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Apple's Prevaricating Pinocchios of PR

Cupertino fruit company cooks results, twists words, lends new meaning to the word "incredible" By Charlie White
(6/25/03) Well, hallelujah! Apple has entered the twenty-first century with the new Power Mac G5, the fastest Mac we've ever seen and a enormous improvement over its predecessor, the G4. Now, Apple will soon be selling computers that are in an entirely different league. It's time to celebrate. But all is not sweetness and light. Unfortunately, Apple's media flacks, those prevaricating Pinocchios of PR led by CEO Steve Jobs, the Joe Isuzu of computerdom, decided to do a little sleight of hand to make the G5 seem even better. Maybe it's time we take a look at one of the Apple CEO's favorite words -- "incredible" -- and see what it really means.

The G5 is impressive enough without cooking up any numbers or twisting any words. When I looked at its specifications, all I could say through my gaping jaw was a reverent "wow." This baby is a monster, with 64-bit processing, a 1GHz front-side bus for each processor, a couple of 2GHz chips, and lots more. If Apple actually ships this box in August, it will be a formidable contender in the content creation arena, no question about it. I don't want to take anything away from this exciting announcement that shows us that finally Apple has abandoned those old shopworn cell-phone chips from Motorola and put together first-class hardware that can do justice to the exquisite OS X and its attending software masterpieces like Final Cut Pro 4. This is going to be a huge improvement for pixel pushers of every stripe, and for digital video editors, animators and compositors in particular.

That said, why, oh why did Apple have to surround this gargantuan announcement with this bogus reality distortion field? Many of you have probably seen the reports about how Apple crippled the PCs used in the G5 vs. PC benchmark tests. If not, here's an interesting possible explanation of Apple's shenanigans: http://www.haxial.com/spls-soapbox/apple-powermac-G5. Could it be that these G5 machines are still not any faster than the fastest PCs? Well, even if the G5 is faster than a 3.06GHz dual Xeon or 3.0GHz P4, these whipping-boy PeeCees Apple bought and allegedly crippled are not the fastest PCs anyway. That honor would go to the 64-bit dual AMD Opteron machines from BOXX Technologies, which have been shipping since June 4th.

Nor was the G5 the first personal computer to sport 64-bit capability. The nod here would also go to BOXX Technologies. While talking with Apple and IBM higher-ups, I confronted them with this fact, asking why they were saying the G5 is the "world's first 64-bit desktop" and got an "I'll get back to you" response (read the interview by clicking here). When nobody from Apple ever did get back to me, I pressed the company via email for a comment on this discrepancy. The answer just made me laugh, insulting the intelligence of anybody who might be thinking of buying a product from these snake-oil salesmen. My question was this: "BOXX Technologies has been shipping a dual Opteron 244 1.8GHz machine since June 4. Here's the release we posted when it shipped: http://www.digitalvideoediting.com/2003/06_jun/news/boxx063.htm. Does Apple have a response or any comment about that, and does the company still claim to have the first 64-bit desktop computer?" Here's the exact quote from Apple, responding to my question: "The BOXX system you mentioned is marketed as a workstation. There have been other 64-bit servers and workstations available from other vendors that use Itanium, Alpha, and now Opteron. The Power Mac G5 is the first 64-bit personal computer." Oh, so that's what we're doing here. I see -- it's not really truth, it's just marketing. If you have an 8x AGP Pro graphics subsystem, dual processors, every kind of I/O available, fast disks and 8 gigs of RAM, and it's still not a workstation, I don't know what the hell is. All I can say is, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, or looks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

BOXX has agreed to send us a test machine any day now, so we can run these benchmarks for ourselves. And, Apple will probably send along a G5 when it's released, too. Then, we can have another round of Mac vs. PC tests, where we'll run the same tests Apple did in the demo, and our own After Effects and Photoshop benchmarks, too. However, without those machines to test, we're left with the word of Apple against that of AMD.

That leads us to the most damning piece of data of all. The G5 is not the fastest chip for personal computers, workstations, desktops, ducks or whatever. No matter how you cheat it, according to AMD its Opteron has the G5 beat by a country mile. DMN has obtained SPEC benchmark data from AMD, a company that I believe has considerably more credibility than Apple, showing its numbers on the exact same tests run by Apple. Take a good look at the table below. Well, well. Who's the fastest now?

Test Apple G5 2GHz AMD Opteron 244 (1.8GHz) Opteron % faster
SPECfp_rate_base2000 15.7 24.7 57%
SPEComt_rate_base2000 17.2 25.0 45%
SPECfp_base2000 840 1122 34%
SPECint_base2000 800 1095 37%

Sure, speed isn't everything. There are all those other things that make us adore Macs and want to do all our work on them. But then, there's credibility, which some people believe is everything. That's why I have to laugh whenever Apple's PR dudes spout out the favorite word of their cult-leader boss: Incredible. Indeed.

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Related Keywords:Apple, Power Mac G5, fastest Mac, improvement, computers, media flacks, prevaricating Pinocchios of PR, CEO Steve Jobs, Joe Isuzu, sleight of hand, incredible, editorial, Charlie White

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