The Macintel Report

Mac Pro vs. G5 Quad, Mac Faithful 'More Impressed by Form than Function', Mac Pro Configuration, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.08.17

This Week's Macintel News

How much faster is the Mac Pro than the Power Mac G5 Quad? Is it actually faster? Bare Feats investigates. Also looking at configuration options, Parallels updated, and lots more.

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.

Mac Pro vs. Quad G5

Bare Feats' rob-ART Morgan reports:

"We were able to get our hands on a 2.66 GHz Mac Pro yesterday! While we're waiting for our 3 GHz Mac Pro to arrive, we thought it would be instructive to run some of our real world tests to compare the 2.66 GHz model to the Quad-Core G5/2.5 GHz Power Mac....

"There's no doubt that the Mac Pro is faster running Universal Binary apps like iMovie, Final Cut Pro....

"We are impressed with the Mac Pro's performance. We'll be even more impressed when Adobe's UB apps appear in 'second quarter of 2007.'"

Mac Faithful 'More Impressed by Form than Function'

Mac Faithful 'More Impressed by Form than Function'

NetNewsAsia's Thingfish says:

"Phwoooooaaaaarrrr! Apple's new Mac Pro is a silver dream machine

"I've seen some of the world's most spectacular sights in my time: From the Great Wall and the Cistine Chapel to Jessica Alba cracking her whip in Sin City. But of all the wonders in this world, few can hold a candle to the silver dream machine that's just rolled out of Apple's garage.

"Just look at this thing. The 'old' PowerMac G5, released just two years ago, was a thing of beauty, but the Mac Pro is a joy; a De Vinci [sic] in a world of grey desktops.

...Mac acolytes always have been more impressed by form than function.

"Somehow, many of the Mac faithful were disappointed on Monday, when Steve Jobs unveiled the new machines. They thought the speech was boring, Jobs was uninspiring and the case design they once whooped over was old hat. Mac users can be petulant gits; their Great Leader gives them the most powerful computer they've ever had, at a lower price, and they moan that it doesn't look different enough. But then Mac acolytes always have been more impressed by form than function.

"Or maybe, just as Apple has recharted its destiny from doomed elitist snob into creative, consumer powerhouse, the cult of the Mac is moving to the mainstream. And the followers are unhappy to share their pews with the unwashed masses."

Meet the Xeon: Inside the Mac Pro's Processor

Macworld's Rick LePage reports:

"Although Intel has been using the Xeon name since 1998, the dual-core Xeon 5100 processors that power the Mac Pro and Xserve lines are entirely new chips, based on Intel's 64-bit Core architecture platform. This platform was initially introduced to the public late in 2005, with chips continuing to roll out throughout this year; it includes the Core Duo and Core Solo processors used in the Mac mini and the iMac, as well as some other chips that haven't shown up in Macs - at least not yet.

"Code-named 'Woodcrest,' the Xeon 5100 debuted at the end of June, and was designed to offer top-speed computational throughput with better power efficiency than Intel's previous high-end processors. The company terms it a 'server' chip, although most hardware vendors, Apple included, will use it in professional systems like the Mac Pro. That's due to the fact that the chip was designed to excel at the processing of huge amounts of data, like those found in real-world applications like movie production with Final Cut Pro, or image editing in applications like Aperture or Adobe Photoshop (once Photoshop is Intel-native on OS X)."

Mobile CPU Wars: Core 2 Duo vs. Core Duo

AnandTech's Anand Lal Shimpi reports:

"While the world has been focused on the launch of Intel's desktop Core 2 Duo, codenamed Conroe, Intel has been readying its mobile counterpart also called Core 2 Duo. With only a few changes to its desktop counterpart - mainly its lower clock speeds and FSB frequency and thus lower power - there's no reason to call the mobile version anything but Core 2 Duo.

"There hasn't been much interest in Core 2 Duo on the mobile side for two major reasons; for starters, unlike on the desktop, Intel already had a very competent mobile CPU - the Yonah based Core Duo processor. Seeing as how Core Duo is the predecessor to Core 2 Duo, you can already expect that Intel's current mobile performance is quite good."

Mac Pro Configuration Dilemma

MacUser's Derik DeLong says:

"As Apple is really pushing the whole build-to-order thing, I imagine a lot of people are, like me, wondering what to change. A quick rundown is in order.

"First, RAM and hard drive. For RAM, get the minimum. Apple's prices are always way too high. You've got six slots left you can jam full. As for the hard drives, this is new territory as the G5 had such limited options...."

