Saying that "two brains are better than one", Apple has released its first multiprocessing Macs for several years. Two of the new Power Mac G4 line-up feature dual processors. Apple has also added Gigabit Ethernet to the Power Mac’s motherboard, which enables users to speed their networking to 1,000Kbps – up significantly from today’s more common 10Kbps speeds.
The 450MHz and 500MHz Power Mac G4s each contain two PowerPC G4 processors. The 400MHz Power Mac G4 remains a mono-processing computer, with just the one speedy chip.
Wicked fast, says Jobs "Apple is the first to make dual processors a standard feature in high-performance personal computers - and we are doing it without raising prices," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, during his keynote speech at New York’s Macworld Expo.
"These machines are wicked fast, leaving Pentiums in the dust, and we think our customers are going to love them," he added.
During the keynote, Jobs linked with Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, to demonstrate how much faster even one 500MHz PowerPC G4 processor was compared to even a 1GHz Intel Pentium III chip.
Running a series of Adobe Photoshop Actions to make a complex poster for the recent ‘Inspector Gadget’ movie, Jobs’ single-G4 Power Mac completed the task in just 100 seconds. Schiller’s 1GHz Pentium III (running Windows 2000 Pro) took 124 seconds to complete the same task – much to the audience’s joy.
Then Jobs ran the same Photoshop Actions using a dual-processor Power Mac G4. This time the whole process was over and done with in a mere 61 seconds. Jobs claimed that this makes the two 500MHz chips equivalent to a 2GHz Pentium III processor – a speed of chip that Intel doesn’t even expect to have shipped in 18 months time.
Network racer Apple also announced that the new Power Mac line comes standard with Gigabit Ethernet - an industry first. All three G4 models feature 10/100/1000BaseT ethernet built-in on the motherboard. According to Apple, this makes the G4 the "ultimate networked client for transferring large files, such as image and digital video files, around a network".
Other computer manufacturers only offer Gigabit Ethernet as optional with third-party add-on cards that take up a valuable PCI slot and can cost over £800.
Prices up only slightly Apple has kept the prices of its Power Macs to the same they were as single processor models.
The entry-level Power Mac G4 with single PowerPC G4 400MHz processor (with 1MB level 2 backside cache), 64MB of memory, and 20GB Ultra ATA/66 hard drive is priced at £1,149.
The mid-range Power Mac G4 with dual-450MHz G4 processors (with 1MB level 2 backside cache per processor), 128MB of memory, and 30GB hard drive costs £1,749.
The high-end Power Mac G4 with dual-500MHz G4 processors (with 1MB level 2 backside cache per processor), 256MB of memory, and 40GB hard drive costs £2,499.
All prices exclude VAT.
All G4 Power Macs come with 16MB ATI RAGE 128 Pro AGP 2X, 20GB Ultra ATA/66 hard disk, DVD-ROM drive with DVD Video playback, FireWire and USB ports, 10/100/1000BaseT ethernet, three full-length 64-bit, 33 MHz PCI slots, and a built-in 56K V.90 modem.
Mouse thrown in for free The new Power Mac G4s come standard with the new, innovative optical Apple Pro Mouse and the new Apple Pro Keyboard. They also come pre-installed with Apple’s iMovie 2 digital video-editing software. Apple also unveiled a completely new family of displays that it claims are "the perfect complement" to the new Power Mac G4.
The new G4 line is available immediately through the Apple Store and Apple Authorized Resellers. Expect to wait for supplies to become available, however.