Motorola has launched Apollo, a project to develop a next-generation PowerPC G4 chip capable of breaking the 1GHz speed barrier.

The announcement was made at the Microprocessor Forum. Apollo will be based on Motorola’s V’ger design, which was launched at the Microprocessor Forum last year. The chips will use Motorola’s 0.18-micron copper manufacturing-process, with silicon-on-insulator technology to boost performance. Motorola say the chip will be fully software compatible with existing G3 and G4 designs, and will offer multiprocessing and AltiVec/Velocity Engine support, MacWeek claims.

Performance edge Apollo will be a low-power chip, reaching speeds of 1GHz for less than 23 Watts. The company says the chip will be applied to both the desktop and embedded processor markets. If adopted as the microprocessor heart of future generations of Apple computers, the chip will put Apple’s desktop machines perceived speed on an equal footing with Wintel computers – with a major performance edge on the competition, according to analysts.

A Motorola source told Macworld, last week, that Apple customers could expect great things from the companies' technologies in the near future. The source, who refused to be named, refused to be drawn on what these announcements may be.