A prototype of a « dual » G4 PowerBook

A reader sent me some photos of a rather astonishing device: a prototype of the PowerBook G4… equipped with two processors. Yes, Apple, before transitioning to Intel processors, evidently intended to offer « dual » G4 PowerBooks, akin to desktop machines.

The Q51 prototype dates back to May 2003 and was apparently equipped with two G4 processors, with a TDP of 45W in the worst-case scenario. That’s notably more than the early Core Duo processors, which had a TDP of 31W. The frequency was quite high for that time, at least on the prototype, with 1.1 GHz. Indeed, the 2003 PowerBook G4s featured G4 processors at 1 GHz or 1.25 GHz.

Le prototype

The prototype

La configuration

The configuration

Regarding the GPU, the prototype is equipped with an ATi Radeon 9700 Mobility, alias ATi M11, with 64 or 128 MB of video memory.

The Open Firmware captures (the machine does not boot) show a machine bearing the reference « PowerBook5,8 » (the same reference as the final 15-inch PowerBook G4, released in 2005), featuring, as expected, two G4 CPUs.

PowerBook 5,8

PowerBook 5,8

Deux CPU PowerPC G4

Two PowerPC G4 CPU

The machine is housed in a transparent test case, resembling a prototype MacBook seen quite some time ago, and notably, a PATA hard drive is visible instead of SATA, as seen on a prototype of the MacBook.

Le boîtier de test

The test enclosure

An interesting point: Instead of the old power connector, the machine uses a kind of precursor to the MagSafe, quite similar to the power connector of the Mac mini and previously seen on a PowerBook G4 prototype sold on eBay.

Le connecteur d'alimentation

The power connector

A photo of the System Information has been released, featuring, as expected, two PowerPC G4s. The 1.5 GHz frequency is impressive, given that the PowerBook G4 from the same era had only a 1.67 GHz G4, just slightly higher.

Deux PowerPC G4

Two PowerPC G4 CPU