On August 7, 2006, Apple completed it's latest transition, with the addition of two new models. They introduced two Macintosh models based on the Intel platform, the Mac Pro and a new Xserve. In fact, these are the last two machines to be switched over to Intel and represent a major paradigm shift in the computer industry.
Apple started down this new path at the start of the millennium when it introduced its tenth operating system, Mac OS X, based on a variation of Unix. From my point of view, this held nothing but promise for the future, as I had already converted to Unix after being a Mac-evangelist. The beauty of Unix is that it offers a true device-independent operating system – because at it's core, it connects to any platform and operates above it.
So when Apple introduced Mac OS X based on the Berkley variation (BSD), it was only logical to conclude that it would eventually be available on PCs. Apple does present its products as "computers for the rest of us" – so they added the Graphic User Interface we had come to love. They in fact, produced "Unix for the rest of us", making it so simple that users barely even knew that they're working on the most versatile, stable and reliable platform as they click on iTunes and fill up their iPods.
So on the stage at the Apple World Wide Developer conference, Steve Jobs proudly announced the new Mac Pro. Actually Phil Schiller took the audience through the machine's configuration amidst the ubiquitous "Ohhs" and "Ahhs" that accompany these venues. Steve Jobs was cavalier as he stated that the Power Mac G5 (up until that moment the fastest Mac ever) would "fade in to the past."
The Mac Pro is based on the Intel Xeon processor ("Woodcrest") and is a Dual Core processor – actual two CPUs in one that runs at speeds up to 3 GHz. To double our pleasure, Apple is putting two of these Dual Core Xeon processors and essentially making it a Quad Xeon computer. The more significant fact is that this is a 64-Bit processor which means it can address more that 2 GB of RAM, the current limit in the Intel based iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro models.
The Mac Pro can address up to 16 GB of RAM, and due to the fact that the Xeons run so much cooler than the G5s there's more room inside the case. With 4 hard drives you can have up to 2 Terabytes at your finger tips. Apple is offering the Mac Pro in one configuration – 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Xeons with 1 GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard drive, a lightning fast Nvidia GeForce 7300GT video card and a 16x Dual-Layer SuperDrive (DVD-RW drive). With the various options, Apple boasts that there are up to 4 million possible configurations!
In a mere 210 days, Apple has transitioned its entire offering of computers over to the Intel platform – waving "goodbye" to the overheated PowerPC processor. As mentioned earlier, it was only a matter of time. We've seen Unix and Linux run on everything from the largest super computers down to the Sony Playstation 2. (I'm predicting that we'll be doing page layout on the iPod any day now – just putting it out there!)
Apple also took the opportunity to give the developers a sneak peek at the next version of Mac OS X – 10.5 codenamed "Leopard." (By the way, the first was "Cheetah" then "Puma," "Jaguar," "Panther" and the current "Tiger – in case you're curious. You're probably running Tiger or Panther now. If not give us a call!) Apple also took a moment or two to throw stones at Microsoft's upcoming Vista operating system (it's still coming isn't it?). The most interesting feature they showed is "Time Machine" – which automatically backs up your Macintosh.
Time Machine opens a folder as a series of receding folders. You can flip back through time until you find the file that was deleted or revised and with a click bring the file into the present. You can restore files as well as Address Book entries and Photos in iPhoto. (I wonder if I can go back and get my G5?).
Apple will also be including all of the Front Row software with Leopard, which allows the use of the Apple remote to control iTunes and movies from across the room. Apple will also include "Boot Camp" which makes it possible to run "Microsoft Windows XP" which makes the Mac a full-fledged PC – and a really fast PC at that!
The circle is now complete – no tweed jacket required!
Timothy Mitra assists companies in mastering information technology in pre-press, print and web design.
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