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Desktops (Apple) Businesses Apple Hardware

NASA Benchmarks the New G5 Powermac 751

sockit2me9000 writes "Well NASA's Langley Research Center recently benchmarked the new G5 dual 2ghz Powermac against a dual 1ghz Xserve, a dual 1.25 ghz Powermac, a Pentium4 2 ghz, and a Pentium4 2.66 ghz. To make things fair, the second processor in the G5 was switched off, as well as the other dual sysytems. Then, they all ran Jet3d. Even with un-optimized code and one processor, the G5 performance is impressive."
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NASA Benchmarks the New G5 Powermac

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  • by Dak RIT ( 556128 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @05:31PM (#6369193) Homepage
    Though dual processor benchmarks are not presented in detail here, it is worth noting that the G5 system benchmarked at 498 MFLOPS and 0.125 MFLOPS/MHz for scalar Jet3D performance when two processors were used.

    By adding a second processor, the MFLOPS/Mhz output only dropped from 0.127 to 0.125 MFLOPS/Mhz. This chip can definitely perform in a multi-processor environment. The P4 scored 0.096 MFLOPS/MHz with a single processor.

    Apple's benchmarks [] which were highly criticized by some, gave the Dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 a 194.5% performance advantage over a 3GHz P4 in SPECfp_rate_base2000. The G5 getting a score of 15.7, and the P4 getting an 8.07.

    NASA's study found the Dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 to score 498 MFLOPS for their Jet3D performance. A P4 running at 2.66GHz scored 255 MFLOPS: a 195.3% performance advantage for the G5 in this test. If we assume a direct correlation between MHz and MFLOPS for the P4 (which would actually overstate the performance of the P4) and increase the P4's score by 12.782% this would give the 3GHz P4 a score of 287.594 MFLOPS. This is still a 173.16% performance advantage for the G5, and NASA states that a 20% increase in performance for the G5 would be reasonable "when G5-aware compiler tools become available."

    So it would seem NASA's benchmarks go a long way in validating the benchmarks for the G5 that Apple released last month at the WWDC. In fact, NASA appears to be giving the G5 even better scores than Apple and Veritest did.

    The vector tests that NASA performed to test the G5's AltiVec instruction set produce some even more impressive results, and would be a good indication for why the G5 outpaced the Xeon and P4 by such dramatic amounts on real world tests (at times more than 700% faster than a 3GHz P4). "The vector version of Jet3D runs an order of magnitude faster than the scalar version (speedups of 10X-13X are typical)." The dual 2GHz G5 was benchmarked at 5177 MFLOPS (a 1040% increase over the scalar test) and 1.29 MFLOPS/MHz. This also seems accurate considering Ars Technica's claim that the AltiVec engine wasn't as well integrated into the G5 as it was in the G4. The 2GHz G5 (single cpu) scored 2755 MFLOPS, or 1.378 MFLOPS/MHz, which shows a slightly larger performance hit for vector operations than floating point operations when moving to a dual G5.


  • by jbridges ( 70118 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @05:36PM (#6369215)
    What the heck is that a benchmark of? Divide by the Mhz to create a higher number on their nice little graph for the G5?

    Why a Pentium 4 2.66mhz?

    Why no Athlon?

    Why no Opteron?

    Why an old old version of RedHat 7.1?

    and so on....

  • Portland compiler (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PineGreen ( 446635 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @05:38PM (#6369229) Homepage
    I have very bad experience with Portland compiler; I wonder what the results would have been if they had used Intel Fortran Compiler....
  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @05:39PM (#6369235)
    If there budget is such that dualie 2Ghz G5's are a possibility, then it's somewhat surprising that they A) used such low powered P4's B) that they didn't include Itanic2 systems. Seems that their report really just pointed out stuff that we already knew, the PPC is typcially faster per mhz than the P4 (hell, just about anything is better per mhz than the P4). Interesting to note that on the vector test, the G5 outperformed the G4 is a fashion that is almost purely based on the increase in Mhz (i.e. other system improvements didn't really seem to help much). Compiler perhaps, though some of the architectural improvements would seem to be not dependant on that?
  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @05:40PM (#6369236) Homepage
    The G5 by Apple is really a workstation but has been mis-labeled a "PC". The floating-point performance of the G5 crushes any workstation by Sun. In fact, the heart of the G5 is a Power4 server-based microprocessor. At "SPEC []", you can easily find the performance of a Power4 @ 1.45 GHz. Its SPEC2000 rating for floating point is 1097. When you scale that to the 2.0 GHz processor in the G5, you conclude that it has a SPEC score of about 1500.

