The Low End Mac Mailbag

Non-Intel Mac Rumors, G5 iMac Power Supply Failure, Leopard on a 700 MHz eMac, and More

Dan Knight - 2008.07.31 - Tip Jar

Apple's Rumored Use of a non-Intel Chipset

From Jeffrey T Kafer:

Dan,

Here I am reading the news, and Internet stuff pretending to be news, and I stumble upon these non-Intel-chipset-for-the-next-MacBook rumors. And so I ask myself, why would Apple design a new chipset to support an existing CPU for which an adequate chipset already exists? Perhaps they think it needs better graphics. Perhaps they want it to draw less power. Perhaps they want it to cost less? Perhaps they think they can do all these things better than Intel.

Plausible, but then I thought that was not very interesting and almost boring.

I looked into the size issue regarding the demands of carrying PPC code alongside the Intel code, and it appears that the bloat is on the Intel side. Browse the Apple download site and examine the relative sizes of the Intel versions and PPC versions of the software updates. For example, Security Update 2008-003 for Intel is 111 MB while the PPC version is 72 MB. Mac OS X combo update 10.4.11 for Intel is 321.5 MB while the PPC version is 180.8 MB. I don't recall ever seeing a case where the reverse is true. Can't Apple change the gcc compiler options to get smaller code out for the Intel chips?

But then I thought, if they really are developing their own chipset, what if they are designing it to support a non-Intel CPU? What if the non-Intel CPU didn't have an existing chipset? What if this hypothetical non-Intel CPU wasn't x86 compatible? Ah ha! Then that might explain a move to eliminate PPC code in 10.6 better than the Intel-specific features story . . . so that they only have to include two instead of three! I can already hear them telling the developers . . . "and all you need to do is check the little box . . . Xcode, then check the little box."

Now, isn't that a better rumor?

Jeffrey

Jeffrey,

We haven't published anything about the non-Intel chipset rumors for a number of reasons: It doesn't make economic sense. Apple has a very good working relationship with Intel and can probably get Intel to give them anything they need or want in a chipset. And it really doesn't matter much to the end user.

I think the smartest thing Apple could do would be to use a chipset that includes integrated graphics and allows for the addition of a dedicated graphics card - both in the notebook realm and on the desktop. This could reduce the cost of the iMac while making the Mac mini and MacBook more flexible. It's a win-win situation, and Apple could increase profits by selling upgrade video cards.

Apple has transitioned from the 6502 CPU used in the Apple II and III to the Motorola 680x0 family, and then helped develop the PowerPC design that it moved to next. x86 architecture was inferior, and Apple proved that with the G3 and G4 CPUs. But Intel learned from RISC design, and both Motorola and IBM ran into problems providing CPUs at the clock speeds Apple needed to retain its edge.

The transition to Intel was a shock to many of us, and in the opinion of some today's Macintosh computers are nothing more than Windows PCs running a pretender operating system (Mac OS X is not the Classic Mac OS). We're more realistic about that at Low End Mac: Today's Macs are absolutely in the family tree of the original Macintosh, and OS X inherits the legacy of the original Mac OS. Sure, there are changes and improvements, just as today's Ford Mustang is different from the Model T and the original Mustang yet still part of the Ford and Mustang tradition.

I can't conceive of Apple ever going back to PowerPC, and today's Macs have the added benefit of being able to run Windows very, very well when we need it. (Some claim that Apple makes the best Windows PCs, especially laptops!) Moving to a different CPU for the Macintosh makes no sense at all, as we would lose the ability to run Windows.

That's not to say that Apple couldn't use a different CPU in non-Mac products. Apple used an ARM processor in its Newton MessagePads, and it uses an ARM processor in the iPhone and iPod touch (one running 20x faster than the one used in the Newton). The iPhone and iPod touch run OS X, although Apple is careful not to call it Mac OS X.

Two possibilities that come to mind for OS X devices that aren't Macs and needn't be x86-based: Apple TV or a new device that's about the size of an ebook reader, has most of the technology found in the iPhone and iPod touch, and runs a version of OS X. If Apple is looking at a non-Intel chipset, my best guess is that it will be for a non-Mac product.

