Mac News Review

Last Single CPU Power Mac Discontinued, LCD Monitor Sales Continue Rise, New RAID Enclosures, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.06.24

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. News about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

News & Opinion

Products and Services

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Single-CPU Power Mac Phased Out

EarthTimes' Zipporah Koganowich reports:

"Apple has removed the 1.8 GHz, single processor Power Mac G5 from its online store. Yesterday [June 20] the company confirmed that single-chip processor systems were being taken off as the company plans an entire lineup of systems featuring dual-chip processors.

"The production of the single-chip Power Mac G5 is discontinued and the last of the systems would be sold through other channels. As part of the effort, the Power Mac G5 line was upgraded two months ago, by adding dual-processor systems ranging from 2 GHz to 2.7 GHz in clock speed."

WebProNews' David Utter reports:

"The era of the single processor Power Mac G5 has come to a close, and future machines will have dual-chips....

"Future Power Macs will be dual-processor systems, with chips by Intel inside, replacing the IBM PowerPC chips previously used. High-end systems from Apple with Intel processors won't be available until later in 2006.

"Existing units of the 1.8 GHz G5 with the single processor can be found in other sales channels, though potential users will likely wait for a favorable price drop before picking one of them up.

In a statement, Apple clarified its plans. 'The 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5 is no longer available at the online Apple Store but is available in other channels while supplies last. The Power Mac G5 line is now all dual processor and delivers the ultimate in performance for our most advanced customers."

Report Indicates Q1 LCD Desktop Monitor Sales Up 7%

DisplaySearch, the worldwide leader in flat panel display (FPD) market research and consulting, indicated in its latest Quarterly Desktop Monitor Shipment and Forecast Report that worldwide LCD desktop monitor shipments grew on track with previous predictions, rising 7% Q/Q to 22.7M units in Q1'05. This growth represents a unit shipment growth of 44% Y/Y, continuing the 26% Q/Q growth seen in Q4'04 brought on mainly by the aggressive street-level price points which began to hit the market in the fall of last year. For the quarter, the three most popular LCD monitor sizes continued to carry average retail price points of $199 for 15", $299 for 17" and $399 for 19", which increased penetration of LCD-based desktop solutions to reach a record high penetration rate of 63.6% of the total Desktop monitor marketplace in Q1'05. The increased demand that yielded record revenues of $8.2B in Q4'04 was not enough to overcome the continued aggressive industry price points, so revenues dropped 5% to $7.8B in Q1'05.

The aggressive price points for LCD monitors seen in Q1 continued to erode the share of CRT monitor shipments for desktop computing worldwide, resulting in CRT monitor shipments falling 21% Q/Q to 13.2M units. As more PC companies move away from bundling CRT products in their entry level PC bundles, the CRT monitor market is forecasted to fall even faster than previously expected. EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) was the largest market for LCD monitor shipments in Q1'05 with 41.0% of the world's shipments going into this region, slightly down from 43.7% in Q4'04. The North America market remained the #2 region with 31.6% of worldwide shipments. Dell was again the worldwide leader in the shipments of desktop LCD monitors in Q1'05, with a 20.2% worldwide market share. After Dell in worldwide shipments were Samsung, HP, Acer and LGE. Among the top 10, Acer showed the strongest worldwide Q/Q growth with shipments up 13.7% Q/Q. Dell continued to hold the top positions in Japan, North America and Latin America. Dell has almost a 40% market share in North America, but Acer grew a remarkable 46.4% Q/Q, increasing its market share to 5.1%. Dell's dominance in the LCD monitor market is becoming evident in EMEA as well, growing 16.5% Q/Q to an 11.3% share. Samsung held the dominant position in the AP (Asia Pacific) region with a 21.6% market share, while Lenovo held the top position in China with a 14.2% share. The market share results for the top five vendors for Q1'05 are shown in the following tables:

