RealTime IT News

Apple Liquefies G5

Apple Computer said it is shifting its top-end Power Mac family to support only dual 64-bit PowerPC G5 processors in an effort to bolster its presence in the professional marketplace.

The Cupertino, Calif.,-based computer maker introduced the three new Power Macs Wednesday. The fastest features two 2.5 GHz processors and a 1.25 GHz per processor front side bus, and it is partially cooled by a combination of water and propylene glycol, a clear liquid used in automobile antifreeze.

Internal fans and an open grill enclosure help cool the other two models - a dual 1.8 GHz Power Mac and a 2.0 GHz version.

"It's a completely maintenance free system," Tom Boger, Apple senior director of desktop product marketing, told internetnews.com. "The processor was built using the 90-nanometer process. When you do that, you challenge the power density. You could see the same problem happening with Intel's 90-nanometer chips."

The cooling technique is nothing new. For years, computer enthusiasts and gamers have used various refrigeration techniques, including the use of ethylene glycol or propylene glycol to reduce surface temperature on hot-running chips. Running at top speed, some Mac users report their G5 machines run at temps of 85 Celsius or 185 Fahrenheit. Apple said it designed its G5 systems so that the fluid encircles the two G5 processors and transfers heat from the chips as they work harder. The computers are outfitted with 21 different temperature sensor points to help monitor the system.

Apple said speed is not the only factor in the design of its systems, but boasted that its 2.5GHz ran significantly faster than Intel's 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 systems in benchmark tests of Adobe Photoshop, Logic Pro 6, and Final Cut Pro.

Boger said that it was very unlikely that the G5 processor would appear in its PowerBook laptops before the end of the year, but reiterated that Apple continues to work with its G5 PowerPC chip supplier IBM on the challenges of process technology.

As for the future, Apple declined to speculate on potential configurations, including producing a four-processor or 4-way system for either its Power Mac or Xserve families. The company has long held itself as a competitor against Dell systems as far as value and performance. Adding a 4-way product for Apple could re-ignite that rivalry.

The new G5s come standard with an 8x SuperDrive and either the NVIDIA GeForceFX 5200 Ultra or the ATI Radeon 9600 XT graphics card. The top two models also include three PCI-X slots (one 64-bit 133 MHz and two 64-bit 100 MHz).

The dual 1.8 GHz, (starting at $1,999) and dual 2.0 GHz Power Mac G5 models are available now. The dual 2.5 GHz version ($2,999) is expected to be available in July. Apple said it would discontinue production of its current Power Mac G4s and sell off its related inventories.