Dan

Clamshell iBooks and the 8 GB Partition Problem

From Joel Rees:

I've got a contrary datapoint and a question about the iBook G3/300 (P1) page.

It says that this model is subject to the 8 GB partition limits, but that is not my experience. I currently have a 160 GB hard disk in my tangerine iBook. The bottom partitions are a 4 GB partition for Classic, a 20 GB partition for Mac OS X, and a 5 GB partition for the clone of the previous system.

I can boot either of the Mac OS X partitions, and, until I made too many partitions while installing Linux, I could boot Mac Classic.

I bought this iBook in August, just before the FireWire models came out, so should I assume that the motherboard revision, maybe with the updated boot ROM, handles the larger partitions, or should I assume I've just managed to miss the land mines so far?

Joel Rees

Joel,

Thanks for writing. Your email sent me on an information safari (maybe the web browser is the Knowledge Navigator that John Sculley wrote about in 1987), learning more about Open Firmware, NewWorld ROMs, and more. It's been quite educational.

The first NewWorld Mac was the original WallStreet PowerBook, and the original iMac was the second. The Blue & White Power Mac G3 was the next NewWorld design, followed by the original iBook.

The beige Power Mac G3 (the last OldWorld Power Mac), the WallStreet PowerBook, and the tray-loading iMacs all have a potential problem with partitions larger than 8 billion bytes (about 7.4 GB) on IDE hard drives using their built-in drive controllers. It is possible to successfully use these Macs with a larger partition, but should any files used by the OS go beyond the first 8 billion bytes, kaboom. Everything breaks.

We've been warning users about this since the early days of Mac OS X, and we later discovered that the same issue applies to the Classic Mac OS. Maybe we took the description of the clamshell iBook as "an iMac to go" too literally and assumed it suffered from the same problem. Whatever the reason, we were wrong.

Like the Blue & White G3, the clamshell iBooks use a drive controller that doesn't have the same partition problem as the 1997 and 1998 models. Based on your email and others I've received, there's enough anecdotal evidence to show we were mistaken in saying the clamshell iBooks suffered from it.

Dan

Presentations in ClarisWorks

From Tony Turenne:

Dan,

I could find no other way to respond to this article. Perhaps in the future you could look into modifying the Low End Mac site to allow comments on each story at the bottom of the article such as is done on the Macworld and Mac Observer sites. I really enjoy some of the articles on your site.

In a My First Mac article on 2 - 8-07-30, Jeff Gaskill wrote:

I use the slideshow feature in ClarisWorks to "PowerPoint" the key points of the story on the screen. (I wish I could find the same feature in current software.)

This feature is available in current (and included or free) Mac software. If a group of pictures chosen together in the same folder is dragged to the Preview icon, they will open in the same window. Then you can choose "slideshow" from the view menu and work like PowerPoint: arrows go to the next or previous slides, escape exits the presentation. Interestingly, spacebar does not advance as it does in PowerPoint, instead it advances slides automatically every few seconds. You can also use the really nice interface provided on screen by using the mouse. Preview can do this same slideshow with any document that is saved in PDF format, although it does not always allow you to enter "full screen mode." You can save a document in PDF format on any current Mac by choosing "Print" and then in the choosing "Save as PDF" from the PDF drop down menu at the bottom left of the print dialog box.

Another way to do similar things with PDF files only is to use the Adobe Reader (free from Adobe). On the Mac, Command-L will cause Adobe Reader to enter full screen mode and act like PowerPoint for a slideshow. Adobe Reader for Windows has the same functionality, but I am not sure of the key combination to get it to enter into full screen mode.

Tony Turenne

P.S. The keyboard without labels is a joke. It started with a really great parody site that was absolutely hilarious. The site is now way too serious so the joke is lost. Unfortunately, I appears that they may actually be selling the thing, probably for those who enjoy practical jokes. I think someone got greedy.

Tony,

I'd love to have a comment system on Low End Mac as well, but that's not without its drawbacks. Someone has to keep the garage out, and we're just not set up for that.

Then there's the whole issue of switching the website to a content management system (CMS) that supports comments or cobbling together our own using PHP and MySQL. We're too busy producing content to do that, and I haven't yet found a CMS that's flexible, powerful, and easy to learn. (I'm a Mac user. I think computers should make our lives easier.)