New desktop monitor sizes from 19" wide to 24" wide continued to emerge, but the three most popular sizes - 15", 17" and 19" - accounted for 96.7% of all desktop monitors shipped in Q1. 15" LCD monitors had a 19.7% market share, even though shipments were down 20.3% Q/Q. Shipments of 17" grew 11.1% Q/Q to 58.4% market share, and 19" grew a significant 45.2% Q/Q to capture 18.3% share in Q1'05. With sales demand still strong in Q1'05 but revenues down due to the aggressive street-level price points, pricing for the LCD monitor panel components began to rise in Q1. The effect of these component level price increases is already starting to impact the street prices of end-market LCD monitors, which are now on the rise. Increases in street-level pricing usually slow the growth of the LCD monitor market especially in seasonally weak periods, a market condition seen as recently as Q2'04. If the unprecedented amount of planned additional LCD production capacity continues to ramp, however, these street-level price increases may not last for long, thus allowing for LCD monitor price points to realign with the market to allow for continued sales growth throughout the rest of 2005.

Products and Services

Compact, Quiet 4-Bay Serial ATA Hot-Swap Drive Enclosure

PR: Sonnet Technologies has announced Fusion 400, the first in a new line of Serial ATA (SATA) desktop drive enclosures. Fusion 400's small footprint, powerful built-in universal power supply, and ultra-quiet fan make it a great solution for users looking to store large amounts of data in a minimal space. Easy-to-use, hot-swap drive trays enable users to quickly add or swap out storage on the fly. This SATA II enclosure supports 3Gb/s drives and is backward compatible with 1.5Gb/s drives, so users are assured maximum flexibility in choosing drives for years to come.

Fusion 400The four hot-swap trays offer great freedom of choice for end-users and value-added resellers (VARs) as well - no need to get locked into a specific configuration. "End-users can start out with a single drive for simple data storage and then add additional ones as the need arises, or they can populate the enclosure with four drives up to 500 GB each to create a monster 2 Terabyte striped RAID array for HD video capture and editing," says Steve Garceau, Product Manager. "VARs can easily assemble complete systems to fulfill the needs of their clients ranging from turnkey video stations to simple backup solutions - Fusion 400 is truly versatile."

Fusion 400 combines support for the fastest 3.5" SATA drives with whisper-quiet cooling technology - especially valuable traits in work environments where the need for high performance is just as important as the desire for quiet operation. Fusion 400 is ventilated front and back - even the removable trays are perforated to help cool the bottom surfaces of attached drives. "Fusion 400 was designed with an attention to detail, and is built to last," states Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet President and CEO. The enclosure is rugged, yet attractive, the drive trays have built-in locking levers that double as handles to make swapping drives easy, and the cable-less drive trays simplify setup and assure reliability over the long haul. Fusion 400 features eSATA connectors, ships complete with mounting hardware for four 3.5" drives, and also includes four eSATA cables. eSATA cables and connectors are designed specifically for external applications, offer better shielding for improved EMI characteristics, the connectors have better retention than the internal SATA version, and are rated at 5,000 insertion cycles.

Fusion 400 Key Features

  • 4-bay Serial ATA (SATA II) hot-swap drive enclosure
  • Small footprint - 7.47" H x 5.06" W x 11.58" D (12.05 x 12.85 x 29.4 cm)
  • 4 removable drive trays with locking levers that offer cable-less connection between trays and enclosure
  • Whisper-quiet fan capable of cooling the fastest drives
  • Supports up to 2 Terabytes of storage
  • Universal 90-260V AC power supply
  • Features eSATA connectors for cable connection to host controller
  • Compatible with Serial ATA cards such as Sonnet's Tempo-X family of PCI-X host controllers

OS Compatibility

  • Platform independent: Mac, Windows, or Linux computer with compatible SATA controller

Fusion 400 will be available July 1, 2005 with an MSRP of $599.95.

Tempo-X eSATA PCI-X Host Controllers for Power Mac Computers

PR: Sonnet currently offers two PCI-X Serial ATA host controllers featuring 4 or 8 external ports for Power Mac G4 and G5 computers.

For more information about the Sonnet's Tempo-X line of Serial ATA PCI-X host controllers, please refer to the Sonnet website.

