Friday, August 13, 2004

Think Secret releases iMac G5 specifications

In my first Everything Apple article I wrote about the iMac G5, to be announced at the end of this month in Paris. In the article I predicted a top of the line machine with something like these specs:
G5 970FX 1.8 GHz, with 512 KB L2 cache
3:1 multiplier, for a 600 MHz bus
256 MB Single-channel DDR333 memory, with 2-3 memory slots
80 GB 7200 rpm hard drive, upgradable to 160 GB
8X SuperDrive (DVD-R/W, CD-R/W)
nVidia GeForce FX 5600 Ultra 64 MB DDR
Airport Extreme ready
Bluetooth ready
Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 ports
VGA/S-video/composite video output
Analogue audio input and output

Think Secret has now published an article detailing the specs of the new machines, and confirming the Paris announcement. The top end machine looks very similar to my top end prediction, although Think Secret's machine has a GeForce FX 5200 instead of the 5600 I predicted.

What's worrisome is the initial speculation about the price. The top end machine might be $2200 (or $2300 with the 160 GB option). If true, that would still be very expensive. I had expected a price drop, and hoped it would be in the range of about 15% or possibly more for some units. If there is no price drop, then Apple's iMac line will continue to sell poorly.

Also, there is mention of an "educational" iMac with a 1.6 GHz G5, 17" LCD, 40 GB hard drive, GeForce4 MX graphics, and no optical drive. These specs are quite mediocre, but are tolerable for institutions. At least, it would be tolerable if the price is not $1300 as initial speculation suggests. It seems to me a more appropriate price would be closer to the magical $999 price point. Some have wondered about the lack of an optical drive in this low end machine, but I believe this is a smart move, since institutions often prefer to have machines with such a configuration, for various reasons. (OS updates and software installation can simply be performed over the network.) The GeForce4 MX is also somewhat worrisome, since it cannot support Apple's new Core Video and Core Image technologies coming in OS X 10.4 Tiger next year. On the other hand, if these machines are to see very restricted usage in institutional environments, the lack of Core Image and Core Video support may not be very important.

However, as it stands now, all of this is still conjecture and rumour. We shall see the truth in just a few more weeks.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The 130 nm G5 970 is dead

I wrote in a previous article that the newest rev. B G5 2.0 GHz Power Mac was no longer using the older 130 nm G5 970 chip.

This has been confirmed. Typing "ioreg -l | grep cpu-version" in the Terminal yields an identical CPU ID in the new G5 2.0 as the G5 2.5, and both are different from the rev. A and apparently also different from the earliest rev. B G5 2.0 machines. Thus, all new rev. B machines (including likely the 1.8 GHz machines) seem to be utilizing the 90 nm 970FX chip.

Given that the new iMac G5 will also use this chip, there remains no machines in Apple's lineup that use the old 130 nm G5 970 chip. In other words, we have already moved completely to a new chip generation now, a year after the original G5 was introduced.

G5 970 RIP.

[Update August 18, 2004]

There seems to be some confusion about the CPU IDs mentioned in this article. To clarify, if you type "ioreg -l | grep cpu-version" on a new rev. B dual 2.0 you will get one of two numbers:

003c0300 - PowerPC G5 970FX (90 nm)
00390202 - PowerPC G5 970 (130 nm)

In other words, both of these chip types are found in rev. B dual G5 2.0 Power Macs. Even if you have the older (hotter) chip, don't worry. The speeds of the two chips are identical, and fortunately, reports are that the older chip still makes for a very quiet Power Mac as well, despite being a higher power chip.

Also, please note my later article about the rev. B G5 motherboard.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

iTunes Music Store hits 1 million

Apple today announced they have hit the 1 million mark in their iTunes Music Store US catalogue. This includes songs from over 600 labels, including the 5 major record labels.