The Macintel Report

New Mac mini Imminent?, Mac Pro Beats Dell Prices, Intel Improves Mac Appeal, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.08.31

This Week's Macintel News

When we launched The Macintel Report in June 2005, we knew it would have a short life. After all, Apple was going to be 100% Intel by the end of 2006, so from that point on all Macintel news would simply be Mac news. Well, Apple beat that deadline by a country mile, announcing the Mac Pro and an Intel-based Xserve earlier this month. And that means Macintel News is now just plain Mac News, so we're bringing an end to the Macintel Report with this installation.

PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing news is covered in The 'Book Review. General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review.

The Macintel Transition

Tech Tips and Info

Intel News

The Macintel Transition

Is a Mac mini Update Imminent?

Ars Technica's Charles Jade says:

"Mac enthusiasts are having problems with the transition to Intel, not the actual adoption of Intel-based Macs, but the rumormongering. The move to Intel was supposed to make the hitherto art of upgrade prognostication into a simple craft. Publicly available roadmaps and release dates were supposed to determine the upgrade cycle, and this worked with the Mac Pro, but we have yet to see a MacBook Pro with Core 2 Duo. And now there are signs that a Mac mini update is nearing...."

Mac Pro Beats Dell on Price

The position of Associated Press (AP) is that you may not quote more than 5 words from any of its copyrighted articles without paying $12.50 or more for a "quotation license". Rather than pay this fee or risk the wrath of AP, we are removing all AP quotes from the site along with links to those articles.

We regret any inconvenience to our readers, but we will never pay for what is considered Fair Use under copyright law. We consider brief quotations in our news roundups to be Fair Use and a benefit to the site that we quoted from and linked to. (We adhere to the Open Link policy, and our Fair Use policy specifically allows quoting up to 50% or 300 words of our original content, whichever is less.)

Does Intel Increase Apple's Appeal?

Deccan Herald says:

"With Apple reinventing itself in recent times including a new OS and a line of computers with Intel processors, it is fast catching the attention of Windows users.

"Ten years ago, if you were a Windows user, the idea of switching to a Macintosh might not have seemed enticing. An abundance of new Windows software was arriving on store shelves, while the selection available to Mac users seemed to be falling behind, often relegated to a back corner of the same store.

"Today, the calculation is different. Apple Computer, through a series of transitions, has reinvented itself. With a new operating system, its own chain of retail stores, the iPod and now a new line of computers that run on Intel processors, this new and more mainstream Apple is catching the attention of Windows users.

"But is switching a good idea? The answer, as always, depends on the needs and preferences of the user. Apple's move to Intel processors has made it easier to run Windows on Intel-based Macs, and thus any software a switcher may want to continue using. But even with that ability, there are pluses and minuses to consider."

Common Processor Diminishes Mac vs. PC Debate

The Columbus Dispatch says:

"Shopping for a laptop is either too easy or too hard.

"The stickiest of these value judgments remains that old standby: Mac or Windows?

"The basic tradeoff between Mac OS X and Windows XP has changed dramatically since Apple began selling computers that run on the same Intel processors as many PCs. A Mac now can run every program a PC can, once you install Apple's free Boot Camp software and use that to load a copy of Windows XP on the Mac's hard drive. (Or you can buy 'virtualization' software that runs XP in its own window in OS X.)

"Instead of having to balance Apple's security and ease of use with the far-wider choice of software provided by Windows, you can have both. So if you've been leaning toward getting a MacBook, Apple's consumer-oriented laptop, but worry that you might have to run some Windows-only program, go ahead and get the Mac."

Apple Gearing Up to Ship Conroe-based Macs?

The Register's Tony Smith says:

"Is Apple about to upgrade its Mac mini and iMac consumer computers? One blogger reckons so after a big order for Mac minis was rejected by his usual supplier. The reseller told him he would be able to order the kit from 5 September onwards.

"What makes the posting worthy of note is that the same thing happened some seven months ago, days before Apple launched its Intel-based Mac minis on 28 February."

Buying a Mac as a Windows PC

iTWire - IT News Australia's Stan Beer says:

"Like many of the media around the world, I was treated to a comprehensive demo by the local Apple Mac marketing team, who showed off the Mac Pro, the last of the company's computer hardware to move to the Intel platform....

"Leaving aside the benefits and features of having a box that comes with Mac OS X Tiger, soon to be upgraded to Leopard, with all the plug and play features, the Mac Pro still becomes a fairly interesting proposition when considered just as a Windows box.

"In fact, the same thing now goes for the entire Mac range....

"There are some commentators out in the marketplace that still maintain that the Mac will stay just a niche player. They may not have looked at the prices lately compared to the Windows only boxes."

