A look at computer tech at the end of 2002

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Ok, so now everyone is talking about a new G4/G5 and it would surely be nice to have one. I was thinking about a possible new PowerMac system and took a look at what the PC world willl have at the end of 2002 that Apple should/could also offer. I am comparing it to the Quicksilver 733 I have access to.



sound - From what I know Digital 5.1 sound is pretty common with new PCs (comes at some 40$ here). Considering the built-in audio of the PowerMacs, which are targeted at the *whatever*media sector, this is a no-brainer. 5.1 should come and _if_ Apple wants to have a computer that connects well they should opt for a optical-in. Oh and with their rip, mix, burn campaign Apple wouldn't do anytihng wrong to include a hardware mp3 decoder.



graphics - Doom III was demoed on a ATI R300 card at E3 and I am sure the fall ATI/NVidia parts will be availible for MacOS systems as well. Which also means that Apple will have to move to AGP 8x for the new systems since it would only make sense for the new cards. The new graphic cards will be fast comparable to a GeForce4 Ti so this should make the whole gaming/lowend 3D world smile.



memory - AMD will have Athlons with a DDR 333 memory controller on their next Athlon MP chip revision. Since Apple is targeting PowerMacs at the "pro" sector I really doubt that Apple will go with DDR 266. After all DDR 400 is being demoed and I doubt using "old DDR technology" will go down well. Using SDR will make some people cry.



storage - DVDR is already there but the hard drives are stuck at ATA 66. Right now it probably doesn't make much sense to go for more, if the CPU is stuck anyway, but the PC world already has motherboards supporting serial ATA of Intel. I hope the ATA 100-133 will be left out for a bigger leap, a Firewire-kind-of hack would be cool (is it possible to make case-internal FW components? HDD troughoutput at FW speed sounds nice).



bus - We've seen plenty of discussion on that on AI lately and from what I know the G4 goes the 1gbyte/s thing. I think an improvement to anything over or about 2.7gbyte/s would be nice, but the PC world will be getting aroung 8 I think. Currntly PCs use either DDR 266 or 800 RDRAM and start switching to 333 and 1066 temporarily while awaiting the x86-64 platform. Surely noone _really_ needs 10 gbytes/s, but the more the merrier, I say, and I hope the bus will be able to feed the CPU and peripherals with huge data amounts without problems in 2003.



connectivity - USB and Firewire both at version 2. I don't know whether FW 2 is backwarts compatible, but if it is - would it hurt Apple to not say a word and when peripherals pop up say "Hey, you can stick it into your Mac!"? Bluetooth is nice but it didn't really catch on (yet), maybe Apple will have the killer app for it. Gigabit ethernet is there already so in this deparment Apple is leading the way.



Having said that at the end of 2002 we will have a bunch of nice technology in the PC world and to me it seams that Apple will (should?) redo their desktop lines to become more future-proof. Right now the G4 733 of the guy sitting next to me has problems playing mp3s and editing a bigger Photoshop file (I havent tried it on mine, only saw him complaining..). Not that I need mp3s to work, but many people do. For 3D rendering the dual Macs are really not worth the money since that's large data amounts handled there. I think Apple is serious about regaining some of the "pro" market and I can only expect a ****load of cutting edge features since I don't think it makes sense to pull off stuff among the lines of "Hey everyone, we have DDR RAM in our system now! ...but it doesn't make life any easier for the CPU...".



A complete overhaul is due, myself expecting it MWSF 2003 (I could be pleasantly surprised come MWNY!) and I think it will be much more than DDR 266 or a new case for that matter. Many people dont't think Apple will ever catch up again but the computer industry more than any else proved to be one of ups and downs (see Intel/AMD or ATI/NVidia) and I see Apple as in a strong position to make a giant leap with it's hardware soon. It's not just the CPU.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    razzfazzrazzfazz Posts: 728member
    [quote]Originally posted by xype:

    <strong>Right now it probably doesn't make much sense to go for more, if the CPU is stuck anyway, but the PC world already has motherboards supporting serial ATA of Intel.

    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    Really? I have been waiting for SATA to show up for quite some time now, but have never seen any actual shipping product - care to provide a link or something?





    [quote]<strong>I hope the ATA 100-133 will be left out for a bigger leap, a Firewire-kind-of hack would be cool (is it possible to make case-internal FW components? HDD troughoutput at FW speed sounds nice).</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Um, you do realize FireWire (400Mb/s equals 50MB/s) is slower than ATA66?



