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Friday, August 06, 2004, 05:00 pm PT (08:00 pm ET)

Exclusive liquid-cooled Power Mac G5 development details

Apple Computer has finally begun shipping its new dual 2.5 GHz liquid-cooled Power Mac G5s to some customers in the United States. The machines are arriving slowly and sporadically, but according to Apple sources, only stock configurations of the new computer have left the manufacturing facilities in Shenzhen, China.

The overall development and production of the first liquid-cooled Power Macs was no easy feat. The project was lengthy and relied on the efforts of several third parties, and in fact, still does. While following the development of the new Power Macs, AppleInsider collected several tidbits of information that may finally lend answers to some of the burning questions surrounding the new liquid cooled computers.

Who Developed Liquid Cooling System?

The liquid cooling system used inside the 2.5 GHz Power Mac was not created by Apple, though the company's materials fail to mention a co-designer. While one source originally claimed that the liquid cooling system was developed by Panasonic, more reliable information suggest otherwise.

According to unconfirmed reports from an extremely reliable sources, Apple contracted a Troy, Mich-based company named Delphi to produce the liquid-cooling system for the new Power Macs. So maybe its not just a coincidence that the cooling system looks a bit too much like automobile radiator—Delphi, also known as Delphi-Harrison, is a former division of General Motors specializing in automotive work.

Earlier this year, word spread that Apple had quietly contracted Delphi for an undisclosed project. According to sources, the project was a liquid cooling system that was being developed at Delphi's Lockport, New York location with production scheduled for China. The project had reportedly run into serious problems with leaks, causing delays in the completion of the system. Months later, a sources who has now proven to be reliable, confirmed that leaks in a new cooling system were partly to blame for the Power Mac delay that lasted into June.

In a May 2004 conference call, Delphi Chairman J.T. Battenberg highlighted a corporate push into adjacent automotive markets and cited computer cooling systems as one example. Battenberg, however, would not specify any clients.

Delphi declined to comment on any reports surrounding the liquid cooling system prior to the announcement of the new Power Macs and continues with that stance today. Apple Computer also declined to comment on the reports, but that is no surprise.

Manufacturing

With the closing of its Elk Grove assembly plant in April—which once churned out the company's candy-colored iMacs and Power Mac models—Apple's G5 product manufacturing has gone overseas.

According to sources, Hon Hai, a Taiwanese manufacturing company that operates in the US under the name Foxconn, has landed contracts to produce Apple's new Power Mac G5 line. The company runs a large manufacturing complex in Shenzhen, in which Apple, Dell and a third PC are said to be outsourcing CPU-related production. During major production launches (such as the liquid-cooled Power Mac G5), US-based Apple engineers are reportedly deployed to China to oversee the start of mass production.

Earlier this year, word leaked that Hon Hai had also acquired a production contract for Apple's AirPort Express base-station.

Sources say that Hon Hai has worked its way into becoming Apple's largest manufacturer of desktop computers and is also rumored to be responsible for the production of several Apple enclosures. Hon Hai, however, does not like to comment.

Call them shy, but Hon Hai has always kept its business dealings quiet. The company does not comment on its contract deals because it doesn't want its customers to be privy to its other business dealings. Apple, Dell, Intel, HP, Sony, and Cisco Systems are rumored to be some of the company's current customers.