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Details about the Power Macintosh and future system software - 03/1994

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From: [email protected] (Brian Kendig)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.mac.announce
Subject: Details about the Power Macintosh and future system software
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Date: 14 Mar 94 20:34:05 GMT
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     Everything you ever wanted to know about the Power Macintosh
	 (but had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to ask)

The PowerMacs are finally available in stores!  I've scoured magazines
(especially MacWeek) and newsgroups (especially comp.sys.powerpc) over
the  past few weeks  to  dig up  all sorts  of  interesting tidbits of
information about them, as well as  about  other  things you might see
from Apple in the   future.  I've tried   to  be as  accurate  here as
possible, but be  warned   that   some of  this information  might  be
completely  wrong  --  especially  about  products that   haven't been
released yet.  Don't rely on what you read here; verify it first.

Power Macintosh  excitement  has   really  been building  ever   since
January's MacWorld Expo,  where the "PowerPC --  Get a life" pins worn
by  the Apple  employees were countered  by  the occasional cry of  "I
don't want a life, I want a PowerPC!" from the crowd.


		     What It Is and What It Isn't

A Power Macintosh is basically just a Mac with  a very different, very
fast new chip -- the PowerPC 601 -- as its brain.   The PowerMacs have
been designed  to be 100%  compatible with all other Mac  hardware and
software that runs on the rest  of the current  Mac line.  (Whether or
not they do turn out to be this compatible remains to be seen, but the
word so far is that they do a wonderful job.)   In fact,  if you put a
PowerMac 6100 and a Quadra 610 side-by-side  and play with  them for a
while, you  probably won't be able to  tell which  is which unless you
peek at  "About This  Macintosh".   The PowerMacs look  the  same, run
System 7.1.2, and  can use NuBus  cards.   They run 680x0  software at
roughly the speed  of a Quadra  610 (25MHz  040) or a   Powerbook  180
(33MHz 030), although I've heard claims that their speed can  range on
the extremes from a IIci (25MHz 030) to a Quadra 650 (33MHz 040).  You
should be  able  to use all of  your  existing Macintosh  hardware and
software  on a PowerMac at a  very respectable speed without having to
buy any upgrades.

The  real strength  of the  PowerMac,  however,  shows   when you  run
"native-mode" software on it -- programs that have  been recompiled to
take   advantage of the   PowerPC  chip  inside it.  PowerMacs running
native software  are roughly two to four  times  faster than  a Quadra
800.  Many    companies    are  offering  inexpensive   upgrades    to
PowerPC-native versions of their software.  The PowerMacs also provide
speech recognition and 9600 baud modem  emulation without  requiring a
DSP, and a lot of the performance-critical components in the PowerMacs
support  direct memory access  (DMA) for  an extra   speed boost.  The
mid-range  and high-end  models  can run two monitors  at once without
adding any extra hardware, and all three can be purchased with the "AV
option", giving them  all the  video   capabilities of  the 660AV  and
840AV.

SoftWindows comes bundled   in with  some PowerMac  configurations; it
runs DOS and  Windows  software  at  speeds approximating that   of  a
486SX/25.    However, it only emulates a    very fast 80286  chip, and
therefore  software  that requires a   386 or a 486  won't  run on it.
(This means you won't be able  to play Doom  on it, unfortunately, but
X-Wing ought  to   work fine.)   There should   be  a 486  version  of
SoftWindows ready later this year.  I haven't heard yet whether or not
there will ever be  SoundBlaster emulation  for  it, but  the  initial
version can  only simulate  sounds    coming out of  a   PC's internal
speaker.

The PowerMacs  do  not run Unix yet  (except possibly  for third-party
Unixes  that  are available for other   Macs right   now).  Taligent's
object-oriented operating  system,  based on  the PowerOpen  standard,
won't be available until probably  1996.  A/UX  will not be  available
for  the  PowerMacs.  I've heard that   IBM's  AIX operating system is
being ported  to  the  PowerPC's, but  I don't  know if  that includes
Apple's systems or not.