    Apple has just created a new market for itself among the hardcore engineers who use workstations for numerical simulations like HSPICE, etc. Steve Jobs lucked out -- again.

    By the way, the bell tolls. It tolls ominously for Sun Microsystems.

  • Interesting Thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @05:57PM (#6369321)
    Apple has been making better software for years, everyone agrees; They just never had the hardware to back them up. Then every time they do crop up with better hardware, everyone criticizes them and says that it's just not possible, PC hardware is always better they say. But now they've proven you wrong... TWICE, and some trolls STILL don't believe them. It's a sad world. I just wish Apple would open up at least their motherboards a little more, make Macs more customizable, more like PC's so they can start dominating again.

    There's also one benchmark I'de love to see. Power Mac G5 vs Sun UltraSPARC III. It's fair: they're both 64-bit procs, and it would really make people look at it in businesses that only look at supercomputers as viable. Then maybe people would start giving Apple and IBM some credit.

    My 2 cents (Canadian). Thanks.
  • MFLOPS per $ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mgkimsal2 ( 200677 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:02PM (#6369348) Homepage
    Why not show an mflops/$ chart? Related to my 'cost' post as well, but I felt it deserved its own post. :)

    This seems to confirm my belief that most mac people don't buy their own hardware, but get it through work or school.
  • by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <.slashdot3. .at.> on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:03PM (#6369350) Homepage
    Steve Jobs lucked out -- again.

    Um, yeah, sure is lucky Apple found the G5. I'm sure they had nothing to do with its development. It's not like Apple has been involved with development of the whole PowerPC architecture since the early 90s.
  • OS X 10.2.7 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greedo ( 304385 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:15PM (#6369412) Homepage Journal
    I was RTFA, and this caught my eye:

    Additional Notes: The G5 system was running Mac OS X 10.2.7 and ...

    I'm only running 10.2.6, and Software Update says nothing new is available. What's up with that?

  • Re:Costs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:20PM (#6369431)
    I'd read some thread a while back on another board saying that "Macs are cheaper than PCs". I still can't believe anyone would make that argument.

    I'll make that argument any day of the week if you want to consider TCO. My family got a Powermac G4 in 1999, and it is still the daily use computer for them. (I have my own Cube, which is basically the same for performance comparisons.) That thing still does everything that they can ask of it and then some. Hell, it can still play all the games that I want to play, save UT2k3. The great part is that it is still humming along perfectly, and I don't see any reason why it won't last two or three more years. Find me a PC that you will still be using daily 6 or 7 years later.

    This doesn't even take into account all the time and headaches that have been saved from using a Mac. Taking out the "Did you accidentally kick the power cord out?" type phone calls I've gotten to help them, I can think of maybe twice that they have had to call me and troubleshoot. There is no pricetag on this peace of mind.
  • Because ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mooncaller ( 669824 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:37PM (#6369522)
    Redhat 7.1 and 7.2 are the standard versions used by industry and research. They are concidered more stable then newer releases. Most GNU/Linux hosting in the US uses RH7.2. It works and does not have some of the issues of OSs that use the kernel of pain. I do all of my development to target RH7.1. After the 2.6 kernel gains some maturity, I will probably change this. BTW, the 2.4 kernel realy has little to offer in the way of improving performance for the type of application NASA is intersted in. The same will not be true of the 2.6 series as can be seen in the current 2.5 tree.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:43PM (#6369544)
    3.06GHz with 512k cache? Dell has been selling these for a while.

    What about Dual Opteron?

    Why do people tests Macs that aren't even out yet against CPUs from the competition that are several speed increments below the top?

  • Damn Dude, RTFA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mindcry ( 596198 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:44PM (#6369549)
    The 498 MFLOPS figure was WITH 2 G5s!!!!
    With a single G5, the 2ghz got a 254, and the 2.66ghz P4 got 255 MFLOPs...
    Please read the article more clearly, this DOES NOT IN ANY WAY validate apple's earlier claims... here's the quote that was misread

    "Though dual processor benchmarks are not presented in detail here, it is worth noting that the G5 system benchmarked at 498 MFLOPS and 0.125 MFLOPS/MHz for scalar Jet3D performance when two processors were used."

