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Intel Developer Macs Outperform G5s 829

Posted by timothy
from the good-time-to-own-appl dept.
bonch writes "Developers working with the new Intel-based, developer-only Macs are impressed with the performance. The machines take as little as 10 seconds to boot from Apple logo to desktop, and apparently run Windows XP at 'blazing speeds.' Rosetta tests demonstrate the PowerPC-native build of Firefox running just as fast as it does on a high-end G5."
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Intel Developer Macs Outperform G5s

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  • Good news! (Score:3, Informative)

    by lucaschan.com (457832) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:45PM (#13058180) Homepage
    Although, Firefox doesn't run particularly fast on my G5 compared to my run-of-the-mill XP box at work.
  • by Toby The Economist (811138) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:46PM (#13058194)
    OS boot times are usually disk and network bound.

    I don't see how even an order of magnitude increase in CPU power could shorten boot times to the extent described here.

    There must be other factors.

    --
    Toby
    • by Cecil (37810) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:57PM (#13058283) Homepage
      There is something fishy about these numbers, I agree.

      It also runs "Windows XP at blazing speeds"? Well, hm, that doesn't sound like a plain old P4 to me. :P
      • by klui (457783) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:28PM (#13058554)
        Yeah, maybe those guys compared it to running Windows XP under VirtualPC.
      • Technically, since this is Windows XP we are talking about (thus 10% processor usage in idle), and its running on a Pentium 4, then it IS running at "blazing" speeds.

        Better put out that fire.
      • by jerkychew (80913) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @09:47PM (#13059933) Homepage
        As someone that's built thousands of Windows machines over the past few years, let me be the first to say this: Out of the box, on current hardware, Windows XP is blazing fast. What slows it down is all the bloatware and DLLs that you load up as you install software.

        Take XP, load Office 2003, Norton AV, the standard CD burning and DVD viewing apps, and watch the performance (and boot times) degrade considerably.
        • You might want to clarify that statement - because as it stands it's kind of meaningless. It's almost akin to saying I can do nothing at the speed of light. In fact, I did nothing 50,000 times between that last sentence and this sentence, that is blazingly fast.

          At a slightly less ridiculous level, whose fault is it that just installing (but not using?!) software makes the OS performance molasses like? Not being a Windows guy I don't get it. Does this affect OS X as well? I load and open all sorts of softwa
          • by Octorian (14086) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:23AM (#13061871) Homepage
            Many people in the Windows world seem convinced that a major cause of a slow machine is "I've got a lot of things installed on it".

            Now those of is in the here see that as nonsense, since filling up the hard drive with not-currently-executing code does not have any impact on memory usage or CPU usage.

            However, a lot of Windows programs have this tendency to install things that "always run in the background", and that does eat memory and impact CPU load. Back in the day when I actually used Windows a lot (and when RAM was still expensive), it was commonplace for people like us to spend the time digging through the Start Menu and the Registry to disable all those little side-processes.

            As a result, people like me had machines that were MUCH faster and more responsive than most normal people with their storebought machines with specs usually much better than mine on-paper.

            I suspect the same may be true today, between store pre-loaded crap and resident bits of installed software, even if cheap RAM has averted some of the issue.
        • None of those except norton should effect boot time. Norton, however, is a PoS and should be replaced by something that doesn't try to take over the system.
      • by commodoresloat (172735) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @10:25PM (#13060154)
        There is something fishy about these numbers, I agree.

        Well, there is a one in three chance that this study is nonsense.

    • by Rosyna (80334) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:04PM (#13058340) Homepage
      Yes, the other factors are that the dev kits don't support any kind of special features. It's standard PC BIOS so it doesn't have to bother to search any of the many other places/buses a standard mac can boot from.

      Also, since plugins cannot be emulated, there is no way for anyone to install kernel extensions that slow down the boot times of OS X.

      In other words, the speed these people think they're seeing are actually do to a horrific lack of features.
      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:50PM (#13058708)
        Get rid of the unnecessary crap installed on your system to help improve your boot times. Have you seen the junk FC4 installs and starts at boot by default?

