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300-MHz Mac put to test

Power Computing is working to move computers running the Macintosh OS to a new performance plateau with a prototype system running at 300 MHz.

Macintosh clone maker Power Computing is working to move computers running the Macintosh operating system to a new performance plateau with a prototype system running at 300 MHz.

The system could make its debut as early as next month at the upcoming Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

Power Computing would not confirm which version of the PowerPC processor is being used in the system, but one industry source said that the system is being built a 603e chip, a chip that compares most closely to Intel's Pentium processor.

The company said the prototype machine is a "proof-of-concept" system, not necessarily a preview of a model that will actually ship in the near future. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that the PowerPC has a price-performance advantage over systems built around Intel chips that run the Windows operating system.

Power Computing also declined to specify a price, but did indicate that the system is expected to ship in the first half of 1997.

The clone maker's reluctance to officially announce its new system may be explained by the fact that Motorola and IBM haven't yet officially announced the 300-MHz chip yet. Still, the companies are slowly working their way up to an official rollout of the chips, which are expected to eventually clock speeds faster than 400 MHz.

The Mac community also is getting pins and needles waiting for Apple Computer's January 7 announcement of its new operating system strategy. With so much up in the air about the future of the Macintosh, Power Computing is eager to reassure users that the platform is still competitive with Microsoft-Intel boxes.

Even if Motorola and IBM don't announce the chips before Macworld Expo, Power Computing wants to make sure that the public attending the show knows that superfast Macs are on the way.

"Pushing the frequency bandwidth on current processors allows for early design of...state-of-the-art systems," said Bill Goins, marketing director for Power Computing in a statement. "We are able to balance support features with CPU performance on future systems before the CPUs are available," he noted.

The company declined to release further details about the system's motherboard architecture, including the graphics and video subsystem, hard drive, or I/O specifications.