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Technology (Apple) Businesses Apple Technology

Apple's G5 Speeds Challenged 1595

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the some-hype-with-your-coffee dept.
An anonymous reader was the first of a seemingly infinite stream of people to submit a URL to an argument that makes the case that the G5 isn't quite what Apple wants you to think of it. The evidence? Apple's own press material. Worth a read.
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Apple's G5 Speeds Challenged

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  • by corebreech (469871) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:03AM (#6283221) Journal
    ...and benchmark different too!
    • Re:Think Different (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:28AM (#6283464)
      And ironically, the problem is that they didn't benchmark differently enough: Apple used GCC to compile SPEC on the P4 and Xeon, as well as on the G5.

      While this eliminates one variable from the comparison, it also eliminates a hefty percentage from the SPEC numbers one can get with Intel's compiler.
      • Re:Think Different (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Horny Smurf (590916) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:48AM (#6283692) Journal
        it's more fair than you might imagine.

        gcc produces inferior code on both platforms. Intel's C compiler kicks the shit out of gcc, and likewise metrowerks C and IBM's C compiler kick the shit out of gcc too.

        gcc's x86 backend has had a lot more work than the ppc backend.

        It would be interesting to see intel's C on x86 vs IBM's C on PPC. Compare chips and compiler writers with one stone :)

        • Re:Think Different (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Laglorden (87845) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:54AM (#6283773) Journal
          If they would have just taken Gcc "out of the box" and benchmarked what you said would have been true. But they heavily optimised gcc by adding G5-specific code (from IBM's compiler? I hope IBM hasn't stolen it from someone else ;) and specific "lax" malloc() routines etc...
        • Re:Think Different (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:17AM (#6284030) Homepage
          gcc produces inferior code on both platforms. Intel's C compiler kicks the shit out of gcc

          Was not my experience, actually... With gcc-3.2.x (the 3.3 is, supposedly, even better for SSE2/MMX2) on Windows (under Cygwin) I produced an executable, that worked slightly better than that produced by Intel's compiler (a lot of double-precision math).

          Both of them were about 4 times faster, than the binary produced by the Visual C compiler -- from Microsoft.

          YMMV, of course...

        • by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:56AM (#6284403) Homepage Journal
          Duh. Intel knows everything about Intel chips. They designed them.

          Intel's ICC won't produce code nearly as good on AMDs, and won't produce anything on non x86.

          Let's not go around talking about how gcc sucks because it doesn't -- and can't, and never will be able to, unless Intel opens up all of the specs -- compete with Intel's ICC.

          GCC is designed to compile code on many different platforms, to unite development efforts as much as possible accross different CPU types.
        • Re:Think Different (Score:5, Interesting)

          by debrain (29228) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @11:24AM (#6284667) Journal
          gcc produces inferior code on both platforms. Intel's C compiler kicks the shit out of gcc, and likewise metrowerks C and IBM's C compiler kick the shit out of gcc too.

          not necessarily. we've production code that is 8x faster on x86 w/gcc than intel's icc 7.0. we're in discussion with their engineers about why. that blew my mind, though.

          just a note, so you don't take it for granted :)
        • by EccentricAnomaly (451326) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @11:58AM (#6285098) Homepage
          At work, we just bechmarked the Dell systems a month ago and got very similar results to Apple for the "base" rate. The article seems to be quoting the "peak" rate for the Dells. It's not valid to compare peak rates yet because gcc 3.3 and os 10.3 aren't really fully optimized yet.

          The article also complains that using the NAGWare compilers is not a valid test since they're too slow. But I think the NAGWare compiler is a more vallid comparison than intel's compiler because most real-world computing is done with NAGWare because it fully implements the F95 spec and is more portable. In addition NAGWare is well tested for accuracy and it also very much cheaper.

          The Dell benchmark numbers are pure fantasy. They never occur in real-world use.
      • Re:Think Different (Score:4, Informative)

        by hype7 (239530) <`ua.ude.una' `ta' `0115923u'> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:02AM (#6283860) Journal
        that's like saying because they used GIMP instead of Photoshop on the Xeon, the Xeon is at a disadvantage.

        SO? The image may turn out the same, but Apple were doing benchmarks using GCC compiler. Until Intel want to provide a compiler for the PPC 970, it's the only way to standardise the test.

        The other thing that really shits me about this is that all the same people crying "foul" were the same ones pointing at that Adobe Premiere article not so long back, where the P4 beat the G4. Well, other than the fact the stupid reviewer had enabled the server renderer trick to take advantage of the 2nd CPU on the G4, all it shows is Adobe Premiere performance.

