Motorola is expected to introduce long-awaited systems based on the "CHRP" design. The computers are also expected have new PowerPC processors dubbed Arthur. They are expected to debut with the new processor at speeds of 266-MHz and possibly even 300-MHz.
The CHRP design, also referred to as the PowerPC Reference Platform, is a specification for PowerPC-based systems that lets manufacturers use off-the-shelf components and technologies.
Ideally, it is supposed to let Macintosh clone vendors compete more freely with fewer licensing and technical ties to Apple, though this may not happen to the degree that some clone makers had hoped for.
To be able to introduce the new CHRP systems, manufacturers require the next version of Apple's (AAPL) operating system, Mac OS 8, and a special ROM chip. Industry sources say that Motorola is introducing the system to make sure that Apple moves forward with plans to supply them with all the needed components.
Motorola's CHRP systems will also be among the first to offer a 66-MHz bus. The bus speed is the rate at which the processor sends data to the rest of the system. Superfast processors can take tremendous performance hits if they have to slow down to talk to the rest of the system at the 40- and 50-MHz range used by most other Mac OS systems.
Motorola won't be alone in introducing the fast systems. As proof of that the Mac market has benefited from competition among clone makers, Apple and Power Computing will also introduce high-performance systems.
Apple will use fast new versions of the 604e, the most powerful PowerPC processor in new Power Macintosh 9600 and 8600 lines. The new computers are slated to run at 300 and 350 MHz. The 604e processor is aimed at the high end of the market that is also generally targeted by Intel with its Pentium Pro and Pentium II chips.
Apple already offers systems with the PowerPC 603e chip, running as fast as 300 MHz, but at an equivalent speed the 603e does not typically offer the performance of the more advanced, high-end 604e processor.
Power Computing is promising to introduce new systems that will yield even higher performance than Apple's new offerings through the use of the combination of faster bus, faster processor, and large cache memory.