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Apple Revs PowerBooks, Intros Quad-Core Power Mac G5

At a special press event in New York last week, Apple rolled out new revisions to its professional line of PowerBook computers and unveiled new high-end quad-processor Power Mac G5 systems.



More Pixels — First up, Apple refreshed the 15-inch and 17-inch members of its PowerBook line, adding larger displays, increasing battery life, and making DVD-burning SuperDrives standard across the entire PowerBook line. The 15-inch PowerBook now features a 1440 by 960 pixel screen resolution (slightly larger than the previous 17-inch model), while the giant 17-inch "lunch tray" PowerBook now offers a 1680 by 1050 pixel display, the same number of pixels as Apple’s 20-inch flat-panel Cinema Display. Apple says the new machines offer up to 22 percent longer battery life (up to 5.5 hours), include speedy 5400 rpm hard drives (with 7200 rpm drives available as build-to-order options), ship with a minimum of 512 MB of RAM, feature optical audio input and output, and come with built-in support for Apple’s mammoth 30-inch Cinema HD display. (Because, naturally, the first thing you want to do with a portable computer is hook it up to an enormous, non-portable screen! Am I wrong?)

Both systems feature 1.67 GHz PowerPC G4 processors, DVI and S-video output (adaptable to VGA and composite), 8x SuperDrives, Gigabit Ethernet, AirPort Extreme (802.11g) and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR wireless networking, a built-in V.92 56 Kbps modem, illuminated keyboards, FireWire 400 and 800 ports (one each), two USB 2.0 ports, and a Type I/II PC Card slot.

The new PowerBooks are available now, with prices starting at $2,000 for the 15-inch model and $2,500 for the 17-inch model. Apple’s 12-inch PowerBook is also available starting at $1,500, although its specs remain largely unchanged (save for an 8x SuperDrive and a 5400 rpm hard drive now being standard).

Core Values — Apple also unveiled a revision to its Power Mac G5 line of professional-level desktop computers, rolling in PCI Express expansion slots, pro-level graphics controllers, and a high-end option with two dual-core PowerPC G5 processors running at 2.5 GHz for a total of eight floating point units, four AltiVec units (which Apple has always dubbed "Velocity Engines"), four 1 MB L2 caches, and a total processing capability in the neighborhood of 76 gigaflops.

It’s not quite accurate to call the new high-end Power Mac G5 a "quad-processor" system: like its dual-CPU predecessors, it still contains only two CPU chips, but the difference is that those CPUs each contain two processor cores, rather than one. Similarly, the mid-range Power Mac G5 system is no longer a dual-processor system, but a dual-core system, containing one dual-core G5 chip running at 2.3 GHz.


The new Power Mac G5 systems also feature a new architecture which supports up to 16 GB of RAM, 1 TB of internal Serial ATA hard disk storage, PCI Express expansion slots (two four-lane and one eight-lane) designed for high performance expansion hardware like graphics cards, DSP audio processing, and FibreChannel storage. Apple’s also offering four professional level graphics options for the Power Mac line, including the new Nvidia Quadro FX 4500, that company’s fastest workstation video card, which can support dual 30-inch displays. The Power Mac G5 systems also feature 16x SuperDrives, one FireWire 800 port, two FireWire 400 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 1.1 ports (on the keyboard), two internal disk bays (one available), dual Gigabit Ethernet, optical audio input and output, analog line-level audio input, and optional AirPort Extreme (802.11g) and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR wireless networking. They come with an Apple Keyboard and a Mighty Mouse; the Apple Mouse is no longer available separately or with any Mac.


Power Mac G5 prices start at $2,000 for a 2 GHz dual-core G5 system and run up to $3,300 for a 2.5 GHz quad-core system, with numerous build-to-order options available. Dual-core G5 systems are available immediately, and Apple says quad-core systems should be shipping by mid-November.

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