Coming to a Mac near you: 1.2GHz?

Or so claims Xtrem, a small Swedish company that insists its souped-up G4 system is the real deal

Fending off the scepticism of Mac users worldwide, Swedish vendor Xtrem insists it is working on a hardware package that will boost the Power Mac G4 from its current top speed of 500MHz to a whopping 1,200MHz by year-end.

So far, however, the company's product road map -- outlined on its glossy Web site -- raises more technical and legal questions than it answers.

Xtrem chief executive Mats Wallberg said that the XtremMac G4 1200 MHz will be powered by Apple's G4 motherboard and deliver more than two billion floating-point operations per second from a single processor.

Wallberg said that the XtremMac upgrade won't run afoul of Apple's draconian licensing rules, which eliminated Mac clones back in the fall of 1997. "[This is] no clone. We are using Apple components," Wallberg said. "This is a development project, so we can't reveal too much information right now."

The XtremMac is built around Apple's proprietary hardware, Wallberg added, although Apple isn't licensing its hardware and isn't involved in the XtremMac G4 1200 project.

In addition, Stockholm-based Xtrem has yet to explain how it will be allowed to ship its product bundled with the Mac OS without Apple's blessing.

In fact, the XtremMac is still under development and there's no finished prototype currently running at 1,200MHz, Wallberg said. Even the product shots on the company's Web site aren't photos but artist's renderings.

"As a developing company, we are relying on future funding," Wallberg said. "If all goes well, we hope to have a product ready for 2001."

The company said the XtremMac G4 will run graphics-intensive applications such as Adobe Photoshop up to three times as fast as 1GHz Pentium III-based PCs and outperform Apple's Power Mac G4/500 in all areas, including memory access.

Xtrem said its process resembles the technology used by KryoTech to cool Athlon processors while overclocking them. In addition, the system will feature active cooling of the system's motherboard, memory and cache, the company said.

"The revolution with the XtremMac G4 is how the whole system interacts," Wallberg said. "It's not only the processor that runs faster. The whole system -- including memory, graphics and disks -- are working at top speed.

"Compared to Apple's new dual G4 [introduced at July's Macworld Expo/New York], our machine is much faster and is not limited to Photoshop. It runs all applications, including Mac OS, at full speed. I wouldn't be surprised if we have a dual-processor version ready in time for the official release of Mac OS X."

Wallberg said the single-processor XtremMac G4 will initially be offered in a build-to-order configuration from Xtrem's online store. It will support up to 1.5GB SDRAM powered by a new 150MHz system bus, a dual-channel Ultra 160+ SCSI RAID drive interface for up to 320Mbps of data transfer, five internal drives configurable up to 367GB internal and 2.2 terabytes external capacity, and removable storage including Zip, Jaz, Orb, 72x CD-ROM, 16x DVD-ROM and DVD-RAM.

The company said the system will also support graphics accelerators from ATI, nVidia and 3dfx, although representatives of 3dfx said they know nothing about a build-to-order option from Xtrem.

Xtrem said the system's Super Silent Drive (SSD) will eliminate all noise from the hardware, and its cooling system will obviate the need for a fan.

"The casing is... an integrated part of the... cooling system and gives a whole new meaning to computer design," Wallberg said. "The design is not only appearance, it's very much an important contribution to the performance of the computer."

In other news, Xtrem said it is on the verge of shipping MacThrust, a hardware accelerator for older Power Mac G3 and G4 systems that will come in at less than $80.

Apple did not immediately return calls from ZDNet News requesting comment.

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