    Followed by a chart showing the P4 2.66ghz with 255MFLOPS at the top and a G5 2ghz with 254MFLOPS at the bottom...

    So you could guess that a dual 2.66ghz would get about 499-500MFLOPS which would be a 0% performance advantage to the G5, and the P4 3.2ghz would be even faster...

  • Interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Skyleth ( 460976 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:46PM (#6369555)
    If this was done by NASA, why isn't the report on a NASA web server? (as opposed to some guy's personal homepage) kinda limits the creditability of this whole thing...
  • It's spelled A-M-D (Score:3, Interesting)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:48PM (#6369565) Homepage Journal
    You can easly build a dual Athlon system that could trounce an equivilant g5 for less cost. Xeon's arnt the only MP capable x86 chips out there...
  • by Gregg M ( 2076 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:58PM (#6369611) Homepage
    No matter how cool Mac OS X is... no matter how awesome these new G5s will be... if they are three times the cost of a PC, buyers will have a hard time justifiying it. In this economy, Apple will be hard-pressed to sell those $2300-$3000 desktops when people can get an equivalent-or-just-slightly-slower Dell for $800... including a flat-panel monitor.

    You're comparing apples to oranges. Do you feel that putting Windows on a fast computer is better? Would you consider a Windows XP vs Mac OS X a equivalent trade off? Are you out of your mind?

    Even at twice the price Mac OS-X beats Windows. (and I'm not even a Mac person!) These are the same type of arguments Mac people must have to put up with every day. I would buy a Mac. Just like I would buy a Corvette instead of a Chrysler.

  • by WasterDave ( 20047 ) <<moc.pekdez> <ta> <pevad>> on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:59PM (#6369615)
    Someone please explain to me how 5177 MFLOPS and ~300 MFLOPS are even comparable.

    They're not, which is what makes this whole benchmark so entirely useless.

    Look at it: The conclusion, basically, is that there's no point in running CFD code using scalar FP. So why didn't they port their code to SSE2? P4's, and particularly the new 800MHz FSB P4 get data through SSE2 code like there's no tomorrow.

    Nah, I'll listen when someone compares SSE2 and AltiVec properly. Until then it's just more blah. Don't get me wrong, I'm rapidly turning into the biggest Mac fanboy you've ever seen (Cocoa, since you ask) but the G5's are not the quantum leap Apple are making them out to be. Back in contention? Sure, but I promise you a dual Opteron 2GHz will blow the doors off a dual G5.

  • by markomarko ( 665913 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @06:59PM (#6369616)
    Yeah, yeah. Add 120GB hard drive, firewire, firewire 800, optical audio in and out, a fricking Pioneer DVRA05, PCI-X slots, AGP 8x, dual-head video card (dvi, dvi), and a full movie editing and dvd-authoring solution...and adobe's albulm software (to match iPhoto). Oh, and also try to stick 8GB of RAM in the Dell. And to be fair, also put XP Professional on the machine.

    For crying out loud, if you can't afford a Mac, keep it to yourself and buy a Dell. And don't give me any more of this "in this economy" B.S.. People are still buying brand new gas-guzzling SUV's "in this economy."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:04PM (#6369638)
    Actually they did mention SSE2, and weirdly enough, said it made things slower, and so they didn't use it
  • Re:Wrong. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dmarcoot ( 96402 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:10PM (#6369684) Journal
    also, to be fair, get your facts straight. the browser, chat program and media players, Apples equivalents (safari, ichat, quicktime) have are and have always been FREE and backwards compatible for all versions of the apple os x.
    furthermore, you can add on other FREE apps such as imovie, itunes, idvd, iphoto, ical. all are excellent and in some cases have no PC equivalent of similar high quality at the same cost, FREE. nor are any of them (besides QT) built into the OS, your free to delete any of them with no harm to your system.

