For a machine that is still under development and without a working prototype, the XtremMac G4 has generated enormous interest in computing circles based on Xtrem's promise of reaching the 1200MHz mark with a single chip. At present, Apple's highest-end G4 features dual 500MHz processors.
With such a large leap in processor speed, and lacking a prototype to test the claims, some have said the XtremMac G4 is a potential hoax or just plain wishful thinking. In fact, Wallberg stresses that the machine is still under development. "There is not a one-piece-as-seen-in-the-images' working prototype," he said. "We hope to be able to show the world by the end of the year."
The image shown here is actually a 3D rendering of the prototype designs. The finished machine is slated to feature the same, almost toaster-like, casing made from polished aluminium which will also serve as part of the cooling system. "We don't believe that a computer has to look like one," Wallberg said.
Compared to a standard G4, the changes are more than skin deep. While preliminary specifications are based on present and projected hardware, such as new chip speeds, the first XtremMac will boast a single overclocked G4 chip, supported and refrigerated by an Active Cooling System (ACS).
However, it is anticipated that the internal components will not just be overclocked versions of the same hardware Apple uses in its machines. According to Xtrem, the XtremMac G4 will feature an Apple motherboard with a bus increased from 100MHz to 150MHz. The standard PC100 SDRAM will be replaced by an overclocked variety. External and internal connectors will remain the same, with plans allowing for five 3.5in bays and three 5.25in bays - all accessible from the outside. Xtrem has also just been given the go-ahead to buy parts directly from Apple.
For their part, Xtrem representatives argue that the product will help to showcase and aid Apple's dominance in the high-end graphics and creative markets, whereas the XtremMac G4 is aimed rather than the mass-market.
While the cooling system is similar to the method deployed in the KryoTech Super G, the plans for the XtremMac are a refinement of the process. "Generally, the stability is not a problem in itself," Wallberg said in answer to questions about potential feasibility problems. "At a certain temperature we will reach a certain clock speed. We can't do so much about that - it's physics. The biggest challenge is to make it small, inexpensive and reliable. Basically we are avoiding cooling parts that don't need to be cooled down to sub-zero levels. This way we have less problems with condensation."
While no pricing figures have been released yet, Wallberg has gone on record as saying that the entry-level XtremMac G4 will be cheaper than Apple's high-end G4.
Although Xtrem plans to initially sell made-to-order units over its Web site, PC World asked Wallberg if there are any plans to find resellers in Australia or Asia-Pacific. "Definitely," he said. "We have got several serious inquiries from New Zealand, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region."
The Xtrem team certainly has a lot of hype to live up to as the final product goes through the development process. We will, however, watch for further news of a project which might just provide a system capable, on paper for the moment at least, of performing three times as fast as a 1GHz Pentium III PC.