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Apple Previews Its Next Mac OS 'Snow Leopard'

When released in about a year, Mac OS X 10.6 will be optimized for multicore processors and will focus more on speed and stability than new features.

Apple on Monday offered a preview of "Snow Leopard," the next major version of its Mac OS X operating system.

Snow Leopard, which presumably will be designated Mac OS X 10.6 when released in about a year, will focus more on speed and stability than new features. It will be optimized for multicore processors and will be designed to facilitate future Mac platform innovation.

"We have delivered more than a thousand new features to OS X in just seven years and Snow Leopard lays the foundation for thousands more," said Bertrand Serlet, Apple's senior VP of software engineering, in a statement. "In our continued effort to deliver the best user experience, we hit the pause button on new features to focus on perfecting the world's most advanced operating system."

The forthcoming operating system will lift the theoretical system memory limit to 16 TB. Mac OS X, a 64-bit operating system, supports addressing up to 4 TB of physical memory today. Current Mac Pro models can accommodate up to 32 GB of RAM.

Snow Leopard will include a new technology called "Grand Central" to help developers write applications that take full advantage of multicore processing. It also will extend support for what Apple is calling Open Computing Language, which is designed to help programmers take advantage of graphics processing units for general performance gains.

In addition, Snow Leopard will include QuickTime X, a revised and optimized version of Apple's media technology; native support for Microsoft Exchange; and an implementation of JavaScript that helps applications like Apple's Safari Web browser run 53% faster.

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