    That policy has the added advantage for the users that they rarely have to upgrade their OS to get new apps, in contrast to the situation on windows were the os is locked out if you dont call Microsoft. to register it.
  • by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:10PM (#6369688) Homepage Journal
    Just thought I'd point out that there's a bit more difference here than meets the eye.
    There's more difference between your two comparison systems than you seemed to notice also:
    1. The Mac has a DVD-R/CDR drive
    2. 120 Gig HD is just a little bit bigger than the 40 Gig
    3. The "free" monitor is only worth $100 to Dell
    4. The Mac includes video editing software
    5. The Mac's video card is dual output with ADV and VGA connectors, dual-monitor capable
    An "equivalent" Dell system is nearly $1400, according to their website, if I start with your example as a basis.

    Sorry, but it's worth $1000 to me to have a computer with a better ROI and no Windows.

  • Re:MFLOPS per $ (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trurl's Machine ( 651488 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:13PM (#6369699) Journal
    Why not show an mflops/$ chart?

    Why not show a "just works"/$ chart?
  • by Mac Degger ( 576336 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:23PM (#6369747) Journal
    Uh...that's +3 dB for every doubling of sound energy.
  • by dhovis ( 303725 ) * on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:29PM (#6369788)

    I think the thing that most people on /. seem to keep missing is this: MacOS X and Linux both use GCC as their primary compiler. The Linux kernel is compiled with GCC, as is Darwin. Most software for each platform is compiled with GCC.

    Now, with all these Linux-heads around here insisting that Linux is faster than Windows on x86, you'd think GCC for x86 might be a good compiler. Certainly the SPEC tests Apple (and Veritest) did with GCC on the G5 with OS X and the dual Xeon Dell with Red Hat had to have been a valid comparison between those two situations.

    I also keep seeing all these comparisons to Dell computers without full specs of the Dell. The base configurations for the PowerMac G5 is positively loaded. How many $500 Dells come with Gigabit Ethernet? How many have the same level of engineering into the thermal managment?

    Only time will tell for sure. In the mean time, remember that IBM will be producing blade systems with the 970. We'll get a chance to compare those as well eventually.

  • by today ( 27810 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:32PM (#6369806) Homepage
    ...because it gets more miles to the gallon.
  • by Mr. Hankey ( 95668 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:51PM (#6369872) Homepage
    It would be interesting to see how it compared to an Athlon at MFLOP/MHz, which has a higher performance to clock cycle rate (and much better floating point) than the P4. I wouldn't be surprised if the Athlon outperforms the G5 at similar clock rates. The P4 is specifically designed to achieve higher clock rates at the expense of instructions per clock cycle.

    Obviously a comparison against the Opteron or Itanium is not fair at this time, as they're not intended for the desktop but rather workstation audience. When the Athlon 64 comes out though, benchmarks of those vs. the G5 would be of interest as well.
  • by slithytove ( 73811 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @07:58PM (#6369894) Homepage
    a single 970@1.8Ghz scored 2100MFLOPS and a DUAL opteron@1.8Ghz scored 2960 !? I assume your code was multithreaded/multiprocess? Your's sounds like a much more interesting test than nasa's - could you give any more info?
  • Re:Summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dbrutus ( 71639 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @08:11PM (#6369944) Homepage
    One thing to remember is that the scaling problems that plagued the G4 where a Motorola problem. IBM's G3's were clocked so fast they had to be kept out of Apple's line because they threatened to outrace the G4s. Also, you might not be aware but IBM was originally scheduled to be at 1.8Ghz not 2.0 Ghz. that's about 10% faster than originally projected. A 10% faster scaling G5 chip would be 3.3Ghz when Intel is at 3.6Ghz according to their roadmaps assuming current trends continue (Intel on schedule, IBM exceeding expectations).

    Like you said, time will tell.
  • yes, thanks but (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @08:35PM (#6370025)

    The g5 is 64 bit and can address a shitload of memory. Can we please see comparison against 64 bit apps ? Compare to t5he Itanium or Opteron please.

    Apps were not optimized for the g5, in real world of 3d graphics, engineering, and science, optimized apps would be used.

    It's unfair to apple to have people benchmark it without utilizing the full capabilites and feature set of the processor.
  • Re:The G5 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dbrutus ( 71639 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:03PM (#6370125) Homepage
    Microsoft does this every time they want to juice sales figures in a disappointing product. They even condone piracy by telling their distributors to stop checking for student IDs when selling educational versions of Office apps (that's straight from an interview with the Office division VP).

