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Next-Generation PowerBook Details

Last week we talked a little about Apple's next-generation PowerBook, code-named Pismo. Since then, along with the help of industry sources, AppleInsider has been able to confirm a number of the unit's hardware specifics.

First off, Pismo is based on Apple's new Single Common Unified Motherboard architecture, and will feature a 100MHz main system bus. This is similar to Apple's desktop offerings, the iMac and Power Macintosh G4. There are currently 400, 450 and 500MHz Pismo units in the works, though according to sources, Apple will elect to ship only two retail configurations (a 500MHz config and one of the other two). All configurations will feature G3 processors, not G4s.

Sources recently confirmed the availability of 500MHz G3 PowerBook daughter-cards from IBM, which are architecturally similar to the current processor cards. Apparently these 500MHz cards are ready for production as of this moment, and should not pose any delay, come production time this December. So yes, the 500MHz versions are a definite go.

While Pismo's LCD display is not expected to expand beyond its already sufficient 14.1 viewable inches, sources report that Apple will pack these new units with a version of ATI's Rage 128 chip, and some additional SGRAM. Additionally, no Pismo units are expected to ship with less than 64MB of SDRAM, the high-end possibly shipping with 128MBs.

As mentioned in previous reports, Apple will add their AirPort and FireWire technologies to these new units, as well. Two FireWire ports are expected to replace SCSI onboard. However, FireWire is a powered bus and it is interesting to see how (if at all) Apple will limit its implementation while the PowerBook is running on battery power. Two independent 12Mbps USB boards will also be standard.

The AirPort card slot will be easily accessible by flipping up Pismo's keyboard, and the antennas will be seamlessly integrated into the unit's display-module trim. Around this time Apple is also expected to debut 50-port AirPort Base Stations. The current Base Stations only accommodate 10 units.

Pismo's casing design will also be somewhat refined, though there appears to be some confusion about which casing features will make it to the new units and which will be postponed to the next version of Apple's PowerBook series. We hope to clear up these details in future reports.

As mentioned in previous reports, these units are expected to go into production beginning in the last week of November or early December. If all goes according to plan, Steve Jobs will unveil these units during his keynote address at Macworld San Francisco, and they will be readily available the following day.

We'll continue to keep you covered 'til then, so stick around.