Mac News Review

Sonnet's 1.7 GHz Dual G4 Upgrade, $35 USB Bluetooth Adapter, Folder Sync Software, Clustering Software, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.01.20

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. News about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

New iMac Features ATI Radeon Graphics

PR: As innovators in the user experience, Apple continues to deliver the best to its customers with the new iMac featuring powerful PCI Express based graphics by ATI Technologies Inc. Apple is offering ATI's award-winning Radeon X1600 for the iMac, introducing an impressive consumer platform with state of the art discrete graphics. With incredible efficiency and power, the Radeon X1600 enables users to get the most out of not only the extensive feature set of the iMac, but to leverage all the capabilities of the Mac OS X Tiger, including Core Image and ATI's Avivo technology to deliver superior display quality.

"Apple has always understood the important synergy of performance and image quality and continual innovation within their product lines," said Rick Bergman, Senior Vice President, PC Business Unit, ATI Technologies. "As ATI continues to innovate in graphics, one thing remains the same - our dedication and wide ranging support of the Apple market, which has again been rewarded by Apple's selection of the Radeon X1600 in the iMac and decision to include powerful high end graphics in a leading consumer platform."

The iMac features the Radeon X1600, designed with up to 256 MB of high speed memory, giving users incredible performance, resulting in a compelling graphics experience to match the powerful capabilities of the iMac. Designed to provide optimum performance in games and to seamlessly drive photo editing, video and high end content creation applications, the Radeon X1600 delivers superior performance and image quality and delivers the utmost display quality for color purity, scaling, dithering and DVD playback with ATI's Avivo technology.

ATI is the leading supplier of desktop and mobile graphics technology for the Apple platform, including retail boards and onboard systems.

Products

D-Link PersonalAir $35 Bluetooth 1.1 Adapter for USB

PR: D-Link introduces another performance breakthrough in wireless connectivity - the D-Link PersonalAir series of Bluetooth enabled networking products capable of data transfer among devices such as PDAs, printers, cellular phones, computers, and other emerging electronic devices.

The D-Link PersonalAir DBT-120 USB Bluetooth Adapter is a very compact, low-profile solution based on the Bluetooth 1.1 specification, making it compatible with other Bluetooth enabled devices. The DBT-120 was designed and engineered from the ground up to be compact and portable, making it the perfect solution for notebook computers, but also just as easy to use with a desktop computer.

The DBT-120 features standard 128-bit encryption that provides you with a higher level of security for your data and communication.

The D-Link PersonalAir DBT-120 includes Bluetooth management and connectivity software by WidComm, which enables you to configure and access Bluetooth enabled devices quickly and easily. The Bluetooth software enables your computer to discover and access available Bluetooth services ranging from Internet access to wireless synchronization with your PDA or cellular phone.

System requirements: Compatible with USB 1.1, the DBT-120 supports Windows XP/2000/Me/98SE and Macintosh OS X 10.2 and installs quickly and easily to a desktop or notebook computer with an available USB port.

Bluetooth USB Adapter sells for $34.99

Link: D-Link PersonalAir Bluetooth USB Adapter

Sonnet Introduces 1.7 GHz Encore/ST G4 Duet Dual CPU Upgrade

PR: Can your Power Mac keep up with OS X and the latest apps? Give it a double-shot speed boost when you install a Sonnet Encore/ST G4 Duet dual processor card! The Duet combines the strength of two fast G4 processors in an upgrade that easily handles the demands of today's processor-intensive applications - now you can use GarageBand™ and Final Cut Pro® with power to spare!

Installing the Duet is straightforward and takes just minutes - just run a simple firmware updater and swap processor cards. The performance gains are impressive - your Mac will be capable of performing more tasks at the same time, each faster than ever before. And the quality is first rate - Sonnet backs its processor cards with a 3-year, limited warranty and free technical support. The Encore/ST G4 Duet accelerates your Power Mac ahead of the pack.

Key Features

  • Dual PowerPC G4 7447A CPUs running at 1.7 GHz
  • 512 KB speedy L2 cache per processor running at processor speed
  • Supports Mac OS 9.2 and Mac OS X 10.3.5 and higher
  • Delivers multiprocessing power for a fraction of the cost of a new system
  • Auto-configures to host system's logic
  • No switches or control panels

Hardware and Software Compatibility

The Encore/ST G4 Duet is compatible with your existing hardware, software, RAM, and peripherals. It is compatible with Mac OS 9.2 and supports OS X Version 10.3.5 and greater; OS 9.2 is required to perform firmware updates.* Just install, reboot and run everything faster than you ever thought possible. Note that not all software or Mac OS operations utilize dual processors. These will run at single processor speeds.

