It's Payback Time (10/10/99)

Stop the Pentium math-error jokes, because those of us in the PowerPC camp suddenly have a lot less to smile about. According to a MacWEEK article, Apple's 500 MHz Power Mac G4 isn't going to surface in October as originally planned, due to "errata" in the G4 chip design that cause problems when the processor is run at 500 MHz or higher. When the problem kicks in, the processor's data cache can become corrupted. D'oh! So much for having a G4/500 by Thanksgiving...

If you already have a Power Mac G4, don't panic-- your desktop supercomputer is just fine, since Apple's only been shipping 400 and 450 MHz systems so far. So even though the G4 in your Graphite tower of power is at Revision 2.6 and contains the flaw, you'll never see it unless you're one of those warranty-voiding daredevils who wants to overclock the processor to 500 MHz or higher. Apple won't be releasing 500 MHz systems until Motorola releases 500 MHz chips-- which they won't do until they fix the problems with Revision 2.8, now due this December. And even if Apple did ship 500 MHz systems with "flawed" Revision 2.6 chips, the MacWEEK article claims that the error might never show itself on Macs anyway. Still, this whole thing is another PR black eye for Apple, following hard upon the earnings warning they issued a couple of weeks ago, blaming a lack of G4 processors for their lower-than expected profit in Q499. (By the way, have you entered our Beat The Analysts contest yet? You've only got until Wednesday afternoon, so hurry up and register your best guess as to Apple's final financial results!)

On the plus side, there's a slight difference between Motorola's latest G4 woes and the Pentium scandal that launched a thousand jokes. Motorola knows about the problem, is working to fix it, and won't release 500+ MHz G4 chips until the problems are solved. Intel, if we recall correctly, not only actually shipped the "bad" Pentiums, but also downplayed the importance of the error ("most people won't be affected") when news of it was made public; it was only after the whole world basically started making death threats that the company finally agreed to a recall. Of course, that isn't stopping the anti-Mac folks from having a field day with this "errata" report. Ah, what the heck-- let 'em have their fun. It's only gracious to allow a little light into their otherwise joyless Wintel existence...

SceneLink (1833)
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The above scene was taken from the 10/10/99 episode:

October 10, 1999: Cut the Pentium humor-- the G4 has its own "errata" now. Meanwhile, Time Magazine unveils its salute to Steve Jobs, even as the iCEO finds himself in an epic secret struggle against anti-Tangerine operatives sworn to thwart his plans to promote the color to "most popular" status...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1834: Time For Steve Jobs (10/10/99)   He may never have won "Man of the Year" status, but Time Magazine has put Steve Jobs on the cover of its latest issue anyway. There he is, smiling enigmatically, sharing the cover with the stars of the two companies he currently runs; he's sandwiched between two iMacs and escorted by Woody and Buzz of the upcoming Pixar treat "Toy Story 2."...

  • 1835: The Epic Struggle Rages (10/10/99)   Reports are flooding in from happy iBook owners who were either impulsive enough to have placed one of the earliest Apple Store pre-orders or lucky enough to have found iBooks on the shelves at the local Sears...

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