    Bye,

    RazzFazz



    [ 05-29-2002: Message edited by: RazzFazz ]</p>
  • Reply 2 of 25
    davegeedavegee Posts: 2,765member
    ATA133 has (in theory) max burst of 133 MB/s while typical disks are apx 40 MB/s sustained.



    Sorry but ATA133 and 1394a (FW) aren't that far apart. IDE couldn't even being to deal with (max out) the bandwidth that 1394b (FW-II) will soon provide us.



    ATA33/66/100/133 and FW were just too darn close and it wasn't worth it to build a native FW hard drive... With FW-II I hope that will change but I just don't know enough about the technology behind getting data from the platter to the interface maybe FW-II will not be a clear choice... If the drive can't "step up the the plate" (MB/s wise) then why add the expence of a new model with a different interface?



    Any real HD geeks wanna chime in? I'd love to learn more...



    Dave



    [ 05-29-2002: Message edited by: DaveGee ]</p>
  • Reply 3 of 25
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    Ok here are my thoughts



    Sound:



    Although I believe 5.1 Sound is extremely overrated(I don't know of many people that are hooking 6 speakers to their computer...surely they are a minority) Core Audio can handle 5.1 and 24bit/96khz so I'm not worried.





    Graphics:



    Apple has both Ati and Nvidia in their camps. We're looking solid here. Matrox just may give the Mac a try again with their Parhelia board(a natural for FCP and Graphics with Triple Mon output). Quartz Extreme is more important to the general public than FPS IMO. We're solid. 8x AGP would be nice but don't expect it.



    Storage:



    Apple would be wise to simply skip ATA-133 and move directly to Serial ATA. iWill(PC board Manf will be the first Mobo Manf to ship SATA but by the time SATA takes off this Mobo will be "ancient" Apple doesn't have to move quickly here. I wouldn't mind having multiple ATA busses ala Xserve before SATA.



    Connectivity:



    I'd like to see USB 2 added for compatibility and faster Firewire. A Toslink or Coax Digital I/O would be nice(Please no SCMS). Apple should move towards offering a Compact Flash/MMC/SD card slot as an option or included with every machine.



    OS X is shaping up nicely and Apple must continue to make strides here and well as continue to offer compelling HW. The average consumer is becoming more interested in Photography, and other arts once they realize how easy it is to get good results. Apple should move foreward with iApps and Multimedia.



    Small Biz:



    Xserve is a step in the right direction. It's good featureset and Software Toolset like Apple Desktop Remote, Powerschool etc will offer pretty compelling solution for the Edu markets which in turn will increase HW sales. Hopefully "Glove" is not a myth.



    In short Apple is in a good positon. Despite what people are saying about Macintosh HW deficiencies it is Software that is driving Computer Sales and not Hardware. This has always been cyclical and Apple benefits greatly when things swing to Software being Key.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    cdhostagecdhostage Posts: 1,038member
    End of 2002 - I think Apple will move to DDR and a faster bus on the PM. THEY GODAMM BETTER!



    I'm more interested in end of 2003 or 4; I want Apple to be the first computer manafacturer to sell computers with MRAM storage. There's an experimental 256 KB chip right now - admitedly, it's got some way to go. But it's nonvolatile and almost as fast as SDRAM. So if they up the size and put it into production - hmm...



    it'll need to be as cheap as RAM before it starts being userful in computers.

    I imagine it's useful in PDAs and handhelds for when you want to take the battery out and don't want to lose memory, and it's much faster than flash. Maybe the next iPod will use MRAM.



    I doubt that silicon can get as cheap as HD space - not without nanotechnological construction. Of course, what are giant magnetoresistance and pixie dust? Lessay smaller.

    100 gigabytes of storage as fast as SDRAM... thatt's my iPod of 2010.
  • Reply 5 of 25
    jasonppjasonpp Posts: 308member
    MRAM is very rad.



    I believe that it uses newly discovered quantum properties (don't get excited, LED's are quantum machines). I find it amazing that our understanding of quantum properties has so quickly led to practical applications (makes me feel we need more gov $$ in scientific discovery research).



    Those cool chips (www.coolchips.com) are neat quantum machines also ...
  • Reply 6 of 25
    xypexype Posts: 672member
    [quote]Originally posted by RazzFazz:

    <strong>Um, you do realize FireWire (400Mb/s equals 50MB/s) is slower than ATA66?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    I was thinking of FW 2 (if there is any). I'll try to find that Serial ATA link, I think I saw it on one of the PC hardware sites.



