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Dual, quad-CPU Power Macs to debut at WWDC?

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The latest hints from Apple suggest that the company will not only unveil long-awaited a dual-processor Power Mac G4 at its Worldwide Developers Conference, but a quad-G4 machine too. According to AppleInsider, "Silicon Valley insiders", who appear to have been briefed by Apple representatives, say the machines should arrive on 15 May, the first day of the conference. Both boxes will be based on the 500MHz PowerPC 7400 (aka G4), with two and four of the beasts, respectively. Rumours that Apple is planning a series of multi-processor Macs have been bubbling along nicely since the original Power Mac G4 began shipping last October. And it's certainly a tasty morsel: upping the processor count would provide Apple with a way to catch up with the 1GHz-plus x86 world. Direct megahertz-for-megahertz comparisons aren't exactly valid, but in many peoples' minds Apple has been left behind here. The snag, however, is the availability of a decent multi-processing version of the MacOS. Earlier dual-processor Macs, such as the Power Mac 9500/MP, saw some improvement with the extra chip, but hardly any software supported it - Photoshop and... er... Photoshop - and there was barely any improvement if further processors were added. That's one of the reasons DayStar never made the big time. Apple, of course, does have a solid multi-processing OS in the works, MacOS X, but while that's due to go into final beta during the WWDC, with the commercial release scheduled for the summer, there's little point announcing multi-processor Macs months ahead of the very software that's going to make them worth having. That said, Apple could launch the boxes as servers, running the already-shipping MacOS X Server, but such solutions are unlikely to be much use to Apple's core markets until MacOS X Consumer ships and with it Carbonised versions of Photoshop et al. Much will depend on what else Apple is planning to announce during Steve Jobs' July MacWorld Expo keynote. MacOS X Consumer is almost certainly going to feature strongly here, and what better way to really make it sing than two- and four-processor Power Macs?

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