Apple Macintosh G5 Computer

Apple Computer Inc., in a joint venture with IBM, recently leapfrogged over competing personal computer systems to introduce, in the company’s words, “the world’s fastest desktop computer.” The new Power Mac G5 features a 64-bit processor, touted by the company as the world’s first in a desktop machine, that offers processor speeds of up to 2 GHz with a 1 GHz front-side bus, and addresses up to 8 GB of memory.

Rumors regarding the performance of the G5 have been circulating on the Internet for some time, scuttlebutt that was put to rest by an announcement from Apple CEO Steve Jobs during his keynote address at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Scheduled to become available during August, the G5 is sure to be an instant hit with multimedia producers.

Utilizing IBM’s PowerPC G5 processing technology, the new machine offers 64-bit computing power while also running 32-bit applications natively. The G5 runs at clock speeds of up to 2 GHz, virtually addressing a staggering 18 exabytes (18 billion billion bytes) of memory.

The PowerPC G5 processor architecture is based on a completely new execution core that features massively parallel computation for an unprecedented 215 in-flight instructions, full symmetric multi-processing, two double-precision floating point units, and an optimized Velocity Engine. The PowerPC G5 chips are fabricated in IBM’s $3 billion state-of-the-art semiconductor facility in East Fishkill, NY.

Each PowerPC G5 2 GHz processor (two may be installed) features an independent 1 GHz front-side bus, providing 16 GBps of bandwidth — an industry best, says Apple. The G5 also represents the industry’s highest bandwidth memory, offering a throughput of up to 6.4 GBps.

The initial G5 line-up will also include 1.6 GHz and 1.8 GHz versions, in addition to the dual 2 GHz machine. A 3 GHz G5 is reportedly projected for release within a year.
The 64-bit processors allow the new machine to break the 4 GB barrier to support up to 8 GB of 400 MHz, 128-bit DDR SDRAM, which is four times more than a typical PC. With more main memory and lightning-fast throughput, projects can be written to memory 40 times faster than to hard disk.

The Power Mac G5 provides leading-edge expansion with dual 1.5 Gbps serial ATA interfaces, and the industry’s fastest PCI interface available on a desktop with a 133 MHz, and two 100 MHz, 64-bit PCI-X slots. It also incorporates AGP 8X Pro graphics capable of supporting the power and thermal demands of high-end professional graphics cards.

And it looks cool, too.

All of which is good news for anyone involved in audio production or postproduction. According to a company statement, in addition to outperforming Pentium 4- and Dual Xeon-based systems in industry standard benchmarks, the Power Mac G5 reportedly ran significantly faster than those systems on performance tests of the most popular applications for creative professionals.

Logic Audio on the Power Mac G5 can play nearly 40 percent more tracks with reverbs applied than Cubase SX running on a 3.06 GHz Dual Xeon workstation. On a test of 45 commonly used actions, Adobe Photoshop ran twice as fast on the Power Mac G5 than on 3.06 GHz Dual Xeon workstations.

With the announcement that Apple’s Panther OS X v10.3 will also be shipping this year, there is a lot of work to be done by DAW software developers before manufacturers can deliver G5 support. But major DAW manufacturers are excited by the reported potential of the machine.

Steve Garth, CEO of Steinberg North America, noting that the company’s software is agnostic in terms of platforms, comments, “Based on the press release and the information on the Web site, it’s a leap forward for Mac users. It looks like a much better machine than the existing ones out there for Apple users doing audio, so I’m pretty pumped.

“The Windows platform has been way ahead in terms of performance for such a long time now. If this can deliver the goods as published, I’m happy. What’s good for the customer in terms of performance is good for us.”

Scott Dailey, VP of product marketing and business development at Digidesign, reports that a number of features have excited Digidesign’s developers. “Some of the standouts are the fact that the machine offers greatly enhanced memory bandwidth, a far faster front-side bus, and dual Floating Point Units (FPUs). This gives the new machines a lot of potential for great performance with host-based processing, such as DSP effects processing, synth/sampling applications, and so on.

“There are other items, such as the number of instructions that the processor can address at once, that can improve performance as well. Over time, Pro Tools will be able to utilize more of the capabilities of the machine but, even initially, we can see that performance will be greatly enhanced, whether you’re running TDM or LE.”

For more information, visit

Surround Professional Magazine