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When I'm 68040...

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By now I'm sure that most of you have heard of Motorola's speedy new chip, the 68040. Motorola finally announced this week that it will start shipping the 68040 in quantity, an announcement which a number of companies were waiting anxiously for. Of those, NeXT is probably the most important since the new NeXTStations and NeXTCubes can't ship until the 68040 arrives in bulk. Motorola is rushing the chips out in an effort to meet manufacturers' needs.

This is all well and good for Apple as well, since it's no secret (or at least we don't think it is :-)) that Apple has been working on a 68040-based Macintosh. However, Apple has also been rumored to be working on a RISC-based (reduced instruction set computing) computer that would use Motorola's 88000 line of processors. There is a slight problem with the Motorola chips though. In true Nancy Reagan spirit, Motorola recently instituted a drug-testing policy for its employees, a policy that caused a number of Motorola's engineers, most significantly the ones in the 68040 and RISC departments, to resign in protest. That may be another reason Motorola rushed the 68040 ship date - they didn't want manufacturers getting worried about chip availability

It's unclear whether or not the Apple RISC machine will be a Macintosh or not, although I personally think it would be a large mistake to introduce yet another platform into the market. Such a RISC machine should at least have a Macintosh emulation mode. Apple has said that it will only use the 68000 family in the Mac, but some people wonder if this is true, in light of last week's news that Apple and VLSI Technology and Acorn Computer Group plc formed a new company in Cambridge, England (would someone in the UK please tell us what that plc stands for?).

The company, Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) will develop cheap RISC processors that consume little power. Such processors would be extremely useful in the next generation of portable computers, perhaps even the sort that General Magic is working on. Another likely possibility for the RISC processor would be in a laser printer's rasterizing board. The greater the resolution of a laser printer, the greater the need for processing power, particularly with complex images, and Apple no longer has a high-end laser printer now that 600 and 1000 dpi printers are readily available from companies such as LaserMax. Apply that logic as you will, we've heard nothing specific and are merely connecting related points of information.

Information from:
John Catsoulis -- jtc@latcs1.oz.au
Nigel Cliffe -- ncliffe@axion.bt.co.uk
Ian Harries -- ih@doc.ic.ac.uk
Lawrence D'Oliveiro -- ldo@waikato.ac.nz

Related articles:
PC WEEK -- 03-Dec-90, Vol. 7, #48, pg. 17, 153
InfoWorld -- 03-Dec-90, Vol. 12, #49, pg. 5

 

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