Details are emerging of Apple's Power Mac G5s, following the products' shipment in the US and other territories (including the UK) yesterday.

Apple has begun shipping single-processor 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz G5s, and has revealed that orders for 100,000 systems have already been received. Dual-processor 2GHz systems will ship later this month, Apple said.

The new Power Macs will feature a specially-developed iteration of Mac OS X 10.2.7. This update has a redesigned kernel and system-level math and vector libraries that are specially tuned for the G5. They can also accommodate 8GB of RAM.

"Any application that does dynamic linking to those libraries will get an automatic benefit without having to recompile," Apple's vice president of hardware product marketing Greg Joswiak told MacCentral yesterday. Adobe has revealed its plans to distribute software to achieve just such optimization within Photoshop 7.0 today.

Will you still love me, when I'm 64-(bit)? Apple and IBM have built the new processor and operating system in such a way that 32-bit applications are supported on the 64-bit processor. This means apps benefit from larger memory, but don't need to be rewritten. As 64-bit applications emerge, Apple will introduce upgrades to make OS X a true 64-bit OS, claims Infoworld.

The new systems incorporate 400MHz 128-bit DDR SDRAM with throughput of up to 6.4GB/sec, one 133MHz and two 100MHz 64-bit PCI-X expansion slots, and AGP 8x Pro graphics slots. The processors and their 1GHz front-side bus can handle 16GB/sec of bandwidth, according to Apple.

The heart of the new Power Macs is the PowerPC G5 processor, developed by Apple and IBM. The 64-bit microprocessor features full support for 32-bit applications, and a parallel architecture that can handle 215 simultaneous in-flight instructions, two double-precision floating-point units and an optimized Velocity Engine. The chips are also designed for full support of symmetric multi-processing (SMP).

Microprocessor Watch senior editor Peter Glaskowsky's said of the new systems: "Though Apple continues to insist that its Power Mac systems are desktops, their features and performance outstrip those of any mainstream PC desktop. In comparison with dual-processor PC workstations, Apple can claim performance and price leadership.

Bandwidth on the run The new systems also sees data throughput taking over from processor speed as the key performance measurement.This move follows Apple's work on HyperTransport, a super-fast data I/O technology.,

Infoworld's Tom Yager writes: "In the Power Mac G5, data does not spend much time on the bench waiting for the bus. The key to this machine's success will be throughput. The specs of all of the interconnects scream by desktop PC standards.

"Each processor has its own 1GHz bus. Memory bandwidth is 6.4GB per second. The 64-bit expansion bus runs at 133MHz and conforms to the PCI-X standard commonly reserved for servers. The graphics accelerator is fed by an 8X AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) Pro bus for maximum speed and an ample supply of electrical power."

Power Macs (to the people) Apple has high hopes for its new machines. In a financial statement issued in December, the company said: "If future unit sales of Power Mac systems fails to partially or fully recover, it will be difficult for the company to improve profitability."

Power Mac sales fell 20 per cent year-on-year in Apple's third quarter. Apple sold 133,000 in the quarter, against 156,000 in Q2, and 167,000 a year ago. In July, Apple chief financial officer Fred Anderson said: "G5 Power Macs and the release of QuarkXPress for OS X are laying the foundation for future growth in Power Mac sales. Customer response has been strong for the G5s."

Get the G5 knowledge In related news, Apple has issued several Knowledge Base articles overnight. These include notes which record that a "Power Mac G5 computer does not detect an AirPort network or Bluetooth device, even though the base station or device is well within range". The solution is to ensure the appropriate antenna is connected at tghe rear of the Mac.

The new Power Macs also introduce new optical audio ports – new to the platform. They allow users to connect a variety of audio equipment using digital optical (Toslink) cables, Apple said. These allow for the transfer of stereo audio or encoded 5:1 audio. Apple has also confirmed that the G5s will operate in FireWire Target Disk mode.

Another note states that G5s will run at reduced speed when their air deflectors are not properly installed. Others show Power Mac owners where to find the product's serial numbers, and more information regarding the product's external Bluetooth and AirPort antenna.

Got to get you into my life Details of the new Power Macs are as follows (prices include VAT):

The 1.6GHz Power Mac G5 costs £1,549 and includes:
800 MHz front-side bus; 256MB 333 MHz 128-bit DDR memory with 4GB maximum memory; 80GB hard drive; nVidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card with 64MB DDR memory aboard; 3 64-bit PCI slots and a 4x SuperDrive.

The 1.8GHz Power Mac G5 costs £1,849. Features include:
900 MHz front-side bus; 512MB 400 MHz 128-bit DDR memory with 8GB maximum memory; 160GB hard drive; nVidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card with 64MB DDR memory aboard; 3 PCI slots – one 64-bit at 133MHz and two at 100MHz and a 4x SuperDrive.

The soon-to-ship 2GHz Power Mac G5 costs £2,299. Its features include:

Dual Independent 1 GHz front-side buses; 512MB 400 MHz 128-bit DDR memory with 8GB maximum memory; 160GB hard drive;
A Radeon 9600 Pro-64MB DDR graphics card; 3 PCI-X slots (one 64-bit 133 MHz, two 64-bit 100 MHz); and 4x SuperDrive.