Over the last couple of years, as PC processor speeds have surged upward and the speeds of Mac G4s have struggled to gain on them, Apple has spent a considerable amount of time trying to battle what it calls the Megahertz Myth. According to Apple’s site: "The clock speed of a computer isn’t an accurate way to compare system performance. Overall system design and processor-architecture differences affect real-world application performance."

The consequences? It’s getting hard to ignore the differentials. The Pentium 4 has reached speeds of 3 Gigahertz and above, and the G4 now runs as fast as 1.42 Gigahertz. Apple has tried to improve the performance by cranking out dual-processor machines to take advantage of Mac OS X’s natural ability to handle two-processor systems. But recent reports, if you believe them, indicate there’s still a problem. Even Adobe is noticing. The company has reproduced a test done by Digital Producer Magazine showing Dell boxes with 3 Gigahertz Pentiums outperforming 1.25 Gigahertz dual-processor Power Macs on Photoshop tests — tests Apple has long used to demonstrate the G4′s superiority over PC processors. According to Adobe: "The PC consistently outperformed the Macintosh machine, at an impressive rate."

Yikes. But just when you think all is lost, we get a little help from our friends over at … Intel? Yup, imagine my surprise when leafing through eWeek recently, when I came across an article talking about Intel’s latest mobile offering, the Centrino line. The new chip supposedly offers wireless integration and longer battery life. But what it really offers Mac users is a little "I told you so."

eWeek conducted tests on the chips and compared them to earlier Intel mobile processors. The Centrino chips clock in at just 1.6 Gigahertz, compared to the 2.4 Gigahertz speeds put out by the earlier processors. I think the eWeek article said it best:

"Frequency doesn’t matter so much, as long as the chip design includes big caches and highly accurate branch prediction. The Centrino processor has met or exceeded expectations here, making notebooks based on the Mobile Pentium 4 completely unappealing for almost all practical purposes.

In tests, Centrino — which is actually based on a modified Pentium III core and Pentium 4-like bus — outperformed the higher-frequency, power-hogging Pentium 4 devices hands down."

Thank you, Intel! As we wait for IBM and Motorola to get their act together and make us faster chips, we can take solace in the fact that indeed, Megahertz does not matter.