When Apples Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Power Mac G5 this summer as the fastest personal computer any company had built to date, we took it with a grain of salt. After all, Apple had made that boast in the past, and those claims did not tend to hold up when independent third parties (such as ourselves) ran tests on current, real-world applications (not the synthetic benchmark tests Apple cited).
Well, well take that salt with a side of fries. After testing a loaded ($4,349 direct, after we opted for more RAM and upgraded graphics) dual 2.0-GHz Power Mac G5 on a range of high-end content creation applications and comparing the results with a similarly configured (and priced) Dell Precision 650 Workstation running dual 3.06-GHz Xeon processors (each with a 512K cache) and outfitted with four 512MB SDRAM SIMMs and an nVidia Quadro FX 1000 graphics card, we see that indeed the G5 is generally as fast as the best Intel-based workstations currently available.
The key improvement to the new line of Power Macs is the PowerPC G5 processor, developed jointly by Apple and IBM. The G5 architecture is much stronger in accessing memory and handling computing-intensive tasks without repeated, time-consuming trips to the hard drive.
The G5 also will bring 64-bit processing to the Mac platform, allowing an exponentially greater ability to handle integers than the previous 32-bit processors. As with the AMD Athlon 64, applications need to be optimized for 64-bit computing to take full advantage of the architecture. But the PowerPC G5 (like the Athlon 64) will continue to run 32-bit applications (like those in our test suite) natively instead of in emulation mode, as with Intels 64-bit Itanium processor.
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