Jun 25, 2003

Panther: Half the Beast

One thing a lot of folks haven't pointed out—probably because of this benchmark hullabaloo—is that Apple is leaving us with our hands tied. We'll be seeing our Power Mac G5 systems a lot sooner than we'll be seeing Mac OS 10.3. Problem? Only Panther will be 64-bit enabled.

Jaguar will receive an update in the form of 10.2.7 that will allow it to run and boot on G5 systems, but not take full advantage of its 64-bit address space. This means that we'll still be able to only see 4GB of RAM, even if there's more installed in our G5. No big deal, right? Apple will give G5 owners a break on Panther, after three months of using the G5 chip in 32-bit mode, and allow them to upgrade cheaply or for free.

Or so we thought.

Having talked to a few of the Apple techs at WWDC, I am not so sure that Panther will be fully 64-bit enabled until some time after 2004 comes. From what I was told, Panther will have bare-bones 64-bit optimizations. We'll see our 8 gigs of RAM, we'll have addressing space out the wazoo. But it won't be until 10.3.1 at least that the file system and utilities have been recompiled and updated.

Obviously, I can't back this up with a hard source, since this was a conversation held informally on the floor at the conference, but from what I heard and was told, I'd take a while to think about throwing my credit card down and ordering one of these new bad boys. There's no loss in waiting until the operating system can utilize the new muscle at least.

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