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Motorola ships 300-MHz Mac clone

Power-hungry Mac users have a new option based on the 603e PowerPC processor.

Motorola Computer Group (MOT) announced today that it is shipping its 300-MHz Mac clone to power-hungry Mac users.

The StarMax 5000/300 is being targeted at heavy-duty corporate users, small- or home-office environments, and graphics professionals. The 300-MHz 603e PowerPC processor is expected to offer performance better than systems using Intel's Pentium processors and even approaches that of the Pentium Pro processor, according to industry analysts.

While the processing capabilities of the PowerPC continue to increase, overall system performance of the new Starmax 5000/300 as well as most other Mac OS-based systems is being limited by other factors such as the bus speed. The bus speed is the rate at which the processor can send data to the rest of the system.

The new Motorola system attempts to ease the performance bottleneck by using a motherboard that has a bus speed of 50 MHz, an increase over other systems in the StarMax line. Motorola's new systems will also include 512K of secondary cache to help ensure that the processor is fed a steady stream of data to compensate for the bus speed.

Other features of the 5000/300 include 32MB of memory, a 16X CD-ROM drive, and an Ethernet network connection card. A 4.3GB hard drive and 100MB Zip drive from Iomega are standard features included for data storage and backup.

The new system will have a suggested retail price of $2,899; a system with the a high-end graphics card will sell for $3,399.

Later this year, Mac users can look forward to a host of new developments that allow overall system performance to keep up with that of next-generation PowerPC processors.

Bus speeds are expected to initially ramp up to 66 MHz to coincide with the introduction of faster PowerPC processors, code-named "Arthur." Improvements to the system architecture as well as the processor will allow a 233-MHz Arthur processor to outperform the current 300-MHz 603e, according to industry sources.