Dual Processors: Twice as Nice

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Apple's been down the dual-processor road before: back in 1996, when the Chicago Bulls and Gil Amelio still ruled the land, the company rolled out the power-mad Power Mac 9500. It had two 180MHz PowerPC 604e processors, and to really take advantage of the second one, you had to use software written specifically for the task.

But unlike the evolutionary dead end of four years ago, Apple's release of two dual-processor Power Mac G4s means multiprocessor Macs are here to stay. Don't start adding two 500MHz G4s together and coming up with a gigahertz, though: today's Mac OS isn't multiprocessor-savvy enough to tax both processors to their limits.

The arrival of dual-processor Power Macs steers the G4 minitower toward high-end users. The base configuration remains the same -- you still get a Power Mac G4 at 400MHz, with a 20GB hard drive, for $1,599.

Beyond that, the G4 minitowers are all about dual processors. The next step up from the 400MHz model is a $2,499 G4 with two 450MHz G4s. High atop the mountain stands the new Mac speed king, a dual-500MHz box that sells for $3,499.

One problem: these new multiprocessor Macs will make killer Adobe Photoshop machines, but they won't transform the entire Mac experience until OS X arrives. Unlike the current Mac OS, Apple's new operating system can innately use multiple processors, dividing all the duties of the computer with ease.

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