Gigahertz By Baby Steps (1/18/02)

Oooo, this is going to stick in a few craws. We know that, despite our last-minute warnings not to get your hopes up, several AtAT viewers still expected new Power Macs to appear at the Expo last week. Worse yet, we know that some of those optimists, against every sane impulse imaginable, were even expecting those new Power Macs to contain G5 processors instead of the far-more-likely Apollo G4s we've mentioned. This produced one of those confluences of expectations for which the phrase "setting one's self up for a big, painful fall" was presumably invented.

So no, we didn't get new Power Macs last week, but that's only logical, really, since Apple stood to benefit most by keeping the spotlight focused sharply on the new iMac, whose double-jointed form and lovable contortions are wowing the press and customers alike and generating a ton of free advertising; amid last week's media circus, a new Power Mac would simply have been a distraction. Meanwhile, AtAT had been expecting revised Power Macs to surface later this month, and our hopes as to their specs were characteristically conservative: Apollo G4s running at 933 MHz at the entry level, with the clock speed reaching 1.2 and maybe even 1.4 GHz at the high end. Generally impressive, though well within the realm of Things That Might Actually Happen™.

Or so we thought. Unfortunately, now it looks like even our relatively staid expectations may have been overly optimistic. Faithful viewer Dundee informs us that MacMinute (who, as we've pointed out in the past, never seems to be wrong about these things) has discovered that Apple does plan on shipping new Power Macs next week-- but that their specs might prove to be slightly disappointing. Apparently come Tuesday, the new G4s will ship in non-Apollo 800 MHz, 933 MHz, and dual-1 GHz configurations. So the good news is that the PowerPC has finally oozed its way up to the long-sought-after gigahertz level; the bad news, of course, is that, real-world performance notwithstanding, Intel is currently pushing 2.2 GHz. Sure, it's all just a matter of appearance, but hey, numbers sell. (Or fail to, in this economy.)

Despite a clock speed gap that continues to widen instead of shrinking, though, it's worth noting that a high-end Power Mac with two 1 GHz G4s galloping under its hood is probably the closest to heaven a Mac fan will get for the next half a year without actually taking his or her own life (or at least raiding Uncle Steve's acid stash). As such, we look forward to this incremental improvement, slight though it may be, when it supposedly materializes via a low-key press release on Tuesday. And if you were hoping for G5s instead, try not to get all pouty and stuff-- it's undignified. Weeping gently to yourself is acceptable, however.

SceneLink (3515)
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The above scene was taken from the 1/18/02 episode:

January 18, 2002: Word has it that the new Power Macs are coming next week-- but the specs may leave you a little less than satisfied. Meanwhile, CNET praises the Power Mac even as it snubs Apple's fearless leader in an unforgivable fashion, and Apple's export compliance table indicates that "Framistan" is finally ready to ship...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3516: Fatal Snub, Bloody Death (1/18/02)   Before you go chewing your own arm off about how outdated the current Power Mac is-- how tired its measly 867 MHz processor looks, how out-of-fashion its 133 MHz bus and PC-133 RAM are-- consider this: CNET just placed the Power Mac G4 at the top of its list of the very best "leading-edge" personal computers available...

  • 3517: The Forefront Of High Tech (1/18/02)   While Apple may be having a smidge of trouble putting some serious power back in the PowerPC (and actually, we have a sneaking suspicion that Motorola might share just a teensy bit of responsibility for that as well), at least the company is fully up to date when it comes to Framistan technology...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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