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AltiVec in the News

AltiVecTM Technology is generating considerable interest in press. This section includes links to a number of recent articles on AltiVec Technology. The technical focus and level of detail varies widely across these articles so there should be something for everybody.

To avoid potential confusion, please note that Apple and Motorola use different names for the same things. The microprocessor which Apple refers to as 'G4' is called the PowerPC 7400 by Motorola. Also, Apple uses the term 'Velocity Engine' to refer to the 128-bit vector engine which implements AltiVec technology in the microprocessor.

(1) DSP loyalties up for grabs in the bus board arena
by David Lieberman
Electronic Engieering Times
May 1, 2000

Digital signal processor chip veterans Texas Instruments Inc. and Analog Devices Inc. continue to vie for the hearts and minds of DSP board makers and their customers, but Motorola Inc.'s Semiconductor operation has become a serious contender for signal-processing applications as well. Motorola's PowerPC MPC7400, known as the G4 and featuring the integrated 128-bit ""AltiVec"" vector processor, has helped the company muscle in on TI's and Analog's business.

(2) AltiVec continues its charge up the DSP hill
by John McHale
Military & Aerospace Electronics
May 1, 2000

Designers of digital signal processor (DSP) boards for radar, sonar, and signal-intelligence applications continue to embrace Motorola's PowerPC 7400 microprocessor, also known as the AltiVec. Customers are demanding the reduced instruction set computer's (RISC) 14.4 billion floating point operations per second (gigaflops) of performance.

(3) AltiVec G4 bridges the CPU/DSP gap
by: David Lieberman
Electronic Engineering Times
November 8, 1999

BOSTON - Mercury Computer Systems' and Sky Computer's announcements of AltiVec-based boards came at nearly the same time as Motorola's introduction of its AltiVec chip, also known as the G4 and the PowerPC MPC7400. A number of other board companies reacted immediately by throwing their hats into the ring, and others are sure to follow.

(4) AltiVec versus KNI (MMX2: How do they compare?
By: David K. Every
MacKiDo.com

Both KNI and AltiVec are SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) implementations, or they are also called (short) Vector Processors. What they do is to allow a single instruction to work with multiple pieces of data at once (instead of one at a time), so they can do 8 things (or sometimes as much as 32 things) at once. Each piece of data, or path through an instruction, is called a vector.

(5) Sidebar: Introducing the G4 Processor
By: Stephen Beale
Macworld Online
September 1999

The PowerPC G4 processor that drives Apple's latest Power Mac systems is not merely a faster version of the previous G3 chip. With its Velocity Engine subprocessor, the G4 incorporates functions that would previously have been performed by separate chips such as digital signal processors or MPEG decoders.

In technical terms, Velocity Engine--Apple's clever brand name for the AltiVec technology developed by Motorola--is a 128-bit vector-processing unit that works in conjunction with the existing floating-point and integer units.

(6) Support rolls for new PowerPC
BY David Lieberman
Electronic Engineering Times
September 20, 1999

Simultaneously with Motorola's launch of its MPC7400 PowerPC microprocessor with its AltiVec vector-processing unit, Mercury Computer Systems Inc. and Sky Computers Inc., both based here, unveiled board-level products based on the processor.

Richard Jaenicke, director of product marketing at Mercury, said the new processor ""revolutionizes the performance of computationally intensive applications such as image and signal processing . . . quadrupling processing densities to up to 130 Gflops per cubic foot.""

(7) Moto flexes powerful, 'Pentium-crushing' G4
By Darrell Dunn
Electronic Buyers' News
09/01/99

Motorola Inc.'s answer to the Pentium III, the multimedia-intensive G4 PowerPC, may well be a knockout punch from the standpoint of performance.

“It blows away the Pentium III; and in terms of multimedia, it blows away anything on the street,” said analyst Will Strauss of Forward Concepts Co., Tempe, Ariz.

(8) Apple pulls it off
By Matthew Rothenberg, MacWEEK.com
September 3, 1999

Talk about a last-minute save! With the introduction of the Power Mac G4 line at this week's Seybold Seminars in San Francisco, the Mac's handling of heavy-duty graphics files again vaulted ahead of the Pentium III-based competition

(9) Apple unveils PowerPC G4
By Craig Matsumoto
EE Times
(08/31/99, 3:31 p.m. EDT)

SAN FRANCISCO - Claiming ownership to a """"supercomputer on a chip,"""" Apple Computer Inc. revealed details of the PowerPC G4 processor Tuesday (Aug. 31) at the Seybold trade show here.

