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AGP Enabled Sawtooth G4s Cause Graphic Card Stir

Apple is slowly readying a number of Power Macintosh G4 prototypes to be seeded to selected developers sometime later this summer. The units, as a whole, are rumored to go by the project code name "P5" while the logicboard for the unit is code named "Sawtooth." Similarly, the general project code names for the next-generation iMacs and the Consumer Portable are P7 and P1, respectively. All projects underway at Apple are rumored to have a "Px" code name for better tracking of projects through different parts of the company.

The Sawtooth logicboard, like the Consumer Portable, is said to be based on Apple's Single Common Unified Architecture that will eventually run throughout all four product points. Additionally, the Sawtooth board is highly rumored to contain a 4x-AGP slot, which will take the place of the 66MHz 32bit slot shipping on the current line of Power Macintosh systems. AGP was originally scheduled to ship on the Yosemite (current Power Macintosh G3) motherboard but was apparently scrapped later on in the development cycle.

NVIDIA Rumors

In April, sources noted that Apple had apparently reached an agreement with ATI to become the sole provider of the high-end AGP card that would ship as standard on all new Power Macintosh G4 systems. Since then there have been a number of rumors floating around regarding AGP on the Macintosh.

According to one source, certain executives at Apple (including our favorite iCEO) are furious about the quality of the Macintosh drivers that ATI wrote for their Rage 128 chipset that is shipping on current Power Macintosh Systems. Blue and White Power Macintosh G3 owners have been complaining day in and day out about problems with the ATI drivers, and while numerous bug fix releases have already been issued, the problems will not be completely eliminated until the release of Sonata, sources said.

In the meantime, the rumor is that Apple has been rethinking its options in terms of graphics card providers, turning up the heat on ATI. According to sources, Apple has contacted NVIDIA in regard to providing their high performance AGP TNT2 cards for Power Macintosh G4-based systems. NVIDIA is rumored to already have a Mac driver ready, should Apple turn their way.

Representatives at NVIDIA routinely denied having any current form of relationship with Apple and professed no knowledge of a Macintosh driver in development. On the other hand, they claimed to have no knowledge of what could be brewing in other divisions of the company, including the sales division. NVIDIA currently supports every major platform except the Macintosh.

3DLabs

In related news, 3DLabs is rumored to be in the middle of bringing their AGP Oxygen family of high performance graphics cards over to the Macintosh in time for the release of the Power Macintosh G4. 3DLabs recently announced that they, in conjunction with a company called Formac, will be bringing their ProFormance 3 cards over to the Macintosh, beginning sometime this month. The cards will be available in 8 and 16MB configurations, and will work in both a standard PCI slot and the 66MHz 32bit slot present on the current line of Power Macintosh G3 systems.

3DLabs said they had nothing to announce at this time regarding their Oxygen series of 3D cards on the Macintosh, but did mention that should an AGP slot pop up on the next-generation systems from Apple, it may be a different story.

Seybold

It appears that once Apple does formally introduce the Power Macintosh G4 systems, complete with the AGP-enabled Sawtooth logicboard, AGP graphics card options will begin to multiply. Though prototypes of Sawtooth-based systems are not expected to begin seeding until the Fall, rumor has it that Steve Jobs will demonstrate a Power Macintosh G4 system during his keynote address at Seybold San Francisco.

More to come in future reports.