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Hot off the Press - Product News and Cmmentary
by Chuck Brown, Assoc. Editor- News

New Mac G5’s, after the dust has settled
June 10th, 2004

After a very long wait Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday June 8th, announced three new Power Mac G5’s, all with dual IBM PowerPC 970 processors. The new top of the line G5 Power Mac is equipped with twin 2.5 GH z CPU’s, 1.25GHz frontside bus per processor; the other two are actually slightly upgraded previous models with dual 2.0 GHz (Fsb 1GHz ) and 1.8 GHz (Fsb 900MHz ) IBM engines. The system prices now start at $1,999 and run to $2,999 for the 2.5 GHz , while the previous range began at $1,799.

Tom Boger, desktop product marketing vice president for Apple, said they expects to ship the 2.5 gigahertz models in July, while versions with two 1.8 gigahertz microprocessors and two 2.0 gigahertz processors are now available. "We're feeling very good about our ability to supply that product in July".

In the past Apple has been noted for missing promised delivery dates, lets hope that this stays on schedule. The 1.8 GHz microprocessors and two 2.0 GHz processors are now available. The 2.5 GHz processor is one that Apple is already currently selling in a computer server it launched a few months ago, so most of the media has been expecting this “bump” in speed for the desktop line-up to be coming.

The new Power Mac G5’s comes with the ATI Radeon 9600 XT or NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra graphics card installed in an AGP 8X Pro slot for a maximum bandwidth of 2.1GB per second. The dual 2.0GHz and dual 2.5GHZ Power Mac G5 models come with three PCI-X slots, giving you the benefit of the most advanced PCI technology. The PCI-X protocol supports high-performance PCI devices, increasing speeds from 33MHz to 133MHz and throughput from 266 Mbps to 2GBps.

All the new G5 Power Mac models will feature standard:
· SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) at 8X speed
· Optional – 802.11G and Bluetooth
· Single SATA HDD 80GB or 160GB
· Two FireWire 400, One FW 800 port
· Three USB 2.0
· Three PCI expansion slots
· ADC connector
· DVI connector
· Analog audio in, analog audio out
· Optical S/PDIF in, optical S/PDIF out
· Front headphone and speaker jack
· Built-in Gigabit Ethernet

Promised 3.0 GHz G5 no where in sight –
If you recall, Apple CEO - Steve Jobs and IBM executives had promised, forecasted, whatever you want to say it was, by the end of last year (2003). Well there is no 3.0 GHz G5 for Apple Power Mac in your visible future according to the Apple executives, or our inside contacts at IBM Corp. Jobs had said specifically at last year's Worldwide Developer Conference that the 3.0GHz was insight by year (2003) end; a claim he later repeated at the September 2003 Apple Expo Paris.

Earlier this year Apple said it was having problems with the supply of chips from IBM’s Fishkill plant, but said it believed IBM has gotten past those supply challenges and will be able to meet expectations for the new G5. "We're feeling very good about our ability to supply that product in July," said Tom Boger, desktop product marketing vice president.

It’s been very well known that the big problem is IBM’s challenge in moving to 90 nanometer processor technology and the jinxed Fishkill manufacturing facility, which records and extraordinarily high finished chip rejection rate from what we have heard from sources inside IBM.

The IBM PowerPC 970 is also a lot hotter running than IBM engineers ever planned it to be and there have been problems reaching the boasted cache sizes that IBM made, when selling Apple on the PowerPC 970.

Least to say, you are not likely to see a G5 in any PowerBook you might recognize as that, in anytime soon. All you have to look at is the enormous size of the heat sink on any Power Mac G5 desktop system to understand that these IBM PowerPC 970 processors have a serious heat generation problem. Tom Boger, Apple's Director of Power Mac Product Marketing said it came down to a technology challenge that was bigger than Apple ever expected.

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Motorola had conquered the heat issues much more successfully then IBM has, but don’t expect anything faster in the G4 category for PowerBooks, iBook or iMacs, for a couple reasons. One -Motorola has been much more profitable since losing the shackles of the Apple supply contract to IBM and two - we’ve been told that Motorola is still very pissed off with Apple for dumping them after so many years, for arch RISC competitor IBM.

There has been no hint as to whether the G5 will make a migration to the iMac in the near future either. However, since the iMac’s now dated retro look is over-due for an overhaul, who knows what might happen . . . . hopefully a more attractive shape than the ‘50s lamp bottom

Adios Power Mac G4s
As part of the new G5 announcements, Apple has said that its Power Mac G4 has been taken out of production as of now.

Apple has continued to manufacture two 1.25GHz Power Mac G4 versions; a single processor version only available at Apple retailers while the Apple Store offered a dual-processor version available as a build-to-order option. If you like G4 Power Macs, you had better snap them up while supplies last.

A Commentary-
In case you didn’t notice, the entire Power Mac product line is more expensive than previous models that have been around now since MWSF 2003. Is the speed bump and standard hardware worth the new hefty prices of $1,999 to $2,999?

There is no doubt about the need for the 25% speed increase and probably the benefits that it and the 1.2 GHz FSB will provide to Power Creative Users. However, comparing it to what a power users can buy in hardware (lets not get into the OS argument) in a PC, Apple has once again planted both feet into the reputation of being VERY overpriced and costly.
I can hear the Apple diehards already screaming and flinging epithets; but peruse the standard features very closely my fellow Mac friends. You’ll notice some glaring shortcomings and omissions that are standard on most high-end PC desktops.

First – a single 80GB (SATA) 7200 RPM HDD in a Two Thousand Dollar computer!!?? Or, a single 160GB (SATA) 7200 RPM HDD in either a Twenty Five Hundred or Three Thousand Dollar computer!!?? Apple has been famous for supplying Power Macs with the cheapest second tier HDD in the industry since I bought my first G3 B/W and G4 Gigabit. This is shameful and should be embarrassing for Apple.

Yes you’re going to have to pay a lot extra to get the BTO listed 250GB Serial ATA
2X 250GB Serial ATA Hard Disk Drives.

Second – for Three Thousand Dollars you would think that you would get more than a barely usable 512 MB PC3200 RAM and certainly more than 256MB PC3200 RAM on a Two Thousand Dollar G5 Dual 1.8 GHz model. Also, as the old saying goes, “cache is king” and an L2 cache of only 512k per processor is not competitive on a Three Thousand Dollar computer

Third – for a company that pioneered (not first) 802.11x connectivity, it’s pretty cheap not to include either, or both, Airport Extreme 802.11g and Bluetooth! Come on, what does a 802.11g or BT transceiver cost Apple, $18 at most (according to my contacts with manufacturers of this hardware in Taiwan)?

Forth and last – you do realize that for Three Thousand Dollars you are not getting any display at all, and the same goes for the Twenty Five Hundred or Two Thousand Dollar G5 Power Macs as well! You will be lifting that increasingly lighter wallet to by Apple displays that are comparatively 25% higher priced than Major Brand equivalent LCD displays.

For me and the many professionals I’ve talked to, we have to say that the G5 Power Macs are not cost to feature, worth the price.



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