Apple launches gigaflop Power Mac G4

Apple Computer has launched is new G4 Power Macintosh line, whose gigaflop performance, the company says, takes it into supercomputer territory. Apple says its 500MHz G4 is nearly three times faster than an Intel 600MHz Pentium III, using Intel's own tests.

Apple Computer interim CEO Steve Jobs has used his Seybold conference keynote to launch Apple's new G4 Power Macintosh line.

The G4 chip in the new models is the first to use the Motorola-developed AltiVec execution unit, which Apple has rebranded as the Velocity Engine.

Apple is claiming gigaflop (one billion floating-point operations per second) performance for the new G4. It says the 500MHz model, which is based on the new 'Sawtooth' motherboard, came up nearly three times faster than a 600MHz Pentium III, using Intel's own tests.

Apple also says the G4 will run Adobe Photoshop "up to twice as fast" as any Pentium PC.

There had been doubts as to whether Jobs would be able to announce the G4 because of delays in completing Sawtooth - and the 450MHz and 500MHz models will not in fact be available until October 1.

But Apple has already begun selling a 400MHz G4 at $US1599, the same price as the 350MHz G3 it was selling last week. The 400MHz version uses a variation on the existing Yosemite motherboard employed in the G3 line, but with triple the memory bandwidth, 64-bit PCI slots and AGP graphics.

As well as the new board, the high-end 450 and 500MHz G4s will ship with standard DVD and DVD-RAM drives, as well as Apple's long-awaited 22" LCD Cinema Display. Apple is touting the combination as "the ultimate system for publishing professionals".

The machines themselves will ship in a graphite, silver and translucent white colour scheme.

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