WWDC: Power Mac G5 debuts

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Apple on Monday introduced the Power Mac G5, billed as "the world's fastest personal computer." It features a 64-bit processor and 1GHz front-side bus, can address up to 8GB of memory and features processor speeds of up to 2GHz. In bench tests, Apple said the new machines handily beat the fastest Pentium 4 and dual Xeon-based PC systems available.

The systems incorporate 400MHz 128-bit DDR SDRAM with throughput of up to 6.4GB/sec, one 133MHz and two 100MHz 64-bit PCI-X expansion slots and AGP 8x Pro graphics slots. The processors and their 1GHz front side bus can handle 16GB/sec of bandwidth, according to Apple.

The new Power Macs get a facelift, too -- they sport a striking new aluminum case design that incorporates 9 separate fans and a computer-controlled cooling system to manage the heat output from the new motherboard architecture. Apple CEO Steve Jobs told attendees of this week's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that despite the number of fans, the new aluminum enclosure actually operates quieter than the previous generation of Power Mac G4 systems did -- 30dBA at normal room temperature, according to Jobs.

The heart of the new Power Macs is the PowerPC G5 processor, developed by IBM. The 64-bit microprocessor features full support for 32-bit applications, and sports a massively parallel architecture that can handle 215 simultaneous in-flight instructions, features two double-precision floating point units and an optimized Velocity Engine. The chips are also designed for full support of symmetric multi-processing (SMP) -- a key point of Apple's claim of "fastest personal computer."

Based on SPEC CPU 2000 benchmarks, the new Power Mac G5 was pitted against 3.0GHz Pentium 4 systems and 3.06GHz dual-processor Xeon systems. Apple's results show that the G5 won three out of four key benhcmark tests, with the G5 beating the Pentium 4 by 21 percent in single-processor floating point performance (and 10 percent slower in integer performance); in tests against the dual-processor Xeon system, Apple beat its competitor by 41 percent in floating point throughput and three percent in integer computation. (More details about the benchmarking are available from Apple's Web site).

The new systems are also equipped with dual 1.5Gbps serial ATA interfaces and standard Nvidia GeForceFX 5200 or ATI Radeon 9600 Pro graphics cards (the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro is also available as a build-to-order option).

What's more, the new powerhouse pro desktop systems come equipped with Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, two FireWire 400 ports, and, for the first time on the Macintosh, three USB 2.0 ports. In another first, optical digital audio input and output is included as well. Analog audio input and output and a headphone jack are also included, and AirPort Extreme wireless networking is supported. The new machines are also Bluetooth-ready.

Apple's new Power Mac G5s will be available in three configurations:

  • A US$1,999 1.6Hz single-processor model, featuring 800MHz front-side bus; 256MB 33MHz Dual Channel (128-bit) DDR RAM, 4GB maximum; 80GB serial ATA hard drive; Nvidia GeForceFX 5200 Ultra with 64MB DDR; 3 33MHz PCI slots and 4x SuperDrive.
  • A $2,399 1.8GHz single-processor model; 900MHz front-side bus; 512MB 400MHz Dual Channel (128-bit) DDR RAM, 8GB maximum; 160GB serial ATA hard drive; Nvidia GeForce 5200 Ultra with 64MB DDR; 3 PCI-X slots (one 64-bit, 133MHz, two 64-bit 100MHz) and 4x SuperDrive.
  • A dual 2.0GHz system; dual independent 1GHz front-side buses; 512MB 400MHz Dual Channel (128-bit) DDR RAM, 8GB maximum; 160GB serial ATA hard drive; ATI Radeon 9600 Pro with 64MB DDR; 3 PCI-X (one 65-bit, 133MHz, two 64-bit 100MHz) and a 4x SuperDrive.
  • All systems will ship in August and will come equipped with Mac OS X 10.2, "Jaguar."

    This story, "WWDC: Power Mac G5 debuts" was originally published by PCWorld.

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