Apple offers sneak peek of G4 Macs

Due next year, the machines will offer more computing power than the Pentium III, execs say.

Apple unveiled details of its upcoming PowerPC G4 Macintoshes during a hardware strategy session Tuesday, saying the machines would ship by this time next year.

The new G4 chip, developed by Motorola, will contain AltiVec technology designed for processor-intensive applications such as media and heavy-duty scientific calculations.

Apple executives demonstrated the new technology, saying the G4 would be smaller, contain more transistors (10.5 million), and use less power than Intel's Pentium III. They said it would run applications such as Adobe Photoshop up to one-and-a-half times faster then the G3 chip.

Operating systems including Mac OS 8.6, released Monday, and next year's Mac OS X will support the chip. The company did not unveil details about the much-anticipated consumer portable except to say it would support the same architecture of the company's existing consumer and professional machines. Apple executives also said future computers would continue to ship without internal floppy drives, and that DVD drives would become standard.

The company will beef up support for USB and FireWire peripherals, adding features that search for drivers over the Internet if they don't exist on the machine. The G4 details were revealed Tuesday morning at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.