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Power Mac G5

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Power Mac G5
Apple Power Mac G5
DeveloperApple Computer, Inc.
Product familyPower Macintosh
Release dateJune 23, 2003
Introductory priceUS$1,999 (equivalent to $3,310 in 2023)
DiscontinuedAugust 7, 2006
CPU1.6 – 2.7 GHz PowerPC G5
Dual-processors, single-core
Dual-processors, dual-core
PredecessorPower Mac G4
SuccessorMac Pro

The Power Mac G5 is a series of personal computers designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from 2003 to 2006 as part of the Power Mac series. When introduced, it was the most powerful computer in Apple's Macintosh lineup, and was marketed by the company as the world's first 64-bit desktop computer.[1] It was also the first desktop computer from Apple to use an anodized aluminum alloy enclosure, and one of only three computers in Apple's lineup to utilize the PowerPC 970 CPU, the others being the iMac G5 and the Xserve G5.

Three generations of Power Mac G5 were released before it was discontinued as part of the Mac transition to Intel processors, making way for its replacement, the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro retained a variation of the G5's enclosure design for seven more years, making it among the longest-lived designs in Apple's history.[2]



Officially launched as part of Steve Jobs' keynote presentation at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2003, the Power Mac G5 was introduced with three models, sharing the same physical case, but differing in features and performance. Although somewhat larger than the G4 tower it replaced, the necessity for a complex cooling system meant that the G5 tower had room inside for only one optical drive and two hard drives.

Steve Jobs stated during his keynote presentation that the Power Mac G5 would reach 3 GHz "within 12 months." This would never come to pass; after three years, the G5 only reached 2.7 GHz before it was replaced by the Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro, which debuted with processors running at speeds of up to 3 GHz.

During the presentation, Apple also showed Virginia Tech's Mac OS X computer cluster supercomputer (a.k.a. supercluster) known as System X, consisting of 1,100 Power Mac G5 towers operating as processing nodes. The supercomputer managed to become one of the top five supercomputers that year. The computer was soon dismantled and replaced with a new cluster made of an equal number of Xserve G5 rack-mounted servers, which also used the G5 chip running at 2.3 GHz.

PowerPC G5 and the IBM partnership

The inside of a Power Mac G5, late 2005 model
The inside of an air-cooled dual-processor 2003 model

The PowerPC G5 (called the PowerPC 970 by its manufacturer, IBM) is based upon IBM's 64-bit POWER4 microprocessor. At the Power Mac G5's introduction, Apple announced a partnership with IBM in which IBM would continue to produce PowerPC variants of their POWER processors. According to IBM's Dr. John E. Kelly, "The goal of this partnership is for Apple and IBM to come together so that Apple customers get the best of both worlds, the tremendous creativity from the Apple corporation and the tremendous technology from the IBM corporation. IBM invested over US$3 billion in a new lab to produce these large, 300 mm wafers." This completely automated facility in East Fishkill, New York figured heavily in IBM's larger microelectronics strategy.

The original PowerPC 970 had 50 million transistors and was manufactured using IBM CMOS 9S at 130 nm fabrication process. CMOS 9S is the combination of SOI, low-k dielectric insulation, and copper interconnect technology, which were invented at IBM research in the mid-1990s. Subsequent revisions of the "G5" processor have included IBM's PowerPC 970FX (same basic design on a 90 nm process), and the PowerPC 970MP (essentially two 970FX cores on one die). Apple refers to the dual-core PowerPC 970MP processors as either the "G5 Dual" (for single-socket, dual-core configurations), or Power Mac G5 Quad (for dual-socket, four-core configurations).


The PowerPC 970FX inside a PowerMac G5.

The Power Mac G5 line in 2006 consisted of three, dual-core PowerPC G5 configurations, which can communicate through its HyperTransport at half its internal clock speed. Each processor in the Power Mac G5 has two unidirectional 32-bit pathways: one leading to the processor and the other from the processor. These result in a total bandwidth of up to 20 GB/s. The processor at the heart of the Power Mac G5 has a "superscalar, superpipelined" execution core that can handle up to 216 in-flight instructions, and uses a 128-bit, 162-instruction SIMD unit (AltiVec).