      • by gabebear (251933) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @07:06PM (#13058875) Homepage Journal
        Yes, the other factors are that the dev kits don't support any kind of special features. It's standard PC BIOS so it doesn't have to bother to search any of the many other places/buses a standard mac can boot from.
        If your default boot disk is available then a normal Mac doesn't take anytime looking for other boot devices. These Intel dev Macs do support booting from USB drives so that is not the case anyway.
        Also, since plugins cannot be emulated, there is no way for anyone to install kernel extensions that slow down the boot times of OS X.
        OSX kernel extensions are very rare. Almost no program uses them except Norton products(anti-virus and disk doctor). I recommend staying away from Norton stuff for this reason and using Alsoft's Disk Warrior. Third party kernel extensions are a bad idea on any OS.
        In other words, the speed these people think they're seeing are actually do to a horrific lack of features.
        What features are lacking?? The Intel dev Macs have Firefox, iPhoto, iDVD, and Quicktime installed. The average user may install some extra dashboard widgets and a driver or two, but I doubt that would add more than a couple seconds to boot time.
        • by Rosyna (80334) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @08:15PM (#13059285) Homepage
          If your default boot disk is available then a normal Mac doesn't take anytime looking for other boot devices. These Intel dev Macs do support booting from USB drives so that is not the case anyway.

          What makes you think they support booting from USB drives?

          OSX kernel extensions are very rare. Almost no program uses them except Norton products(anti-virus and disk doctor). I recommend staying away from Norton stuff for this reason and using Alsoft's Disk Warrior. Third party kernel extensions are a bad idea on any OS.

          Uhm, I hope you realize that apple includes many as well that aren't exactly usable on these Dev kits. Such as Bluetooth kexts, ATI kexts (or Nvidia kexts), Airport kexts, netboot, FWTDM kexts, Audio kexts (there are 8 audio kexts loaded on my G5), CHUD kexts, fan control kexts, slew, voltage, sensor kexts, and other kinds of kexts that either lack the hardware or software support on the Intel Dev Kits.

          Then for third party kexts there are Logitech Drivers, Norton Utilities kexts, Virtual PC kexts, the Ambrosia kext, DiskWarrior kexts, and many other third party drivers and kexts that shouldn't be loading at startup and shouldn't even be kexts but are.

          What features are lacking?? The Intel dev Macs have Firefox, iPhoto, iDVD, and Quicktime installed. The average user may install some extra dashboard widgets and a driver or two, but I doubt that would add more than a couple seconds to boot time.

          What makes you think these dev kits have either iDVD or Firefox installed on them? Did you see iDVD in use during Steve Jobs' WWDC keynote?

          See above for a large list. You don't need to load a kext for hardware that doesn't exist.
          • What makes you think they support booting from USB drives?

            Uhm, I hope you realize that apple includes many [kernel extensions] as well that aren't exactly usable on these Dev kits. ... Then for third party kexts there are Logitech Drivers, Norton Utilities kexts, Virtual PC kexts, the Ambrosia kext, DiskWarrior kexts, and many other third party drivers and kexts that shouldn't be loading at startup and shouldn't even be kexts but are. ... You don't need to load a kext for

    • > OS boot times are usually disk and network bound.

      While disk plays *some* role in OS startup, it's usually far from being the decisive factor. In a typical setup, a much larger amount of time is consumed on CPU use; and quite a large amount on various kinds of timeouts, related to networking, but not only -- various kinds of hardware probing etc. are the main reason why OS bootup doesn't even remotely scale with CPU and disk speed improvements.

