Apple opens application floodgates with G5

Earmarking it as the world’s fastest computer, Apple Canada Inc. said it put professional applications as top priority when it created the Power Macintosh G5.

“It is time to open the floodgates,” said Markham, Ont.-based Bruce Hough, consulting engineer with Apple Canada at a briefing on Wednesday about the newest addition to the Mac family. In doing so, applications can move faster and the computer itself is not getting in the way of the speed of the machine, he added.

“We feel comfortable calling it the world’s fastest personal computer,” he said.

The Power Mac G5 is fuelled by the PowerPC G5 processor, which was designed by both IBM Corp. and Apple. The Power Mac uses 64-bit processing technology as well as 64-bit computation but can still run existing 32-bit applications natively.

There are three versions of the G5 currently available, including two versions – 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz – of single processors and a dual 2.0GHz processor.

The dual processors each have an independent 1GHz front-side bus for 16GBps of bandwidth. Hough likened the dual processors to a super highway.

“With multiple lanes it can handle more information that one parallel dirt road,” he said.

The difference in power between the 32-bit versus the 64-bit offering can be explained with several different parallels, Hough said. He compared a glass of water to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls at full power to demonstrate the difference in power between the two.

“The G5 holds enormous data sets in the main memory,” he said. “It transfers data to the processor 40 times faster than a hard drive.”

As the G5 breaks the 4GB barrier, it supports up to 8GB of physical memory – twice as much as the 32-bit machines.

The G5s also come equipped with gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, two FireWire 400 ports and three USB 2.0 ports with optical digital audio input and output included.

Apple unearthed the G5 in July at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif. Hough explained that the combination of the PowerPC G5 processor and the new G5 architecture for the desktop computer makes it a fast machine.

“It’s not just a faster engine inside a Volkswagen Beetle,” Hough said. “There are vast amounts of main memory available.”

The architecture, Hough explained, is based on IBM’s Power4 processor used in IBM’s eBusiness servers and is the driving force behind the power of the machine.

Among the key components of the architecture are a fast processor, high bandwidth, the Mac OS X, wireless connections and the advanced system controller. Hough also touted the expansion room within the unit itself, saying that it’s “new but it’s a machine big enough for everybody.”

Primary customers of the machine are graphic designers, developers and video game makers, but Hough said anybody could benefit from the G5.

“If [users] are sitting there waiting because their brains can work faster than the machine, then I’d say it’s [time to] upgrade,” he added. “The digital lifestyle is changing and it’s not just about processing power.”

At the beginning of August, Apple said it had received orders for over 100,000 units.

Hough said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the G5 hitting 3GHz within the next year.

Prices for the G5 vary from $2,799 to $4,199, depending on the processor speed. Apple Canada – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Apple Computer Inc. – can be found online at