Multiprocessing Through the Years

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The future of multiprocessing on the Mac is bright, thanks to the arrival of OS X 10.1 and the availability of dual-processor 800MHz G4 Power Macs. But to understand where multiprocessing is headed, it helps to know how the technology has evolved over the years.

Macworld contributing editor Stephan Somogyi took an in-depth look at multiprocessing in the November 2000 issue, examining the way two processors divide up work and how certain applications are written to be MP-savvy. The July 2001 issue explains the many factors that can affect processor performance--everything from chip architecture to how much RAM is installed--including a look at dual-processor Macs. And Macworld's overview of OS X includes a look at the major benefits of the next-generation operating system such as built-in support for symmetrical multiprocessing.

Multiprocessors in the News

The first Apple-built dual-processor Mac--the Power Mac 9500/180MP-- debuted in 1996. But the Mac platform was no stranger to multiprocessing prior to that machines release. Manufacturers of Mac clones produced several multiple-processor machines, led by DayStar Digital and its DayStar Genesis MP. Umax and Total Impact also offered multiprocessor Macs --the SuperMac S900 and the Total PowerSMP, respectively.

Not long after introducing the dual-processor version of the Power Mac 9500, Apple discontinued the machine. It didn't produce another multiprocessor Mac until 2000, when CEO Steve Jobs unveiled two models-- the Power Mac G4/450 Dual Processor and the Power Mac G4/500 Dual Processor --at Macworld Expo in New York.

Six months later, Apple upped the speed on its dual-processor machine, offering a 533MHz multiprocessor G4. Most recently, the company announced the dual 800MHz G4 Power Mac at this summer's Macworld Expo.

Mac users hesitant about junking their current computer for a dual-processor model have more options as well: earlier this year, upgrade card makers began offering cards that featured two processors instead of just one.

The Reviews

  • DayStar Genesis MP 600: October 1996
  • Power Mac G4/450 Dual Processor and Power Mac G4/500 Dual Processor: November 2000
  • Power Mac G4/533 Dual Processor: June 2001
  • Dual 800MHz Power Mac G4: November 2001
  • Macworld Lab Tests

  • DayStar Genesis MP test: September 1995
  • Power Mac G4/450 Dual Processor: July 2000
  • Power Mac G4/500 Dual Processor: August 2000
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