      CPU *does* make a considerable difference, but not an enor
      • trippling disk i/o will half boot times.

        http://overclockers.com/tips00806/ [overclockers.com]

        and trippling CPU speed will NOT half boot times, but maybe reduce by 1/3, showing that boot times are more dependent on disk i/o than CPU speed.

        in a typical setup, CPU time is a MAJOR bottleneck, only to be matched by device initialization, which has little to do with cpu speed.

        in fact, a k6-2 500Mhz machine will boot windows xp nearly as fast as a athlon xp 2500. the athlon xp machine takes about 2/3 the time as the k6-2 500M
        • Note that this is really a weakest-link situation: If trippling the disk speed halfed the boot time, it means the disk was actually the major stopper in the *original* setup; however, once you have a very fast disk, further disk speed improvements won't change much. Other factors will become more important now.

          When I upgraded my old 1.7 GB disk to a 13 GB one, bootup got *lots* faster. However, now the CPU was the major stopper, and upgrading from Pentium 166 to Celeron 400 again resulted in a considerable
    • by hazee (728152) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:21PM (#13058502)
      I've never understood why it takes so long to boot a computer. It takes far longer than the time necessary to transfer the actual amount of data that ends up in memory after the boot sequence.

      Why not use something more like a resume from hibernation, where you just restore the contents of memory directly from the disc in one go and be done with it?

      Actually using hibernation rather than booting is no good, becuase it only restores you to the state that your computer was in last time you used it, which might not be "clean". For example, if you had been running something with a memory leak, hibernation won't fix that.

      But the solution is simple - instead of writing the hibernate data to disc just before you shut down, instead store it just after you've finished booting, so that you've got a "clean" system ready.

      This way you get a "clean" system every time at the speed of a restore from hibernation. (And if something goes wrong, you still have the option to do a "full" boot.)

      Some might say that you need to go through all the slow processing of a full boot in case anything's changed. Really? Restoring from hibernation seems to cope with that possibility.

      More likely, most times, nothing will have changed. And for the times when it has, well, you do the extra configuration necessary after the restore - you're still no worse off.

      So why are we still forced to sit through full boot cycles?
      • by imsabbel (611519) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:30PM (#13058569)
        Your logic has a flaw:
        A resume form hibernation has to read ALL of your memory from disc, as only saving "used" memory frames would just invide bugs from hell. (think about memory windows from drivers, or what is "clean state" ? which autostarts/services,ect)
        And with 1GB, even on a very fast HD it would need 20 seconds... Not faster

        Also consider that bootup is usually the time to detect new hardware.

        In fact, im quite happy with the 20-30 seconds i get with windows xp.
        • by hazee (728152) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:38PM (#13058629)
          Surely the OS has to know what memory is in use, otherwise there would be chaos. How would it allocate blocks of memory if drivers were "secretly" allocating their own blocks?

          As for detecting new hardware - that's such a rare event that it should be treated as an exception, rather than the norm. Most days I boot my computer, there's a marked absence of strange new hardware...
      • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:40PM (#13058637)
        So why are we still forced to sit through full boot cycles?

        Apple has really been pushing people to Sleep the machines instead of turning them off. Sleep mode uses a very tiny amount of power, and you get your instantaneous boot (with apps open and windows positioned...). I have been doing this with my Macs since OS X appeared and let me tell you it is the only way to go. Especially on laptops. In fact I am still using a CRT on my G5 and the computer 'boots' faster than the monitor (warm up).

      • The reason boots take so long is because the BIOS and/or the O/S needs to initialize devices on the PCI bus. Each device needs to be read and identified, then allocated into the memory map. One mapped all the devices registers need to be configured per the hardware datasheet. To be safe, long delays are given for initialization to timeout. Some devices present themselves to the CPU via I/O versus memory space which has a speed difference too. Also, for an OS/BIOS that needs to support older devices that mig
      • Your right, in most cases, nothing would have changed, but if for instance a DRAM module was removed which contained some part of a process, the system would crash on restore. (because as the process is already linked, it cant easilly be moved in memory)

        Some things need to be re-initialised if left for any length of time (Ie, DHCP usually has a timeout)
        All open Sockets would probably have to die (But not nesseserilly normal file handles)

