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As projected, Apple Computer on Tuesday announced its new incarnation of the small form-factor Mac mini computer featuring Intel microprocessors. The new Mac mini is based on the recently released Core Duo chips that feature two processing engines and provide four times more performance compared to IBM’s G4 chips used in the first flavour of the Apple’s Mac mini.

“The new Mac mini is now up to four times faster with the Intel Core Duo, includes even greater expansion in the same incredibly compact design, and is the most affordable way to enjoy Front Row and iLife ’06,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

Apple unveiled two versions of the new Mac mini available, both are based on the Intel 945GM core-logic, equipped with 512MB of DDR2 PC2-5400 (667MHz) memory as well as built-in Intel GMA950 graphics core, 802.11g wireless networking, Bluetooth 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire and other outputs. The more advanced version has 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 80GB hard disk drive (HDD) and SuperDrive optical drive capable of reading and recording CDs and DVDs. The less advanced flavour comes with 1.5GHz processor, 60GB HDD and Combo drive capable of reading DVDs and recording DVDs.

According to Apple’s estimations, the new Mac mini based on 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor has 4.7 times and 5.5 times higher performance compared to Mac mini G4 1.42GHz models in industrial SPECint_rate_base2000 and SPECfp_rate_base_2000 benchmarks, respectively.

The new Mac mini computers come equipped with Apple’s remote controllers and Front Row software which should make it easier for consumers to use the Mac mini computers in living rooms and other environments for entertainment. With the latest version of Front Row, customers can effortlessly access shared iTunes playlists, iPhoto libraries and video throughout their home via Bonjour, Apple’s zero configuration wireless networking built into Mac OS X.

The typical version with 1.50GHz processors costs $599, whereas the more advanced comes with 1.66GHz chip at $799. Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 2GB DDR2 memory, 80GB, 100GB and 120GB Serial ATA hard drives, iWork ’06 (pre-installed), AirPort Express and AirPort extreme base station, Apple wireless keyboard, Apple wireless mouse, Apple USB modem and the AppleCare protection plan.

The release of the new Mac mini computer also marks an important milestone for Apple Computer: now half of the whole computer lineup of the company is based on processors from Intel Corp.

“With the new Mac mini, Apple has now moved 50%of its entire product line to Intel within 60 days – a record transition,” said Mr. Schiller.

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