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Apple Introduces Power Mac G4s at Seybold

During his Seybold keynote address, Apple Interim CEO Steve Jobs introduced the first Power Macintosh G4 systems, running at speeds up to 500 MHz and claiming some performance specs nearly three times faster than 600 MHz Pentium III CPUs. The new systems are driven by the PowerPC G4 processor, which Apple is billing as the first supercomputer on a chip because it can theoretically offer sustained performance of more than a billion floating point operations per second – a spec called a "gigaflop" in computing circles. The PowerPC G4’s spectacular performance stems in part from its 128-bit "Velocity Engine" – formerly known as AltiVec. The G4’s Velocity Engine can perform multiple operations during a single clock cycle in parallel with traditional processor operations and has special capabilities for handling streaming media and transforming data. As with previous innovations in the PowerPC line, programs do not need to be recompiled to run on PowerPC G4 processors; however, programs will need to be re-compiled to take specific advantage of the G4’s Velocity Engine. A number of developers have announced support for G4 systems, including Macromedia, Adobe, Terran Interactive, Casady & Greene, and Bungie Software.

The specifications for the Power Mac G4 systems aren’t anything to sneeze at either, offering a 100 MHz system bus, 1 MB of Level 2 backside cache, 64 to 256 MB of RAM (plus support for up to 1.5 GB of RAM), three 64-bit PCI slots, 10/100Base-T Ethernet, 10 to 27 GB hard disks, 32x CD-ROM or DVD drive options, an ATI RAGE 128 video card with 16 MB of VRAM, FireWire, and two USB ports. Like the iBook, all Power Mac G4 systems offer optional AirPort wireless networking; like Apple’s blue and white Power Mac G3’s, the Power Mac G4 systems come in minitower cases with easy internal access and do not include a floppy disk drive, however, the G4 systems lack the blue and white’s ADB port and come in a more muted translucent white and graphite color scheme, perhaps responding to many Macintosh users’ concerns over the comparative gaudiness of the iMac color palette. Pricing for Power Mac G4 systems should range from $1,500 to $3,500, with 400 MHz models available now and 450 and 500 MHz models expected to be available in October.

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