Apple Bumps Up Pro Towers

The latest dual-processor models top off at 1.25GHz. Do they mark the end of the Mac line for Motorola's PowerPC G4?

Power Mac G4
Right on schedule, Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday nudged up the capabilities of its professional-strength Power Mac G4 systems with three new dual-processor desktop configurations topping off at 1.25GHz.

The new Macs also include architectural enhancements derived from the Xserve, the companys recently introduced rack-mounted server; pack a new ATI graphics card; and come pre-loaded with Jaguar, Version 10.2 of Mac OS X, which Apple has announced will be available via retail channels Aug. 24.

The arrival of the professional towers cap a spate of speculation among Mac-focused Web sites, several of which for months had predicted that Apple would introduce its next professional desktops in mid-August. The look of the new systems chassis also confirms the veracity of unauthorized photos of a pre-release model that circulated the Web in late July, prompting cease-and-desist letters from Apples legal counsel.

According to Apple specs, the dual-processor models pack Motorola PowerPC G4 processors that clock in at 867MHz, 1GHz and 1.25GHz and carry price tags of $1,699, $2,499 and $3,299, respectively. The high-end model is slated to ship in the second half of September, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said, while the other two will be available this week.

In a first for a desktop Mac, each supports up to 2GB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM. Each model includes four 3.5-inch hard disk drive expansion bays; two external expansion bays; four PCI slots and a 4x AGP slot; two FireWire and four USB ports; built-in 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet; and support for AirPort wireless networking.

DDR SDRAM made its debut in Apple hardware in May, when the company took the wraps off the Xserve. The desktop models support for 333MHz DDR SDRAM outperforms the Xserves 266MHz limit, however; in addition, the dual 1.25GHz Power Mac G4 configuration is faster than the two 1GHz PowerPC G4 chips in the current high-end, $3,999 Xserve configuration.

The 867MHz Power Mac G4 includes 256KB of Level 2 cache and 1MB of DDR SRAM backside Level 3 cache per processor; 256MB of DDR SDRAM; an Nvidia GeForce4 MX graphics chip with 32MB of DDR SDRAM; a 60GB hard drive; and a combo DVD-ROM/CR-RW drive.

The 1GHz model packs an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro graphics card with 64MB DDR SDRAM; an 80GB drive; and a SuperDrive DVD-R/CD-RW drive. The 1.25GHz version will come with 2MB of DDR SRAM per processor, 512MB of DDR SDRAM and a 120GB hard drive.