Apple's move to PowerPC 970 G5 processors has transformed the platform into a viable competitor to today's PCs, writes Microprocessor Watch.

Senior editor Peter Glaskowsky writes: "Macs are once again fully competitive with Windows PCs in performance and have feature advantages that should help Apple expand its market. Not long ago it appeared that the Windows PC had taken an insurmountable lead."

Glaskowsky is critical of some of the claims Apple made on introducing the new architecture: "Some are simply not true: there were 64-bit processors in several RISC-based Windows NT desktops in the mid-1990s. Some are overstated: published SPEC scores for the Pentium 4 and P4 Xeon comparison systems are considerably higher than those Apple reported. Some are irrelevant: Apple knows perfectly well that clock frequency per se is essentially meaningless."

But they do support the conclusion that the Mac is once again a fully competitive platform, he agrees."Our analysis of the results shows the G5 should be a close match for the best Pentium 4 and Xeon systems on today’s most demanding applications," he writes.

He adds: "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 both performance and price leadership.

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

Processor development and strategic decisions to date means that today five processor vendors are offering seven chip architectures, with different combinations of powerful technologies: "All these decisions will have a greater influence on the end-user experience than previous architectural advances," he writes.

"The next wave of processor technology will affect the way applications run, not just how fast they run," he said.