new G5s
June 19, 2003 9:37 PM   Subscribe

Apple spills its own beans: 1.6GHz, 1.8GHz, or Dual 2GHz PowerPC G5 processors described in desktops found in the store tonight (since removed).
posted by mathowie (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I for one welcome our new G5 overlords.
posted by MiG at 9:48 PM on June 19, 2003

Wow. I am *totally* blown away by the specs of the machines. Having been disappointed by the speeds of the PowerMacs for so long, it's easy to be pessimistic, and I was expecting something like 1.4-1.6GHz tops to start out with. Again... Wow. I might need to upgrade very soon.
posted by gyc at 10:25 PM on June 19, 2003

Steve, where's my new laptop?!?!
posted by gen at 10:33 PM on June 19, 2003

Yeah, I too will buy the next PowerBook they put out with specs like these. But the laptops almost always get the upgrades later than the desktops, especially when moving to new chips. But Apple has been talking a lot recent;y about getting to the point where fully 50% of their sales are laptops. So I hope they do it soon.
posted by donkeymon at 10:45 PM on June 19, 2003

Some poor webmaster is chained in a basement in Cupertino right this minute, and distorting the poor schmuck's reality with the forces present in his imbalanced mind is Jobs, the Destroyer.

While it may be that True Artists Ship, the help knows that Only Steve Unveils.

And when Steve doesn't get what he wants, someone is going to get screamed at.
posted by dglynn at 10:47 PM on June 19, 2003

According to macnn's screen shot, they have up to a 1GHz bus. Aren't most PCs still around 133 (or I think some people are doing the same kind of thing they do with DDR ram, so 2 something)? What could you possibly do with a 1GHz bus? Are there even any drives that will spit data out that fast?

And yeah somebody is going to be reamed then fired, then killed for this (unless it's just a PR stunt).
posted by willnot at 11:22 PM on June 19, 2003

I call Shenannigans ... Apple probably leaked it on purpose. That's such a rookie mistake to deploy something before a huge deadline, like announcing new computers. I bet they sat there and watched their hits just go up and up and when it got to a critical mass, they took the site down, changed out the content, and will show "great concern" about the news leak.
posted by bryanzera at 11:34 PM on June 19, 2003

willnot: the newest P4's have an 800mhz FSB, and you can get RDRAM that runs at 1066MHZ ... and really, i doubt this thing will be 'the world's fastest computer' for long. You can also already get dual Intel Xeon Processors or P3's that run at similar speeds. I'm sure AMD's next batch of CPU's will best these by a mile.

Apple does have the 'proprietary hardware and software' advantage, though. Who knows. This looks like a PR stunt to me too. Apple is probably crawling this thread right now, gauging our reactions.

...if so, listen here apple: go for the triple crown and announce TRIPLE G5's.... then you'll have the speed crown for a good year or two.
posted by phylum sinter at 12:00 AM on June 20, 2003

You can also already get dual Intel Xeon Processors or P3's that run at similar speeds.

That may be true, but you won't find either of those on a standard desktop PC. With the rumored jump and the jump to true 64-bit processing (IBMs 970 processor), Apple stands to leapfrog the competition in the speed category for the first time in as long as I can remember.
posted by fatbobsmith at 12:05 AM on June 20, 2003

Looks great, but how much does it cost?
posted by Rattmouth at 12:22 AM on June 20, 2003

...That may be true, but you won't find either of those on a standard desktop PC....

Good point, but you won't find your average Mac user ponying up $4,500 for a dual processor G4 either.

...With the rumored jump and the jump to true 64-bit processing (IBMs 970 processor)...

The 970 was announced 8 months ago. I'd be willing to bet that the G5 is a sibling to this. Regardless, it'll be another 4 months (at least) before software is released that takes advantage of the 64 bit processing. By that time, AMD's rumored 64 bit processors will have also hit the market.