*This upgrade requires the installation of a supplied firmware update; you must boot your computer in Mac OS 9.2 (installed on a local hard drive) in order to run the firmware updater application.

Important Note: Certain Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics) computers have a specific compatibility issue with dual processing. For more details, download and read the notice on Sonnet's for details.

Simple Installation

Installation is straightforward. The Duet auto-configures to its host system without the need for switches or jumpers - just update your G4 tower's firmware with the supplied installer software, swap processor cards and you're ready to go. No jumpers, no switches, and no chaos in your workspace - it doesn't get much simpler.

Mac Compatible Models

**Requires Mac OS 9.2 in order to update your computer's firmware if it is NOT version 4.2.8.
ÝSome AGP Graphics systems will not support Dual Processing. Please download and read this important notice for complete details.

The Encore/ST G4 Duet is compatible with Mac OS X and takes full advantage of multiprocessor-optimized software.

OS 9 and AltiVec

The Encore/ST G4 Duet takes advantage of the features of Mac OS 9.2, including AltiVec-enhanced applications and applications that exploit multiprocessing.

Applications

Run all your favorite processor intensive applications faster and more efficiently.

Featuring dual 1.7 GHz G4 processors, the Encore/ST G4 Duet processor upgrade card is among the most formidable computing upgrades ever seen.

Link: Sonnet Encore/ST G4 Duet

MacWireless Expands Antenna and Booster Line

PR: MacWireless.com announces the release of a new antenna line, offering range extension solutions for Apple AirPort base stations, PowerMacs, iMacs, PowerBooks, and iBooks. The whip antenna is designed to help your laptop or desktop computer reach a far away access point, and can help to overcome obstacles such as the metal frame on Titanium and Aluminum PowerBooks. MacWireless whip antennas will even work on an iBook with an AirPort or AirPort Extreme Card, a model with a design that has made it notoriously difficult to boost.

The new MacWireless omnidirectional antennas are great for boats and RVs, featuring a rugged, weatherproof exterior and a sleek design. The antennas can be used with an AirPort base station and Power over Ethernet to create a powerful, flexible solution for schools, homes, and offices. Add a MacWireless booster to yield signals up to fifteen times more powerful than an AirPort card or base station!

Featured in the lineup is a new ceiling antenna, which enables a wireless base station to effective broadcast downward through multiple floors, making it ideal for cafes, study rooms, and multilevel office buildings. The ceiling antenna is simple to setup, with several options for installation. These antennas are a useful and unobtrusive addition to any wireless network.

In addition to offering full support for Apple AirPort products, the new MacWireless antennas can also be used with most other wireless base stations and cards.

Link: MacWireless

Maxtor to Ship Media Server for Mac

ExtremeTech reports:

"Maxtor Corp. said late Tuesday that it will begin shipping a media server in February for the Apple Macintosh market.

"Maxtor announced its Maxtor Shared Storage Plus solution at Macworld, where Apple also announced its first Intel-based desktops and notebooks. The Maxtor media server will serve files as well as function as a print server, and will be available in February in a $299.95 200-Gbyte configuration, a $399.95 300-GB option, or a $499.95 500-GB skew."

Link: Maxtor to Ship Media Server for Mac

G-Tech Announces FireWire 800 PCI-Express Adapter Compatible with Latest Power Mac G5s

PR: G-Technology Inc. (G-Tech) has announced a high-performance FireWire 800 host bus adapter that works with the latest Power Mac G5 systems that feature PCI-Express expansion slots. This adapter enables users to connect G-Tech G-RAID and G-DRIVE storage solutions to any new Power Mac G5 while freeing up the onboard FireWire ports for use with other peripherals including tape decks and video editing equipment such as AJA's Io.

The new G-Tech FireWire 800 PCI-Express adapter features:

  • (2) External FireWire 800 ports
  • (1) External FireWire 400 port
  • Single-lane (x1) PCI-Express transfer rates up to 2.5 Gbps
  • Supports DV, HDV, DVCPRO HD and 8-bit uncompressed video editing
  • Driverless, plug and play operation under Mac OS X
  • 1-year warranty

Pricing and Availability

The G-Tech FireWire 800 PCI-Express adapter is available now for $129 (US MSRP). Visit G-Tech to buy online or to find a reseller near you.