All modern 32-bit x86 processors since the Pentium Pro have the Physical Address Extension (PAE) feature, which permits them to use a 36-bit physical memory address to address a maximum of 236 bytes (64 gigabytes) of physical memory, while the PowerPC 970 processor is capable of addressing 242 bytes (4 terabytes) of physical memory and 264 bytes (16 exabytes) of virtual memory. Due to its 64-bit processor (and 42-bit MMU), the final revision of the Power Mac G5 can hold 16 GB of Dual-Channel DDR2 PC4200 RAM using eight memory slots, with support for ECC memory.

Product revision history

  • 2003 June: Initial release at speeds of Single 1.6, Single 1.8, Dual 2.0 GHz.
  • 2003 November: Dual 1.8 replaces Single 1.8 GHz; price reduction on Single 1.6 GHz.
  • 2004 June: 90 nm Dual 1.8, Dual 2.0 and Dual 2.5 GHz replace all previous models. The 2.5 GHz model is notable as the first major PC with liquid cooling included as stock.
  • 2004 October: A new Single 1.8 reintroduced, with a slower, 600 MHz HyperTransport, PCI bus, based upon the iMac G5's architecture (U3lite and Shasta chips). Apple's official name for this machine is "Power Mac G5 (Late 2004)".
  • 2005 April: CPU speed increased: Dual 2.5 GHz → Dual 2.7 GHz (PCI-X, LC), Dual 2.0 GHz → Dual 2.3 GHz (PCI-X), Dual 1.8 GHz → Dual 2.0 GHz (PCI). Newly introduced features were the 16x dual-layer SuperDrives across the line and increased storage, up to 800 GB for the higher-end models. The 1.8 GHz Single was not modified.
  • 2005 June–July: The Single 1.8 model was discontinued in the United States and Europe.
  • 2005 October: Shift to dual-core processors: Dual 2.0 GHz → DC 2.0 GHz, Dual 2.3 GHz → DC 2.3 GHz, Dual 2.7 GHz → Dual DC 2.5 GHz (termed a Quad Power Mac G5, with four CPU execution cores and more reliable[citation needed] liquid cooling), all with DDR2 memory, and PCI Express expansion in place of PCI-X.[3][4][5] The older PCI-X, Dual 2.7 GHz model remained available for a while, but the slower speed single-core models were discontinued immediately.
  • 2006 August: The Power Mac is replaced by its Intel successor, the Mac Pro.

Technical specifications


According to Apple, all of these models are obsolete.[a][6]