    Ehm, it's not the article I wanted, but since I assume you know German just search for "Serial" here - <a href="http://www.hardtecs4u.com/news/arc1-2002.php"; target="_blank">Hardtech4u</a> - I think I saw a KT333 motherboard tested someplace and tehy wondered why it had a controller where one can't buy the drives yet..



    [ 05-30-2002: Message edited by: xype ]</p>
  • Reply 7 of 25
    There was a time when a Macintosh out of the box from Apple could mix it up well with what the Wintel boxes had to offer. As everyone here at AI knows the exact minute when every Mac has been introduced, for the sake of arguments, let's call this the "iMac - B&W G3 era." Flame me later for my presupposition.



    During this time, processor speeds were about the same for the Mac (please no post about how AMD was 50MHz faster yet, etc.-- let me finish). They had pretty good HD controllers at the time (ATA66) with okay graphic cards.



    Remember, I'm talking out of the box.



    Now, can anyone remember when Apple stunned the world with hardware from the box that made you kick your jaw as it dropped to the floor?



    Well, the first G4 almost made me knock a molar out, but I was using a PB1400 at the time, so that's understandable.



    The point I'm eventually going to make is that as much as I'd love to see Apple knock my socks off, I'm not really that optimistic.



    The best we'll most likely get is a good mix of hardware that will make people argue whether or not it's better than a Wintel offering (out of the box). We won't see a jump similar to Matrox in the graphics world. I'd love to see this, but I don't think Apple has the resources to do this. You can talk about how many people they have, but they're doing both software and hardware, and apps in between. They have to pick and choose their hardware implementations. (I just wish they would pick higher up the Apple tree than they're doing now.) Some things they have control over, some they don't (see: Motorola).



    What does this all mean? It means incrementally better Macs, in my opinion, but not "outstanding" or "brilliant" or "über-die-top".



    Sound

    Sound has been a traditionally important segment for Apple, but there hasn't been too much in the hardware side recently. As someone mentioned above, Core Audio supports many things that have no hardware to play with. Apple is picking and choosing what they "wow" us with. I think the Sound area is ripe for Apple with something interesting coming, and I'm hoping sooner rather than later. Dolby 5.1 (or 6.1) will be part of this, I'm guessing, as they are presenting themselves as a solution to the film industry, which is where this 5.1 stuff originated. Just a feeling...



    Graphics

    eh... I'm guessing some AGPx version with access to upscale cards from ATI and nVidia. This is a little easier for Apple, as essentially they just need to provide a slot for it.



    Memory

    This has the potential as an area where Apple could really shine. As they haven't implemented a true FSB DDR bus, they could try to leapfrog over existing technologies and shoot for something higher. The question: are you really optimistic enough to believe Apple will do this? Seriously? I'd give this a 2 in 5 chance by beginning of 2003.



    Storage

    Apple flirted with internal FW connections in previous models, and if I recall, the XServe has one as well. (Or maybe it was two in the back and one in front-- too lazy to look it up). At least it has ATA100. Maybe Apple goes to ATA133. The reason for this is their unit costs. They will offer something that they can sell with good margins for their box, with decent performance. I think Apple can easily rationalize that ATA100 or 133 fits this bill. It make not make us happy, but it makes dollars and sense, if you pardon my pun.



    (With all these fantasizing exercises, we tend to overlook unit costs to Apple. Let's not forget about Fred Anderson and the boys from accounting.)



    Bus

    I see this in the same way as memory. I'm sure they're playing with some things (RapidIO, Hypertransport, sexbots) that are interesting. It's just a question of if and when they see the light of day outside Cupertino. I think if processor speeds are still significantly lacking, marketing will try to push these technologies out the door sooner, just to have something to tout. Maybe 3 out of 5 chance by beginning of 2003.



    Connectivity

    This is sort of where Apple's hardware innovation has been coming from. Firewire, Airport (an existing standard) and now Bluetooth (and to some extent, let's not forget USB in the orginal iMac). It fits their digital-hub strategy. Who knows if they'll try to freak everyone out with "thought-transfer Gigawire interfaces," but this is Apple we're talking. Maybe Steve pulls this out of his hat, while distracting us away from the processor issue. With that said, I'm putting my money on Bluetooth as their connectivity du jour for now.



    Man, I can be pretty long-winded on work holidays (and non-holidays, too).
  • Reply 8 of 25
    razzfazzrazzfazz Posts: 728member
    [quote]Originally posted by DaveGee:

    <strong>ATA133 has (in theory) max burst of 133 MB/s while typical disks are apx 40 MB/s sustained.

