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25
Jul

Mac Core 2 Performance

author alang

Lets start this article by going into a bit of history for people that aren’t familiar with Apple’s recent transition. About a year ago, all Macs that Apple sold were powered by the G4 or G5 PowerPC CPU by IBM and Apple had gone to great lengths to show the superiority of these PowerPC CPUs over Intel’s Pentium line of CPUs.However, and this is just my opinion, IBM couldn’t keep up with Apple’s demands for performance from their CPUs and this was evident when Apple’s CEO Mr. Steve Jobs promised a 3.0GHz PowerPC based Mac within a year over three years ago. IBM still hasn’t delivered a 3.0Ghz G5 CPU. Apple saw this coming and a little over a year ago, they announced the move to Intel CPUs for all their products.

The initial time frame that Apple gave to roll out Intel based machines was about a year from the date of announcement which would be right around this time. However, Apple released these Macs at the start of this year- almost six months ahead of schedule. Now this might sound great under normal circumstances, however, all applications written for Macs were based on the PowerPC architecture. Application developers thus had their time cut in half to release optimized versions of their applications for these new Intel powered Macs.

Now, in order for all these older applications to run on Intel powered Macs and until developers released their Intel Optimized applications, Apple included an emulation layer called Rosetta in their Operating System OS X for the Intel platform. Although Rosetta allows for almost all applications to work on Intel CPU based Macs, performance for such applications is a bit sluggish which is expected since you’re emulating something and not running it natively. Applications that are compiled to run natively under both Intel and PowerPC based CPUs are labeled as Universal Binaries and run at their full speed on either CPU based Macs.

Coming back to the present- a little over a year after the announcement of moving to Intel CPUs, Apple’s switch could be defined as a successful one even though some of the major applications like the ones by Adobe and Microsoft are still not Universal. The performance gained by switching to Intel CPUs, bundled with some additional RAM makes Rosetta’s performance bearable.

One thing that surprised some people when Apple announced the switch was why they didn’t chose AMD over Intel as, at that time, there was no denying that AMD’s CPUs ran faster and consumed lesser power. However, Apple had access to internal documents at Intel with roadmaps on upcoming CPUs and they certainly made a wise decision as the launch of Intel’s Core 2 CPU last week put Intel back on top of the performance ladder while consuming lesser power than AMD’s counterparts.

Many of us, including myself, are waiting for Apple’s WWDC event on the 7th of August to see the expected revelation of their new PowerMac or Mac Pro machines which will supposedly be powered by these new CPUs. Intel has formally announced two versions of the Conroe architecture as of yet- the desktop version with 1066MHz FSB known as Core 2 and the server version called Xeon with 1333MHz FSB along with SMP capabilities. We don’t know which of these will Apple chose for their new products but maybe the lower end Mac Pro will be based on dual core Core 2 CPU while a higher end will utilize the new Xeons for 4-way processing.

News Source: t-break


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