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Thursday, December 11, 2003, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Power Mac revisions destined for Macworld introduction

With the annual Expo approaching quickly, sources are now corroborating rumors that Apple is poised to revise its Power Mac G5 line of professional desktop computers during the annual Macworld Expo trade show, which will take place during the first week of January.

While there seems to be an abundance of misinformation being intentionally spread to Macintosh-centric sites on the subject, sources carrying respectable track-records have recently had their say. Though details could fluctuate over the next month, sources indicate that an all dual processor lineup is in the works for next month. The revision is said to include dual 2.0, 2.2 and 2.4GHz models. This information is consistent with reports that IBM plans to deliver 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, and 2.6GHz versions of its 90-nanometer (nm) PowerPC 970FX G5 processor to Apple during the month of January.

The Power Mac G5s will also offer support for a terabyte of storage in high-end models, sources said — likely using four 250GB SATA drives. "There's a lot of empty space inside the Power Mac's current enclosure, already," sources said. Meanwhile, the new units — dubbed the Power Mac 8,1 — have been rumored to sport a revised logic-board and 'U3 revision II' controller that will add support for 533MHz DDR II RAM, as well as supporting a front side bus (FSB) of up to 1.5GHz. "If the updated ASICs are part of a revised (smaller) logic board, there will definitely be extra space in the G5 chassis, as the cooler 90nm G5 chips may not require as large a heat-sink and/or fan unit."

Other rumored hardware enhancements include the G5's adoption of PowerTune — which allows for rapid frequency and power scaling, and features electronic fusing — and an adaptation of ASIC system controller to gel with the G5's 90nm technology. A subsequent report claims that a revised Apple system controller will boast additional support for Error-Correcting Code (ECC) memory, which includes special circuitry for testing the accuracy of data as it passes in and out of memory. This type of memory is often used in high-end hardware for its data integrity and reliability, but requires pricier memory. It is unclear, however, if this is the same controller is scheduled for inclusion in the new Power Macs, or if the technology is reserved for updated Apple XServes, which are also due for a major overhaul.

The enterprise-level XServe product-line currently trails Power Mac offerings by approximately 700MHz per processor, and rumors of imminent updates have been widespread over the last few months. Recent reports suggest that new units based on the 90nm G5 processor will accompany updates to the Power Mac line in January, and ship with Mac OS X Server 10.3.2. Information on the new high-end severs appears to be highly sensitive, with sources unable to confirm if the units will sport a new 'U2' enclosure, or remain in the current 'U1' form-factor.

The updated Xserve may play well with Apple's recent and ongoing efforts to expand its presence in the enterprise markets. Under the watch of CEO, Steve Jobs, Apple reportedly created an enterprise sales division in hopes of luring, high-profile Fortune 500 companies and wooing the high-end server market. Apple last updated its XServe product line in February of this year.