NEWS FLASH! not even 4 minutes ago, ZDnet UK has announced that HP slipped and posted systems with the AMD64 [Athalon 64] to be on sale this September. Probably the same week these G5s get out... Coincidence? you decide.
posted by phylum sinter at 12:33 AM on June 20, 2003

Will someone loan me $4500? I swear I'll pay it back.
posted by password at 12:41 AM on June 20, 2003

phylum: 'These G5s' will be out Monday.
posted by benh57 at 12:53 AM on June 20, 2003

ah, take all this with a grain of salt. apple's speed announcements have always been non-real-world based, with some serious cherry-picking going on in places (for instance, the emphasis on photoshop benchmarking). alot of the perceived speed of Mac procs was due to large on-chip cache, which runs at a much higher rate than the system memory. expensive stuff, that.

plus, with the prices that these suckers are most likely coming out at, the comparison to dual Xeon systems is quite apt -- and if it does support 1Ghz + memory, then the price will most likely be sky high ($5000+ anyone?). these types of machines are very much workstation class -- that bit about 8 GB memory there is one whopping indicator.

but to tell you the truth, I doubt it is an actual 1Ghz bus. there really isn't much out there like that at this point in terms of DDR -- they're probably talking about dual channels to the DDR banks.

mark my words, when the G5's come out, I will be able to spend half as much on an AMD based workstation for the same amount of machine. and for one of these to compete speed-wise with a P4 3.0 machine, you have to go dual, which makes me want to buy an Opteron system even more...
posted by badzen at 12:58 AM on June 20, 2003

So go buy an Opteron. Be happy.
posted by influx at 1:23 AM on June 20, 2003

You cant run OSX on that Opteron. Too bad.
posted by gen at 1:32 AM on June 20, 2003

what's a Opteron?
posted by matteo at 1:52 AM on June 20, 2003

Wouldn't the rumour industry have at least heard of a G5 if such a thing existed? I mean, we're not talking about just cranking up the clock on an existing chip, we're talking about a new design.
posted by timeistight at 2:05 AM on June 20, 2003

They have. It's been rumored for 'bout two years now.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:43 AM on June 20, 2003

timeistight: take a look.
posted by phylum sinter at 2:43 AM on June 20, 2003

apple's speed announcements have always been non-real-world based, with some serious cherry-picking going on in places (for instance, the emphasis on photoshop benchmarking).

And then there are the other 95% of computer users, for whom this back-and-forth bickering over whose is longer faster is fairly irrelevant. I use Photoshop on a (according to the "experts") "slow" 800 mHz G4, and it usually does what it needs to do faster than I can think about it or enter new commands. Speed is certainly a criteria when considering a computer purchase, but it is one among many, and not the most important one.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:37 AM on June 20, 2003

I doubt it is an actual 1Ghz bus. there really isn't much out there like that at this point in terms of DDR -- they're probably talking about dual channels to the DDR banks.

The rumors have been calling for hypertransport.
posted by alms at 3:42 AM on June 20, 2003

Sweet god damn those specs look tasty. And with an actual decent system bus able to keep the altivec units fed these new machines should absolutely savage photoshop filters and BLAST queries and all those other things Apple likes to remind us it does so well.

It seems most serious coders are starting to realize what Altivec can do for them, and with the non-constrained 970 bus helping them along it will hopefully put the final nail in the coffin of Intel's MHz-is-everything marketing BS.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:53 AM on June 20, 2003

The memory bus isn't the only bus that hangs off of a microprocessor. What this sounds to me is that there's a very fast front side bus on the G5. This would actually match existing rumors on the G5. That bus will then be used to talk to PCI and PCI-X, AGP8X, memory etc. That doesn't mean that for instance PCI will be running at 1GHz, it's just the maximum speed of the overall bus.
posted by substrate at 5:22 AM on June 20, 2003

anyone else think they're pulling an AMD and those speeds are "equivalents"?

i'm not sure about all this, but wouldn't dual channels to DDR be equivalent to 2 * 2 * 133 MHz (around 500 MHz), not 1 GHz? maybe you can claim an extra factor of 2 if it's 64 bit rather than 32 bit?

