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Apple peels off new Power Mac

The Power Mac, now shipping, borrows some of its internal architecture--including faster double data rate (DDR) memory--from Apple's Xserve server.

Apple Computer said Wednesday it has started shipping its top-of-the-line dual processor 1.25GHz Power Mac.

Apple the machine last month but said that it would not start shipping the hardware until the second half of September. The Power Mac borrows some of its internal architecture--including faster double data rate (DDR) memory--from the server that Apple debuted this spring.

Although the Power Mac has received several speed boosts, the change in architecture is the first major upgrade to the line in about 18 months. The 1.25GHz model sells for $3,299 and comes with 512MB of memory, a 120GB hard drive, ATI's Radeon 9000 Pro graphics card as well as a "SuperDrive" that can burn both CDs and DVDs.

In August, Apple shipped a dual processor 867MHz PowerPC G4 system that includes 256MB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive for $1,699. Also, the company offered a dual processor 1GHz system that includes an 80GB hard drive, SuperDrive and ATI Radeon 9000 Pro graphics card for $2,499.

Power Mac sales have suffered amid a slumping economy and weakness in the graphics and advertising industries that are major buyers of Apple's professional line. In the quarter ending in June, Apple 167,000 Power Macs, down from 211,000 in the prior quarter.

Apple has started to see sales jump following the introduction of the new Power Mac, said Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior director of hardware product marketing.

"We've certainly seen an increase in our business since then," Joswiak said. At the same time, Joswiak said the overall economy remains a factor.

"Obviously, you have a tough economy which makes it tough on everybody," Joswiak said.

While Intel's Pentium 4 now boasts a top clock speed more than twice as fast as G4 chips inside the new Power Mac, Apple says that its fastest machine outperforms the fastest Windows-based PCs in several key areas, including Photoshop performance and MPEG-2 video encoding.