With the announcement of new Power Macs earlier today, Apple broke a barrier that every Mac user has been waiting for — the release of a 1GHz Power Mac. MacCentral spoke with Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior director of Hardware Product Marketing and Tom Boger, director of Power Mac Product Marketing about the new systems.
Not only did Apple break the gigahertz mark with the updated systems, they also included the as yet unreleased Nvidia GeForce4 MX chip in the mid-range and high-end systems. While details are scant on what the new graphics technology will offer, Apple seems sure the pro users will like them.
“Our pro users have been looking for us to break the gigahertz milestone,” Boger told MacCentral. “They are also really excited about the Nvidia GeForce4 MX. Together, it really is a digital powerhouse for the creative professional. When we encode DVD video at 300 percent faster than a 2GHz Pentium 4, it really shows we are delivering what our customers are looking for.”
While Apple’s new iMac sports Nvidia’s GeForce2 MX graphic chipset, the company has made ATI’s latest graphics card available to Power Mac buyers. Available as a standard option on the low-end Power Mac, ATI’s Radeon 7500 features 32MB of fast DDR memory on an AGP 4X card. The new Radeon also uses ATI’s Charisma Engine for integrated hardware transform and lighting and the Pixel Tapestry engine, which provides per pixel shading capability.
The Nvidia GeForce4 MX offers performance that is more on par with high-end visualization workstations. It features even more on-card fast DDR memory, 64MB, to support larger textures for 3D objects in current and future games and professional applications. It also delivers up to 40 percent more 3D performance than the entry Power Mac configuration.
“We found it [ATI’s Radeon 7500] provided great performance for our customers and we also know a lot of our customers like ATI products — we now give the choice in our product line,” said Boger.
All of the new Power Mac models can be configured with either the Nvidia GeForce4 MX or ATI’s Radeon 7500; Nvidia’s technology will cost US$100 more.
Recently, Apple has put more effort educating people on the “Megahertz Myth.” Last July Jon Rubinstein, Apple’s senior vice president Hardware Engineering, joined Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, on stage for the Macworld keynote to explain to people the differences in processor technology and how it affects the way you work. Apple also put up a Web page this month dispelling some of the most common Mac myths.
“We’ve always said that processor frequency is the best indication of performance only within a particular platform, not cross-platform, because all platforms do not do the same amount of work per processor cycle,” said Boger.
“The G4 can outperform the fastest PC simply because it gets a lot more done per clock,” Joswiak added.
Apple also isn’t concerned about the high-end iMac taking sales away from the low-end Power Mac. Both systems run an 800MHz G4 processor, but Apple says expandability is the key.
“The creative professionals we designed the Power Mac for demand more performance, flexibility and they want more expansion. The Power Mac has 133MHZ system bus; 4x AGP; 7200RPM hard drives; choice of 15-, 17- or 22-inch flat panel; four PCI slots; three drive bays; three DIMM slots; and gigabit Ethernet. We think for the creative professional, we’re delivering a lot more in the Power Mac G4,” said Boger.
Joswiak made reference to the Power Mac G4 Cube as a learning experience for Apple in the pro market. “That’s certainly the thing the Power Mac G4 Cube taught us — our Pro customers demand that extra performance and expansion. It [the iMac taking away sales] hasn’t really been a huge concern of ours.”
Resellers have been reporting huge pre-orders for the iMac since its release earlier this month, but no firm numbers have been available before today. Apple said they have received 150,000 pre-orders for the new iMac, more than they had for the original iMac released in May 1998. This is of particular significance when you consider the timeframes involved — the original iMac was announced in May, but didn’t ship until August; the new iMac was just announced three weeks ago.
So, what has made the new iMac so popular with consumers — is it the new design, or the power of the G4 processor?
“It isn’t just one thing. Our design has always been about more than just how it looks — it tries to form a union between the aesthetic and functionality,” said Boger. The form immediately grabs your attention and then you see the benefits. Having a G4 processor with a SuperDrive has really pushed people over the edge — it takes consumer computing to the next level.”