Tech Tips and Info

Intel Simplifies Multicore Parallelism

PR: Intel Corporation yesterday announced the availability of three new threading tools that enable software developers to efficiently create reliable, high-performance threaded applications to take full advantage of multicore processing systems. These new tools, Intel Threading Building Blocks 1.0, Intel Thread Checker 3.0 and Intel Thread Profiler 3.0, are part of the most comprehensive tool set in the industry, enabling developers to achieve correctness, scalability and ease of programming in parallel development. "These are the tools software developers need the most to enable them to exploit parallelism from multicore processors," said James Reinders, marketing director for Intel's Developer Products Division. "Developers do not want to inflate their code by writing their own thread management code and no one should have to debug and tune applications using yesterday's developer tools. These products work with other Intel tools, understand locks, OpenMP and other parallel constructs, and fit easily into current development environments."

Intel Threading Building Blocks 1.0

Intel Threading Building Blocks 1.0 is a C++ runtime library that simplifies introducing threads to an application, making performance gains possible while shielding software developers from the low-level complexity of assigning threads to processor cores. With this tool, developers can avoid having to rewrite, retest and retune common parallel data structures and algorithms. Developers can utilize this product to make their programs simpler and more maintainable while also enhancing the speed and scalability of their applications. Intel Threading Building Blocks enables developers to write an application once that automatically recognizes the number of available cores and scales performance appropriately. This reduces the need to rewrite application code when new processors with more cores are released. Threading Building Blocks 1.0 provides a single solution for Windows*, Linux, and Mac * OS on platforms using Intel, Microsoft* and GNU compilers. This library can be used in concert with other threading programming interfaces, such as Windows, POSIX* and OpenMP* threads.

Intel Thread Checker 3.0

Intel Thread Checker 3.0 is a threading analysis tool that allows developers to introduce threading in a way to minimize error potential. With its patented, advanced error protection engine, it provides "thread safety" by identifying the most obscure threading errors in 32-bit and 64-bit applications. Intel Thread Checker is unique in its ability to help developers understand how to optimally use Windows*, POSIX* or OpenMP* threads in their applications. This latest version of Intel Thread Checker now supports 64-bit applications on Intel hardware platforms based on the Intel 64 architecture, enabling developers to use just one thread analyzer for both their 32- and 64-bit applications. In addition to supporting Intel compilers and existing Microsoft* compilers on Windows*, Intel Thread Checker 3.0 adds integration with Microsoft* Visual Studio 2005.

Intel Thread Profiler 3.0

Intel Thread Profiler 3.0 for Windows provides developers with insight into how their application threads interact. Intel Thread Profiler visualizes threaded application behavior and pinpoints parallel performance issues, such as bottlenecks. It allows developers to measure the number of cores that are effectively utilized by the application and indicates the percentage of the code that is not optimally parallelized for the hardware platform on which the application is running. Intel Thread Profiler 3.0 can also prototype and estimate the performance potential of threading parts of an application, enabling developers to thread the parts of their application that will yield the greatest performance.

Intel Threading Building Blocks 1.0, Intel Thread Checker 3.0 and Intel Thread Profiler 3.0 are available today. Suggested pricing for the products: Intel Threading Building Blocks 1.0 for Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems $299; Intel Thread Checker 3.0 for Windows and Linux $999 and Intel Thread Profiler 3.0 for Windows $299. The Intel Thread Checker 3.0 for Linux, which currently supports command-line usage only, has a suggested price of $499.

Intel offers a complete line of software development products, including compilers, libraries and analysis tools, which enable developers to get more performance out of their systems and applications. Intel software developer products offer industry leading support for parallel programming for systems of all sizes

Intel News

Laptops Get Performance Boost from Intel Core 2 Duo Processors

PR: Laptops around the world are getting a makeover as systems based on Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology are now shipping with Intel Core 2 Duo mobile processors inside, Intel Corporation announced today.

More than 200 Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology-based designs from PC manufacturers, resellers and integrators around the world will incorporate the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor (formerly codenamed "Merom") this year. The Intel Core 2 Duo processor, launched last month, has garnered widespread acclaim and is already shipping in the company's other premium platform for consumers, Intel Viiv technology-based entertainment PCs.

"In just one year we've taken extraordinary leaps in mobile and desktop computing with the launch of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor," said David (Dadi) Perlmutter, senior vice president of Intel's Mobility Group. "For laptops the new processor has doubled the performance, giving consumers and businesses an immersive mobile experience while keeping power consumption and battery life unchanged. The dual-core processing power of the Core 2 Duo processor helps people handle the toughest of multitasking scenarios no matter where they are."