As for the presentation module in ClarisWorks, it's a lot more than a slideshow program. You can create slides using text and drawing tools. You can import or cut-and-paste images and drawings. You can even include QuickTime movies, if I recall correctly. It was a creditable alternative to PowerPoint, which is also designed for creating slides, not simply displaying a group of images.

Dan

2005 iMac Power Supply Failure

From John Cheseldine:

Good afternoon Mr. Knight, I thought I would share my recent tale of disappointment and woe with an Apple Authorised Reseller and Repair centre in the UK.

I bought a G5 iMac from a retailer (name on request) in July 2005. I got the top-of-the-range 20" 2.0 GHz version with a 1 GB memory upgrade. I was extremely pleased with the machine, but it broke down about ten months later with a faulty power supply. It was repaired by the workshop of the same retailer, and it was working again. Given that it had failed once toward the end of warranty period, I decided to splash out on AppleCare.

The machine failed again with the same fault a few months later, but as it was covered by AppleCare, I took it back to the same shop. It was again sent off for repair.

It's awkward for me to get the machine back to the shop as I don't have transport, and I'm reliant on friends to move the machine for me. Again, I got it back, and it worked again for a few months. I almost gave up on the machine at this point, but I'd bought a MacBook Pro and G5 PowerMac at this point, so I didn't miss it too much. My partner pressured me into getting the G5 White Elephant repaired, as it had cost me a lot of money and I could possibly sell it.

More months passed, and in May this year I finally got round to bringing it in again for its third repair. This time, instead of swapping the power supply, they changed the logic board. However, this time, the machine failed again immediately. The machine had simply not been repaired and was returned to me faulty.

By this point, I'd had enough. I did some research on UK law and learned that I was entitled to a full refund or replacement unit. The retailer resisted this and after a couple of weeks offered me a replacement in the form of a 2.1 GHz iMac G5. Although I was grateful for the offer, I thought it was a bit poor to be offered an obsolete machine when I'd effectively been without a working iMac for a couple of years by this point. Another five-and-a-half weeks passed (I was waiting for contact from the retailer) before I rang up and asked the status of the repair - it had been almost eight weeks by this point.

In the interim, I had asked a solicitor friend what my rights were, and he confirmed exactly what I had read - I was entitled to a full refund or a brand new replacement machine. I didn't have to accept a refurb machine that was marginally newer than the machine I had been offered. I bought a top-spec machine and missed out on the use of that for a while. Offering me such an old machine was insulting.

My solicitor has now had a conversation with the head of this company and explained the position of the law. The retailer refuses to accept or believe this. So I'm having to bring legal action against them. I'm prosecuting them for the cost of the machine originally, and the cost of AppleCare, which has not protected me in the manner it should.

The final interesting part is that a friend of mine bought a 17" iMac at the same time I did, which also suffered a faulty power supply. She took it back to the same branch of the shop that I bought mine from, outside of warranty, and was called back and offered a brand new machine out of stock as a replacement.

While I still love Apple products and can't ever imagine jumping ship to Windows, my faith in Apple has been slightly blighted. I'm sure Apple would be interested to know how completely one of their representatives has failed me, to the point of breaking UK law.

My Microsoft Xbox 360 failed recently, and I was able to send it back to Microsoft at no cost to myself (they paid for a courier to pick it up), despite being out of warranty, for a logic board replacement. They replaced the logic board (which suffered the notorious 'Three Red Lights' fault), replaced the DVD-drive which I had no problems with, but they had detected a potential problem with, and they cleaned the exterior of the unit, then shipped it back to me, again at no expense, along with a month's complimentary subscription to the Xbox Live Gold service. The whole process took slightly less than ten days.

I just felt I needed to share this with the Mac community.

Cheers!

John Cheseldine
Information Systems Services
University of Leeds

John,

You must have much better consumer protection laws in the UK that we're used to here in the States. Your horror story helps explain the success of Apple's retail stores - they can't pass the buck, and they seem to bend over backward to take care of their customers. I've been very happy with service at the local Apple Store and haven't been to either of the local independent Mac dealers in years.

