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Apple unleashes 350-MHz machine

On the eve of Macworld Boston, the company announces new Power Macs that use OS 8 and pack PowerPC chips running as fast as 350 MHz.

On the eve of Macworld Boston, Apple Computer announced new Power Macworld saga Macintosh systems that use the new OS 8 operating system and pack PowerPC processors running as fast as 350 MHz. The company also made a slew of other new product announcements.

Apple will use speedy new 300- and 350-MHz versions of the Power PC 604e in the Power Macintosh 9600 and 8600 systems, as reported on July 15 by CNET'S NEWS.COM. The 604e is generally regarded as the most powerful PowerPC processor, although the recently introduced PowerPC 750 and 740 processors are giving the veteran 604e a run for its money.

Apple says the new processors will come with 1MB of "in line" cache memory that operates at 100 MHz, which is twice the speed of the system's motherboard, or main circuit board. Cache is a high-speed memory that improves system performance.

This new design boosts performance considerably since it mitigates inherent performance bottlenecks.

The new systems will also ship with Mac OS 8, Apple's latest version of its operating system.

The new Power Macintosh 9600/350 and 9600/300 come with a 4GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, a 100MB Iomega Zip drive, and a 24X CD-ROM drive.

The 350-MHz Power Macintosh 9600/350 will be priced starting at $5,400, while the 300-MHz 9600/300 is expected to go for $4,500. The Power Macintosh 8600/300 will now have a 300-MHz 604e as the top offering; the systems come with the same peripherals as the 9600s but offer 32MB of memory instead. The new 8600/300 will have an estimated street price of $3,700. All systems are immediately available, according to Apple.

Apple also introduced today new workgroup servers based on the new processors. The 9650/350 comes with dual 4GB hard drives, Mac OS 7.6.1, and Apple RAID (redundant array of independent disks) software for data backup and storage. The systems are offered with one of three software bundles.

The Application Server Solution comes with third-party productivity programs. The AppleShare Server Solution comes with the software in the Applications Server Solution plus AppleShare IP 5.0.2, which includes support for file sharing using TCP/IP and AppleTalk. The Apple Internet Server Solution adds software needed to create, manage, and publish Web or intranet content.

Prices for the 9650/350 range from $6,800 to $7,300, depending on configuration. The systems are expected to be available in September

In other news, Apple:

• Unveiled a new LaserWriter 8500 workgroup printer. The printer is one of the first to incorporate PostScript 3 font technology, which offers faster printing and better image quality. The new 600 dpi (dots-per-inch) printer can output 20 pages-per-minute, according to Apple. It will have an estimated street price of $2,500 and is expected to be available in September.

• Introduced the AppleVision 750 AV and AppleVision 750 17-inch color displays. Both use Apple DigitalColor technology, which maintains color fidelity over time by automatically adjusting itself with minimal user interaction. The displays also support Apple's ColorSync technology and feature software control of screen geometry, mode switching, and color settings, Apple says. The displays have an estimated retail price of $950 and $850 and are currently available.

• Updated its MacX software, which gives Mac users access to X-terminal applications that run on Unix or VMS servers. The updated software includes support for the latest X Window protocols and is optimized for use with networks using Apple's Open Transport technology. Estimated retail price of the software is $150, and it's now available.

• Introduced the QuickTime VR Authoring Studio, which allows Web designers and multimedia authors to quickly create interactive content for CD-ROMs and Web sites. The software package isn't expected to be available until the fourth quarter of 1997, and no pricing was announced.

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