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Mac clone makers show off speed

Macworld Expo Power Computing and Daystar will both show up next week to demonstrate just how fast a Mac clone can run.

    Macworld Expo Though attention will be focused on Apple Computer's (AAPL) operating system plans at Macworld Expo, Mac clone vendors will be making some noise of their own with demonstrations of super-fast Mac-compatible systems.

    Power Computing is expected to debut a prototype PowerPC system running at 300 MHz. Be representatives say the demonstration unit will run the Be OS.

    Meanwhile Daystar will be showing a workstation cluster that will combine the processing power of 16 systems that each use four 200-MHz PowerPC 604e processors. That will make for 12,000 MHz worth of processing power.

    Clustering is a technology for "loosely" connecting separate computers to form a more powerful virtual computer. Currently, clustering is used primarily as a back-up technology for server computers if a server fails. But it can also be used, as in the case of Daystar, to boost performance.

    The clustered Genesis systems will communicate through what Daystar refers to as a private intranet. At MacWorld, the company will demonstrate how basic Mac OS functions such as Quicktime compression or video processing can be accelerated, as well as applications such as Photoshop.

    Meanwhile, Power Computing will probably be the clone maker with the single fastest motherboard, however. The company would not confirm details about the system's architecture, but one industry source said that the system is being built around a 300-MHz 603e chip, a chip that hasn't actually been announced yet by PowerPC manufacturers Motorola or IBM.

    Power Computing 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. It is intended to serve primarily as a demonstration of the price-performance advantage of PowerPC-based systems over machines built around Intel chips.