Your AppleCare warranty entitles you to what you've received - a total of three years of warranty coverage for your iMac. It sounds like a design flaw in the power supply, since that part failed so frequently (as you've documented), and if UK law entitles you to a new replacement, I can't see any way for the dealer to get off the hook on this one.

Let's hope they have the sense to do so without going to court.

Dan

Leopard on an eMac 700

From Luke Price:

Hi,

Running on 700 MHz Power PC G4, 1 GB SDRAM, GeForce 2MX 32 MB.

I used LeopardAssist to install Leopard, bought a copy of Leopard and booted from DVD to install.

FrontRow works fine, as does DVD Player, but I was unable to get TimeMachine to work. All the visual stuff, such as the Dock and the documents/downloads fanning out from the Dock is as smooth as butter!

I ran Geekbench on Tiger and managed a score of 370. The score for Leopard got to 377, so its slightly better, but the whole feel seems exactly the same. It's all working a lot better than I anticipated! I'm also running the eMac's fan at half speed (using Zalman Fan Mate 2), and the level of performance is just the same. It feels like a different machine to be honest!

with thanks,
Luke

Luke,

Thanks for sharing your experiences with Leopard on your eMac. I've heard memory can be a big factor, so it's a good thing you've maxed out to 1 GB of RAM. I've used Leopard a bit here and there on my dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 with 2 GB of RAM, and it runs very nicely.

Dan

Using My Power Mac 7600 to Watch DVDs

From Jesse Carroll:

My PM 7600 has:

  • A Sonnet Crescendo 400/1M G3 daughter card.
  • 640 MB of interleaved RAM
  • Two 18 GB 7200 rpm IBM SCSI 50-pin drives, both internal.
  • OS 9.2.2 on each drive, with "Helper".
  • Working 2-port Fire Wire PCI card.

I have an external LaCie FW DVR-104 (Pioneer DVR-104/AO4) DVD-RW . . . this drive is normally used with my iMac 600 SE (Early 2001) under OS 9.2.2 to both burn and play DVDs, so I know it's okay . . . though it could use a firmware update to burn at something faster than 1x. Another issue, for another time....

I'd like to use the LaCie with my PM 7600 to play DVDs . . . not to burn them.

The 7600 has a great 19" Dell 991 SVGA monitor and Altec Lansing ACS41/ACS250 sound system, which puts my iMac's 15" screen and sound into the shade . . . the reason for this effort. I'd like to see and hear DVD through this system.

I have on hand an ATI Rage 128 16 MB Open GL PCI video card, as found in B&W G3s and "PCI Graphics" G4s, but I do not (as yet) have the Apple DVD Decoder Card # 661-2109 that "docks" onto that ATI card.

I have had the ATI card and everything else installed or hooked up with OS 9.2.2 and Apple DVD Player 2.7/2.7(k). The DVD drive shows on 7600's desktop and with System Profiler, but DVD Player 2.7 tells me: "Needs/looking for hardware" or similar message to play DVDs.

Sounds like the missing Apple DVD Decoder Card, which I can get for about $40 online, with shipping . . . if I knew for sure it will work with the LaCie, etc., etc.

Has anyone else tried this?

I would imagine those with PM 7500, 8500, 8600, and 9600 would run into the same issues, if they were trying to do this.

Funny thing, this ATI 16 MB SGRAM PCI video card tests out to be slower than my 8 MB Apple ix3D "Fast EDO" (ixMicro) PCI video card. I have all the ATI drivers/extensions for the ATI card.

I'm pretty sure I've seen this particular ATI card and docked DVD decoder in Beige G3s (DT and MT) that have come through our Mac Recycling effort . . . but it's been a while . . . this combo of cards is rather distinct from most other video cards.

Any advice, or a firm "No Go" would be appreciated.

Thank you.
Jesse Carroll

Jesse,

The best place to ask this kind of question is the PCI PowerMacs List, but I'll give it a shot.

