A Chip By Any Other Name... (11/8/01)

So now the whole Mac community's all hepped up on hyper-juice because of these recent rumors of imminent G5-age, right? And with good reason, too: if reports that Apple has already seeded top developers with 1.6 GHz Power Mac G5s with FireWire 2, USB 2.0, a 400 MHz bus, and DDR RAM didn't get your heart a-pumpin' doubletime, rumors of prerelease G5 processors already reaching as high as 2.4 GHz are enough to make anyone's ears shoot a little steam. The big question on everyone's mind, though, is "when?" The most optimistic bunnies are looking forward to a big G5 Extravaganza when Steve Jobs does his keynote thing at January's Macworld Expo; more cautious prognosticators are leaning more towards a springtime intro.

Ah, but what of the Naked Mole Rat? Massive controlled substance abuse aside, that is one seriously plugged-in rodent when it comes to knowing what's what in the Land of Macs To Be. Well, as luck would have it, faithful viewer Michael Gemar tipped us off to the fact that the Rat has just made one of his semiannual returns to consciousness, and was lucid long enough to fill us in on his take on the Big When. Optimists rejoice: unless it's the inhalants talking, the Rat has it on good authority that Apple is prepping new "professional-strength desktop systems" for a debut in January-- and indeed, these new Macs "will finally leave the 1 GHz mark far behind."

The bad news, however, is that Apple may be playing the name game again. See, we may be hallucinating (just reading the Rat's reports is enough to give us a contact high), but we seem to recall that when the G4 first shipped, a bunch of gearheads noted that its specs weren't quite up to snuff, at least compared to Motorola's original plans for the G4 architecture; word got out that, due to time issues, Motorola had to bag a bunch of features at Apple's insistence, and thus the first G4 we got didn't have all the "oomph" some of us were expecting-- it was more of a pumped-up G3 with AltiVec grafted on. Well, apparently that may be happening again: according to the Rat, the G5 we'll see in January is "actually a superpowered G4" that lacks some of the "bells and whistles that Motorola has staked out as central to the PowerPC G5 architecture."

Reportedly this little piece of "ah, just call it a G5" creative marketing comes courtesy of His Steveness himself, which, if true, is hardly a surprise; remember way back when Mac OS 8 was going to be Copland, complete with many of the buzzwords that finally only surfaced in Mac OS X? After Copland was canned and Steve took over, suddenly the definition of Mac OS 8 changed dramatically: same old System 7 architecture with a new look and feel. So the man is no stranger to the name game-- but even if the chip that arrives in January isn't so much a G5 as a "G5," hey, it's still running at over a gigahertz... and you just know the onstage bake-offs are going to be spectacular.

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The above scene was taken from the 11/8/01 episode:

November 8, 2001: When is a G5 not a G5? When it's a "G5." Meanwhile, Apple tweaks the UK price for an iPod again (or does it?), and some reports indicate that a Carbonized Photoshop is closer than you might think...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3383: Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing! (11/8/01)   OW! Quick, somebody put together an up-to-the-minute online UK iPod price tracker and fast, because we're getting whiplash trying to keep up with all the changes. Hmmm, do we feel a lawsuit coming on?...

  • 3384: Two Months And Counting? (11/8/01)   Well, in our opinion it's not nearly as much fun as rampant speculation about a massive rift between Apple and Adobe leading to skipped Expos and a dearth of Mac OS X-native applications, but heck, we figure you deserve to hear it anyway...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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