what's "processor bus" anyway? maybe it's the bus between cpu and cache, rather than the main memory bus?
posted by andrew cooke at 5:26 AM on June 20, 2003

Just to give a little more background, the G5 processor is a 64-bit processor and will be coupled with a 64-bit version of Mac OS X. This will be the first time a 64-bit processor & OS will be marketed to a mass audience, something Microsoft won't do until at least 2005. AMD is offering a 64-bit processor called Opteron that is compatible with the x86, or Wintel hardware. I know less about it, but it is expected to improve gaming performance, especially in the highly anticipated Doom 3. A gamer among us will have to fill in these details.
As for Apple, here's an eWeek article on what's been learned about the machines recently. Here's a ZD Net article on what Hypertransport means to the new Macs.
Finally, from Arstechnica, an early (10/2002) overview of the Power970, and a two part in-depth analysis of the chip, its performance, and its implications,by John Stokes. Part I, Part II.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:37 AM on June 20, 2003

Oh, and G5 is apparently the marketing name of the IBM Power970.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:39 AM on June 20, 2003

To clarify what I mean, the G5 most likely has a very fast bus. Everything else is a peripheral of this bus. (yes, busses can be peripherals of other buses - look at a block diagram of a pentium class machine or a G4 some time)
posted by substrate at 5:56 AM on June 20, 2003

I can't wait to hear how Den Bloat is going to try and make this look bad.
posted by darukaru at 6:39 AM on June 20, 2003

Thanks mkultra, again I plead ignorance of Opteron, only repeated back what someone told me. What's the appeal of Opteron then?
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:01 AM on June 20, 2003

The appeal of Opteron or the PPC970 (or any 64-bit chip) for a lot of people I know is the ability to have massive amounts of memory (since the addressing space is now 2^64 bytes or so.) Think 1TB of RAM instead of 1TB of glacially slow hard drive space for storing immense databases. Also, having the chip natively operate on high precision floating point #s is a big speed boost for the numerical sciences.

A lot of scientists I know have moved to Macs recently for the nice unix integration, relative durability, ease of UI and looks (even we're vain.) But we still do our 'real work' (large experiments) on unix clusters. This is a very welcome progression that may just replace our SGIs and beowulfs with Xserves, especially since Altivec on the PPC (vectorizing common math ops for a 16x speed boost if you do it right) is handy for a lot of DSP and matrix math tasks.
posted by neustile at 7:12 AM on June 20, 2003

This isn't as compelling as it looks.

To start with, I'm seriously underwhelmed with the 8GB limit. Sure, it's a lot of memory, but with a CPU that supports 4TB of physical memory, why not make the limit high enough that it's unlikely to become common during the life span of the product?

To go with that, a 1GHz system bus is nice, but HyperTransport is not the only recent advancement in CPU->RAM connectivity. The press has been trying to make this sound like it gets similar performance to Opteron because they're both HyperTransport based, but that's not the case, and HT is not the big win on Opteron. Don't get me wrong, it's nice, but it's not where Opteron's real performance gain is, especially on a 1 CPU machine.

The memory controller on the 970 is still on a separate chip from the CPU, just like on Intel boxes and AMD's Athlon/Duron series. On Opteron this isn't the case, and it's a serious improvement.

On Opteron, the northbridge is part of the CPU core itself. This adds some engineering cost, but it's a hefty performance gain. There are two improvements by doing it this way. First, signals having to go between chips are a significant increase in latency. Going from the cpu to the northbridge on P4/Athlon/Itanium/PPC970 takes about 6ns of latency; on Opteron it's well under 1ns. And that's just latency to talk to the memory controller. So saying "I'd like to talk to ram at the address 0xCAFEBABE" is 5ns or so quicker. That's an operation that happens a lot.