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro 800 RAID Offers 800 GB Storage

PR: Other World Computing (OWC) is bulking up its line of Mercury Elite external storage solutions by adding the Mercury Elite-AL Pro 800 RAID Dual Drive FireWire 800 Solutions, immediately available at a starting price of $249.99.

Mercury Elite-AL Pro 800 RAID"These drives are a beautiful combination of high performance and high style," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "They carry on a tradition established by our award-winning Mercury Elites - they're high-performance, high-reliability and high-capacity solutions."

The new Pro 800 RAIDs combine custom Oxford bridge solutions with fast and reliable disk mechanisms to provide the ultimate in performance and reliable operation. Using drives with a 7200 RPM spindle speed and combining to feature up to a 16 Megabyte ( MB) data buffer, these solutions take full advantage of the 100 Megabytes per second data rates supported by the FireWire 800 interface.

The 800 Pro RAID is one of four versions of OWC's new Mercury Elite-AL Pro series. These aluminum drives were designed with today's aluminum style displays and computers in mind.

The following 800 Pro RAID solutions are immediately available:

  • 160 GB with 4 MB Data Buffer for $249.99
  • 240 GB with 16 MB Data Buffer for $299.99
  • 320 GB with 16 MB Data Buffer for $319.99
  • 400 GB with 16 MB Data Buffer for $379.99
  • 500 GB with 16 MB Data Buffer for $419.99
  • 600 GB with 16 MB Data Buffer for $549.99
  • 800 GB with 16 MB Data Buffer for $749.99

As with all Mercury Elite-AL Pro models, the Pro 800 RAID is covered by a two-year warranty and comes with Dantz/EMC Retrospect Backup, Intech Hard Disk SpeedTools and connecting cables. The drives also are compatible with Apple OS X 10.1 and later (including 'Tiger'), Windows 98SE and later, and Linux. Apple OS X 10.2.8 or later or Windows 2000 or later are required for FireWire 800 performance.

The full line of Mercury Elite-AL Pro 800 RAID solutions, as well as the single drive Elite-AL models available from $129.99.

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 400/USB 2.0 Solutions

Mercury Elite-AL ProPR: Sleek, Fast, and Totally Plug & Play - OWC's new Mercury Elite-AL line of professional FireWire/USB solutions. Stand them up for vertical placement or place them horizontally & stack. Four versions to choose for interface, features, and capacity up to 800 GB right for you.

  • OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 400 + USB 2.0 Combo Solution. 80 GB to 400 GB from $129.99
  • OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 800/400+USB 2.0 Combo Solution. 80 GB to 400 GB from $159.99
  • OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 800/400 Solution. 80 GB to 400 GB from $149.99
  • OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro FireWire 800/400 RAID Solution. 160 GB to 800 GB from $249.99

All Elite-AL Pro models are covered by a 2 year Warranty.

Includes Dantz/EMC Retrospect Backup, Intech Hard Disk SpeedTools, and connecting cables.

SeriTek/1VE2+2 Two-Port Internal, Two-Port External Serial ATA PCI-X Host Adapter

PR: FirmTek, LLC, a leading developer of ATA host adapter solutions for Apple's Macintosh, announced today the immediate availability of their newest Serial ATA host adapter: the four-port SeriTek/1VE2+2 featuring external and internal ports. This solution joins FirmTek's expansive and innovative line of Serial ATA solutions, which already includes the world's first Serial ATA adapters for the Macintosh supporting internal and external drives, the SeriTek "1S" and "1V" series, as well as the award-winning SeriTek/1EN2 external enclosure.

SeriTek/1VE2+2The SeriTek/1VE2+2 is designed with a 133 MHz PCI-X interface to deliver extreme Power Mac G5 performance with high-performance compatibility on all other PCI-based Macintoshes. It features direct booting from any attached hard drive or volume, hot-swap capability, support for native Mac OS X RAID 0/1 (mirroring or striping), and it works with OS 8, OS 9, and OS X 10.1.5 and later on any PCI bus-based machine intended to run those OSs.

