TV-PGAugust 12, 2002: More leaked Power Mac specs bubble up on the 'net, but to the undrugged, they look a little too good to be true. Meanwhile, IBM is working on a new PowerPC chip that might just get the Motorola Monkey off Apple's back, and Mac OS X 10.2 is done and shipping early-- but was the Smiley Mac unceremoniously "retired"?...
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So Close (And Yet So Far) (8/12/02)

So we're back from yet another baby-inspired two-week hiatus (and yes, it was baby-inspired; despite what you may have heard, our disappearance did not ensue from the crippling devastation of discovering that Sun lied to CNET about the Mac StarOffice port, disappointing though that was), and what do we find? Why, none other than alleged new specs and pricing for those alleged new Power Macs that are allegedly going to appear sometime within mere alleged days or even hours, allegedly. On the off-chance that you're even more out of the loop than we are, we're talking about the zippier G4s that were the subject of those controversial spy photos which Apple seems to swat down every time they pop up. (For the record, faithful viewer Phil Welch informs us that he's currently got them up over at in a pandering bid for hits.)

So now that we know what these alleged new Power Macs look like (allegedly), howzabout we focus on what's under the hood? Faithful viewer Cyberfunk informs us that has just posted "leaked" specs on all three new Power Mac configurations slated to appear as early as tomorrow. Take our advice: don't spend too long trying to figure out how any "leaked" information could be "purely speculation" and "may not be totally accurate" ("leaked speculation"?) and just go with the flow, here. Because if those specs as posted turn out to be correct, then there are going to be an awful lot of happy Mac fiends reaching for their wallets pretty soon.

With absolutely zero claim as to the legitimacy of these specs, you understand, allow us to take you on a whirlwind tour of the sort of systems that might be populating the desks of power users in the near future: 1.2 GHz on the low end, 1.4 GHz in the middle, and dual 1.6 GHz at the top of the line; SuperDrives across the board; DDR RAM in all models; no less than a 64 MB GeForce4 MX (with a 128 MB Radeon 9700 in the high-end system) running in an 8x AGP slot; and GigaWire, USB 2.0, Bluetooth wireless, and a faster PCI bus. It all sounds scrumptious, right? Well, dig the alleged prices: $1599, $2199, and $2999. Is anyone else freaking out at the prospect of a 1.2 GHz G4 with half a gig of DDR RAM and a SuperDrive for under $1600? Somebody fetch us a Mulderesque "I WANT TO BELIEVE" poster.

Of course, there's "drool, get psyched, sell the car for cash, and camp outside the Apple store" and then there's "pipe dream." also has "leaked speculation" on new Apple displays (17-inch for $599, 19-inch for $999, 22-inch for $1499, and 23-inch for $2999) and new black titanium PowerBooks (800 MHz and 1 GHz, GigaWire/USB 2.0, Bluetooth, SuperDrive available). That's a whole lotta info that mysteriously hasn't materialized anywhere else yet. And while it's always possible that secured one whopper of an exclusive, here, try as we might, we can't help but think this whole thing is waaaaaay too good to be true. Maybe it's the massive price cuts on LCD displays that wrecked it for us. Aw, man-- and we were having so much fun, too!

Still, anything's possible. And even if these particular specs turn out to be totally fake, we are pretty sure that new Power Macs of some sort are going to surface really darn soon, now. Allegedly.

[UPDATE: Faithful viewer Bob just noted in the AtAT Forums that MacMinute has finally posted real specs: dual 867 MHz, dual 1 GHz, and dual 1.25 GHz for $1699, $2499, and $3299 respectively. Well, "leaked speculation" was fun while it lasted...]

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Bye Bye Moto, Hiya Big Blue (8/12/02)

Of course, even with all the involuntary salivary output over the tenuous prospect of 1.6 GHz G4s surfacing soon, we'd be remiss (uh, make that "even more remiss than usual") to ignore the recent buzz over what's going on in terms of PowerPC development these days. Motorola, the designer and manufacturer of the current G4 processors, has long been the target of scathing criticism for, among other things, its glacial progress in upping PowerPC clock speeds, its low and late chip yields, its constant layoffs over the years, the way it switched its own staff from Motorola-powered Macs to PCs running its competitor's chips, and that sort of snorting gurgly noise it makes when it eats soup. Clearly, if Apple can get its chips elsewhere, there are some compelling reasons why it might want to consider those alternatives.