On top of that, the external memory controller on 970 is running at RAM speeds (slow), not at the CPU's speed. This means that the CPU stalls for several cycles (about 60 cycles on Athlon; P4 and PPC970 are comparable) every time it gets a cache miss. On Opteron, the memory controller is running at same speed as the CPU. This means that, in the best case, you can prefetch memory, and lose only the cycles the prefetch instruction takes (3-4 typically) waiting on the access.

The PPC980 will have the memory controller on the CPU, but that's still 12-18 months out.

But I'm rambling now...
posted by atbash at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2003

If the G5 is indeed the PowerPC 970, here's a comparison of it vs. the current top of the line Pentium 4, AMD Athlon, and AMD Opteron. This is in the SPEC benchmark suite, which is a good representation of raw computing power:

Culled from the web, here are specs for single-processor machines:
1.8GHz PPC 970: SPECfp - 1051 / SPECint - 937
3.06GHz Pentium4: SPECfp - 1077 / SPECint - 1099
2.166GHz Athlon 3000+: SPECfp - 776 / SPECint - 960
2.0GHz Opteron: SPECfp - 1,170 / SPECint - 1,202

So, it's not the fastest thing out there, but it finally brings Macs in line with the current state of the art. It does have a ton of bang for the megahertz, so much higher numbers in the future are likely.
posted by zsazsa at 8:09 AM on June 20, 2003

I'm seriously underwhelmed with the 8GB limit. Sure, it's a lot of memory, but with a CPU that supports 4TB of physical memory, why not make the limit high enough that it's unlikely to become common during the life span of the product?

What about if they made it, say, 8GB? That seems high enough that it's unlikely to become common during the life span of the product.
posted by kindall at 8:10 AM on June 20, 2003

I could see some Photoshop heads loving to have more than 8GB of memory.
posted by zsazsa at 8:16 AM on June 20, 2003

Power Mac G4s currently top out at 2 GB of RAM. Complaining about an 8 GB cap seems unreasonable.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:24 AM on June 20, 2003

This isn't as compelling as it looks.

Sure it is. It's from Apple, which automatically makes it twice as compelling as a machine with the same set of specs from anyone else.

...of course, it's from Apple, which means that about one month after the hardware is available they'll announce an OS upgrade with some supposedly cool new feature that pushes the OS X interface speed right back into the mudpit it's been crawling around in since it was shipped, and the only way to get the UI to respond normally again will be to buy one of these machines. You have been warned... stick with OS 9.2 ;-)
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:34 AM on June 20, 2003

Man, I really want one of these. It'll make my web browser just fucking scream! Not to even mention email...
posted by rusty at 8:39 AM on June 20, 2003

Mars Saxman, I so feel your pain. :-)
posted by stonerose at 8:41 AM on June 20, 2003

I hadn't realized that that the G5 was the 970. I guess that makes me one of NortonDC's uninformed commenters.

Anyway, here's a funny take on Job's reaction to the leak.
posted by timeistight at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2003

I would imagine that G5 Xserves would have a higher Ram limit.

OSX will scream on these. Cool. Now if it only comes out in Powerbook, I'll be a very happy man.
posted by pjgulliver at 8:50 AM on June 20, 2003

kindall, mcwetboy: I'm probably just spoiled, but I've got a 10GB box under my desk, and it's not particularly new hardware.

1GB DIMMs are relatively common and not all that expensive these days. At about $350, they're certainly not in the sub-$1k-PC range yet, but you can find and justify 8GB if you're doing any serious computing task.

I realize that statement seems incongruous with the target market of Apple's desktops, but they're also (supposedly) trying hard to win back the modeling and rendering markets, and are still a formidable presence in the commercial graphic art market. All three of those will want more (and faster) RAM for the foreseeable future. While only the modeling and GA guys care about this hardware, the render farm crowd cares a lot about low-profile rackmount machines, and this incremental improvement isn't a particularly inspiring foreshadow of any upcoming improvements to the Xserve line.
posted by atbash at 9:06 AM on June 20, 2003

I'm with you pjgulliver - and I wonder how much the "Year of the Laptop" marketing phrase is going to hold here. It's not at all out of the question, given the 970's decreased heat, that the replacement for the 15" TiBook which are expected "any day now" too may have some kind of performance boom equivalent to the desktops.