Apple's Mac Pro: A Discussion of Specifications

Anand Lal Shimpi says:

"Since Apple built the Mac Pro out of Intel workstation components, it unfortunately has to use more expensive Intel workstation memory. In other words, cheap unbuffered DDR2 isn't an option, its time to welcome ECC enabled Fully Buffered DIMM (FBD) to your Mac.

"Years ago, Intel saw two problems happening with most mainstream memory technologies: 1) As we pushed for higher speed memory, the number of memory slots per channel went down, and 2) the rest of the world was going serial (USB, SATA and more recently, Hyper Transport, PCI Express, etc...) yet we were still using fairly antiquated parallel memory buses."

Link: Apple's Mac Pro: A Discussion of Specifications

Mac Pro the End of One Era, the Beginning of Another

Ars Technica's Eric Bangeman says:

"I thought I was getting a new Macintosh PC. Instead, the box said 'Quad Xeon 64-bit workstation.' It was then that it really hit me - the Big Switch was over and my once shiny Power Macintosh G5 was yesterday's news.

"The introduction of the new, yet familiar-looking Mac Pro at the Worldwide Developers Conference (along with the updated Xserve) closed the book on the PowerPC's 12-year run in Apple's product lineup. And it all happened so fast. Just last year, Steve Jobs stood in front of the gathered masses and dropped the big bombshell."

New Horizons for Intel-based Macs

Forbes' Scott Reeves reports:

"Apple Computer's transition to Intel chips will improve Macintosh's software development, according to Piper Jaffray analysts.

"Gene Muster and Michael J. Olson of Piper Jaffray spoke to 16 software developers last week at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference and found that 14 said running Windows on Mac will 'positively impact' Mac application development."

Boot Camp Offers Best of PC, Macs's Charles Rumford says:

"In a recent commentary ('Boot Camp offers few incentives for Macintosh users to use Windows,' April 14), fellow columnist Mat Boyle wrote about the new Apple program Boot Camp, which enables Intel-based Mac users (those with a MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac or Mac mini) to run Windows on their machines. At the time of its release, I was not a full-time Mac user due to the fact that I didn't actually own one. Now that I own a Mac, I decided to give Boot Camp a try and run Windows.

"I had been contemplating installing Windows on my 3-month-old MacBook Pro after a series of events. During the Governor's School program, I was responsible for administering 60 Windows-based laptops for the students and staff, and used programs that you can only run on Windows. It would have been easier to be able to go back and forth between Mac OS X and Windows XP if they were on the same machine. I did the research and decided that, because Boot Camp was still in beta, it wasn't worth having to reformat and reinstall if things went wrong."

Welcome to Mac OS Forge!

PR: Mac OS X includes a wide variety of open source software from FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, the GNU Project, and many more projects each its own vibrant developer community.

Mac OS Forge is dedicated to supporting the developer community surrounding open source components specific to Mac OS X. Here you will find resources for working with the source code to popular Apple-original projects, as well as third party projects that are closely related to the Macintosh operating system.

Only select projects in Mac OS X are featured at Mac OS Forge. Visit for the complete set of open source software found in Mac OS X.

Parallels Workstation 2.2.1862 Released

PR: Parallels Desktop for Mac is the first solution that gives Apple users the ability to run Windows at the same time as Mac OS X in a secure, stable, isolated virtual machine. Parallels Desktop works with any Intel-powered Apple, including the iMac, Mac mini, MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Parallels Workstation is a hardware emulation virtualization solution. This stable, trusted technology maps the host computer's hardware resources directly to each virtual PC's resources, allowing each virtual machine to operate identically to a stand-alone computer. Parallels Workstation's sophisticated virtual machine engine enables each virtual machine to work with its own processor, RAM, floppy and CD drives, I/O devices, and hard disk - everything a physical computer contains.

Parallels Workstation 2.0 is the first desktop virtualization solution to include a lightweight hypervisor, a mature technology originally developed in the 1960s to maximize the power of large mainframes. Hypervisor technology dramatically improves virtual machine stability, security, and performance by using a thin layer of software, inserted between the machine's hardware and the primary operating system, to directly control some of the host machine's hardware profiles and resources. It not only makes Parallels Workstation-powered virtual machines secure, stable and efficient, but also empowers users to immediately realize the benefits associated with Intel VT hardware virtualization architecture.