The initial batch of PowerMacs aren't compliant with the  current PReP
specification.   PReP (the   "PowerPC   Reference  Platform")  is    a
standardization that IBM came up with: any PC that has enough hardware
to meet  the  requirements outlined  in PReP  will be  able to run any
operating system that is  PReP-compliant.  This is  what   will  allow
future  IBM  PowerPC's  to run AIX, Windows  NT,  Workplace OS (OS/2),
Solaris,    Taligent,   and  other     operating   systems.   However,
PReP-compliant systems  will probably  not appear on  the market until
the end of this year.  The PowerMac  can currently  only run Macintosh
System 7.1 and emulate DOS and Windows 3.1, and future PowerMacs might
or might not be designed to be PReP-compliant.  The PReP specification
isn't even in its final form yet -- it's scheduled to go beta in a few
days, so developers couldn't conform to it even if they wanted to yet.
One idea I've heard  was that PReP  might  be  modified so  that  this
initial  batch of  PowerMacs are  defined   as "PReP-compliant", since
they're the  only   PPC-based systems shipping   right now (other than
IBM's high-end PowerPC RS/6000 Unix server).  We'll see what happens.

The first PowerMacs also  only support NuBus,  although systems  to be
released next  year  (the "TNT" systems)  will  probably  support PCI,
allowing them to use  the same boards  that  PCI-equipped IBM PC's can
use.

Another important  thing  to note  is that, like  all other Macs up to
this point, the PowerMacs  do not  offer "preemptive multitasking" and
"protected memory".  They will continue to multitask cooperatively and
run all applications  in one memory  space, and this might not  change
until 1996.  (There's more  information  on this near the end  of this
article.)

As with any  other new computer system,  I would  *strongly* recommend
quelching any "first  kid on the block" instinct  you might  have  and
waiting a while before purchasing a PowerMac.  Beta-testing has proven
them to be impressively stable systems, but they need some time out in
the real world to  shake out any problems that  might be hiding behind
the faceplace.

Why  the  weird naming scheme for the  PowerMacs?  Well, consider that
the only other PPC-based  system available right  now is IBM's RS/6000
Model 250.   Apple probably named their  machines starting with "6100"
to be one up on IBM's "6000".  Go fig.  :-)


			 Pricing and Upgrades

Here  are approximate  street  prices  for PowerMac systems   (without
monitor and  keyboard) as given in  MacWeek, but note  that these were
still subject to  change at the time  they were printed and might  not
reflect  what's actually being  charged for them  right now.  They do,
however, seem to agree with the prices that have been reported  on the
net by people who have caught glimpses of price sheets.


	MODEL	CONFIGURATION			PRICE RANGE
	6100	8/160				$1725-$1775
		8/250/CD			$2200-$2250
		16/250 with SoftWindows		$2400-$2450
		8/250/CD with AV board		$2500-$2550

	7100	8/250				$2825-$2875
		8/250/CD			$3025-$3075
		16/250 with SoftWindows		$3225-$3275
		8/500/CD with AV board		$3825-$3875

	8100	8/250				$4050-$4100
		8/250/CD			$4250-$4300
		16/500 with SoftWindows		$5200-$5250
		16/500/CD with AV board		$5350-$5400
		16/1Gb/CD			$5850-$5900




Full   logic board upgrades    cost between $1000  and $2000   and are
available  for the IIvx,  IIvi, Performa   600, and the Centris/Quadra
610, 650, 660AV, 800,  and 840AV.  These  will probably give you a new
faceplate (with the "PowerMac" name on it) and a new  motherboard, and
require you to send your old ones back to Apple.

A PowerPC  PDS slot  upgrade card for   040 Macs costs  $700  and will
double the speed of  your system -- put  it into a  25MHz 040 Mac, for
example, and your system will  effectively run at 50MHz.  However, the
PDS PowerPC card does not give your system the video options and other
features (such as speech recognition)  that the  full PowerMacs  have.
Upgrade cards are available from Apple  for 040-based Macs with a full
PDS  slot:  the Centris/Quadra 610, 650,  700,  800, 900, 950, and the
Apple Workgroup Server  60 and 80.  The  Centris/Quadra  660AV, 840AV,
605, the  AWS 95, the  LC 475 and  575, and the  Performa  475 are not
eligible for the upgrade card.

Third-party  companies  will be offering  PowerPC  upgrade cards   for
specific Mac models, but I don't have  any  information on those right
now.