Then again, according to an article on CNet (scroll down to the sub-heading "Powering up profits"), the company's in serious trouble on the desktop, so limiting this to PowerMacs for now might make sense.
posted by JollyWanker at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2003

Apple is clearing out it's stock of new Powerbooks (see recent price reductions), so I think it's somewhat likely we'll see new configurations of Powerbooks at WWDC... the chances of seeing them equipped with G5s is pretty slim, I bet.
posted by maniactown at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2003

Hmmm. Any chance this is a fake? The Apple rumors community seems split about its veracity.
posted by pjgulliver at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2003

i'm such a dolt, the most exciting new feature i spot there is the return to analog audio inputs. i hope that means RCA; i hated it when macs stopped having them, they're so useful for recording or sending your mac out to an amp. it was really neat to just have it standard on the machine.
posted by Peter H at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2003

pjgulliver: obviously it could be a fake, but I'm leaning towards believing it. The specs stated on that machine are right in line with what everybody was expecting, with the exception of the 2.0GHz top speed instead of the expected 1.8GHz top speed.

It looks very legitimate to me, nothing that obviously indicates fakery.
posted by mosch at 1:39 PM on June 20, 2003

Atbash - you have a completely absolutely skewed idea of RAM limits.

an SGI Octane workstation has the SAME limit.

You know why they don't have a 4TB limit?


Now, if these were refridgerator sized render farm boxes - I would agree with you - but they're not.
They are pro-sumer/Professional desktop PCs.

Are you going to complain they they dont come with a $5,000 3D card now?

You seriously think 8GB is going to become commonplace within 3 years?

No. It's not.
And in 3 years Apple will have a new processor and new motherboard.

Come on.

So what do you do with this 10GB-max machine?
and how much ram do you actually have in it?
and how many slots do you have?

As for these G5s.
I hope it's not a hoax.
I'll cry.
posted by cinderful at 3:46 PM on June 20, 2003

Peter H, did you not notice the optical audio I/O? That sort of trumps RCA jacks, I think.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:07 PM on June 20, 2003

..optical trumps it in a way, but it's still a pain to have to get a special piece of hardware to hook up my audio equipment.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:55 PM on June 20, 2003

cinderful: sure, I'm not saying 4TB would be a reasonable limit. But 64GB might.

FWIW, the box I referred to as a "10GB box" has 10GB; the max is 64GB. And its initial ship date (not preproduction) was 1998. Admittedly, they didn't have 64GB worth of ram to fit in it at the time, but they did at least have the foresight to build it with a higher limit; Apple apparently doesn't.

Since you ask, I work for an OS vendor. I build development builds of the entire OS on that box.

And also FWIW, the renderfarm people want a lot of small boxes typically, with one fast cpu and a lot of ram. They're one of our big customer markets. Take that as inherent prejudice against Apple if you like.

You seriously don't think people, even complete geeks as we obviously both are, will have 8GB boxes in the next 3 years?
posted by atbash at 8:09 PM on June 20, 2003

You seriously don't think people, even complete geeks as we obviously both are, will have 8GB boxes in the next 3 years?

Three years? Maybe. Five? Certainly.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:10 AM on June 21, 2003

I'd be surprised if the box doesn't support larger memory modules. It's just that, using the modules that are available now, you can only get 8GB in the box because it only has 8 slots. If a 4GB module were to become available, I bet the box would suddenly support 32GB. At most, new firmware might be needed.

