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Apple Rolls Out Faster Dual-Processor G5 Line

By Blane Warrene MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 9, 2004 9:20 AM PT

Apple's line of Power Mac G5 computers received a substantial boost on Wednesday when the company announced three new systems, all with dual 64-bit PowerPC G5 processors.

Apple Rolls Out Faster Dual-Processor G5 Line

The three models -- 1.8 GHz, 2.0 GHz and 2.5 GHz -- will cost US$1,999, $2,499 and $2,999, respectively. The entry- and mid-level machines are available today worldwide through the Apple Store, Apple retail outlets and at authorized resellers. The top model, expected to become available in July, includes an industry-leading front-side bus running at 1.25 GHz per processor.

"Our professional customers have been impressed with the performance of the dual-processor Power Mac G5," Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, said. "This new G5 line [will] deliver even higher performance for our pro customers who need it."

The G5 Specs

All three new Power Macs include 8x SuperDrives that can read and write DVD-Rs, DVD-RWs, CD-Rs and CD-RWs, and all three can sustain as much as 8 GB of RAM.

The new G5s include Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800 and FireWire 400 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, optical digital audio input and output, built-in support for 54 Mbps AirPort Extreme wireless networking and an optional Bluetooth module.

The low-end and midrange models each comes with an Nvidia GeForceFX 5200 Ultra, while the standard version of the dual-processor 2.5-GHz, high-end model comes an ATI Radeon 9600 XT graphics card. A build-to-order option allows for a top-of-the-line ATI Radeon 9800 XT for an additional $300.

Meanwhile, Apple is ceasing production of its low-end, dual-boot (OS 9 and OS X) 1.25-GHz Power Mac G4, which costs $1,299; however, the model will remain available to purchase while supplies last.

Meeting Customer Demand

Tom Boger, senior director of desktop product marketing at Apple, said that the updates to the G5 line are all about Apple's customers.

"This is what our customers were asking for," he told MacNewsWorld. "As of today this brings dual-processing performance across all [Power Mac G5] systems."

Boger said Apple has focused on continued increases in performance and functionality with their product lineup.

"The new G5 series are very aggressive additions to the product line, offering more value and the tremendous advantage of 64-bit computing," Boger continued.

Boger also believes that these G5s, when used in pure 64-bit environments, such as with its Xsan 64-bit clustering file system software, offer massive performance boosts.

"OS X is optimized for the 64-bit architecture of the G5 processor and is very adept at dual processing," he said. "Our benchmarks prove this point."

Mac Processing Innovations

In an interview with MacNewsWorld, Gordon Haff, senior analyst at Illuminata, said Apple has to refresh product lines to stay in sync with OS X's new features and with processor-speed expectations of the marketplace.

"There's a certain technological current that carries along faster chip speeds and other new hardware features that drive refreshes on their own schedule," Haff said.

"The microprocessor game is becoming as much about power and reduced cost as ultimate performance for many uses," Haff added. "Reduced cost and power processors have to be part of Apple's product line future. There will remain a place for the fastest chip, but that's just one product category."

The new product line uses the 90 nanometer PowerPC G5 processor, first introduced in the Xserve. While bringing increased speed to the G5, these new processors also introduced challenges to the Apple hardware group. Apple has done away with the traditional copper heat sink in the former G5 line and has introduced a liquid cooling system.

"The new liquid cooling system in these G5's is not about acoustics," Boger said. "The 90 nanometer processor is a smaller chip and more difficult to pull the heat away from. The liquid cooling system enabled us to manage the heat issue."

Apple Upgrade Plans

Mark Judy, Manager of Information Systems for The Times-Reporter, a daily newspaper in Ohio, is always watching Apple's product upgrade path.

"When we upgrade, we will choose Apple and go with their most current midrange models, boost the RAM and budget accordingly," Judy told MacNewsWorld.

Judy said he works in a mixed environment. Newspaper production runs entirely on Mac G3 and G4 hardware.

"We have to look at the whole picture. Software upgrades, OS upgrades, training, and compatibility issues -- in-house and corporate-wide," he said.

When asked if there was anything missing in the Apple product lineup, Judy said nothing [is] missing he could think of.

"But it's been a while since I've flipped through a PC catalog and thought 'Wow, I wish they would make that for the Mac' -- but then do Macs really need neon or Spiderman cooling fans?" he said.


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