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Apple intros dual core PowerPC Macs

PowerBooks polished too

With what may be the final crank of the PowerPC handle, Apple has introduced dual-core machines into its professional desktop line-up, including a liquid-cooled virtual 4-way machine. The PowerBook range doesn't gain any chip improvements, but two of the models gain higher resolution screens.

The base PowerMac now features a single dual core 2.0GHz G5 970MP CPU, NVidia 6600 LE display card for $1,999. A faster 2.3Ghz with the uncompromised 6600 card and a larger disk is available for $2,499 and a "quad" - with two dual core 2.5Gz G5 processors - will ship at $3,299. These replace the two dual-CPU models using 2.5GHz and 2.7GHz that were offered by Apple.

Apple claims the quad encodes video from Final Cut Pro 60 per cent faster than a the two-way single core 2.7Ghz PowerMac.

Prospective PowerBook purchasers will be pleased with the new displays on the 15" and 17" models, but disappointed by the absence of faster CPUs and no changes at all to the popular 12" model.

Apple's 15" PowerBook has shipped with a 1280x854 resolution display since April 2002, when it was in the Titanium enclosure; this has been increased to 1440x960. Apple's 17" PowerBook has shipped with a 1440x900 since its launch in January 2003, but is upped to 1680x1050. Both machines retain the $1,999 and $2,499 price points.

Apple also claims to have wrung an extra hour's battery life from the new models.

The twelve incher, described as the "the redheaded-step child" of the PowerBook family, is untouched but receives a $100 price cut in the United States. Unlike its 15" sibling, the 12" model has no FireWire 800 port, inferior graphics, and the memory ceiling is lower.

When IBM unveiled updated 970 processors back in July, it also gave details of the 970FX. This low power dual-core notebook chip consumes less power than a Centrino running flat out, and is available 1.2GHz, 1.4GHz or 1.6GHz clock speeds. According to an AppleInsider report, Apple's depleted PowerPC engineering teams were fighting bugs in the 970FX chipset, and decided to stick with the Freescale processors used today.

Apple also announced a professional photography tool Aperture today: a major application with hefty system requirements. ®

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