They should upgrade the Xserve to have a higher limit, though, i.e., more memory slots. That's the box that'll be used in render farms and the like, not desktop towers.
posted by kindall at 11:40 AM on June 21, 2003

I'd actually bet it only has 4 slots and they're talking about using 2GB DIMMs (which are available), but yeah, I think atbash is confusing what Apple will be able to sell (this was posted at the Apple Store after all) on day 1 with all the memory that it will ever support. However, IIRC, the current DDR DIMM addressing scheme limits individual DIMMs to 8 GB, so you'll probably still be limited to a 'mere' 32 GB total in one of these. A real pity that.
posted by boaz at 12:13 PM on June 21, 2003

Macuser: Apple released new Macs, better than PCs
PCUser: No, the PCs still rule
Macuser: Initial reveal of specs
PCUser: Dismissal of specs
Macuser: Reiteration of new specs
PCUser: Price arguement raised
Macuser: Price arguement dismissed
PCUser: Detailed dismissial of new specs
Macuser: Angry rebuttal to spec dismissial. New spec discussded
PCUser: Uselessness of new spec accusation
Macuser: You're too stupid to love a Mac
PCUser: You're stupid for loving a Mac
posted by Argyle at 9:14 AM on June 22, 2003

I'm with you, Peter H et al. I don't understand why they took away our video out RCAs. How do the bastards expect us to output to VHS? My Quicksilver 800 has a DVD-R, but VHS still has the ubiquity.
posted by squirrel at 7:00 PM on June 22, 2003

So, The keynote is in progress. It's the real deal, super fast bus and all.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:57 AM on June 23, 2003

Good things:

1) Feckin' fast.
2) Quiet.
3) Dual 2GHz is affordable by me by my birthday. Woot!

Bad thing:

1) Need to buy new RAM and hard disks. But that always happens.
2) The case is -- well, I'm sure the computer has a nice personality.
posted by kindall at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2003

Yeah, it's looking quite 1984, Orwell style, isn't it?
posted by ursus_comiter at 3:59 PM on June 23, 2003

Huh, ursus? More, please.
posted by squirrel at 9:28 AM on June 24, 2003

Take a look. Does that form factor not scream of Oceania and Big Brother?
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2003

um, seems like once again apple is goosing the specs.

I like OSX a lot but I am tired of APPLE shooting itself in the foot by releasing misleading specs
posted by Mick at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2003

If the Intel machine was losing because Apple's compiler was faster, he'd complain about how unfair it was to use a different compiler. In fact I seem to recall that Apple came under fire for just that a few years ago, when they were using Motorola's excellent MrC compiler for their benchmarks. So they switched to using a standard compiler, gcc, on both platforms. Now they're getting bashed for that.

I guess the answer is, if Intel doesn't win, it's a rigged benchmark.
posted by kindall at 12:39 PM on June 24, 2003

The big question is, if you buy one of these, and it comes with Jaguar preloaded, will you have to buy Panther later, or will it be free.

Apple should come out with a PDA, and name the OS Tabby.

I just bought a tower last year, so I have a hard time justifying a new one this soon, even though I would love to have it.

But I think one of the biggest things was iSight and iChat A/V, which no one seems to be talking about. A webcam that does autofocus, low-light correction, firewire, and that small... now that is an innovation.
posted by benjh at 12:45 PM on June 24, 2003

Yes, benjh, realtime jackoff parties will never be the same!

I'd love a G5 tower too, but I just bought a 17" screen iMac.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:56 PM on June 24, 2003

Anyone out there want a 450mhz G4?
posted by TedW at 4:38 PM on June 24, 2003

Anyone out there want a 450mhz G4?

Just upgrade the processor. That is the reason you buy an upgradable machine. You can bring that up to a 1Ghz machine right now for $700.
posted by thirteen at 12:52 PM on June 25, 2003

Can't upgrade the system bus, though. Can't get a 64 bit machine that way, and if the ill conceived ad campaigns for game consoles in the 90s taught me anything, they taught me that you just gotta have 64 Bits whether you understand why or not! Woot!
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:56 PM on June 25, 2003

Besides, my G4 doesn't have a superdrive, the latest OSX, and so on; it's pushing 4 years old, so I will probably upgrade next year, after the initial bugs are worked out of the G5
posted by TedW at 3:29 PM on June 25, 2003

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