New in version 2.2.186:

  • Video output improvement and acceleration
  • Added multi interfaces USB devices support (including Windows Mobile 2005 devices)
  • Added isochronous USB devices support (including webcam devices)
  • Minor USB fixes
  • Keyboard support improvement: Eject CD key support, left/right Shift/Ctrl/Alt (Option)/Windows keys difference support
  • Added virtual disk cache policy option: Mac OS X performance optimized or guest OS performance optimized
  • Image Tool fixes
  • Optimized disk cache policy for Suspend/Resume feature
  • Windows ME Suspend/Resume fix
  • Shared Folders first time access acceleration
  • Clipboard synchronization tool fixes (unreadable symbols sometimes added during copy and paste)
  • Sound playback improvement
  • Sound recording improvement
  • Minor Full Screen mode fixes "Unable to allocate virtual memory" during virtual machine power on fix
  • Minor GUI fixes and improvements
  • Solaris doesn't work with more than one virtual disk fix

Parallels Workstation Key Features:

  • Hypervisor Technology for Stronger, More Stable Virtual Machines: Parallels Workstation is the first desktop virtualization solution to include a lightweight hypervisor that directly controls some of the host computer's hardware resources. The inclusion of this trusted, mature technology ensures that virtual PCs built using Parallels Workstation are the most stable and efficient available.
  • Optimized for Hardware Virtualization: Parallels Workstation's lightweight hypervisor fully supports the benefits of next-generation CPUs built on Intel's VT architecture, and will support AMD Pacifica architecture when it is released to the general public.
  • Strong OS Support: A sophisticated virtual machine engine that offers the broadest support of x86-based operating systems, including:
    • The entire Windows family - 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP and 2003
    • Linux distributions from popular distributors like Red Hat, SuSE, Mandriva, Debian and Fedora Core
    • FreeBSD
    • "Legacy" operating systems like OS/2, eComStation and MS-DOS.
  • Easy to Install, Easy to Use: A powerful wizard enables users to create virtual machines in seconds. The industry's cleanest, most user-friendly management console ensures hassle free control of all virtual machines.
  • Highly Efficient: A small program footprint and trusted hypervisor technology maximizes the efficiency of both the primary and guest OSes.
  • Lowest TCO: At only $49.99 per license, Parallels Workstation is the most cost effective virtual PC solution available today. Its ease of use, high-efficiency, quick startup time and responsive technical support program maximize value and significantly reduce TCO.

New in version 2.1:

Parallels Workstation 2.1 offers a number of new features, broader hardware and OS support, enhanced functionality and performance, and fixes some known issues from version 2.0. A complete list of new features, functions, support and fixes is below:

New Features:

  • A completely new, visually stunning user interface.
  • Better virtual machine performance, stability and isolation.
  • "Suspend and resume" functionality lets you instantly suspend a virtual machine's state and resume it at a later time without having to completely shut down and start up a guest operating system.
  • Support for Physical Address Extension (PAE) allows Workstation 2.1 to run on PAE-enabled primary OSes with up to 4 GB of RAM.
  • An improved, redesigned Parallels Tools package for Windows that provides useful add-on features that let each user customize their Parallels Workstation experience. New tools include guest/host time synchronization and complete support for normal video modes in Windows 95, 98 and Me.
  • New "Compacting Hard Disk" feature that removes unused space from expanding virtual machine hard drives, increasing the free disk space of the primary OS.
  • Improved OS/2 guest performance.

Stronger Hardware Support:

  • USB Support enables you to access a wide range of popular USB devices directly in virtual machines.
  • Wireless networking support in Windows frees users from network cables. Now, you can connect virtual machines to the Internet via any WiFi connection.
  • Improved sound support and sound recording feature. Now you can work with your favorite programs which require microphone or line in inside Parallels.
  • Stronger support for Intel VT® technology that improves the speed, performance and stability of virtual machines running on VT-powered computers.
  • Virtual processor supports more features and improves performance of a modern operating systems in virtual machines.
  • Better programmable interval timer (PIT) support: extends legacy OSes and legacy applications support.

Broader OS Support:

  • Primary and guest OS support for SUSE Linux 10.
  • Guest OS support for Sun Solaris.