Intel Core 2 Duo processors have two processing cores - or computing "brains" - that can handle multiple tasks in less time while consuming less power. This means cooler, sleeker and smaller systems. These processors also deliver improved performance for videos, gaming and multimedia activities - especially when running multiple applications simultaneously. For example, when integrated into Intel Centrino Duo-based systems, the Intel Core 2 Duo processors can improve viewing and playing back high-definition video, speed up conversion of songs into a digital format so they can be uploaded onto an MP3 player, and more quickly run the latest virus protection updates.

Laptops based on Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology with the Intel Core 2 Duo processor also include the current Intel 945 Express chipset family and the Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG network connection.

Intel Viiv technology-based entertainment PCs with the Intel Core 2 Duo processor, which started shipping earlier this month, also include the new Intel 965 Express Chipset family with support for high-definition playback and up to 7.1 surround sound.

The mobile version of the Intel Core 2 Duo processors T7600, T7400, T7200, T5600 and T5500 are priced at $637, $423, $294, $241 and $209 respectively, in 1,000-unit quantities. For additional information on platform component pricing and availability, visit Intel® Processor Pricing (PDF 24 KB)

Intel's Core 2 Duo Makes Notebook Debut

eWeek's John G. Spooner reports:

"As expected, numerous PC makers on Aug. 28 unveiled plans to offer Intel's new Core 2 Duo processor inside notebook PC models.

"The Core 2 Duo for notebooks, otherwise known by the code name Merom, offers buyers extra performance - an increase of about 20 percent over its predecessor, the Core Duo, according to Intel - while holding power consumption to nearly the same level, an increase from 31 watts for the Core Duo to 34 watts for the Core 2 Duo."

Intel Core 2 Duo 'Merom' Notebooks

Trusted Reviews' Benny Har-Even reports:

"Every few months computer technology moves forward. Usually it's only a small jump, such as a latest iteration of a graphics architecture, but sometimes it's a significant one, such as the recent introduction of Intel's Core 2 Duo desktop processor, known internally by Intel as Conroe.

"Conroe's arrival was very important as it represented the first time that Intel had brought the fruits of its new 'Performance per Watt' architecture direction to the desktop....

"...Intel previous mobile chip, Yonah or Core Duo was so good that it didn't need to rush it to market. However, Intel definitely needed to bring Conroe to the market as for a long time been lagging behind AMD."

Merom Core 2 Duo Benchmarks

Extreme Tech' Loyd Case writes:

"Merom is out.

"The mobile version of the Core 2 Duo, code-named Merom, completes the circle: The company now has the same architecture across desktop, mobile, and most server platforms. The mobile version is identical architecturally to the desktop Core 2 Duo, but adds more aggressive power management. That's a good thing, as we'll see shortly, because the new CPU can run hotter when pushed hard than Intel's previous Core Duo mobile line.

"We had the rare opportunity to look at both Core Duo and Core 2 Duo in the same platform. Intel supplied us with a 'white box' laptop PC: an ASUS Z96J, which uses Intel's mobile 945 chipset. The Z96J uses a standard socket 479 for the CPU, which allowed us to swap out Core Duo for Core 2 Duo. This allowed us to run benchmarks on identical systems."

Extreme Tech also reports:

"Let's first take a look at the results from SYSmark 2004 SE, which simulates real-life workloads for both Internet Content Creation and Office Productivity. The content-creation part uses apps like Photoshop, 3ds Max, Dreamweaver, and more, while the office-productivity tests use typical office apps, such as PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.

"The difference in clock rates between Yonah (Core Duo) and Merom (Core 2 Duo) is slightly less than 8%. The difference in SYSmark Office Productivity scores is over 25%, while the difference in the Internet Content Creation test suite is just shy of 15%, so clock rate is not the key differentiator in performance. This gives us the first clue that the new CPU is a substantially better performer than the older Core Duo."

'Woodcrest' Shows Its Stuff

eWeek:

"Armed with Intel's latest dual-core Xeon processors, IBM's x3500 server offers organizations speedy performance and flexible internal storage and memory configuration for their mission-critical applications-all with a compact footprint.

"Released in July with the new Xeon 5100 series processors (formerly code-named Woodcrest), the 5U (8.75-inch) x3500 tower server is a solid choice for remote branch locations and data centers. The x3500 vies with two-processor towers such as Dell's PowerEdge 2900 and Hewlett-Packard's ProLiant ML370 G5, both of which also can be configured with the Xeon 5100 processors.

"Built on a new Core microarchitecture, the Xeon 5100 processor features a 4 MB Level 2 cache shared between each of its cores and a 1,333 MHz Dual-Independent Bus architecture. Clock speeds for the new Xeon processors, which were released in June, start at 1.6 GHz and go up to 3.0 GHz, with power consumption ranging from 65 watts to 85 watts."

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