Link: G-Technology

Sonnet Announces Tempo SATA E4P

PR: Sonnet Technologies has announced a new line of Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) Serial ATA host adapters. The Tempo SATA E4P with four external ports and the Tempo SATA E4i with four internal ports are compatible with the newest PCI Express Power Mac G5s - each offer unmatched scalability in both capacity and performance to meet a wide range of application environments like uncompressed high-definition video editing and digital imaging.

Sonnet was the first company to introduce eSATA ports on Serial ATA host adapters, and has been an industry leader in the space ever since. Sonnet is also introducing the Fusion 500P, a new five-bay disk drive enclosure with a built-in port multiplier. A Tempo SATA E4P can support up to four Fusion 500P disk enclosures to create amazingly fast storage solutions and very large storage repositories.

The new internal Tempo SATA E4i provides a portal for adding additional high-performance SATA storage inside a Power Mac G5 with PCIe slots. Sonnet has also updated the popular G5 Jive internal drive mounting system to be compatible with both PCI-X and PCIe Power Mac G5s.

"With Sonnet's port multiplier aware Tempo SATA E4P, adding high-performance storage has never been easier," states Steve Garceau, Sonnet product manager. "One cable connects each Fusion 500P offering simplicity and pay-as-you-grow affordability."

Both the Tempo SATA E4P and Tempo SATA E4i cards feature a performance bandwidth of 3 Gb per second per port, allowing for optimum drive speed and data flow potential. The Tempo SATA E4P retails for $299.95 and the Tempo SATA E4i retails for $199.95. Both are available in early February.

Link: Sonnet Tempo SATA E4P

MaxConnect Internal Hard Drive Mounting Solution for G5 Power Macs

PR: MaxUpgrades offers MaxConnect PCI Bay internal storage expansion assembly for G5 Power Macs. MaxConnect PCI Bay enable two additional hard disk drives to be mounted in the PCI Bay of G5 Power Macs. MaxConnect PCI Bay assembly is made of Aluminum.

MaxConnect PCI Bay assembly when used with MaxConnect CPU Bay mounting assembly for three SATA disk drives , a total of seven disk drives can be installed inside Power Macintosh G5, this will enable the user to set up RAID 5 inside Power Macintosh G5 with five SATA Hard Disk Drive along with a separate boot drive.

The result below gives a comparison of data transfer rates of, five 500 GB Hitachi SATA disk drive striped RAID 5. Test is run on Power Macintosh G5 2.0 GHz Dual with eight internal ports HighPoint 2220 SATA PCI-X Card (8 Independent Data Channels) installed in PCI-X slot 3 of the Power Macintosh G5 2.0 GHz Dual Processor

SZ-MCPCIXBAY1AL1 MaxConnect PCI Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly for PCI-X G5

  • One Hard Disk Drive Mounting Assembly [Aluminum]
  • 15-Pin SATA Power Cable for supplying power to the two additional hard disk drives in the PCI Bay
  • Two SATA II or eSATA Low profile Data Cables
  • Fan for Hard Disk Drives Cooling
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys

SZ-MCPCIXBAY2AL2 MaxConnect PCI Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly for PCI-X G5

  • Two Hard Disk Drive Mounting Assembly [Aluminum]
  • 15-Pin SATA Power Cable for supplying power to the two additional hard disk drives in the PCI Bay
  • Two SATA II or eSATA Low profile Data Cables
  • Fan for Hard Disk Drives Cooling
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys

SZ-MCPCIEBAY1AL1 MaxConnect PCI Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly for PCI-Express G5

  • One Hard Disk Drive Mounting Assembly [Aluminum]
  • 15-Pin SATA Power Cable for supplying power to the two additional hard disk drives in the PCI Bay
  • Two SATA II or eSATA Low profile Data Cables
  • Fan for Hard Disk Drives Cooling
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys
  • Ship Date (01-21-06)

SZ-MCPCIEBAY2AL2 MaxConnect PCI Bay Disk Drive Mounting Assembly for PCI Express G5

  • Two Hard Disk Drive Mounting Assembly [Aluminum]
  • 15-Pin SATA Power Cable for supplying power to the two additional hard disk drives in the PCI Bay
  • Two SATA II or eSATA Low profile Data Cables
  • Fan for Hard Disk Drives Cooling
  • Mounting Screws
  • Hex Keys
  • Ship Date (01-21-06)
Link: MaxConnect PCI Bay Internal Hard Drive Mounting Solution for G5 Power Macs

Software

Martian SlingShot Synchronization Software

PR: Got two Macs? Keep folders in sync between them easily

You have more than one Mac. Remembering to copy data between them is a pain in the *bleep*. File sharing is too hard to set up, and it doesn't keep your data up to date automatically.

