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Volume Number:10
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:The Editor's Page

Related Info: Memory Manager Process Manager

Apple/IBM: First Fruits

By Scott T Boyd, Editor

Note: Source code files accompanying article are located on MacTech CD-ROM or source code disks.

Apple/IBM: first fruits

It was shortly after the rollout of System 7. Apple system software engineers were pondering their next moves. Many had thoughts of turning their attention to the next big system release, System 8. Unlike what many people outside the company envisioned, this project had been in development for as long as System 7. Its existence was relatively unknown, yet was coming along nicely; only two years out.

A number of these engineers went on to MacHack, uneasily knowing that something was in the wind. Periodically checking their AppleLinks throughout the day, the news finally came. Layoffs. The word hung heavy in the air, all thoughts of exciting next-generation systems swept away. But wait, bigger news than even layoffs. Apple and IBM, partners!

The ramifications were sweeping. The cloaked-in-secrecy system was now bandied about, showing up in places like the Wall Street Journal. It was not only was out in the open, but being hailed as a technology which would serve as the focus for a new joint spin-off company, Taligent

Plans for a RISCmachine had been kicking around for a while. After all, the writing was already on the wall, and the bang for the buck just could not be ignored. These plans changed quickly and drastically, completely retargeting to the RS/6000 follow-on, the PowerPC.

The bad news seemed to be coming from all directions. To work on the next generation system, an engineer now had to quit Apple first! And it seemed ludicrous to pay any attention to the RS/6000 chip. After all, it ranked pretty low in the general comparisons list put together by MacHack’s computer architecture grand master, Waldemar Horwat.

So, almost three years later, is it all that bad? Not at all. Of course, we wonder how many more times we’re going to hear that Taligent is (still) two years out, but that’s just one data point. One of Apple’s best-kept secrets is that somehow, out of the midst of chaos, come some of the best products on the planet. Apple attracts some mighty special people, and they have a long track record of achieving the near-impossible.

This month hails the introduction of the PowerMacintosh. It’s a Macintosh through and through, yet it doesn’t have a Motorola 680x0 CPUin the box. While other companies were going off to build yet-another un*x box, Apple took on the unlikely task of building an all-new box with a very familiar system, System 7, and a host of available, well-liked software. That probably caught a few people off guard, perhaps even IBM, and, not least, many of us who worked on it.

The simplicity of the “It’s a Macintosh” message might be a bit deceiving. Every Macintosh developer knows that it’s a lot of work to make something look simple and effortless. Pulling off the highly-compatible-yet-missing-a-68K-CPU Macintosh called for a number of special feats, starting with the emulator. It’s a terrific piece of work, as is Mixed Mode, and the Code Fragment Manager (CFM). These new pieces of technology show Apple at its finest. But you don’t get a PowerMacintosh with just those pieces. To get performance, it took rewriting a number of pieces in PowerPC code, including QuickDraw, the Memory Manager, Virtual Memory, the Process Manager, the text drawing routines, among others. Not only new, but compatible, too! The Component Manager had to learn how to load native components while adapting to the new facilities and run-time architecture. There was the code to bootstrap the emulator, the code to bootstrap the CFM and Mixed Mode, and a host of other pieces. There’s a team of worn-out, bleary eyed people to thank for all of this, and they did it all in spite of some unbelievably crazy schedules, and too many people to please. Our hats are off to the PowerPC team - Rock n’ Roll!

Taking a look at the specs, it’s easy to get lost in the verbage, but here’s an easy way to remember what’s what. It all starts with ‘Power Macintosh’. If it costs a little (~$2000), it’s model number starts with a ‘6’. That translates to 60 MHz. If it’s the midrange (~$3000), it starts with a ‘7’, and runs at 66 MHz. If you had to sell your firstborn (~$4000), it starts with an ‘8’ and runs at 80 MHz. If it ends with AV, you could’ve used it to digitize movies of your firstborn, but maybe now you can use the spare bedroom as a computer room. You construct the name as follows:

/* 1 */
Power Macintosh <digit>100/<speed>[AV|Logic Board|Upgrade Card]

It might seem a bit redundant to have the digit indicate the speed, but they left themselves some namespace room to add another hundred or so models later in the year. All of this, and it can run Windows, too! I guess it’s about time Ibought a PC, but this one’s going to be a PowerPC!