At the heart of the processor is what interim CEO Steve Jobs dubbed the 128-bit Velocity Engine, which presumably refers to the AltiVec instruction set drafted by Motorola Inc.

(10) The Velocity Engine
By Glen Speckert
Byte.com

The key to the G4 performance is the Velocity Engine, also known as AltiVec technology. This was architected by Apple, Motorola, and IBM, but has been driven and implemented by Motorola. The Velocity Engine is a 128-bit vector execution unit, providing for highly parallel operations, while operating concurrently with the existing integer and flops.

(11) Wired: G4 processors on schedule, X Server Benchmarks by Rob Durnford

According to Wired News, all is well on the PowerPC G4 fronts. Wired notes that Motorola is on time with its G4 and AltiVec technology. The new technology is expected to advance the Macintosh platform and also see usage in embedded systems. Motorola is expected to make an announcement this summer regarding the new processors. Wired notes that the processors should start out at 400 MHz and faster and feature the advanced AltiVec graphics-and-telecom technology. According to Motorola, its AltiVec technology is expected to aggressively compete with Intel's similar MMX technology.

(12) MacAddict News: Motorola's AltiVec trumps MMX
May 8, 1998

Motorola's AltiVec trumps MMX

Motorola, which produces the mighty PowerPC processor family in tandem with IBM, yesterday announced a new multimedia-oriented microprocessor technology that (finally!) counters and surpasses Intel's overhyped MMX. Dubbed ""AltiVec,"" the new technology includes a passel of MMX-style data-crunching instructions as well as hardware improvements to boost the PowerPC's multimedia and networking prowess.

(13) Motorola CPU to Boost Multimedia Performance
By Henry Bortman August 1998

Responding to Intel's MMX technology, Motorola has announced an ultrafast PowerPC extension that is expected to speed up a wide range of tasks, from such basic functions as screen redraws to more specialized operations such as MPEG-2 decoding, Adobe Photoshop filters, color-space transformations, digital-audio- and-video-signal processing, and 3-D rendering. PowerPC CPUs with the new AltiVec technology could outperform Pentium II processors with MMX by as much as 30:1 on some operations, Apple and Motorola say. (The companies based these numbers on a computer simulation of the chip's design, not on actual samples.)

(14) Microprocessor Forum: G4 To Add Bite To Mac
(10/16/98, 10:18 a.m. ET)

By Mark Hachman and Andy Patrizio, Electronic Buyers' News

While fellow PowerPC maker IBM Microelectronics has turned its attention to computer mainframes and high-end chips, Motorola said it promises to add bite to future versions of Apple's Macintosh with its new G4 processor.

Motorola is sampling its first 400-MHz G4 chip, which is designed with 2 megabytes of Level 2 cache and uses a 100-MHz system bus.

Full production of the chip is scheduled for the second quarter of 1999. Pricing, however, was not disclosed.

(15) What's AltiVec? How does it work?
By: David K. Every ©Copyright 1999

Motorola just announced AltiVec extensions for the PowerPC family. The extensions are somewhat comparable to the MMX extensions in the Pentium family. But, while MMX injects ""fun"" into your computer, AltiVec focuses on performance.

(16) Motorola, IBM have big PowerPC plans
By Jim Davis
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
May 5, 1999, 1:20 p.m. PT

Motorola and IBM are writing a new chapter in the book on PowerPC architecture that the companies hope will make forthcoming products a bestseller in the market for embedded processors.

Motorola and IBM said the new architecture, code-named ""Book E,"" will help standardize certain basic elements of PowerPC chips in both companies' product lines, while simultaneously increasing the ease for each to customize chips.

(17) MacAddict News: Motorola's AltiVec trumps MMX
May 8, 1998

Motorola's AltiVec trumps MMX

Motorola, which produces the mighty PowerPC processor family in tandem with IBM, yesterday announced a new multimedia-oriented microprocessor technology that (finally!) counters and surpasses Intel's overhyped MMX. Dubbed """"AltiVec,"""" the new technology includes a passel of MMX-style data-crunching instructions as well as hardware improvements to boost the PowerPC's multimedia and networking prowess.