Arn posts a roundup of the Macworld 2006 rumors. I have always loved the work he has done there, even though MacRumors is an aggregator of rumors, not a news site itself, he seems to have a â€œtasteâ€ for what is good Mac news and what isnâ€™t living up to his tag-line: â€œnews and rumors you care about.â€ Truely.
One thing interesting in the report is the implication of 13″ widescreen Intel iBooks (â€œMacBooksâ€) and Intel-based Mac Minis in the spring. Caitlin notes that if true, it would leave a single non-Intel hole in the line up: pro desktops and servers (PowerMac G5 and XServes).
That is quite an intersting pickle. Intel reserves multi-processing for their â€œXeonâ€ brand, and an Intel Mac would have to go multi-processor to be comparable to the â€œquadâ€ G5. These means we arenâ€™t likely to see a replacement for these computers until the second half of next year.
Iâ€™m sure Apple is rationalizing this by saying that professionals make conservative purchasing decisions, the G5 is comparable to the fastest x86 computers, and many pro apps wonâ€™t â€œgo universalâ€ until later. All true, but given all the marketing muscle theyâ€™re putting behind how fast and efficient Intel is, donâ€™t really know how theyâ€™ll pull this out without pissing off some of their fanbase.
Remember, in todayâ€™s world, hype cuts harder than the truth.
Intel iMac or IBM G5 Powermac
The lowest end PowerMac G5 is a 2×2 Ghz G5. There was some discussion on Flickr if this PowerMac G5 is slower than an iMac, including some bad advice from an â€œApple repâ€ who seriously needs to be fired causing a little buyers remorse on one user.
These are dual processor systems, not dual-core which still affords some advantages when they are split (not so many advantages in the tight space and heat/power restrictions of a Powerbook or iMac). I think he is safe with the PowerMac purchase since evidence above points to it being the last one migrated to Intel.
It is simply not true that it will be slower than an iMac:
- As mentioned above, not all apps are “Universal” and thus need to run emulated on the Intel-based system. Jobs keeps harping Photoshop (notice he didnâ€™t have one of his fabled Photoshop â€œshootoutsâ€?). The entire Apple Pro Line (Final Cut Studio, Aperture, Logic) etc. wonâ€™t be ready until March at the earliest (just in time for NAB). I guess MacOffice runs acceptably slow *shrug* I think we are well past the days when a spreadsheet and word processor were taxing our hardware.
- The memory and system bus is still slow relative to the Power Macintosh (though much faster than the G4). A lot of times your CPU is waiting on this or the disk.
- Apps that make heavy use of Altivec will need to be ported back to SSE. Yes, SSE2 is great compared to MMX, but not as good as VMX/Altivec/Velocity. Youâ€™ll probably notice this when you are using Compressor to do a batch encodeâ€”a G5 simply flies at these type of tasks.
- Graphics card performance. We are comparing a desktop computer to a notebook one, no matter how fast a notebook GPU they use. I notice the iLife and iWork apps are now making more heavy use of the CoreImage library which tries to use the GPU even more than Quartz Extreme does.
- Drive speed. This is especially true if you have a SATA card and run your drives in SATA RAID-0. Upgrade options here are very limited in the iMac world.
It is important to note that Apple’s own benchmarks are contrived: Those are two universal apps that they are comparing (check it out). I find this amusing that nobody has noticed this in their rush to bow to all things x86. Remember the days when we were quick to fault Apple for their contrived Photoshop benchmarks? How are these any different?
One thing the Intel iMac is going to do really well at is integer math. Notice how the SPEC_int delta relative to the iMac G5 (single CPU) is 3x while the SPEC_fp is only 2x? That’s one thing x86 has been weak at. Where should one see this? Well, if you have ever had to use Fink to compile kcachegrind you know how slow the PowerPC is (or rather, how really fast x86 is). Also you would see this in Safari web page rendering timesâ€”something Jobs showed in his keynote and similar â€œdaily useâ€ apps once they are Universal binaries.
(The flickr discussion mentioned the Intel iMacs have DVI out and spanned video. Neat! I missed that one.)