A solution from your Martian friends

Enter Martian SlingShot. Just use SlingShot to Publish your folders from one Mac, and then use SlingShot on your other Mac to Subscribe to them. Tell SlingShot how often to check for updates, and you're all set . . . SlingShot will silently work in the background keeping all your bits in line.

Keep 'em in sync. Easily.

We've worked hard to make SlingShot incredibly easy to use (just like you expect from good Mac software). You can Publish a folder in just three clicks, and Subscribe to a folder in just two. SlingShot will do the rest, keeping your Subscriptions up-to-date in the background.

Publisher makes folders available with Martian SlingShot

Subscribed folders are automatically kept up to date

SlingShot also allows the Publisher to choose to Accept Updates from Subscribers. This makes it really easy to keep your data up to date on all your Macs, no matter where you happen to edit it.

The easiest way to keep good live backups

Before SlingShot existed here on Mars, Martians were always losing their data when their machines crashed (or when those darned Venusians came over for a party and got a little rowdy).

SlingShot makes it trivial to set up an old machine in the closet as a live backup server. Just have your backup box Subscribe to folders from your other machines; it will then periodically copy down your data, keeping it nice and safe. So you can invite the Venusians over again without worry (well, at least without worrying about your files. Keep them away from your cats).

We understand that Earthlings are always worried about data security. Martian SlingShot protects your data in two ways:

256-bit AES encryption on the network.

Any file data written to the network is encrypted. So snoopers can't copy your bits while they're flying around.

Password protection for your Published folders.

SlingShot lets you easily add a password when you Publish a folder. Subscribers can't connect without knowing the password.

From the main SlingShot window, you can monitor your Published and Subscribed folders. With one click, you can Publish and Subscribe to new Folders too. SlingShot also displays new blog entries from Martian so you can keep track of updates and news easily. Publishing a folder is as simple as selecting it (or typing its path) and giving it a name. You can also optionally require a password from Subscribers, as well as set whether or not to accept updates from Subscribers. SlingShot lists all the available Published Folders for you to make it easy to Subscribe to a new one. All you have to do is tell SlingShot where on your machine you want the synchronized data to be written, and adjust how frequently it should check with the Publisher for updates.

Back home on Mars, Macs have more than 90% market share among higher-order life forms, and small indie software craftspeople dot the landscape. The last time my buddy Weebix and I came through your neck of the Solar System (you know, to make some crop circles) we decided we'd stick around and help out the Mac users of your planet. Martian SlingShot is the result. Plus we discovered we really like your barbecue.

SlingShot requires Mac OS 10.4.

Price: $29.99

One license is all you need in order to use SlingShot on all the Macs you personally own. If your friends want to use SlingShot too, they need to buy their own licenses.

Link: Martian SlingShot Synchronization Software

Pooch Cluster Software Makes Cluster and Grid Computing Easier

PR: Dauger Research, Inc., releases version 1.6 of Pooch (Parallel OperatiOn and Control Heuristic application) and Pooch Pro clustering software today. Leveraging new technologies introduced with "Tiger", Apple's newest Mac OS X, the Pooch family introduces new enhancements, including "playlist"-like node lists and network tools, enriching the user experience of supercomputer-compatible cluster computing. Long recognized as a leader in cluster solution providers, Dauger Research delivers an unmatched combination of powerful tools to manage and maintain cluster resources, maximizing the power of clusters for its users.