Here are some specs on the new boxes. We’ll start with prices, and should note that these were given to us as final prices, but let’s just call these good at the time we went to press.

Final Pricing (as of press time), listed as “Apple Prices”.

Power Macintosh 6100/60


8 160 - - - $2209 $1819

8 250 CD - - 2679 2289

8 250 CD AV 2MB 2989 2599

16 250 - - - 2909 2519

(the 16MB configuration includes SoftWindows)

*Includes Apple Color Plus Display ($305) and Apple Keyboard II ($85)

Power Macintosh 7100/66


8 250 1MB - - $3379 $2899

8 250 CD - 1MB 3659 3179

8 500 CD AV 2MB 4469 3989

16 250 1MB 3859 3379

(the 16MB configuration includes SoftWindows)

*Includes Apple Color Plus Display ($305) and Apple Extended Keyboard ($175)

Power Macintosh 8100/80 All 8100’s include a 256K cache


8 250 - - 2MB $4869 $4249

8 250 CD - 2MB 5139 4519

16 500 CD AV 2MB 6279 5659

16 1000 CD - 2MB 6779 6159

16 500 - - 2MB 5929 5309

(the last 16MB configuration includes SoftWindows)

*Includes14” Macintosh Color Display ($445) and Apple Extended Keyboard ($175)

Board Upgrades

Power Macintosh Upgrade Card $699

Power Macintosh 6100/60 logic board upgrade 999


Power Macintosh 6100/60 AV logic board upgrade 1399


Power Macintosh 7100/66 logic board upgrade 1499


Power Macintosh 7100/66AV logic board upgrade 1699


Power Macintosh 8100/80 logic board upgrade 1899

8MB DRAM, 2MB VRAM, 256K Cache

Power Macintosh 8100/80AV logic board upgrade 1999

8MB DRAM, 2MB VRAM, 256K Cache


Power Macintosh 6100/60 NuBus Adapter Card $99

256K Cache Card for the 6100/60 & 7100/66 299

Power Macintosh Display Adapter 29

Every Power Macintosh uses a PowerPC601 RISCprocessor with a surprisingly-fast built-in floating point unit and an integrated 32K cache. The 8100 boxes have a 256K second-level cache.

APower Macintosh can support most Apple displays (limited by memory requirements of the monitor) and most third-party displays, including NTSC, PAL, VGA, and SVGA. Most Power Macs use DRAM to support the displays, and can also take add-in VRAM to support bigger and deeper displays.

Color Depth Support (in bits)

6100/60 w/2MB 7100/66 w/1MB w/2MB 8100/80 w/2MB w/4MB


14” 16 24 16 16 24 16 24 24

16”,17” 8 24 8 16 24 8 24 24

20”,21” - 16 - 8 16 - 16 24

They all have GeoPort-compatible DMA serial ports, and support AV-style phone stuff, speech recognition, and text-to-speech capabilities. The AVs are distinguished by having a DB-15 video port as well as S-video input and output ports, and supports two displays with no additional cards.

All of the machines have on-board Ethernet, and handle 16-bit stereo audio input and output.

The 6100 has a built-in processor-direct slot (PDS). The 7100 and 8100 Power Macs have three NuBus slots.

All of the Power Macintosh boxes have a high-speed asychronous SCSIinterface which supports up to six external devices. The 8100 has a dual-channel, high-speed asychronous SCSIinterface. The second SCSIinterface runs at double the clock speed, and supports an internal hard disk array. Each box can hold a hard drive and a CD ROMdrive. The 8100 boxes also have room for a full-height 3.5-in hard drive and a removable 3.5-in device.

SoftWindows is only included with a few configurations, but will run on any of them. I’ve seen it work, and it’s quite surprising. It’s quick, it feels responsive, and it runs a lot of stuff. It was a bit disconcerting, of course, but I’m certain that I’m going to have it on my desk.

And, perhaps most importantly, the maximum operating altitude for all of these machines is 10,000 feet (3,048 m).

Food for thought

A Fifth Generation Systems employee, on the acquisition of Fifth Generation by Symantec, “We’ve been assimilated by the Borg.”


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