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Mac cloners push 250 MHz

Clone vendors are once again pushing the envelope with high-performance 250-MHz 604e PowerPC chips.

Macintosh clone vendors are once again pushing the performance envelope of the Mac platform with the planned introduction next month of single- and dual-processor systems with high-performance 250-MHz 604e PowerPC processors.

The new systems from Umax Computer and Power Computing won't be unveiled until IBM (IBM) formally announces availability of the new 604e chips, but ads are already cropping up in some publications and online resellers.

The PowerPC 604e is a workstation- and server-class processor and is comparable to Intel's Pentium Pro.

Power Computing is expected to introduce the PowerTower Pro 250 and the 250MP, which feature PowerPC 604e 250-MHz chips and come with a standard configuration of 32MB of RAM, a 2GB hard disk drive, and an 8X CD-ROM. The PowerTower Pro 250MP has dual processors.

The systems are expected to ship with a standard 1MB of L2 cache, a dual SCSI, six PCI slots, and nine expansion bays. The 250 system is priced at $4,495, according to a Power Computing advertisement; the 250MP is expected to sell for under $6,000.

The Umax SuperMac S900 604e/250 will have one 250-MHz 604e PowerPC processor, 32MB of RAM, and 8MB of video RAM. The system will also include a 2.1GB Ultra SCSI drive 8X CD-ROM drive and 100MB Zip drive, according to one ad. The system is expected to sell for under $5,000, although pricing could change by time of official introduction.

Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) is considering extending its performance lead over Intel-based competitors in the notebook space by revving up its entry-level PowerBook 1400.

A new 1400 may soon ship with a 166-MHz 603e PowerPC processor, according to industry sources. The 1400 is currently offered with 133-MHz and 117-MHz versions of the same processor.

Apple is set to ship in volume its PowerBook 3400, which is offered with a 180-, 200-, and 240-MHz 603e PowerPC processor. Currently, the fastest Intel-based notebooks offer a 166-MHz Pentium with MMX technology.