Friday, October 21, 2005

Mac nVidia GeForce 7800 GT to ship in November?

Rumour has it that the Mac nVidia GeForce 7800 GT that is mentioned all over Apple's website, but which cannot be ordered at this time, may be shipping as early as November.

Considering how much faster this GPU is compared to the stock GeForce 6600 and 6600 LE, for some people the wait might be worth it. For those who don't need the extra GPU speedhowever, the good news is that initial reports state the 6600 series cards are fanless.

[Update 2005-10-21]

Here is Apple's GeForce 7800 GT manual:

7800 GT

The Quad Power Mac G5 is a bargain

Apple's Power Macs aren't usually known for being the cheapest on the block, but the new Power Mac G5 Quad brings quad machines into the mainstream. Not only can it be a good value as an ultra high end personal desktop computer (if for instance you need the extra speed for applications such as video encoding, etc.), it is quite the bargain as a professional 3D workstation. Let's compare the Power Mac configured as a 3D workstation to similarly configured AMD Opteron workstations:

Apple Power Mac G5 Quad

2.5GHz dual dual-core IBM PowerPC G5 970MP
Quadro FX 4500 512 MB GDDR3
250 GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive

Boxx 7400

2.2 GHz dual dual-core AMD Opteron 275
nVidia Quadro FX 4500 512 MB
250 GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive

2.4 GHz Quad-core AMD Opteron 280
nVidia Quadro FX 4500 512 MB GDDR3
250 GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive

The quad 2.2 GHz Opteron is over 20% more expensive than the quad 2.5 Mac.

In terms of non-workstation desktops however, one big drawback for some is that the available PCIe video cards for the Mac are few. Aside from the the very expensive Quadro FX 4500, the only option is the nVidia GeForce 6600 (or the 6600 LE on the low end Power Mac). The 6600 a fast card, but it is not state of the art. Apple advertises that a Power Mac with the nVidia GeForce 7800 GT is up to 84% faster than with the GeForce 6600, but unfortunately the 7800 GT is not currently available. That's too bad, because for applications such as Motion and Apple's new flagship photo application, Aperture, a 7800 GT would be most desirable. In fact, both these applications list the 7800 GT as recommended. Therefore it's likely it will become available within a couple of months. (Even if doesn't then perhaps ATI will come in and fill the void with the Radeon X1800. An added bonus with this ATI GPU is that it supports H.264 decode and transcode acceleration, which would be very useful if Apple chooses to support it.)

On the bright side, if you buy a Power Mac with the 6600 now, and then get the 7800 GT later, you could always run both the cards simultaneously, with a total of four Cinema Displays. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

New iPod uses Broadcom BCM2722 chip

Ars Technica has taken a look inside the new iPod. It uses the new Broadcom BCM2722 chip, which was just announced yesterday. This chip can decode MPEG4 video up to 640x480, but H.264 video only up to 352x288. Apple rates the iPod at 480x480 MPEG4 and 320x240 H.264.

So, as expected, the new iPod is incapable of decoding significantly higher resolution H.264 video than its 320x240 spec. Perhaps next year...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

New Quad Power Mac G5 and PowerBooks

I've been talking about the Quad Power Mac and new PowerBooks for just about forever now, but it has finally happened and fortunately I won't need to eat my hat. ;) Some pertinent details:

Quad 2.5GHz ($3299)
Dual dual-core 2.5 GHz 970MP with 1 MB L2 cache per processor
1.25 GHz bus for each processor
512 MB DDR2-533, with support up to 16 GB, ECC memory optional
PCIe nVidia GeForce 6600 256 MB
Support for professional 3D workstation graphics cards (Quadro option)
Three free PCIe slots
250 GB hard drive
2 hard drive bays only (albeit with up to 1 TB storage)
16X SuperDrive
Dual Gigabit Ethernet

Dual 2.3GHz ($2499)
Single dual-core 2.3 GHz
1.15 GHz bus

Dual 2.0GHz ($1999)
Single dual-core 2.0 GHz
1.0 GHz bus
160 GB hard drive
PCIe nVidia GeForce 6600 LE 128 MB

It looks like Apple finally has a "real" pro machine, with PCIe workstation graphic cards available and ECC support. Three hard drive bays would have been nice however. The 2.5 GHz speed was as expected.

12" PowerBook ($1499)
Slot-load 8X SuperDrive is now standard
80 GB hard drive (up from 60 GB)
Otherwise no significant change in specs from before.

15" PowerBook
1440x960 screen
Mobility Radeon 9700 128 MB (up from 64 MB)
7200 rpm 100 GB upgrade option

17" 1680x1050
1680x1050 screen
120 GB hard drive
7200 rpm 100 GB up/downgrade option

The clock speeds of the PowerBooks are the same at 1.5, 1.67, and 1.67 respectively. No specifics are listed but it looks like Freescale wasn't able to get the 90 nm G4 7448 out in time.

Many will welcome the higher resolution screens in the 15" and 17" PowerBooks, but I wonder how some people will react to the higher pixel density, which will make stuff on screen appear smaller. My guess is that they will be OK with it too, since Apple isn't using the insanely high pixel density screens that some PC laptops use.

The 12" PowerBook is looking pretty long in the tooth though. Basically, it is the 12" iBook with a SuperDrive and a couple of other things, but a worse GPU. It's interesting to see that it didn't even get DDR2 support, or even the 7200 rpm hard drive upgrade option. (The DDR2 support is probably irrelevant however. It's running at 333 MHz anyway.)

One wonders if a 13" widescreen PowerBook is coming early next year.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Yonah power specs confirmed

Intel InsideĀ®AnandTech has confirmed the previous CNET article about Yonah's power utilization, and adds that the numbers are not absolute maximum values, but are in fact TDP:
E: TDP >50W
T: TDP 25W to 49W
L: TDP 15W to 24W
U: TDP <14W
49 Watts for the T series is disappointing, since it's much higher than Apple's preferred maximum usage of 30-ish Watts. (The L series are much lower power, but its clockspeeds are also low.) The good news is that some sites are reporting that most of the T chips will be closer to 31 Watts, as originally expected. The question remains however, if the 31 Watt spec as listed on the previous roadmap for the 2.16 GHz Yonah chip is accurate, or if that number has since creeped up too.

The other question is whether or not Apple will actually use these chips in PowerBooks. These chips are due out in the first quarter of 2006. By then I suspect that many pro-oriented applications will not have yet been ported to x86 Intel. Pros who are dependent upon such applications could thus have issues running their applications on Intel PowerBooks initially, and those issues would range from just poor performance all the way to programs not running at all. Will Apple risk this with a PowerBook release in the first half of 2006? My guess is probably yes, but I am by no means sure of this.

I suppose Apple could release a 1.9 GHz G5 PowerBook on Wednesday, and then another one in early 2006, before releasing an Intel PowerBook later on that supported 64-bit. (The 2006 Q1 Yonah chip is 32-bit.) However, ever since Jobs announced the Intel switch, I've thought the next PowerBook will likely have a G4, a 32-bit chip, and there will be no G5 PowerBook at all.