System support: Intel

$39.99 demoware

ATTO Delivers Blazing-Fast Transfer Rates for Mac Pro

PR: ATTO Technology, Inc., a global leader of storage connectivity and infrastructure solutions for data-intensive computing environments, announces support for the Apple Macintosh next generation Intel Server architecture for its complete line of SCSI, Fibre Channel and SAS Host and RAID adapters. ATTO ExpressPCI SCSI adapters, Celerity Fibre Channel adapters, and ExpressSAS RAID adapters are the only PCI Express (PCIe) adapters available today that support Mac OS X on the Intel platform. As members of the Intel Storage Community and Managed Developers Program, ATTO worked closely with Intel to design our host adapters to take advantage of the innovative performance of the 64-bit dual-core Intel Xeon Processor and achieve immediate market delivery.

"As we have always done in the Apple market, ATTO has taken the lead and is the only vendor to deliver multiprotocol support for Apple's Mac on Intel Platform. Apple customers can now choose from a full spectrum of high performance adapters for SCSI, Fibre Channel or SAS environments," states Ed Tierney, director of marketing for ATTO.

ATTO's ExpressPCI UL5D is a dual-channel host adapter that combines four lane PCI Express technology and Ultra320 speeds for high-performance environments and applications such as high definition video, special effects rendering and nonlinear editing.

Moving data at express speeds without bottlenecks is ensured with the ATTO Celerity single, dual and quad channel host adapters. The combination of PCI-Express and 4-Gigabit Fibre Channel technologies enables applications such as high definition video editing, 2K digital production and transactional environments such as databases to take advantage of the 800 MB/sec. per channel throughput performance. Featuring ATTO's exclusive ADS(TM) Technology, large blocks of data move faster and more efficiently on the PCI bus than any other host adapter on the market.

ATTO Technology's line of SAS/SATA RAID adapters incorporates two next generation technologies; Serial Attached SCSI and PCI Express. Delivering blazing-fast transfer rates of up to 2.4 GB/sec., the ATTO ExpressSAS RAID adapter is the first product in a new line of RAID adapters. ATTO's exclusive DVRAID, is capable of handling the most demanding applications such as 2K and 4K film, multiple layers of complex, uncompressed real-time effects, and high definition video editing while adding parity data protection to SAS/SATA storage devices.

"ATTO's complete line of SCSI, Fibre Channel and SAS adapters will ensure the throughput required for handling massive media files without bottlenecks. ATTO Technology will continue to set the standard for high-performance adapters and will continue to deliver industry-leading Macintosh solutions that meet our customers' performance expectations and aggressive time-to-market requirements," states Ed Tierney, director of marketing for ATTO.

Intel Teams with Top Universities for Software-Related Research

PR: Intel Corporation has announced a global effort to prepare university students for a new paradigm of software development as Intel transitions its processors from single-processor engines to ones that will have multiple cores and threads. This evolution will transform software design and require entirely new thinking and innovation in order to leverage this kind of processing power.

As part of its higher education program, Intel is providing 45 of the world's top universities with expertise, funding, development tools, educational materials, on-site training and sustained collaboration with Intel to incorporate multicore and multithreading concepts into their computer science curricula.

By the end of this year, Intel expects more than 75 percent of its mainstream server, desktop and laptop PC processors to ship as dual-core processors; with four-, eight- and many-cores on the horizon.

"To usher in a new generation of computing technology and bring creative new products to market, it's crucial to educate tomorrow's software developers to architect, develop and debug the next generation of software for modern, multicore platforms," said Renee James, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's Software and Solutions Group. "The full potential of multicore based systems to deliver great performance and expanded usages is unleashed when software is designed to take advantage of the full capabilities of the machine. Working with the world's best universities, Intel is creating the future for performance computing."

Universities participating in the worldwide effort include Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and University of Washington, as well as leading academic institutions across Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan and several European countries. The first courses will be offered during the fall term this year and Intel expects hundreds more universities to participate in 2007 and beyond.

"Intel's support in multicore education is critical for two reasons," said Karsten Schwan, professor of College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology. "First, getting early access to advanced technology and new equipment is something that always excites students. Second, companies like Intel have a perspective that looks beyond research to see the broader potential for technology."

The curriculum provides an introduction to Intel multicore architecture and teaches computer science students how to achieve maximum performance of their programs on threaded, multicore and multiprocessor systems using Intel compilers and threading tools. It also covers the importance of parallelism, threading concepts, threading methodology and programming with threads (Windows, OpenMP, PThreads).

Included in the endeavor are faculty training sessions delivered by Intel Software College multithreading experts from around the world. Intel also provides course materials, laptops powered by dual-core processors for instructor use in the classroom, as well as licenses for Intel Software Development Products and access to forums and technical support.

This effort is part of the Intel Software College and the Intel Higher Education Program.

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