UNSW gives dual 64-bit G5 workstations first run

After a lengthy wait since pre-ordering the machines when first announced, the University of New South Wales’ educational development and technology centre has become one of the first in Australia to use Apple’s new 64-bit Powermac G5, according to IT support and network administration manager Patrick Stoddart.

The university has taken delivery of two G5s which it is using for video editing.

“These two are now the primary machines in our Non-linear Editing suites, which also do duty as the compositing and effects units,” Stoddart, who replaced the department’s ageing G4 machines, said. “I do feel that we are definitely getting much more for our money with these units than with the previous generation. Initial runs at rendering and crunching video for streaming with software encoders have been very promising, taking a lunchtime rather than a night.”

The centre paid standard academic pricing of $4581 for each unit, which includes two 2GHz G5 processors and 512MB of memory, and shipped with OS X 10.2 Jaguar not version 10.3 Panther.

“I will say that 512MB of RAM is ludicrously underspeced as the standard shipping amount for these units, and the standard keyboard and mouse are immediately replaced,” he said. “I was actually pleased they shipped with Jaguar installed rather than Panther due to some incompatibilities between different patch versions of software and the OS and underlying architectures at the moment.”

Stoddart said setting up the G5s was largely hassle-free apart from the auto register software being “locked to US settings and wouldn't accept Australian”.

“If you want Bluetooth you better order it as part of the unit though as it's not available as an after-market add-on and you’re stuck with using adapters,” he said. “Also, these things are quite a lot larger than the G4s causing us some problems in the cubicle areas.”

Although happy with the new workstations, Stoddart did express concerns about Apple’s supply chain efforts.

“Our main concern with Apple, and it certainly caused us problems with our production work cycle the last couple of months, was the announcement back whenever, placing the order and only seeing the units now,” he said. “Placing an order and then following the shipping delay announcements that seem to go on and on is not a new experience for us with Apple, and was particularly bad this time round. So to be blunt, if the G5 wasn't released when it was, we would have had to slip some production to PCs.”

Regarding future use of the G5 processor, Stoddart said it could find a place in the university’s data centre.

“We are currently focused on Sun and Oracle, but Oracle 64 on OS X would be an intriguing possibility,” he said. “I’m not sure as to any developments along those lines, but I'd be waiting for G5 server hardware development to be issued with a solid roadmap. The foibles and sometimes flakiness of OS X server is giving us some pause right now, but the Panther server looks to have some long-needed changes. Stevenotes are all well and good but you can’t plan forward on them.”

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