    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    But that's purely a limitation of the disks, not one of ATA-whatever. Even if those disks had native FW2 interfaces, they still wouldn't be any faster.





    [quote]<strong>Sorry but ATA133 and 1394a (FW) aren't that far apart.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Yes they are. If you do concurrent reads from two disks, ATA-66 and up can easily go beyond FW1 transfer rates.





    [quote]<strong>ATA33/66/100/133 and FW were just too darn close and it wasn't worth it to build a native FW hard drive... With FW-II I hope that will change but I just don't know enough about the technology behind getting data from the platter to the interface maybe FW-II will not be a clear choice... If the drive can't "step up the the plate" (MB/s wise) then why add the expence of a new model with a different interface?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    That's exactly the point. ATA-xxx and FW1 were so darn close just because the limit was in the drives, not in the bus. No currently available drives are limited by the transfer rates offered by ATA-100 ('cos the drives are just too slow), but a lot of drives get pretty close to what FW1 can offer rather easily.



    Bye,

    RazzFazz
  • Reply 9 of 25
    razzfazzrazzfazz Posts: 728member
    [quote]Originally posted by xype:

    <strong>

    Ehm, it's not the article I wanted, but since I assume you know German just search for "Serial" here - <a href="http://www.hardtecs4u.com/news/arc1-2002.php"; target="_blank">Hardtech4u</a> - I think I saw a KT333 motherboard tested someplace and tehy wondered why it had a controller where one can't buy the drives yet..

    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    All I can find there are announcement about future chipsets that will implement SATA, but no reference to any shipping board that actually does.



    Bye,

    RazzFazz
  • Reply 10 of 25
    xypexype Posts: 672member
    [quote]Originally posted by RazzFazz:

    <strong>That's exactly the point. ATA-xxx and FW1 were so darn close just because the limit was in the drives, not in the bus. </strong><hr></blockquote>



    Then I got that part wrong. I saw lots of people complaining about ATA66 and some discussion whether ATA100/133 is a go - but if the disks are to blame for the low speed then I guess a new connection type wouldn't help much.



    My thinking was that while Apple may have problems to make faster CPUs some of the percieved "speed" could be achieved by a faster HD-&gt;RAM connection. But I guess faster hard disks are really not something Apple has a say in.



    On another note - since Seagate has Serial ATA drives ready by now (real Serial, not with a Parallel to Serial sonverter chip) and a few companies have finished Serial ATA chipsets ready - could Serial ATA in a PowerMac be realistic by MWSF 2003?



    I agree with the margins argument but surely there's only some lenght customers will let you screw them when they spend lotsa cash on a workstation. And software only goes that far in helping you sell hardware, most bigger customers have at least half-customized software they use and iPhoto/iTunes doesn't really sell hardware to corporate cutsomers (where the big money is at).
  • Reply 11 of 25
    xypexype Posts: 672member
    [quote]Originally posted by RazzFazz:

    <strong>All I can find there are announcement about future chipsets that will implement SATA, but no reference to any shipping board that actually does.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Then it's my mistake. All I could find today were articles of motherboard that have _pins_ ready for SATA controllers, but no real SATA support out of the box yet. I am sorry. But I was talking about the end of 2002 and by then some motherboards for x86 will hopefully have SATA on-board.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,409member
    sound

    A built-in MP3 decoder would be a waste of money. The CPU is perfectly capable of decoding MP3 in an inexpensive background thread. If you are having playback issues currently it has more to do with OS problems than with processing power (and a hardware decoder would have the same problems). When MP3 changes or is no longer the big standard then that will just be a little useless lump of silicon in your Mac.



    I thought Apple's avowed direction was speakers connected through USB? A full 48 kHz 16-bit 5.1 uncompressed data stream will only consume about 5 Mbps, which is less than half of USB 1.1 (isn't it? USB=12 Mbps?). This is a nice solution because everybody with a Mac all the way back to the iMac can then use it.



    graphics

    I think the high end 3D graphics people will sit up and take notice as well.



    memory

    At the very least we'll get an Xserve-style setup.



    storage

    I'd be surprised if we didn't get at least one ATA-100 port. The Xserve chipset will probably be the minimum for the next PowerMac. In general most people won't notice the difference, but the higher end users will. If you want faster solution there's always those PCI slots. The main problem with ATA-66/100 is the limit on disk sizes. This is aleviated in ATA-133, I'm told.



    bus

    One of the replies above indicates that some people still don't understand that the 1 GB/sec bus limitation is a Motorola issue -- Apple can't fix it without a new CPU. There are enough other threads on this subject already!



    connectivity

    Bluetooth will probably start showing up on Apple motherboards soon. USB2 and FW2 will show up as soon as adopting them doesn't increase the price of parts signficantly.