The problem you're running into is that DVD Player for the Classic Mac OS only supports Apple DVD drives, not any third-party ones. OS 9 Forever explains how to patch Intech's CD/DVD Speed Tools to work with third-party internal DVD drives. I have no idea if that solution will work with an external drive. You might try finding a cheap used internal 1x or 2x DVD-ROM drive, since you only want to watch DVDs on your Power Mac 7600.

BTW, according to OS 9 Forever, the DVD decoder card only work if the Rage 128 card is plugged into a 66 MHz PCI bus, which no Mac prior to the Blue & White G3 has, so it would do you no good to purchase the decoder.

Dan

Thank you for the "footwork". I too was wondering about the 33/66 MHz bus dichotomy with the ATI Rage GL card.

This came after trying this 16 MB card in my PM 7600 400/1M G3 and getting worse test results than with the 8 MB Apple ix3D ixMicro PCI 33 video card when I first found the card.

I think the ATI card will get re-donated, with a note attached: "For PCI G4s only" or some such.

Finding a SCSI 50-pin Apple labelled internal DVD-ROM may be the trick.

Funny thing, my LaCie FW DVR-104's drive is a Pioneer DVR-104 (AO4) ATA-IDE drive inside, which is the same exact drive (except for the tray loading ) as Apple's second internal "SuperDrive" for G4s and maybe early eMacs, if what I read is correct. My iMac 600 SE, under OS 9.2.2 System Profiler, recognizes the drive with an Apple Product ID number, not a vendor ID #. Go figure.

That has no real bearing on my PM 7600 "idea", but it does show that the drive is known to Apple, at some level.

If I make this work, I will write up a concise, compact story of how I did it, and send it your way.

You have saved me a lot of grief....

CAVU
Jesse Carroll

Jesse,

Apple used Pioneer drives, but with Apple ROMs. That may be why DVD Player won't recognize it. (Even under Mac OS X, you need to use PatchBurn to get full support for third-party burners with Apple's apps.) Or it may not see the drive because it's on the FireWire bus, and the old Power Macs didn't natively support FireWire.

As for the old ixMicro video card, it was once Apple's top-end choice. The Power Mac 9600 (as well as the SuperMac J700 and S900 clones, both of which I own) came with an ixMicro Twin Turbo card, and ixMicro's later ix3D Ultimate Rez card made a great upgrade for them. I'm not surprised it does so well compared to ATI Rage video.

Dan

Yes, that's why I most often use a "patched" version of Apple DVD Player 2.7 ( 2.7k) to play DVDs with the LaCie and my iMac 600 SE., under OS 9.2.2. Sometimes the unpatched version of Apple DVD Player 2.7 works as well, but the "patched" version always works . . . unless the DVD disk is bad to begin with.

I still prefer VHS movies, though they do take up more storage space. (-8D

I've always liked the IMS/ixMicro cards and their software: the CP is easy to use, allowing easy Panning and Zooming with mouse or keyboard. I have two older IMS Twin Turbo cards in antistatic bags and both the Apple ix3D card with Fast EDO VRAM and the ixMicro card with the SDRAM or SGRAM chips - I forget which is the "Pro Rez" and which is the "Ultimate Rez" - but my PM 7600 works slightly better with the longer, full length Fast EDO chipped Apple labelled ix3D PCI card. The other card is in a spare PM 7600, which was Kathy's personal Mac.

Some of these IMS/IX cards were made in Canada, with Japanese components. I like that, too (-8D

ATI is/was cheaper and became Chinese at some point . . . now AMD owns them....

I never liked certain problems with ATI video on Performa/PM 6400/6500 and related machines if one were using another brand of PCI video card. I gave up on it and re-donated the PM 6500/250 I once owned. I bought it for the Apple 12x SCSI CD-ROM drive - $8 for the whole machine, so I was okay. I've also put a 5500/250 mobo into a Performa 6360 - 18 lb. vs. 40+ - the only Mac I've ever built and sold, to a friend of ours, replacing her old Q650. All others have gone to our recycling effort as working machines, just with less memory, smaller hard drives, or whatever. A lot of 68K machines, including a Color Classic with an LC 475 mobo and the analog mods for 640 x 480 resolution. You helped me with that project, years ago....

Thomas Koons and his 6400 Zone has also been a big help to me, for years...

A big thank you, again....

J.C.

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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