Apple began shipping the dual-processor PowerMac G4 unveiled at the July Macworld conference yesterday. Apple has claimed the machine is faster than the Pentium 4.

As previously announced, the G4 features dual 800MHz processors, 256MB RAM, an 80GB hard drive and a SuperDrive, which is a CD-RW/DVD-R (compact disc rewritable/digital versatile disc recordable) combination drive.

Apple's SuperDrive allows the burning of CDs, as well as DVDs that can be played in home DVD players.

The G4 will also feature two FireWire and two USB (universal serial bus) ports, a built-in modem and Apple's iDVD, iTunes and iMovie 2 software, the company said.

The dual-processor system benefits from the symmetric multiprocessing capability of Mac OS X, Apple's newest operating system which was released in March, Apple said. The PowerMac G4 can automatically balance the workload between the two processors, in effect allowing twice as much data to be processed in the same amount of time it would take a machine equipped with only with one of those processors.