        There are probably other things as well, but these are the main
  • Impressed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tamerlan (817217) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:50PM (#13058221) Homepage
    Intel outperforming PowerPC was kind of expected. However I am impressed with a technology behind Rosetta. Are ther any open source projects like that?
    • by poleshifter (461440) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:24PM (#13058518)
      cherry os
    • by green pizza (159161) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @08:40PM (#13059469) Homepage
      The biggest gotcha with Rosetta is that it will not translate opcodes for G4 or G5 processors. There are already some applications for Mac OS X that require a G4 processor.... these *will not* run via Rosetta and will require an x86 recompile to run under the new Mactel machines.
    • Re:Impressed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stefanb (21140) *

      Intel outperforming PowerPC was kind of expected. However I am impressed with a technology behind Rosetta. Are ther any open source projects like that?

      QEMU [qemu.org] aims to do the same:

      EMU is a generic and open source processor emulator which achieves a good emulation speed by using dynamic translation.

      It can run (to some degree; it's still in development) on x86, amd64, PowerPC and a host of other CPUs, and it can run binary code for x86, amd64, PowerPC, SPARC, ARM, and MIPS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:53PM (#13058252)
    So simple stuff runs as fast or faster...

    How does the Mactel box do on floating point, 64bit and/or vector based code? The main reason for getting a G5 was to improve performance of 64bit/floating/vector code like is used in video production and scientific apps.

    Since Intel has always been shaky in floating point and probably doesn't really know the meaning of vector I'm wondering how those kinds of apps will fare on the Mactel boxes.
    • by jiushao (898575) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @07:00PM (#13058818)
      Actually you have it a bit backwards. The P4 is rather back to the roots for Apple, an excellent SIMD performer with a bit so-so performance on linear floating point. It was the initial issue with the P4, a weak x87 implementation with a great focus instead on the excellent performance of the SSE2 (and SSE3 with the prescott).

      Compare this to the G4, another weak linear performer that Apple more or less specialized in getting to fly through good use of the excellent Altivec unit. The G5 on the other hand has a somewhat weak Altivec unit but a much beefed up set of single-element FPU units, yielding so-so vector performing but good linear performance. IBM did probably not focus much energy on the Altivec unit but instead threw it in since Apple required it (after all, the single-element FPU performance of the G5 almost puts the Altivec unit to shame).

      Some might now be quick to point out that Altivec is a nicer instruction set than SSE2/SSE3, this is by most standards true, but if you are hand-coding assembly you can make do with either. On the flip side Intel has quite impressive auto-vectorization support in their compiler.

      So, what does this add up to? The G5 is in a good place for beating the P4 on unoptimized unvectorized code, but the P4 really screams if things are tuned up a bit. Considering Apples history with Altivec I think we can safely assume that they won't be afraid of doing some hand-tuning to get good perfomance.

      This all ends up looking quite favorable for the P4, I still don't think we will see a commercial Mac with a P4 derivative in it, but anyone who thinks the P4 is a weak performer has another thing coming. For a bit more on my opinion on the state of the x86 vs. PPC today see my earlier post in the "Apple Switch to Intel Not a Big Loss for IBM" story [slashdot.org].

  • by saterdaies (842986) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:54PM (#13058257)
    Clearly the speed boost comes from the amazing graphics capabilities of the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900. I mean, the 900 stands for 450 times better than their last integrated system which was numberd 2, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:56PM (#13058276)
    So now that Apple is going to use Intel processors, Apple developers are allowed to note that Intel makes faster processors?

    I should feel vindicated, I suppose.
  • What the... (Score:5, Funny)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @05:57PM (#13058280)
    So...the development Mac's run XP faster than other vendor's boxen? This is getting weird.
  • Integer vs. Altivec (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WatertonMan (550706) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:05PM (#13058354)

    I think most of us expected the P4 to perform better for Integer like code on applications that don't effectively SMP. So that's not that surprising. I am surprised at the speed of Rosetta, although that will be a mixed bag once again depending upon the application.