Model Mid 2003[7] Late 2004[8][9] Early 2005[10] Late 2005[11]
Codename "Omega, Q37" "Niagara, Q77, Q78" "Cypher"
Timetable Released[12] June 23, 2003 November 18, 2003 June 9, 2004 October 19, 2004 April 27, 2005 October 19, 2005
Discontinued[12] June 9, 2004 November 18, 2003 June 9, 2004 April 27, 2005 June 13, 2005 October 19, 2005 August 7, 2006
Model Model number A1047 A1093 A1047 A1117
Model identifier PowerMac7,2 PowerMac7,3 PowerMac9,1 PowerMac7,3 PowerMac11,2
Order number M9020 M9031 M9032 M9393 M9494 M9454 M9455 M9457 M9555 M9747 M9748 M9749 M9590 M9591 M9592
Performance Processor Single PowerPC 970 (G5) Dual PowerPC 970 (G5) Dual PowerPC 970FX (G5) Single PowerPC 970FX (G5) Dual PowerPC 970FX (G5) Single Dual-core PowerPC 970MP (G5) Two Dual-core ("Quad-core") PowerPC 970MP (G5)
Clock speed 1.6 GHz 1.8 GHz 2.0 GHz 1.8 GHz 2.0 GHz 2.5 GHz 1.8 GHz 2.0 GHz 2.3 GHz 2.7 GHz 2.0 GHz 2.3 GHz 2.5 GHz
Cache 64 KB (instruction), 32 KB (data) L1, 512 KB L2 64 KB (instruction), 32 KB (data) L1, 1.0 MB L2 per core
HyperTransport 800, 900, Dual 900 MHz, or Dual 1 GHz (2:1) Dual 900 MHz, Dual 1, or Dual 1.25 GHz (2:1) 600 MHz (3:1) Dual 1 GHz (2:1) Dual 1.15 GHz (2:1) Dual 1.35 GHz (2:1) Dual 1 GHz (2:1) Dual 1.15 GHz (2:1) Dual 1.25 GHz (2:1)
Memory Amount 256 MB 512 MB 256 MB 512 MB 256 MB 512 MB
Maximum Expandable to 4 GB Expandable to 8 GB Expandable to 4 GB Expandable to 8 GB Expandable to 4 GB Expandable to 8 GB Expandable to 16 GB
Graphics Type NVIDIA GeForceFX 5200 Ultra, GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL, ATI Radeon 9600 Pro, or Radeon 9800 Pro NVIDIA GeForceFX 5200 Ultra ATI Radeon 9600 XT NVIDIA GeForceFX 5200 Ultra ATI Radeon 9600 ATI Radeon 9650 NVIDIA GeForce 6600 LE NVIDIA GeForce 6600
Storage Hard drive 80 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 160 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 80 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 160 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 80 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 160 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 250 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 160 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm 250 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm
Optical drive 4x SuperDrive 4x/8x/16x/8x/32x DVD-R/CD-RW 8x SuperDrive 8x/10x/24x/10x/32x DVD-R/CD-RW 16x SuperDrive DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW
Peripherals Connectivity Optional AirPort Extreme 802.11b/g (external antenna)
Gigabit Ethernet
56k V.92 modem
Optional on Late 2004 model
Optional Bluetooth 1.1
Optional AirPort Extreme 802.11b/g (external antenna)
Gigabit Ethernet
Optional 56k V.92 modem
Optional Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Optional AirPort Extreme 802.11b/g (internal antenna) with Bluetooth 2.0+EDR card
2x Gigabit Ethernet
Optional 56k V.92 USB modem
Expansion slots 3x 33 MHz 64-bit PCI
1x 8x AGP Pro (1.6 GHz)
3x 33 MHz 64-bit PCI
1x 8x AGP Pro (1.8 GHz)
3x 33 MHz 64-bit PCI
1x 8x AGP Pro
3x 33 MHz 64-bit PCI
1x 8x AGP Pro (2.0 GHz)
2x PCI Express x4
1x PCI Express x8
1x PCI Express x16
2x 100 MHz 64-bit PCI-X
1x 133 MHz 64-bit PCI-X
1x 8x AGP Pro (1.8 GHz single+)
2x 100 MHz 64-bit PCI-X
1x 133 MHz 64-bit PCI-X
1x 8x AGP Pro (2.0 GHz+)
2x 100 MHz 64-bit PCI-X
1x 133 MHz 64-bit PCI-X
1x 8x AGP Pro (2.3 GHz)
Peripherals 3x USB 2.0
2x FireWire 400
1x FireWire 800
Built-in mono speaker
1x Audio-in mini-jack
2x Audio-out mini-jack
1x Optical S/PDIF (Toslink) input
1x Optical S/PDIF (Toslink) output
4x USB 2.0
2x FireWire 400
1x FireWire 800
Built-in mono speaker
1x Audio-in mini-jack
2x Audio-out mini-jack
1x Optical S/PDIF (Toslink) input
1x Optical S/PDIF (Toslink) output
Operating System
Mac OS X 10.5.8 "Leopard"
Weight 39.2 lb (17.8 kg) 44.4 lb (20.1 kg) 36 lb (16 kg) 44.4 lb (20.1 kg) 44.5–48.8 lb (20.2–22.1 kg)


The back of a late 2005 model.

Early versions of dual processor G5 computers have noise problems. The first one is ground loop-based interference,[13] which sometimes causes noise leaks into the analog audio outputs. This bug was fixed in Rev. B G5.

