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Just A Thought
by Vern Seward

The Need For Speed, The 970, & The Marquis de Jobs
June 10th, 2003

Many Mac users are chomping at the proverbial bit to lay sweaty digits on a 970 Power Mac they can call their own.

Ask them why, and they may tell you, "I don't care about the speed, Dude. Haven't you heard of the Mega-hurts Myth?"

Others will spin a technical yarn that -- if typed out in Helvetica 12pt. -- would be so heavy that it would likely create a small crater-like divot on the Moon, and be all about the benefits of Apple making its processor of choice the IBM 970. In that long winded dissertation the speaker would likely avoid mentioning speed since it might seem imprudent and wholly unfair to compare the 970 with the current crop of Intel-for-desktop processors. "Apples and oranges," they would claim about such a comparison, "Apple really needs a new processor vendor that has a proven track record, and going with IBM and the 970 is just a smart move."

Of course, still others may even claim that the only reason they are waiting for a 970 powered Mac is to try, however useless the effort might be, to stay at least on par with the latest technology. "I don't wanna hafta buy a new Mac next year," they might assert.

Yeah.

Sure.

Uh-huh.

Let's be totally honest with ourselves, shall we? We don't really care about all the technical mumbo-jumbo, and we don't give a fat rat's pancreas about the Megahertz Myth. We just want the speed. We NEED the speed.

It's not because the speed will make AppleWorks run any better (it would take more than a 970 to do that), and it's not because the speed will help us get our jobs done quicker; we want blistering fast 970's so that we can raise our heads up and stare, unflinchingly, into the eyes of our smug WinTel friends once more and say with complete conviction, "Nah, nah-nah, nah-nahh, nahh!"

We have suffered too long in the nether world of Motorola promises. Apple has juggled processors all it can, configuring dual processors just to offer something that resembles power. It just wasn't enough raw power to continue competing with Intel. Heck, even Pixar had to cave into the Intel pressure and buy Intel pixel crunchers instead of G4 running Xserves. Hey, they got a schedule to keep and while the G4 is adequate for pedestrian uses (Web servers, file servers, and such), when you get right down to it, it would be incredible if Pixar had been able to get The Incredibles out the door on time using G4s.

We have been waiting, scrounging for every bit of news about the 970, and when, if at all, it will appear in a Mac near you. We wonder about just how long Jobs and company can keep us hanging. I'm beginning to wonder if this isn't some cruel game where we are a bunch of kids following the 970 tune wafting from a demonic Steve Jobs' piccolo, dancing like little Mac crazed zombies with arms outstretched, hand grasping at a phantom 970 filled Mac that seems to hang invitingly in front of us, though we can never touch it.

Oh, the torture!

You are a cruel man, Steve Jobs!

Well, here's a new stanza to the 970 tune: eWeek says that your period of slack-jawed drooling may be coming to an end. You can read the full report yourself but, in a nutshell, eWeek says that:

  • Apple will have 970 running Macs soon, perhaps this June
  • The first 970 Mac won't have an OS that can take full advantage of 970's feature set, including 64 bit processing
  • Panther will take advantage of most, if not all, of the 970's feature set when it is released.
  • Early 970 adopters will still realize a speed boost due to front side system enhancements including a faster system bus

Now, all of this is rumor, mind you -- neither Apple nor IBM has uttered a word that confirms or denies any of what eWeek is saying -- but can't you hear the strains of that 970 tune getting louder, kicking your saliva glands into high gear and causing that "Mac-Money" piggy bank to glow red?

We are speed freaks who have long been denied our fix. The 10-step plan ain't working. We need a screaming Mac, and we need it now. We don't want Intel inside, we don't want another iteration of dual processor Macs, and we don't give a flip about how under-utilized AltiVec is. We need speed. Sound barrier? We don't want to hear it. Speed of Light? We want to leave it in the dark. Warp 10? Double it, and call us in the morning.

Whether or not Apple uses the 970 to pull itself out of the fugue it seems to be in is a question for Steve Jobs, and we know he won't tell us until he's good and ready. Until then, I guess the only thing we can do is wonder, slack-jawed and drooling.

Steve Jobs, cruel? Oh yeah! Maybe we should call him the Marquis de Jobs.

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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