    What I'm really interested in is speed on stuff that really leveraged Altivec, like A/V programs. I'm curious about Quicktime 7 for instance. Now some of these programs can use some similar functions on the P4. But from what the Altivec folks were telling me some code ought differ by as much as 50%. (i.e. the PPC is twice as fast) A nice simple test is to compare programs like iMovie on both platforms.

    • by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:57PM (#13058778) Homepage
      The altivec implementation on G5s is weak compared to that on G4s, so the advantage isn't as great.
  • DVD leak when? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Knight_Walker (670107) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:40PM (#13058638)
    So when will the DVD leak and I'll be able to see hackers working on getting it to run on regular x86-machines at http://www.osx86.classicbeta.com/ [classicbeta.com] ? :)
  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:41PM (#13058642)
    This is going to be a real problem for Mac software, because most of it isn't frame limited, and isn't designed to run this fast. You'll be typing a sentence in a word processor, and before you know it, the cursor will have zoomed off and crashed into the right hand edge of the window.

    Not good.
  • So the lesson is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:44PM (#13058663) Homepage
    Don't buy a Mac until you can get an Intel one; and of course you ought to wait six months after that release so vendors have had time to port their software over. A year to a year and a half in other words. Also, do not buy expensive software like Photoshop or Illustrator at this time, since you'll have to shell out all over for them again when you get an Intel Mac (and that can easily come to more than the cost of the machine itself).

    It would be really fascinating to see what the sales figures will be like for the next year or two.
    • If you want a Mac, why wait for several moths to a year or more?

      Instead just buy whatever Mac you like now and enjoy it - after all you'll have to spend some time learning a new OS anyway. If the newer Intel macs are really a lot more powerful - then sell the current Mac, which is easy to do since used Macs hold value well. And yes PPC macs will hold value just as well as new softwrae will still be comiled for them for several years anyway.

      If you want to maximize resale value consider an Apple laptop of
  • by javaxman (705658) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:57PM (#13058788) Journal
    This article is nothing but a vague reference to a couple of un-substantiated percentages of Rosetta performance and some completely subjective, unverified statements.

    If I were AppleInsider, I'd be ashamed to print this. Of course, it's not likely that AppleInsider could be ashamed of anything, so there you go ;-)

    Really, wake me up when there's an article where someone publishes comparative numbers of PostgeSQL inserts or NSImage composites or timed renders of Safari web pages.

    And no, I'm not really interested in Rosetta performance as much as I'm interested in native app performance. I'm interested, don't get me wrong. Just not as interested.

  • by MarcoPon (689115) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @07:42PM (#13059087) Homepage
    As seen here [macitynet.it] on Macity.it:

    http://img82.imageshack.us/my.php?image=avvio18ep. jpg [imageshack.us]
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    Bye!

  • by kiddailey (165202) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @08:47PM (#13059515) Homepage

    Damn. I've still got a stack of Intel Inside slug [theapplecollection.com] stickers ...

    I guess I can't continue to stick them overtop all the Intel Inside plates I run across, so I need some creative ideas as to what I should do with them. Any ideas?
    • so I need some creative ideas as to what I should do with them.

      I suggest walking into an Apple store with them, and sticking them on all the new Intel-based Macs.

      That should make them a good reminder as to how much Apple has been lying to everyone over the years. Everyone should remember the PPC ads when their next generation of advertising comes out.

  • I call shenanigans (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argent (18001) <peter@NOsPam.slashdot.2006.taronga.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:57AM (#13060809) Homepage Journal
    There's no way a P4 will run a PPC emulation at 70% of the speed of native apps, unless there's something terribly wrong with native app performance. Optimization matters, and even if they're doing absolutely brilliant transcoding they're translating code optimized for a larger register file into the P4's tiny register set... if a native compiler can't beat that with one optimizer tied behind its back there's something seriously wrong with that compiler.
  • by BattleTroll (561035) <battletroll2002@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:34AM (#13061922)
    What a silly article. Of course the newer macs are going to be faster than the older generation. Why would Apple switch to Intel if they couldn't provide a faster chip? Imagine the headlines:

    "New Intel-based Macs not as fast as the G5"

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