We're getting reports that appear to confirm that Apple has indeed begun to distribute PowerPC 8500-based development systems to its main third-party software partners.
It's tricky to confirm the accuracy of these reports without sufficient material to cross-check their claims, but circumstantially they seem plausible. But we'd caution against taking them as gospel.
Our correspondents essentially confirm that the company has shipped 1.2GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz 8500s - aka the G5 - to developers in standard PC-style ATX cases, though one source claimed to have received a G5 in an Apple El Capitan case design featured in the Graphite Power Mac G4.
One source, allegedly from Adobe, told us: "We have four 1.6GHz machines with the Photoshop and After Effects teams, and several 1.2 and 1.4GHz machines on every team."
And: "The early motherboards use a modification of the old bus, and the new machines have a 400MHz bus with HyperTransport elements. All of them support DDR RAM, USB 2.0, IEEE 1394b and ATA 133."
Another mole notes: "The heatsink looks similar to the one on the dual G4 800s, including an on-chip fan and the h/w specs pdf file I have suggest that there may be a few interesting hardware additions."
We also have some (basic) performance information, which appears to confirm that the G5 is indeed significantly faster than G4-class processors and other processors. "The machines we have here are much faster than Pentium 4s in every single task," notes our Adobe insider.
Since the "P4 is far faster [than the G4] in most tests except for AltiVec-optimised tasks", that's a good sign.
AltiVec isn't too hot, though, with one correspondent claiming that has "hasn't had much of a play with the AltiVec stuff yet, but your source is correct in that it doesn't appear to be quite up to the same snuff as Apollo [the third-generation G4-class Power PC 7460]". ®