The second noise problem came from the 'chirping' sound, which can be triggered by fluctuations in power draw. For example, using Exposé causes a brief chirp.[14] A widely circulated work-around is to disable the CPUs' "nap" feature using Apple's CHUD Tools, but this was not recommended by Apple. This noise problem was not fixed until the dual core generation of G5s was produced, however it did not affect the "Late 2004" model (at least there have never been any reports). The power draw fluctuation was later attributed to the lack of power management features in the single-core processors.[15] Apple eventually posted the chirping bug information on its support site.[16]

Although the noise problems did not prevent the affected computers from working, they were problematic for audio professionals and enthusiasts, especially for the liquid-cooled models, which had been expressly designed as mechanically quiet for discerning listeners.

A common problem among single processor G5s was the cyclic expansion and contraction of a metal plate soldered to the Logic Board connecting all eight of the RAM slots. Eventually, this can cause the computer to no longer detect the RAM, and refuse to boot. Fixes for this include having the plate re-soldered, or exposing the other side of the Logic Board to heat from a heat gun. The latter option is far easier, since it requires neither soldering nor the removal of the Logic Board from the computer.

All 2.5 GHz and 2.7 GHz dual processor models and the 2.5 GHz quad-processor model had a liquid cooling system that consisted of a radiator, coolant pump, and heat exchangers bolted to the processors. The cooling system was made by Delphi Automotive, a former Harrison Radiator Division of General Motors. This was a bold step for Apple, and should have allowed the use of very fast processors, giving Apple an advantage in both performance and reliability, but the system turned out to be subject to coolant leakage, made worse by the system's use of GM Dexcool coolant, which is more corrosive than regular automotive coolant.[17] If not caught in time, the leakage could destroy the processors, logic board, and even corrode the aluminum casing itself. While leakage was sometimes detectable by drops of green coolant in or beneath the machine, in many [vague] machines the seepage is so slight that it was almost impossible to detect without dismantling the entire computer. Later models (only the 2.7 GHz) were equipped with a Panasonic liquid cooling system which was much more reliable.[17]

The liquid cooling system fits into the case where the heat sinks would normally go, so there is no easy way to distinguish the liquid-cooled versions from the air-cooled, although most, but not all,[vague] of the liquid-cooled machines have a sticker inside warning about the possibility of leakage. [citation needed]

P.A. Semi's G5 derivative


When P.A. Semi announced the preliminary pre-production plan of PWRficient processor,[18] there had been persistent rumors that Apple would prepare for its use in its professional line of personal computers.[19]

In 2006, The Register reported that P.A. Semi had formed a tight relationship with Apple, which would result in P.A. Semi promptly delivering processor chips for Apple's personal computer notebook line and possibly desktops.[20] Even in 2006, Apple did not have a laptop version of the G5 processor. The processor that would run the personal computers was P.A. Semi's preliminarily proposed processor, PWRficient 1682M (PA6T-1682M). The version that would be sampled for pre-production at third quarter of 2006 was a 2 GHz, dual-core CPU with two DDR2 memory controllers, 2 MB of L2 cache, and support for 8 PCI Express lanes. The sampled chip also has lower heat intensity than Intel's Core Duo, which gives off 9–31 W under normal load.

According to The Register article, P.A. Semi executives believed that they were all but assured of winning Apple's contract, and CEO Dan Dobberpuhl thought that Apple's hints of moving to Intel were just a persuading tactic. At the time, the companies were working for PWRficient software.

Despite the advantages of more compatible architecture, Apple moved to the Intel architecture officially for 'performance-per-watt' reasons. However, P.A. Semi would not be able to ship its low-power multicore product in volume until 2007, which, combined with P.A. Semi's status as a start-up company, seems to have been the final blow to the development of Power Mac computers. However, it was also speculated that Apple switched to Intel processor because Apple could no longer abide the constant delays in performance ramp up,[21] desired native Windows compatibility, or it was Apple's strategy to shift its business focus away from desktop computing to iPod (and subsequently iOS) development.

Apple acquired P.A. Semi in 2008,[22] using P.A. Semi's engineering resources to develop ARM CPUs for their iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Apple TV product lines; and would go on to eventually come full circle with these designs replacing Intel chips in Macs in 2020.[23]

The PA6T-1682M processor would later be used by the AmigaOne X1000 personal computer.