		     Features and Configurations

There  are three models of PowerMacs.    Here is the information  that
applies to all three of them:

  PowerPC 601 RISC processor, integrated math coprocessor, 32k on-chip cache,
      32-bit internal data path, 64-bit external data path
  System bus is 64-bit
  4Mb ROM
  DRAM SIMM slots can hold 4, 8, 16, or 32Mb RAM SIMMs (72-pin)
  Built-in LocalTalk and Ethernet
  SCSI, Ethernet, audio and serial ports, and other components support DMA
      for increased speed and simultaneous operation
  Serial (printer and modem) ports support the GeoPort Telecom Adapter
  Speech synthesis/recognition and 9600 baud modem emulation in all models
  256k level 2 cache improves performance by 30% and can be purchased
      separately for 6100/7100, comes standard with 8100
  "AV option" (a PDS card) can be purchased to give the system NTSC/PAL video
      in/out and support for up to 4Mb VRAM
  SoftWindows can be purchased for DOS/Windows emulation

Here is specific information for each model:

Power Macintosh 6100/60
  Quadra 610 case
  60MHz PowerPC 601 processor
  8Mb RAM (expandable to 72Mb): 8Mb on the motherboard, 2 SIMM slots
  DRAM video (does not come with a VRAM card, see below for what this provides)
  1.4MB Apple SuperDrive; 160Mb or 250Mb HD; 5.25" empty drive bay
  Expansion slot for 7" NuBus card or PDS card (like the Q610, needs adapter)
  Built-in asynchronous SCSI supports up to 7 SCSI devices connected
  Ports: 2 serial, SCSI, ADB, monitor (supports AudioVision display or
      standard monitor), stereo 16-bit sound input/output

Power Macintosh 7100/66
  Quadra 650 case
  66MHz PowerPC 601 processor
  8Mb RAM (expandable to 136Mb): 8Mb on the motherboard, 4 SIMM slots
  1Mb VRAM (video memory), upgradable to 2Mb (see below for what this provides)
  1.4MB Apple SuperDrive; 250Mb or 500Mb HD; 5.25" empty drive bay
  3 NuBus expansion slots
  Built-in SCSI supports up to 7 SCSI devices connected
  Ports: 2 serial, SCSI, ADB, 2 monitor (one for AudioVision display or
      standard monitor, one for standard monitor), stereo 16-bit sound
      input/output

Power Macintosh 8100/80
  Quadra 800 case
  80MHz PowerPC 601 processor, 256k Level 2 memory cache
  8Mb RAM (expandable to 264Mb): 8Mb on the motherboard, 8 SIMM slots
  2MB VRAM (video memory), upgradable to 4Mb (see below for that this provides)
  1.4Mb Apple SuperDrive; 250Mb, 500Mb, or 1Gb HD; space for 2 3.5" storage
      devices and one 5.25" storage device
  3 NuBus expansion slots
  Built-in dual-channel SCSI: external SCSI supports up to 7 SCSI devices
      connected; internal SCSI supports internal devices or disk arrays
  Ports: 2 serial, SCSI, ADB, 2 monitor (one for AudioVision display or
      standard monitor, one for standard monitor), stereo 16-bit sound
      input/output

The  video options need  some explaining.  In its  base configuration,
the 6100 has  no VRAM  slots, meaning that you have  to  run video off
DRAM (regular  RAM) just  like the IIsi did.   DRAM  video tends to be
rather slow.  The 7100 and 8100 support  DRAM video as  well, but each
also   comes with  a    VRAM  card  in   its  PDS slot  with   1Mb/2Mb
(respectively)  of memory on it, upgradable   to  2Mb/4Mb.  This means
that you can run  two monitors on a  7100 or  8100 straight out of the
box.  If you purchase the AV card,  then  that goes into your PDS slot
on any  of  the  three   systems  (replacing the   VRAM  card  on  the
7100/8100), and gives  you 2Mb VRAM (upgradable  to 4Mb)  and NTSC/PAL
video in/out.  The  DRAM  video port supports  an AudioVision  monitor
(and "normal" monitors, too, I'd suspect); a VRAM  or an AV  card will
give you a second monitor port (which supports "normal" monitors).

Here is what various amounts of video memory will support:

DRAM (using internal RAM for video):
           up to 32,768 colors on a 14" monitor or smaller
           up to 256 colors on a 16" monitor

1Mb VRAM:  up to 32,768 colors on a 16" monitor or smaller
           up to 256 colors on a 20" monitor

2Mb VRAM:  up to 16.7 million colors on a 16" monitor or smaller
           up to 32,768 colors on a 20" monitor

4Mb VRAM:  up to 16.7 million colors on a 20" monitor or smaller


I'll say it again: many of the details given above could be flat-out wrong.
Please don't make a purchasing decision based solely on what you read here!


