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Interview: Apple's New G5 Lineup

The fastest Macs to date get dual processors across the board By Dave Nagel
Apple today announced its brand new lineup of Power Mac G5s, a range of pro desktop machines that includes dual processors across the board, a 25 percent speed bump on the top-end model (to 2.5 GHz) and other performance and feature enhancements. I had a chance to speak with Apple about the new lineup, about the company's strategy for the creative professional market and about development issues that prevented the release of the now-fabled 3.0 GHz G5.

The new high-end G5
Leading Apple's new desktop lineup is a dual-processor 2.5 GHz G5. While this falls short of the previously anticipated 3.0 GHz G5 chip, it does represent a 25 percent speed increase over the previous high-end model and the most dramatic speed bump in the history of PowerPC chip development--a 500 MHz jump in 10 months, assuming the new model makes its anticipated July ship date.

Apple, for its part, says the lack of the 3.0 GHz chip--announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself nearly a year ago--is owing to unforeseen challenges in the new 90 nm process technology adopted for the G5's design.

"We're not going to see 3 GHz anytime soon. In fact, you won't see it--or we don't expect you to see it--for the rest of this year," said Tom Boger, Power Mac product marketing manager for Apple. "We're still enjoying a significant speed increase ... in this announcement today."

He continued, ""Basically what has happened is that [the previous announcement of a 3.0 GHz G5 chip] was predicated on the move to 90 nm, and the industry--as you've probably seen with announcements from Intel and everybody in the industry--has found this transition to 90 nm to be just a much bigger challenge than what we've imagined. When Intel made this move, they went from 3.2 GHz to 3.4 GHz, so that's about a 6 percent increase. IBM, through the addition of design improvements, as well as the 90 nm process, [has] gone from 2 GHz to 2.5 GHz, so they've increased their clock frequency 25 percent."

Aside from chip speeds, the new 2.5 GHz model also features several other configuration changes, including front-side bus speeds of 1.25 GHz per processor, another 25 percent increase over the previous high-end model, bringing bandwidth up to 20 GB per second.

"We already had the fastest in the industry, and now we've increased that lead to 1.25 GHz," Boger said. "If you look at the Intel space, they top out at 800 MHz."

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Related Keywords:apple, power mac, g5, dual processors, liquid cooling, 2.5 GHz

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