A group of Apple product managers met in London yesterday to discuss Apple's WWDC announcements: the Power Mac G5, Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, and iChat AV. These included: Tom Boger, Director of Power Mac Worldwide Product Marketing; Chris Bourdon, Senior Product Line Manager, Worldwide Product Marketing; Souad Laoussadi, Desktop Marketing Manager, EMEA; and Stephen Kelly, Pro Software Marketing Manager, EMEA.
A billion billion big numbers Boger started his look at the new Power Mac G5 by running through the "giant leap" in processor technology made by IBM and Apple.
The PowerPC G5 is the PowerPC 970 chip, which is based on IBM's Power4 processor – which Boger called "the world's most sophisticated processor". The G5 is the size of an adult's fingernail and yet includes 300 metres of wiring; the circuitry is 800 times thinner than a human hair.
Boger was keen to point out that the G5's 64-bit architecture is not merely double that of the previous 32-bit chip builds. As 32-bit means 2 to the power of 32, and 64-bit means 2 to the power of 64, the new architecture is actually 4.3 billion times as expandable.
For example, although Apple states the maximum memory of the top-end Power Mac G5 as 8GB, it could - if the DIMMs existed - stretch to an almost unthinkable 18 exabytes (a billion billion bytes). 1 exabyte equals 1,024 petabytes. 1 petabyte is a quadrillion bytes. 18 exabytes is a hell of a lot of RAM!
Boger claimed that if memory requirements doubled every year, the G5's 64-bit architecture would still support our needs in 32 years.
In a similar fashion 32-bit computers can express numbers up to 4 billion. 64-bit can reach up to 18 billion billion. In the short term this power will be restricted to such fields as scientific research and cryptology, but will eventually filter down to more desktop-orientated operations. Yet the G5 can still happily run today's 32-bit applications, even those running in OS X's Classic environment. This is because when Apple, IBM and Motorola designed the original PowerPC back in the early 1990s, it was always planned to be a 64-bit chip - unlike Intel's Pentium. The Pentium's 64-bit successor, the Itanium, is "years away from reaching the desktop" claimed Boger.
Panther will remain 32-bit, however, as nearly all that power is still only needed at the very highest levels of computation. Developers can still write calls that take advantage of the 64-bit architecture. And Apple has rewritten the way that 10.2 Jaguar addresses memory. Mac OS X 10.2.7 - which ships in the G5 - has no memory limit, allowing up to 4GB of RAM per processor using the DIMMs that are available today.
Cool case Boger praised the Power Mac's efficiently engineered aluminium enclosure – the number-one goal of which was acoustics. It has a fine-tuned thermal management, including an Apple-invented fan-control system that means a 5,000rpm fan can spin down to a much quieter 500rpm depending on the operation being carried out by the user. The Power Mac director admitted that the cooling system is designed for each model, and therefore Apple does not recommend later processor upgrades in the new systems.
The transparent air deflector has scoops for channeling air through the enclosure. If it is removed, the Power Mac automatically sends itself to sleep because the air-cooling system will be compromised. As soon as it is replaced, it wakes itself up again.
No tools are required to swap out either optical or hard drives, and Apple even includes spare "buttons" for users to add to third-party external hard drives so that they fit like that already installed in the top drive bay.