Supported macOS releases

Supported macOS releases
OS release
Mid 2003 Late 2004 Early 2005 Late 2005
10.2 Jaguar 10.2.6 No No No
10.3 Panther Yes 10.3.4 unofficial unofficial
10.4 Tiger Yes Yes Yes 10.4.2
10.5 Leopard Yes Yes Yes Yes


Timeline of Power Macintosh, Pro, and Studio models
Mac ProMac StudioMac ProMac StudioMac ProMac ProMac ProPower Mac G5Power Mac G5Power Mac G4Power Mac G5Power Mac G4Power Mac G4 CubePower Mac G4Power Macintosh G3#Blue and WhitePower Macintosh 9600Power Macintosh G3Power Macintosh 8600Power Macintosh 9500Power Macintosh 8500Power Macintosh 8100Power Macintosh G3Power Macintosh 7600Power Macintosh 7300Power Macintosh 4400Power Macintosh 7500Power Macintosh 7200Power Macintosh 7100Power Macintosh 6500Power Macintosh 6400Power Macintosh 6200Power Macintosh 6100Power Macintosh G3Twentieth Anniversary MacintoshPower Macintosh 5500Power Macintosh 5400Power Macintosh 5260Power Macintosh 5200 LC

See also



  1. ^ Apple products that have been discontinued for 7 years and no longer receive hardware support nor spare parts
  1. ^ "Apple Unleashes the World's Fastest Personal Computer—the Power Mac G5". Apple. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "Ten years in the shadow of the Power Mac G5". MacWorld. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  3. ^ "Apple Introduces Power Mac G5 Quad & Power Mac G5 Dual". Apple Inc. October 19, 2005. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  4. ^ Kossovsky, Yuval (November 16, 2005). "The Power Mac G5 Quad: Seat belt not included". Computerworld. International Data Group. Archived from the original on June 29, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Norr, Henry (November 22, 2005). "Power Mac G5 Quad: Fast performance at its core". Macworld. International Data Group. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  6. ^ "Obtaining service for your Apple product after an expired warranty". support.apple.com. March 20, 2023. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  7. ^ Technical specifications of Power Mac G5 from Apple's knowledge base and from EveryMac.com. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  8. ^ "Power Mac G5 (Late 2004) - Technical Specifications". support.apple.com. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  9. ^ "Apple Power Macintosh G5 1.8 DP (PCI) Specs". EveryMac.com.
  10. ^ "Power Mac G5 (Early 2005) - Technical Specifications". support.apple.com. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  11. ^ "Power Mac G5 (Late 2005) - Technical Specifications". support.apple.com. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  12. ^ a b Apple Power Mac G5 Specs (All Power Macintosh G5 Technical Specs): EveryMac.com, archived from the original on April 1, 2022, retrieved April 1, 2022
  13. ^ "Macintosh: Solutions for noise in the audio signal". Apple Inc. December 16, 2004. Archived from the original on May 8, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  14. ^ "Apple versus the analog monster". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  15. ^ "G5 owner Feedback on Noises, CHUD Tools Nap mode Fix". Accelerate Your Mac. September 30, 2003. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
  16. ^ "Power Mac G5: I hear buzzes, beeps, or humming". Apple Inc. September 1, 2005. Archived from the original on January 25, 2022. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  17. ^ a b "PowerMac G5 Coolant Leaks/Repairs". XLR8yourmac. Archived from the original on June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  18. ^ Merritt, Rick (October 24, 2005). "PowerPC play: He shoots ..." EE Times. United Business Media. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  19. ^ Gwennap, Linley; Bob Wheeler; Jag Bolaria; Joseph Byrne (November 10, 2005). "The Linley Group". The Linley Wire. The Linley Group. Archived from the original on August 19, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  20. ^ Vance, Ashlee (May 19, 2006). "Apple shunned superstar chip start-up for Intel". The Register. The Register. Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  21. ^ Stokes, Jon (October 26, 2005). "P.A. Semi's major PowerPC announcement, and looking back at The Switch". Ars Technica. Ars Technica. Archived from the original on April 29, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  22. ^ "Apple Buys Chip Designer". Forbes. Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  23. ^ Vance, Ashlee; Stone, Brad (February 2, 2010). "A Little Chip Designed by Apple Itself". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2010.