Motorola is set to showcase its 780MHz G4 PowerPC processor, with industry pundits expecting it to rival Intel’s prototype 1GHz chip.

The processor will be on view at this week’s International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

Keith Diefendorff, editor of Microprocessor Report said: "There's a lot more to performance than frequency. A 500MHz PowerPC is easily equivalent to a 700MHz Pentium III, and in some things, like multimedia, it's much faster. So the 780Mhz PowerPC would be roughly equivalent to a 1Ghz Intel chip."

Diefendorff likened processor speeds to runners. As Intel chips break down their instructions into more steps than PowerPCs, it is like a runner taking shorter steps - the chip has to run faster to keep up.

G4 shortage In related news, a leading analyst scotched fears over Motorola's inability to supply Apple with 500MHz Power PC G4 chips for the delayed high-end G4 Power Macs.

Motorola has been unable to supply Apple with enough 500MHz G4s, despite Apple scheduling a speedy debut last November. According to SEC financial filings, the postponement cost Apple $200 million in lost sales during the fourth quarter.

According to reports in Wired, Motorola is sticking by statements made in October that the 500MHz chips will ship in the first calendar quarter of this year.

Diefendorff said that similar delays would increase as chips get smaller and smaller: "They get very finicky as they get smaller. I wouldn't read too many problems into it. It's just not that uncommon."

Also at the ISCC, Intel will give a technical demonstration of its 1.1GHz forthcoming "Willamette" processor. Diefendorff explained that these "super geeky" demos are not for public consumption. He said: "They're only showing these to show they can do it. There's no indication they will ever enter the market."