Microprocessor experts expect Apple to release new G5 Power Macs soon and posit the release of a G5 PowerBook "this year".

In-Stat/MDR's Microprocessor Watch editor-in-chief Peter Glaskowsky, who attended briefings with Apple at Macworld Expo San Francisco, writes: "In announcing the new Xserve G5 at MacWorld Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs glossed over what we consider the most interesting fact about the new system: it represents the debut of IBM's 90nm (nanometer) PowerPC 970FX, which Apple calls the G5."

This new generation processor offers one crucial advantage against the G5 currently used in Apple's desktop Macs. The latter processors were made using IBM's 130nm manufacturing process. This different manufacturing method means the new G5 has a, "maximum power consumption of 55W at 2GHz, down from the 90W" of the current Power Mac chip, Glaskowsky said.

"We expect to see new G5 desktops soon, with faster processors, and G5 laptops later in the year", he said.

In its brief 'Quick Reference' guide, IBM describes the typical working power consumption of the 970FX as: "[email protected], or [email protected]" – potentially more impressive, and much less that the current processor's typical power needs of [email protected]

This difference means the Xserve G5 does not require as statuesque a series of fans to ensure the machine does not overheat. It also offers a glimpse of a road map of what Apple has called "the engineering challenge" of building a G5 PowerBook.

IBM has already revealed that the 970FX offers power-management features – meaning a processor capable of speeds of 2GHz could be clocked down, in order that it generate less heat in use.

IBM has released some details pertaining to the new processor. They reveal that these processors can reach speeds from 1.4GHz to in excess of 2GHz, with a bus interface that's ten per cent faster then the current G5 – 1.1GHz from 1GHz.

All told, Apple and IBM appear set to deliver on Apple CEO Steve Jobs' promise that the Power Mac G5 would reach 3GHz in 2003.

Glaskowsky's complete report is available online to subscribers.