And no, we're not talking about Intel or AMD. Despite some long-running speculation and a recent misquoting of Captain Steve, Apple has given every indication that it's pretty sold on sticking with the PowerPC architecture for the foreseeable future. So if not Motorola, who? Just say "Big Blue." IBM, in its role as the third arm of the PowerPC AIM alliance, has made a slew of chips for Macs over the years-- including the original 601s that shipped in the first Power Macs ever. And let's not forget that even after IBM decided that it didn't want to get into Altivec-style technologies, the company bailed Apple and Motorola out of a tough spot by agreeing to manufacture G4s to Motorola's spec so Apple would have more than eight or nine Power Macs to sell one quarter. And it's stamped out zippy G3s for ages.

True, while Motorola went for Altivec, IBM veered off into server-oriented chip design... but according to a CNET article pointed out by faithful viewer Mac the Fork, pretty soon Apple may well be able to look to Big Blue as a source for new and nifty Mac chips. Reportedly IBM is tweaking its high-end POWER4 architecture into a new PowerPC chip suitable for use in desktop computers, slated for an unveiling at the Microprocessor Forum in two months' time. Details are slim, but apparently clocks speeds in the 2 GHz range aren't out of the question, and IBM's new mystery PowerPC will also reportedly feature a vector-processing unit like the G4's Altivec.

Will Apple take the bait? Only time will tell, but CNET claims that "sources familiar with the chip" are reporting that IBM is definitely "wooing Apple Computer," and given Apple's strained relationship with Motorola over the years (and the fact that Motorola's PowerPC road map seems much more suited to embedded systems and not desktop Macs), we wouldn't be terribly surprised if IBM's new chip finds its way into the Power Mac G5. Or G6, if the G5 is spoken for. Whatever. Hey, at least it'll be a PowerPC instead of an Intel thingy. Plus, we understand that IBM has excellent table manners and eats soup like a real gentleman.

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Another One Bites The Dust (8/12/02)

While we were off lollygagging and watching infomercials and twiddling our thumbs and raising a kid and resolving to use the word "lollygag" a lot more often, you no doubt heard elsewhere that Mac OS X 10.2, the world's first major operating system with enough self-confidence to get away with wearing animal prints, went gold master a couple of weeks back. And while the springy new OS isn't slated for sale for another twelve days or so, Think Secret reports that honest-to-goshness retail copies of Jag-wire are indeed already shipping to retailers. An Apple product in stock twelve days early? Savvy and impatient consumers may do well to keep their eyes peeled for a repeat of the Premature Retail phenomenon that occurred in Staples last year, or scrape together a little extra cash to bribe a Mac dealer to sell them an early fix.

For those of you content to wait for the official release date, assuming you've managed to get over that nagging little "I can't believe I have to pay $129 for a full copy because Apple has chosen to screw loyal early adopters by not offering an upgrade price" dealie, good news-- there ought to be plenty of copies available when you grit your teeth and slap down the plastic a week from Saturday. True, we here at AtAT are a little disappointed that we probably won't be able to work Jaguar Shortage Riots into our plot two weeks from now, but at least we're resting assured that when we trundle on down to one of our local Apple retail stores, we'll be able to pick up a copy of 10.2 without having to wrest it from the clutching grasp of an elderly woman whom we've just sprayed with Mace. Good karma all around.

Or almost all around. We've been reading all sorts of gushing praise for 10.2's performance and feature set, and anecdotes of Quartz Extreme's blinding speed alone has got us pretty jazzed to upgrade our systems as soon as the software hits store shelves. But there's one teensy little sticking point that has us hesitating: according to Mac OS Rumors, Apple's "Out With The Old" initiative continues, and it's felled another old friend. If you're a traditionalist Machead who suffered a cardiac event when you heard of Clarus the Dogcow's reduced role in early builds of Mac OS X but then made a mild recovery when it was revealed that Clarus might be more prominent in Jaguar, well, keep those heart pills a-handy, 'cause Clarus's potential return comes as we learn of another casualty of progress: the Smiley Mac is reportedly no more.

If you're anything like us (and seek professional help if you are), the prospect of starting up your Mac and not being greeted by that grinning little fella has you gasping into a paper bag. True, an icon of a 9-inch Mac Classic is an anachronism in this day and age, and its replacement ("a sleek grey-on-grey Apple logo") sounds just nifty, but to be perfectly honest, we're not sure we can bear to part with the little guy. The only real consolation is that with Mac OS X we hardly ever restart our Macs anymore, so we don't see him much these days anyway. But still, can we deal with knowing that, after eighteen years of loyal service, Smiley Mac has just been given the shaft? C'mon, the guy showed up for work every single day since 1984, even when he was sick enough to have X's for eyes. Now that's dedication.

All we can say is, here's hoping Apple kept him on in a part-time capacity and he continues to grace the expanded startup process of the Classic environment. And heaven help them if those scum laid a finger on his pension fund.

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