Major new features include:

  • Utilization of new technologies in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger:
    • Automator - Incorporate Pooch actions into workflows
    • Dashboard - View cluster status and activity in an aesthetic environment
    • Spotlight - Locate data in Pooch jobs via the system
    • Xgrid - Pooch makes Xgrid nodes accessible to users
  • Adaptations to other adjustments specific to "Tiger"
  • Major updates to the Network Scan window. including support for user-defined node lists in their own movable Network pane, a multipurpose action popup menu, an address box, an all-new Network view mode, and even a Search mechanism
  • Extended AppleScript fidelity, exposing additional node, network, and job data
  • Support for a new web-based interface
  • Support for distributed/grid-style jobs, specifying arbitrary argument ranges for identical executables
  • Revised queuing system with a centralized queue for all users on the system
  • Other feature enhancements, bug fixes, and adaptations to changes in OS X

"While carrying the Macintosh philosophy to supercomputer-compatible cluster computing, we accomplish many 'first's to adopt the latest in desktop technology, such as Bonjour, AppleScript, and drag-and-drop, to make clusters as easy-to-use as possible for users. Leading 'ad hoc' clustering, we continue that spirit with the new Pooch and Pooch Pro.", said Dr. Dean Dauger, President of Dauger Research, Inc. "The Pooch family provides the easiest and most reliable path to parallel computing; we've just made it even better."

The Pooch family leads the way making grid and cluster computing easy-to-use and reliable. A new web interface to Pooch increases the ways users can utilize clustering, making it even easier for users on other platforms to utilize a Mac cluster. As enhancements to its network scan tool, the new Pooch introduces user-defined node lists, much like iTunes' "playlists", in its new Network pane, allowing the user to switch between subnets of the Internet as well as define arbitrary groups of computing nodes for the user's convenience and benefit. Users can access multiple networks of nodes in the new Network view and evaluate queued, running, and terminated jobs through Pooch's native interface or via AppleScript. Pooch's Job window features a new Grid job type, making distributed launching of many single-processor executables as easy as point and click. Independent executables not designed for parallel computing can therefore utilize a cluster through Pooch's GUI.

Pooch leverages four major Tiger technologies: Pooch includes a new Automator action that enables workflows to initiate cluster activity. A new Dashboard widget, shipping with Pooch, reports the status of and the past, present, and future job activity on the cluster in an aesthetically pleasing environment. Spotlight can search Pooch's job data with a new plug-in. Finally, Pooch makes Xgrid nodes accessible to users through Pooch's award-winning interface.

These features build on the Pooch family's recognized lead over other cluster solutions. Pooch and Pooch Pro can have multiprocessor Macs behave like multiple "virtual nodes". They can can utilize logged-out machines for parallel computing with preexisting resources. Pooch supports all execution environments available on current Apple hardware and supports five distinct implementations of the Message-Passing Interface (MPI). Pooch Pro provides the only easy-to-use GUI-based resource management mechanism, securely encrypting user data about CPU time, job limits, and even rollover minutes, another feature unique to Pooch Pro in the cluster world.

Dauger Research, Inc., introduced eight tutorials, three recently, on the Pooch website, extensively describing how to develop parallel applications and algorithms. Users can access tutorials outlining the different types of parallel computing, detailed MPI information, and descriptions, with example code in FORTRAN and C, of the basics of writing parallel code. Website visitors can download GUI and command-line installers containing a trial Pooch, sample parallel applications and source code, a Pooch Software Development Kit, and full documentation. Dauger Research makes it easier than ever to write, develop, and run your parallel code today.

Version 1.6 of Pooch and Pooch Pro are shipping. This version leverages new features of OS X "Tiger", introduces new support for distributed/grid-style computing, user-defined node lists a la iTunes "playlists". All this with a renovated Network Scan window and extended AppleScript support.

Pooch and Pooch Pro v1.6 are available today. Updates are shipping to Pooch users whose subscriptions are active.

Pooch v1.6 is available for $175 for the first compute node then $125 for each node thereafter. Pooch Pro v1.6 is available for $200 for the first compute node then $150 for each node thereafter. See the web site for special academic pricing. Users may order Pooch and other software using the forms on our web site or online through the Dauger Research Store.

System requirements: Pooch requires networked PowerPC Macintoshes and/or Xserves running Mac OS 9 with CarbonLib 1.2 or later, Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and/or Mac OS X Server 10.2 or later with 4 MB of available RAM and 2 MB of disk space. Pooch Pro requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and/or Mac OS X Server 10.2 or later.

Link: Pooch Cluster Software

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers every two weeks:

For deals on laptops, see our Best MacBook Pro deals, Best Aluminum PowerBook G4 Deals, Best Titanium PowerBook G4 Deals, Best iBook G4 Deals, and Best White iBook G3 Deals. For deals on iPods, see our Best iPod Deals.

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