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The Unhappy Saga of the five hundred MHz Energy Mac G4 – 512 Pixels

The Unhappy Saga of the five hundred MHz Energy Mac G4 – 512 Pixels

2022-11-09 09:01:37

In August 1999, Apple announced the first Power Mac G4:

The Energy Mac G4 is powered by the revolutionary new PowerPC G4 chip architected by Apple, Motorola and IBM, and is the primary private pc in historical past to ship supercomputer-level efficiency of over one billion floating-point operations per second. The Energy Mac G4s run skilled functions like Adobe’s Photoshop as much as twice as quick as 600MHz Pentium III-based PCs.

The G4 chip incorporates a brand new execution unit named the Velocity Engine — the guts of a supercomputer miniaturized onto a sliver of silicon. In a set of Intel’s personal assessments printed on their website, the 500MHz G4 chip was 2.94 instances as quick because the 600MHz Pentium III processor.

“The Energy Mac G4 just isn’t solely the quickest Mac ever, it’s the quickest private pc ever,” mentioned Apple’s interim CEO Steve Jobs. “The revolutionary G4 processor with its exceptional Velocity Engine is the primary ‘supercomputer on a chip,’ delivering over one gigaflop of sustained efficiency.”

The brand new lineup was clad in a extra mature model of the Blue and White G3’s case, however on the within, issues had been a bit complicated.

Power Mac G4

On the low finish was the Power Mac G4 (PCI Graphics) clocked at 400 MHz. It was joined by the Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics), with 450 and 500 MHz configurations.

Within the November 1999 version of Macworld, Andrew Gore defined the variations between the fashions:

Within the preliminary Energy Mac G4 lineup, are two totally different configurations, one an intermediate step between the quicker G4s and the blue-and-white Energy Mac G3, and the opposite a high-end configuration that includes spectacular new applied sciences.

With the intention to get one mannequin within the G4 lineup down below $2,000-and to get it out to prospects as quickly as attainable Apple positioned a 400MHz G4 processor onto a barely modified model of the blue-and-white G3’s logic board and put the board within the new Energy .Mac G4 case. In nearly all different respects, the low-end Energy Mac G4 is strictly the identical because the G3 Energy Macs. One notable exception: not one of the Energy Mac G4 fashions characteristic an ADB port.

The article was joined by this useful desk of specs:

G4 specs, as of fall 1999

Towards the tip of the piece, Gore wrote:

If you happen to’re itching to hurry out and purchase one of many high-end Energy Mac G4s, maintain your horses. Whereas Apple says the low-end 400 MHz system is delivery now, at press time the corporate was predicting cargo of the 450 MHz G4 mannequin someday in September and the 5OO MHz unit in October.

He urged the reader to carry out for an AGP mannequin, which was quicker and extra forward-looking than the PCI machines, which had been principally the outdated G3 with a quicker processor:

Except you completely can’t afford the pricier fashions or can’t wait one other minute, we recommend you bide your time and watch for the high-end G4 configurations to look. Though the G4 processor does account for lots of the efficiency enhancements within the new fashions, the niceties of the brand new logic-board design may even have main impacts on velocity. And for those who go for the low-end mannequin, you gained’t be capable of play with cool new capabilities like utilizing an AirPort card, inside FireWire units, two separate USB ports, or the brand new Apple Cinema Show.

This press launch, dated October 13, 1999, explains what was occurring with Apple’s provide of PowerPC G4s:

Apple right this moment introduced that it has reconfigured the processor speeds in its Energy Mac G4 line to match PowerPC G4 chip availability from Motorola. The brand new Energy Mac G4 configurations will now embody processors working at 350 MHz, 400 MHz and 450 MHz, and will probably be priced at $1,599, $2,499 and $3,499, respectively. The transfer is in response to Motorola’s delays in reaching quantity manufacturing of its 500 MHz G4 processor chip, which is now scheduled for availability early subsequent yr.

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These new configurations will allow us to fulfill the large demand for our new Energy Mac G4 line, mentioned Steve Jobs, Apple s interim CEO. Fortuitously, the machines stay very, very quick simply outperforming Pentium III-based PCs.

Apple additionally introduced right this moment that IBM will start manufacturing G4 processor chips within the first half of calendar 2000 to be used in Apple merchandise.

It’s not fairly often in Apple’s historical past that one comes throughout a product replace that leads to a slower product, however clearly it wasn’t the plan. Notably, Apple didn’t decrease the worth of the towers to mirror their new, slower speeds. The transfer took on the title “velocity dump,” as Mac customers weren’t proud of the modifications.

In December Apple updated the lineup, eliminating the PCI mannequin, changing it with a 350 MHz Energy Mac that included all of the upgrades current within the AGP fashions.

Fortunately the 350 MHz Energy Mac G4 didn’t lead an extended life, as in February 2000, Apple updated the lineup once again:

Apple right this moment introduced it has elevated the efficiency of its industry-leading Energy Mac G4 line with quicker processors working at 400-, 450-, and 500 MHz. Pricing stays unchanged, beginning at US$1,599.
The Energy Mac G4, which options the PowerPC G4 processor with its exceptional Velocity Engine, runs skilled functions like Adobe Photoshop over 50 % quicker than 800 MHz Pentium III-based PCs.

A full six months after its authentic introduction, Apple was lastly delivery a 500 MHz Energy Mac G4. Within the grand scheme of issues, this was a mere hiccup in what was in any other case a golden period for Mac {hardware} developments, and a lesson in controlling your personal expertise stack that Apple wouldn’t neglect.

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