Apple's Power Mac G5s should be a "close match" for the best Pentium 4 and Xeon systems on the "most demanding applications", claims Microprocessor Watch today.

The magazine – which focuses on microprocessor industry news and developments – explains: "G5 features and performance outstrip those of any mainstream PC desktop - and when comparing the G5 against dual-processor PC workstations, Apple can claim both performance and price leadership."

"The PowerPC 970 (G5) has given Apple a much-needed boost, putting it back into the thick of the competition at the high end of the PC market," it says.

Another report questions the need for 64-bit computing. Conceding that the appearance of 64-bit personal computing means "huge databases and complex scientific simulations can now be hosted on inexpensive machines," it warns: "These sophisticated programs, however, probably won't create much end-user demand for 64-bit systems. Most of us will continue to visit rather than attempting to predict tomorrow's weather ourselves."

Author Peter Glaskowsky predicts new solutions: "Over time, some of these applications may migrate to the desktop, but with new purposes. Programs created to help NASA scientists visualize the surface of Mars will turn into 3D games," he speculates.

As manufacturers race to sell products to end users, Glaskowsky says: "We can expect to see 64-bit computing presented as a performance advantage with immediate relevance."

The author questions the true value of such performance benefits: "Most performance benefits related to 64-bit processing have already been realized in 32-bit systems by means of instruction-set extensions such as IBM/Motorola's AltiVec."

Adobe last week released a software update for Photoshop 7 and the G5 Power Mac that it claimed could increase performance 200 per cent within that application.