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Mac clones boost performance

Power Computing introduces fast new systems using 210- and 180-MHz 604e PowerPC processors starting at under $2,100.

    Power Computing has raised the price-performance bar again for Macintosh computers, introducing fast new systems using 210- and 180-MHz 604e PowerPC processors starting at under $2,100.

    By optimizing the overall system design and using the high-end 604e processor, the company has designed systems they claim outperform Apple's top-of-the-line $4,200 Power Macintosh 9600 in some industry standard performance benchmarks. The Power Computing system prices range from under $2100 to $2395. The Power Mac 9600 used in the comparison has a 233-MHz 604e processor.

    The PowerCenter Pro 210 and PowerCenter Pro 180 use a faster 60-MHz system bus to enhance overall performance, technology not found on other Mac OS-based computers. The bus speed is the rate at which the processor sends data to the rest of the system.

    Increasing the bus speed from the 40- and 50-MHz range used by other Mac OS systems will be critically important as super-fast chips such as Exponential's 433-MHz x704 processor and the 300-MHz 603e and 250-MHz 604e PowerPC processors start shipping this year. Superfast processors can take tremendous performance hits when they slow down to talk to the rest of the system at only 50 MHz.

    The new design is a preview of what is to come when Apple releases Mac OS 8.0 sometime in June or July. The next revision of the Mac OS includes support for the PowerPC Platform (also referred to as CHRP). The PPCP specification is intended to provide an open standard for PowerPC-system designs that use industry-standard components. With the PowerPC Platform specification in place, users can expect to see performance gains in systems using bus speeds as high as 75 even 100 MHz to go along with next generation PowerPC processors running at 300 MHz.

    The PowerCenter Pro 210 features a 210-MHz 604e processor; the PowerCenter Pro 180 has a 180-MHz 604e processor. Both systems include 1MB of cache, a 3D graphics acceleration processor from ATI Technologies, and a 16X CD-ROM drive. Both allow users to upgrade the processor by swapping a daughtercard for another card with a faster processor, and have three internal PCI expansion slots.

    Also included is a high-performance 2GB hard drive that takes advantage of fast SCSI, a peripheral interconnect technology that allows for the transfer of data at up to 10MB per second. The original SCSI standard already found in Mac systems can transfer data at up to 5MB per second. An ethernet network card comes standard.

    The PowerCenter Pro 210 will sell for $2,395 and the PowerCenter 180 will sell for $2,095, according to the company. They are due by May 5.