    You might have been able to do it, but you also might have just fed into the MS myth of "everybody pirates our stuff".
  • by the argonaut ( 676260 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:08PM (#6370146) Homepage Journal
    Actually, both 195.3% and 95.3% are correct, depending on how it is phrased:

    1.) it is 95.3% greater than...
    2.) it is 195.3% of... ...or something like that.
  • Re:The G5 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SoTuA ( 683507 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:30PM (#6370248)
    The problem is, people tend to see Apple computers and cheap DIY x86 computers as equivalent. I wouldn't sneer at a guy that has a 2003 BMW because his car cost 10x more than my '99 Hyundai. I would think "damn it's nice to be able to afford a luxury car!". Likewise, it would be nice to be able to buy a luxury computer.
    Apple offers top-notch hardware and a great OS, and is priced with that in mind. My el cheapo homemade computer has "somewhat decent" hardware, and a great OS that is a bit "not all that" when it comes to desktop (debian unstable).

    *I* for one wouldn't mind owning one of those G5's. :)
  • by Knife_Edge ( 582068 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @09:46PM (#6370316)
    Well, there is one I/O system, the bus, but from what I understand it is a point to point system that runs at 1Ghz in the 2GHz dual processor machines. That is a heck of a lot of bus bandwidth. The G5 is designed to do 2, 4, or even 8 way multiprocessing without too much competition between the chips for system resources.

    I agree totally that we need to see benchmarks of one dual system against another. But bear in mind that the use of dual processors depends a lot upon the specific code being run and also the operating system. I think the general problem here is that the G5, while fast, is not like 10X faster than the competition and at this point it is difficult to tell what scores where.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:18PM (#6370451)
    What is the difference between a PC and a workstation? I think its pretty clear the term workstation as a distinguishing label died long ago, some time after "PC" performance on the desktop destroyed "workstation" performance.
  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:55PM (#6370574) Homepage
    Please note,
    gcc + g++ for MacOS X on G5 platform = $0

    Intel's C++ compiler for pentium based platforms = $399
    prices []

    Now factor in Operating Systems prices, and general software.
    MacOS X 10.2 $129 Windows XP Professional $143
    iTunes $0 MusicMatch Jukebox Plus $19.99
    AppleWorks $0 WindowsXP Office $297

    Software Total: MacOS X: $129 WinXP: $459.99
    (prices taken from
  • by bninja_penguin ( 613992 ) on Saturday July 05, 2003 @01:09AM (#6370958)
    Is it just me, or do other people notice the growing trend of Intel really sucking hind tit? Sure, they are over 3Ghz, but AMD and now even Apple are sporting processors that are more than one thousand mhz slower, yet, over all, perform the same or better. I figure by the time Intel hits 4 or 5 Ghz, Via's Cyrix processor will be just about 1.8Ghz, but will have been worked to where it's performance will be on par with the Intel offering. Ol' Intel had better double their advertising budget, or even Dell will have to start offering non-intel systems.

    By the way, no, I don't benchmark systems I use, as that, in my mind is like putting a car on a dynometer. I mean, who realy cares how much horsepower a machine has, if it's gearing is completely mis-calculated? Based upon actually using systems, I find that G3s seem very slow to use, G4s not bad, P4s a little better, and AMD Athlons wicked quick. Yes, all systems were slightly different clock speeds, but all had 256MB of RAM, except the P4, it has 512MB of RAM. In just normal usage, nothing I've come across can touch the Athlons for performance. However, I also do NOT do video editing, sound editing, etc. I just play a few games, do programming for school, the internet, and such. So no, I do NOT care about how fast something can open Photoshop, or if these systems can do real time video editing. I didn't build/purchase them for that.

    There's my two cents, could I use that for a down payment on a new dual G5?
  • by afantee ( 562443 ) on Sunday July 06, 2003 @07:23AM (#6376370)
    >> Altivec is single-precision, SSE2 is double precision. The latter is invaluable for scientific computations of many types of matrix problems, and being wrong twice as fast is of little use.

    Actually, according to the author of the article, Jet3D is 99% double precision, but he was able to reformulate 10 lines of code to take advantage of AltiVec and gained 10 to 13 times in speed. SSE2 may handle double precision, but it's not a true vector processor like AltiVec, and there is absolutely no evidence that it can even double the speed.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall