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Macworld Expo: Keynote Coverage

Jobs rolls out Intel-based Macs; pro apps set for March crossgrades By Dave Nagel
At the opening keynote address of the Macworld SF 2006 convention, Apple CEO Steve Jobs this morning announced more than just progress on the switch to Intel processors. He announced the immediate rollout of a new line of iMacs sporting Intel Core Duo processors. In addition, he also announced the February ship date for a new line of notebook computers called "MacBook Pro," also sporting Intel Core Duo chips. To top it off, he said all Apple hardware would be migrated to Intel chips by the end of calendar 2006.

The new iMacs: Intel Core Duo chips at up to 2.0 GHz
The new Intel-based iMacs come in two configurations, already available through Apple's online store. They include a 2.0 GHz Core Duo configuration with a 20-inch integrated LCD display and a 1.83 GHz Core Duo model with a 17-inch display. Jobs claimed that the new imacs were two to three times faster than the previous PowerPC G5-based iMacs in integer and floating point operations. The new models come equipped with Intel-native versions of Apple's consumer iLife applications, as well as other productivity tools.

The big question at this point is how well third-party applications will run on the new machines, particularly pro-level applications. I had a chance to spend some time on one of the new 2.0 GHz versions of the Intel-based iMac in Apple's booth on the show floor this morning. While it was far from fully loaded with third-party software, it did have Adobe Photoshop CS2 running on it. Several quick tests showed that the software, running in emulation via Apple's Rosetta technology, performed adequately in processor-intensive tasks. For example, resizing a 4,000 x 4,000-pixel image to 16,000 x 16,000 took fewer than 10 seconds to complete, and resizing back down to 4,000 x 4,000 took fewer than five seconds. Various filters performed pretty much the way they perform on dual G5 CPUs. On a 4,000 x 4,000 image, Filter Gallery filters operated without any lag, as did various blur and render filters (Lighting Effects, Fibers and the like).

We will, of course, perform much more extensive tests when we have the new hardware in our own hands. But the limited Photoshop tests showed that, at least for 2D graphics, the Intel-based iMacs seem to be a match for pro-level PowerPC hardware, even when the test software is running in emulation mode.


The emulation itself, incidentally, is seamless. Software launches and behaves the same way it does on previous-generation PowerPC hardware.

Complete configuration information for the iMac Core Duo machines is as follows.

17-Inch iMac ($1,299)
? 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo
? 512 MB DR2 SDRAM (expandable to 2 GB)
? 8x CD/DVD burner with double-layer DVD+R support
? Built-in iSight camera
? IR sensor for use with the infrared Apple Remote
? PCI-Express-based ATI Radeon X1600 with 128 MB GDDR3 memory
? 160 GB internal SATA drive
? Mini DV out port for connecting to external displays

20-Inch iMac ($1,699)
? 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo
? 512 MB DR2 SDRAM (expandable to 2 GB)
? 8x CD/DVD burner with double-layer DVD+R support
? Built-in iSight camera
? IR sensor for use with the infrared Apple Remote
? PCI-Express-based ATI Radeon X1600 with 128 MB GDDR3 memory
? 160 GB internal SATA drive
? Mini DV out port for connecting to external displays

The iMacs, incidentally, are in every other respect identical to the previous-generation G5 iMacs.

MacBook Pro
Jobs also announced the impending rollout of the new Intel-based notebook computers known as MacBook Pro. (The PowerBook monicker will now be dropped. Said Steve Jobs this morning, "We're done with 'power.'") These new notebooks will begin shipping next month and can be preordered now.

Like the new iMacs, the new MacBook Pro models are powered by Intel Core Duo chips. Unlike the iMacs, the MacBook Pro units will top out at 1.83 GHz. However, Jobs this morning said that the new models are four to five times faster than the current G4 PowerBooks in integer and floating point tests and are, in fact, "the fastest Mac notebooks ever." The MacBook Pro will debut in two configurations. Both sport 15-inch widescreen displays and come standard with a built-in iSight video camera and infrared sensor for use with the Apple Remote and other IR devices. (Jobs said the new display is as bright as the desktop Cinema Display; the models on display on the show floor did not appear to be nearly as bright as that.)

The $1,999 configuration offers a 1.67 GHz Intel Core Duo processor; 512 MB RAM; an 80 GB SATA drive; a slot-load CD/DVD±R SuperDrive; a CI-Express-based AT Mobility Radeon X1600 with 128 MB RAM; a DVI out port; Dual Link support for powering an Apple 30-inch HD display; optical ad analog audio IO; gigabit Ethernet; built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth wireless networking; and an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot.

The $2,499 configuration offers a 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor; 1 GB RAM; a 100 GB SATA drive; a slot-load CD/DVD±R SuperDrive; a CI-Express-based AT Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256 MB RAM; a DVI out port; Dual Link support for powering an Apple 30-inch HD display; optical ad analog audio IO; gigabit Ethernet; built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth wireless networking; and an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot.

The new models are expected to ship in February.


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Related Keywords:macworld sf 2006, jobs keynote, ilife 06, intel imacs, macbook pro, intel core duo

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