Originally posted by Steve
Though the G5 supports 5.1 through an on-board optical input, I don't believe it has a dedicated sound processor, just like every other Mac. Sure, you can run out and buy one (one company whose name escapes me has a really nice 7.1 card), but it's odd that a $1999 machine ships without a sound card.
The card you're thinking of is the M-Audio Revolution.
As for Apple, when you can get more tracks, more effects,more flexibility and better latency from software, why bother with hardware? All that means is that your capabilities are rigidly defined, and you're dependent on drivers. If the machine's a duallie, then OS X can just put the game on one CPU and CoreAudio on the other.
As for game development, the Mac does have advantages as a platform: When the CRT iMac reigned, it did not escape the game devs that it acted a lot like a console: The video was always ATi, the CPU was always a G3, the screen was always the same - a lot of the variables that frustrate developers were simply moot. This is also why id released the Q3 preview first on Macs: The hardware's more controlled, so the problem of developing for them is much simpler, especially
in a performance-critical application.
Raw performance is a secondary consideration. Very few developers really push the envelope, because that just means that they're shrinking their market. (Think of all the games that are built on two and three year old engines.) If they're smart, they're have the game push the hardware when all the settings are maxed out, but ship the game with the settings lower. The iMac was an easy target with adequate performance and a base of millions, and that's going to attract a lot of attention.
One of the big obstacles, in fact, is this simple combination of facts: Most developers in game houses use MS Visual Studio, which of course makes using all the MS libraries easy. Most managers know this, and they know that most of their games will sell on MS platforms, so they see it as a significant advantage in time and cost to stay all MS and punt the Mac problem until the game's pulled in enough money to cover the risk.
As id discovered, there's also a political consideration: If you do the sensible thing from a game development POV, and (pre-)release your game on the Mac first (because the Mac is a far more controlled platform) the Windows users who form your principle customer base will become enraged.
As for x86-optimized code: Yes, that's a problem. Fortunately, the 970 has a capability to rearrange crap code to its liking that the G4 never did, the deep pipelines to chew through P4-optimized code, and the caches to make up for x86 code that assumes a paucity of architectural registers (although the 7455's L1 cache is considerably nicer than the 970's).