    The big thing is really the processor and its bus. That's why it is the central topic of discussion in this forum.
  • Reply 13 of 25
    lemon bon bonlemon bon bon Posts: 2,383member
    xype, another excellent post.



    I guess, given the technologies in and around the PC world then Apple are going to have to overhaul the current 'power'Macs drastically to make them more competitive for the price.



    SDR and a 1.2 gig G4 aint going to go down well at Macworld New York.



    Any serious x86 3D workstation beats it within an inch of its life. Single. Easily. Dual? Har-Hah.



    DDR at 266 is a late apology of a ram update.



    Apple always (?) surprises...so I'm expecting more.



    (Still holding out the olive branch for a G5 myself...)



    Lemon Bon Bon



  • Reply 14 of 25
    xypexype Posts: 672member
    [quote]Originally posted by Programmer:

    <strong>The big thing is really the processor and its bus. That's why it is the central topic of discussion in this forum. </strong><hr></blockquote>



    From how I understand those isn't there a point where adding mhz doesn't make much sense because of the slow (?) bus? Or is that only a problem with huge data chunks in which case the bus was a problem before today already? I was just thinking a lot about the idea of Apple wanting the "pro" market again and either they have the fancy G5 or they need to very creatively package their G4s.



    As for 5.1 - I know plenty of people with 4-6 speakers mounted to their PC with a DVD drive and the PC arranged in a way where they can put a couch in front of it along with bags of popcorn. Would kinda fit with a "digital hub" strategy.



    And LemonBB, I do my best not to troll too much!
  • Reply 15 of 25
    lemon bon bonlemon bon bon Posts: 2,383member
    "And LemonBB, I do my best not to troll too much! "



    Yer doin' great.



    Me? Can't resist shakin' my 'power' shaky thing...



    'G5' lust...it hath me in its thrall...



    Lemon Bon Bon
  • Reply 16 of 25
    lemon bon bonlemon bon bon Posts: 2,383member
    "A complete overhaul is due, myself expecting it MWSF 2003 (I could be pleasantly surprised come MWNY!) and I think it will be much more than DDR 266 or a new case for that matter. Many people dont't think Apple will ever catch up again but the computer industry more than any else proved to be one of ups and downs (see Intel/AMD or ATI/NVidia) and I see Apple as in a strong position to make a giant leap with it's hardware soon. It's not just the CPU."



    Nicely put. I agree with it all. It about sums up where I think the current 'power'Mac will be come next January.



    Sure. The x86 guys are in front, have been for a while re: performance and bang for buck. Yeah, yeah...



    Hmm.



    The Romans were in the lead for a while until the Barbarians over ran them.



    I guess that makes the x86 crowd due for a kickin'...



    Like you say, I too think Apple are poised for a dramatic leap in performance. I'd like it to be this year. But it might be early next.



    Lemon Bon Bon :cool:



    [ 05-30-2002: Message edited by: Lemon Bon Bon ]



    [ 05-30-2002: Message edited by: Lemon Bon Bon ]</p>
  • Reply 17 of 25
    addisonaddison Posts: 1,185member
    I think if Apple was going to introduce anything radical they would have to get rid of their old inventory.



    I wonder if they would consider auctioning it off?



  • Reply 18 of 25
    cowofwarcowofwar Posts: 98member
    [quote]Originally posted by Addison:

    <strong>I think if Apple was going to introduce anything radical they would have to get rid of their old inventory.



    I wonder if they would consider auctioning it off?



    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    there's auctions on at <a href="http://www.dovebid.com"; target="_blank">www.dovebid.com</a> for apple.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    [quote]Originally posted by Addison:

    I think if Apple was going to introduce anything radical they would have to get rid of their old inventory.



    I wonder if they would consider auctioning it off?



    <hr></blockquote>



    wink, wink, nudge, nudge?



    I think Apple does random things once in a while to throw conspiracy theorists off the trail. You know-- like not going home the same way everyday to throw off the bad guys. Or was that to prevent Alzheimers? I forget...
  • Reply 20 of 25
    derrick 61derrick 61 Posts: 178member
    EarthlyDelights,



    Who is Grüne Hölle, and why do you want him to die?
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