SeriTek1VE2+2 Specifics

This adapter offers four Serial ATA ports; two for internal drives and two for external. These ports are independently controlled to maximize performance at all times. The two external ports are fully shielded and support hot-swapping of drives at any time. This innovation allows for the quick connection of storage to virtually any PCI-based Macintosh for any number of applications, and the hot-swap feature means that multiple users or applications can share the same machine without rebooting between projects. Even a fully operational RAID volume can be unmounted, disconnected, and replaced with another volume without powering the Macintosh down, a feature pioneered by FirmTek. This can be especially useful in applications where large files like streaming HD video, or other media, are being captured and created.

With legacy G4 platforms, including most of the "Sawtooth" varieties of Power Macintosh, SeriTek storage solutions are capable of outpacing the system bus, where earlier storage technologies were slower than the G4 processor. This leap in throughput results in impressive performance when the processor is fully utilized. While the original Sawtooth machines will often exhibit throughput in excess of 130 MB/sec, the later Digital Audio, Quicksilver and MDD systems deliver RAID performance nearly equivalent to the latest G5 towers. Given these older systems' greater internal storage capacities, this will be important for many video professionals and network managers seeking to maximize performance as well as storage capacity.

"The new SeriTek/1VE2+2 will give Macintosh users another option for next-generation storage, this one focused on flexibility," said Chi Kim Stanford, Vice President of Business Development for FirmTek. "With two internal and two external ports, users can now install permanent, high-performance volumes and support flexible hot-swappable external solutions without tying up two slots. This is ideal for users who see the value in both approaches, but can't accommodate a two-card solution due to budget or space constraints. As with our other products, each drive can be configured individually, striped with others using OS X's disk utility, or configured as high-performance RAID sets with third party solutions such as SoftRAID. This introduction furthers our belief that Mac users need the freedom to store their data their way."

For users considering the switch to Serial ATA for the first time, the SeriTek/1VE2+2 offers the key benefits of speed and capacity with remarkable flexibility and ease of service. With drives now surpassing 500 GB each, there are few applications with requirements too extreme for the latest SeriTek models. When formatted and controlled by Mac OS X's RAID software, today's high-performance drives support the storage of uncompressed high-definition streaming video, which was nearly impossible to accomplish on desktop systems before the arrival of Serial ATA. The easy and accessible cabling of Serial ATA drives also makes installing and servicing them a snap when compared to their predecessors.

SeriTek/1VE2+2 Key Features and Benefits

  • Four independently controlled Serial ATA ports; 2 internal and 2 external
  • Exclusive hot-swap capability of stand-alone drives and entire RAID volumes; add and remove drives without shutting down the computer
  • Latest 133 MHz PCI-X interface technology
  • Compatible with all PCI-based Power Macintosh computers; deliver top performance on "Sawtooth" G4, and all G5 computers
  • Supports direct booting from any attached drive
  • Boosts overall system performance with data transfer rates of up to 150 MBytes/sec or 1.5Gbits/sec per port
  • Supports Mac OS 8, OS 9, and OS X version 10.1.5 or later
  • Provides performance and protection: Supports native OS X RAID 0/1; OS 9 RAID with third party software
  • User-upgradeable firmware for easy updates
  • Large LBA support for drives larger than 137 GB
  • Includes two "works with Macintosh" thin and flexible SATA cables to allow easy, optimal placement of internal devices
  • Ideal for backing up large amounts of data - perfect for multimedia-intensive applications: audio/video capture and editing, graphics manipulation and high-end digital publishing

Pricing and Availability

FirmTek's SeriTek/1VE2+2 Serial ATA host adapter is available now and priced at $139.95 (SATA-1VE2+2). Specially priced bundles with external enclosures are available. For more information on these and other storage solutions, please visit FirmTek's website.

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers every two weeks:

For deals on laptops, see our Week's Best PowerBook G4 Deals, Week's Best iBook G4 Deals, and Week's Best iBook G3 Deals. For deals on iPods, see our Best iPod Deals.

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