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Xref: comp.sys.powerpc:10000 comp.sys.mac.hardware:70142 
Newsgroups: comp.sys.powerpc,comp.sys.mac.hardware,comp.sys.mac.system
From: (Brian Kendig)
Subject: Details about the Power Macintosh and future system software
Message-ID: <>
Organization: Starfleet Headquarters: San Francisco
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 1994 20:09:05 GMT
Lines: 327

	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

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.

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

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

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
"" 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
/_/_/                 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

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