Apple adds dual core, PCI Express to Power Mac G5

Apple on Wednesday introduced a new Power Mac G5 line featuring dual-core PowerPC CPUs and a PCI Express expansion architecture. The new 2.0 and 2.3 GHz systems are shipping now, and the new 2.5GHz “Quad” system will be available in early November. Prices range from US$1,999 to $3,299.

The Power Mac G5 line now features four PCI Express expansion cards — PCI Express is a high-performance interface that has already seen great traction in the PC market for high-performance video and other applications, but this marks its debut on the Power Mac line. Last week, Apple introduced a refreshed iMac G5 system that also included PCI Express.

Along with the debut of PCI Express, Apple has announced new high-performance graphics options including Nvidia’s Quadra FX 4500, bringing workstation-class graphics performance to the Macintosh for the first time. Up to now, Power Mac G5 systems have been relegated to consumer-class graphics card options.

Also new to the power Mac G5 is a dual-core PowerPC processor architecture, used across the entire line. In the past Apple has emphasized (and continues to emphasize, in high-end configurations) dual-processor systems, and a single dual-core processor does much of the same work, particularly for applications optimized for multi-processor hardware.

Apple explained that its new Power Mac G5 Quad configuration, clocked at 2.5GHz and featuring two dual-core G5 chips, can encode standard definition video content in Final Cut Pro 5 up to 60 percent faster than the dual-processor 2.7GHz system that preceded it, for example. Adobe Photoshop runs a series of 45 commonly used filters and actions 43 percent faster on a Quad system; Adobe After Effects ca render video effects up to 69 percent faster, LightWave 3D renders animation up to 59 percent faster and the Bioinformatics Benchmark System (BBS version 3) can complete a comparison of genomic sequences up to 39 percent faster.

The Power Mac G5 supports up to 16GB of 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM and now includes two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports are well-suited for users who plan to utilize their Power Mac in an Xsan environment, according to Apple — that’s Apple’s Storage Area Network solution for high performance computing.

Also new to this revision of the Power Mac G5 is the inclusion as standard equipment of the Mighty Mouse, Apple’s recently released multi-button mouse with scroll ball.

The Power Mac G5 continues to feature FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, digital audio input and output, AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate).

The Power Mac G5 comes standard with either Nvidia’s GeForce 6600 LE or GeForce 6660 graphics cards, featuring 128MB and 256MB of video memory respectively. Both support the 30-inch Cinema HD Display. Nvidia’s GeForce 7800 GT with 256MB VRAM and the Quadro FX 4500 with 512MB VRAM are available as build-to-order options.

All four PCI Express card slots can be populated with graphics cards, so you can create a Power Mac G5 that drives up to eight displays. What’s more, the Quadro FX 4500 card features stereo 3D capabilities, so you use it with a stereoscopic display.

The Power Mac G5 is available in the following configurations:

The $1,999 Power Mac G5 Dual, with single dual-core 2.0GHz G5 processor, 512MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 16GB, 160GB SATA hard drive running at 7200RPM, Nvidia GeForce 6600 LE with 128MB VRAM, three open PCI Express expansion slots (two 4-lane and one 8-lane slot), dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and 16x SuperDrive with double-layer support.

The $2,499 Power Mac G5 Dual, with single dual-core 2.3GHz processor, 512MB 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 16GB, 250GB SATA hard drive running at 7200RPM, Nvidia GeForce 6600 with 256MB VRAM, three open PCI Express expansion slots (two 4-lane and one 8-lane slot), dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and 16x SuperDrive wit double-layer support.

And the new $3,299 Power Mac G5 Quad, with two dual-core 2.5GHz G5 processors, 512MB RAM, 250GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 6600 graphics with 256MB VRAM, two open 4-lane and one open 8-lane PCI Express slot, dual Gigabit Ethernet and 16x SuperDrive with double-layer support.

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