Power architecture, and Microsoft's stated intention to ship consoles equipped with 3.2GHz processors by Christmas suggests faster Macs by then too.

In June 2003 Apple CEO Steve Jobs claimed Apple would reach 3GHz within the year, a deadline which passed because IBM and Apple found a series of unexpected problems moving to 65 nanometres.

Equipped with a 20GB hard drive, Xbox 360 also offers 512MB of GDDR3 RAM and an ATI graphics processing unit running at 500 MHz, with 10MB of embedded DRAM - one of the fastest such processors in the industry.

The unit will ship with a 12X dual-layer DVD-ROM drive, three USB 2.0 ports, two memory unit slots, and support for four wireless game controllers. It supports progressive-scan DVD movies and a slew of DVD and CD formats.