SAN FRANCISCO — Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs pounced on the opportunity to show off the company’s latest operating system as well as quell any rumors about his company’s maneuvers.
UPDATE: The computer maker paves the way for 64-bit desktop computing with its latest Mac OS X platform and a new IBM-based Power Mac G5.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker Monday released the developer’s edition of Mac OS X version 10.3 — code-named Panther. The software due out in retail stores later this year for $129 adds in more than 100 new features including a new compilers and a new IPSec-based VPN.
The company also took the wraps of its anticipated Power Mac G5 series with an IBM PowerPC 970 processor. The towers shipping in August will come in speeds of 1.6GHz, 1.8GHz or a dual CPU 2GHz configuration.
“What we needed was a chip, a system and a product. We have the chip. We have a kick-ass OS. And now we’ve got the fastest personal computer in the world,” Jobs said during his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote here.
Even before the new systems hit the shelves, the company said it has already has the designs in play for the next generation G5 and with IBM’s help is on tap for hitting the 3 GHz mark in 12 months.
The company says it is no longer competing with PCs, it is competing with UNIX-based servers.
“We can clearly say we’ve caught up with the PC and passed them,” Jobs said.
Apple’s challenge is that the company has continued to lose market share over the years and currently sits at less than two percent of the total desktop picture. But Jobs is only 2 to 3 million shy of his stated goal of attracting between 9 and 10 million active users by the end of this year. Jobs said Mac faithful developers are 300,000 strong with upwards of 7 million active users and more than 6,000 native applications built on the OS X kernel.
Evolution of the Species
Panther builds off of its previous Mac OS X 10.2 “Jaguar” version to be more inclusive of non-Macintosh machines such as PDAs and Windows boxes. The company debuted new iMac capabilities called iDisk that manually stores files to a subscriber’s .Mac account and automatically synchronizes files between the online storage and any number of Macs.
In addition, Panther includes FileVault, a new feature that secures the contents of a home directory with 128-bit AES encryption. The OS also includes an IPSec-based VPN for Microsoft and Cisco networks, support for ActiveDirectory and SMB-based home directories on Windows servers and enhanced Windows integration within the Finder that enables printing to shared printers.
Apple also officially moved its Safari Web browser from the beta stage into a full 1.0 release. After 5 million downloads, Jobs called the browser a success and said the company would begin offering a software development kit so code writers could port native applications using either a Carbon or Cocoa API.
As part of its love affair with graphics, Panther adds in Apple’s “piles” GUI design concept. Now called Expose’, the patented technology based on its Quartz Extreme engine allows users to brows collections of documents represented graphically in stacks. The filing system then divides into sub-piles based on each document’s content.
New features in Panther Server, also highlighted this week, include Automatic Setup for easily setting up multiple servers; Open Directory 2 for hosting scalable LDAP directory and Kerberos authentication services; Samba 3 for providing login and home directory support for Windows clients; and the JBoss application server for running J2EE applications.
The new OS also increases the amount of support for database structures outside of its underlying HFS+ build for backward compatibility.
Apple also showed off its new iChat AV product. Based on its current instant messaging application, the new version adds in both audio and video capabilities.
Jobs demonstrated making a conference to Apple Vice President Philip Schiller and Jean Marie Hullot in Paris. He then got an iChat link up with former Vice President and latest Apple board member Al Gore.
“This thing is very cool,” Gore quipped. “I really looking forward to using this regularly and calling Tipper at home.”
To augment the audio and visual aspects of the new application, Apple also released a branded Web camera dubbed iSight. The $149 device offers full motion video up to 30 frames per second and 640 x 480 resolution.
Big Blue Powers Apple
The IBM PowerPC 970, is derived from IBM’s POWER4 server processor line and is designed for initial speeds of up to 1.8 GHz, manipulating data in larger, 64-bit chunks and accelerating compute-intensive workloads like multimedia and graphics through specialized circuitry known as a single instruction multiple data (SIMD) unit.
The chip, built at its new $3 billion new chip manufacturing plant in East Fishkill, New York, incorporates up to a 900 MHz bus and while supporting 64-bit computing for emerging applications, the PowerPC 970 also provides native support for traditional 32-bit applications.
The design also supports symmetric multi-processing (SMP), allowing systems to be created that link multiple processors to work in tandem for additional processing power.
The Power Mac G5s will each come with an all aluminum enclosure and a SuperDrive standard. The 1.6GHz has a 80GB HD, 256GB RAM and will start at $1999. The 1.8GHz unit doubles the hard drive to a 160GB with 512GB of RAM and retails at $2399. The dual 2GHz also has 160GB hard drive and 512MB of RAM for $2999.
Also featured is, GeFore FX5200 Ultra in the low-end, SuperDrive in all, a single white Apple logo on the side, mesh on the front and back, smaller handles, four separate thermal zones, breakthrough computer controlled cooling, 9 fans inside, 35 dBA (twice as quiet as a G4), with independent speed control.
Jobs says the processors are so fast you could transfer the entire content of a DVD in one second just off of the RAM.
The line also features 400 MHz 128-bit DDR SDRAM with throughput up to 6.4 GBps; 133 MHz PCI-X interface and AGP 8X Pro graphics capabilities.