			Future System Software

While  the PowerMacs are capturing  the  public's  attention, Apple is
hard at work on many other things.  Here are a few of them:

System 7.5 is due to ship this spring.  There  will only be one kit of
it; gone will be the distinction  between  "System 7.1" and  "System 7
Pro", and both the  68k and  PPC versions of it will  ship in one box.
All  of the  elements of "System 7  Pro" and more  will be rolled into
System 7.5, and a new installer will  only  install  the software that
you have enough memory to run (it won't try to install Quickdraw GX on
a system with only 4Mb of memory, for  example).  The Finder in System
7.5 will be fully AppleScriptable.

The Apple Guide (formerly Apple Help) will come with System 7.5.  When
I  saw it at MacWorld,  it reminded me  vaguely  of the hypertext help
that Windows and   OS/2 provide,  but  the  Apple  Guide was organized
*much* more clearly and thoroughly.  Ask it  how to do  a task, and it
will tell you the steps you need to follow.  Ask it for more help, and
it will circle in red magic-marker on your screen  the things you need
to click on.  Say you need even more help and it will  use AppleEvents
to automatically guide you through the process.

I haven't found  anything about  this  in print,  but the Drag Manager
will probably also arrive with System 7.5.  It lets you select a range
of text  or a  graphic in any  window, and  drag it  into place in any
other window or to the desktop (where it will appear as a "scrap").  I
saw it at MacWorld  and was duly  impressed by it  -- imagine the text
dragging   feature of Microsoft   Word  integrated  into   the  system
software.   I've  heard  that it  will   allow  dragging anything into
anything else    where  that would   make   sense; for  example,  some
applications will support having  icons from the  desktop dropped into
their windows.

OpenDoc will  probably arrive in System 7.8  later this year.  OpenDoc
does  away  with  the   concept of    a  document "belonging  to"   an
application;  you'll  simply have  various  mini-applications that can
work on different  parts of  your document.  Your word  processor will
let you edit the text  in your  document, while your draw program lets
you edit the graphics.  If you want a better spell  checker, then just
get a better spelling  checker application, and it  will fit  right in
with the other application modules.

The Appearance Manager will  probably be part  of System 7.8  too.   I
haven't  seen anything about that in  print either, but   according to
what I've heard,  it will  let  you customize any part   of  the Mac's
interface to look however you want it to look.  For example, imagine a
Macintosh that looks just like Microsoft  Windows, all the way down to
the menubars in the windows.   So much for  Windows users being afraid
of having to  learn   a new  operating system,   or  for Motif   users
complaining they hate the Mac's interface!

QuickTime 2.0 will be released  this summer.   Its biggest feature  is
more speed: it will  playback on an  LC 475 in a  320x240 window at 30
frames  per  second, or in  a  640x480  window at 15 frames per second
(twice the speed of QuickTime 1.6).  If you put an MPEG board  in your
Mac, it will let you play MPEG movies off  a CD-ROM  like several CD-I
systems on the market can.  (A CD-ROM can hold up to 1 hour 14 minutes
of full-screen full-motion video and CD-quality sound.)  QuickTime 2.0
also lets you play a movie across a network (allowing for "interactive
TV"),  and it supports MIDI (for  music playback) and  SMPTE  (to sync
sound with video).

Apple's new microkernel architecture (code-namd "Gershwin")  is due to
appear  in 1996.    This will   give the  Macintosh protected   memory
(meaning that when one app crashes, you can kill it and continue using
your  system without a  reboot) and  preemptive  multitasking (meaning
that the system will be more clever about partitioning its time out to
applications that are running).

The "Macintosh Application  Environment"  will be  introduced on March
22.  It lets System 7.1 and Macintosh 68k  applications run unmodified
in an X window on Sun  Solaris Unix and Hewlett-Packard HP-UX systems,
with support for DEC Unix coming later.   It works with any standard X
window manager, including Motif and Open Look.


That's all the information I have for right now  (is it enough to keep
you  busy for a while?).    Apple  is  maintaining  a gopher server on
"info.hed.apple.com" that contains all  their press releases  and will
probably also have a lot more  PowerMacintosh information in  the very
near future, so a watchful Mac user might want to keep an eye on it.

I'll post more information here as I get it.  Enjoy!

-- 
_/_/_/  Brian Kendig                              Je ne suis fait comme aucun
/_/_/  [email protected]                 de ceux que j'ai vus; j'ose croire
_/_/                             n'etre fait comme aucun de ceux qui existent.
  /  Be insatiably curious.   Si je ne vaux pas mieux, au moins je suis autre.
 /     Ask "why" a lot.                                           -- Rousseau