After a week of fevered speculation by Mac fans, Apple on Wednesday updated its Power Mac G5 series of desktop computers with three new dual-processor models.
The new lineup marks a return to Apples "all-dual" strategy first introduced with the second generation of Power Mac G4s. The companys line now includes a machine featuring two 1.8GHz PowerPC G5 processors, priced at $1999; a mid-range model with two 2.0GHz processors, at $2499; and a high-end model with dual 2.5GHz chips for $2,999.
The mid- and high-end models come with 512MB of 400MHz SDRAM and 160GB hard drives, while the low-end model comes with 256MB SDRAM and an 80GB drive. All models come with Apples SuperDrive DVD-R/CD-RW combo drive. The new Power Macs also feature liquid cooling, the first time that Apple has used this technology in one of its machines.
Tom Goguen, Apple senior director of desktop marketing, said the company expects the new middle and entry-level configurations, now with dual processors, to appeal especially to customers in the graphic design and print publishing markets. These sites have waited for several years to move production workflows to Mac OS X and to the faster PowerPC G5-based workstations, which run older Mac OS 9 applications in the Classic Environment.
"Video and digital content creators migrated to the G5 quickly," he said, pointing to the performance gains from the lines 64-bit support and optimized applications. With wider release of required OS-X-native applications, print market customers are "ready for migration and we expect a real uptake in that market."
Apple will release the new top-of-the-line model in July. The dual 2.5GHz version will have a faster front-side memory bus, Goguen said, supporting data throughput speeds up to 20GB per second.
In addition, the new models run the PowerPC 970FX processor, the version based on IBM Corp.s 90nm process, that is also used in Apples Xserve G5 server. The new high-end system requires a water-cooled heat sink.
Goguen said it had proved difficult to accommodate the power-density curve presented by the chip. "Its a challenge to cool the part," however, he added that from a user standpoint, the more-efficient water-based cooling combined with the existing segmented air-flow technology let the faster, hotter systems run just as quietly as previous models.
Despite Apples renowned reputation for secrecy, the Power Mac upgrade had been widely flagged on Mac rumor sites, after the company released a service manual featuring internal images from the new products last month. Although the differences between the old and new models were small, they were spotted by sharp-eyed Apple enthusiasts, and were enough to tip off users that updates were coming.
Despite the upgrade, there is no sign of the 3GHz version of the IBM PowerPC 970 that Apple CEO Steve Jobs spoke of at last years Worldwide Developer Conference. At the time, Jobs claimed the G5 series would reach 3GHz "by the end of next summer," a claim he later repeated at Septembers Apple Expo Paris.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from an interview with company officials.