        Just like, all this shows is SPECs compiled with GCC.

        -- james
      • Re:Think Different (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PhoenixK7 (244984) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:12AM (#6283980)
        According to the linked article though, Apple used different optimizations on each platform. Personally I'd like to see both platforms with all optimizations on, compiled with GCC. Not that this really means much anyways, and it does _not_ really simulate "real world" application performance because all you're running is the benchmark on a minimal system install.

        Of the benchmarks displayed I'd believe the Photoshop and Mathematica ones to some extent. The emagic comparison seems a little fishy though. The composition on the PC didn't look all that complicated, it shouldn't have sputtered and died the way it did.

        That said, I'm sure each of the current leading CPUs shows better performance in one area or another. I'm sure things suited for altivec optimization will be way faster on the G5, and things suited for raw integer performance will be faster on the P4.

        In any case, we have a rather fast, 64 bit, UNIX-based machine, that exhibits excellent polished design both software and hardware wise. I for one am lusting after a Dual 2 GHz G5 with at least 1 GB of DDR RAM, and I can't wait to see how it performs with Panther.
    • Re:Think Different (Score:5, Insightful)

      by guinness_duck (231583) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:41AM (#6283605) Homepage Journal
      I think it's fair to say pretty much every single chip maker does whatever they possibly can to skew their results. It's what happens when we let the marketing droids control corporate policy and direction.

      I think it's pretty obvious Apple did that here, but I'll still use my Mac's anyway. No, I am not a Mac zealot who thinks that Intel or Gates, or whoever it is that day is the devil. I have a PC too. I enjoy building them. I just use my Mac for most things because I'm more comfortable with it. Bad marketing won't turn me off from a product - because then I'd never buy anything! Which actually might be a good thing....
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:05AM (#6283235)

    ...to find that people would use benchmarketing to make a product look better than it is!

  • eh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by cfscript (654864) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:07AM (#6283244)
    Both Apple and Dell are guilty of using misleading prices. For example, Apple gives the price of the low-end G5 as "$1999", and the high-end G5 as "$2999". In other words, they have subtracted $1 from a $3000 computer to make it seem cheaper, which is absolutely ridiculous. This demonstrates that both Apple and Dell are willing to mislead people when stating their prices.

    translation :

    i am too stupid to round up.
    • Standard Pratice (Score:5, Informative)

      by ebuck (585470) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:24AM (#6283416)
      I can vouch for those unfortunate enough to have worked in the grocery industry (and have an idea of what that kind of mechandising entail) but this is hardly insightful. It happens on nearly everything that you buy.

      When asking the pricing managers (which work for the chain, not an individual store) they replied that there was a study once done, indicating that there is a psychological tendancy to shy away from certain "maker" numbers as being too big. For example, the masses statistically believed that twenty dollars was too much to pay for item x, but for some reason, nineteen ninety-nine was not too much to pay for the same item. Funny thing is that with the same item, eighteen dollars would again be too much, but seventeen ninety-five wouldn't.

      Even if the study is flawed or bogus, it is still being taught in the "front-line" marketing schools, (ie. grocery, drug-store, clothing, etc.) , and so I expect we will see nineteen ninety-five for many many years to come.
      • Re:Standard Pratice (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Surak (18578) * <surak@mailblCOLAocks.com minus caffeine> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:41AM (#6283608) Homepage Journal
        Actually, the practice originally comes from a tactic that store owners used to keep their cashiers honest.

        If the product is $10, then they could just make change for $20 out of their pocket, i.e., hand the customer back a $10 bill and stuff the $20 in their pocket.

        Of course cashiers would conveniently "forget" to stuff that $20 back into the drawer.

        But if the product is $9.95, then they have to open up the drawer to get a nickel out.

        When you add up that most customers would be like at least 2-3 items, products priced at $9.95 and $19.95 would cause the cashiers to *have* to make change out of the drawer, thus keeping them honest.

        Little known fact, but it's true.
        • Re:Standard Pratice (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:24AM (#6284092) Journal
          From what *I've* heard the reason for the weird numbers wasn't necessarially to keep the cashiers from stealing, but to keep the stores from doing their sales under the counter (so to speak) and not reporting the sales tax. To get the drawer to open to get that nickel (actually, after taxes it would be more like 83 cents or something), you have to ring it up in the cash register, where the sale is recorded.

          Either way, its a pretty good explanation ;)
        • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @11:52AM (#6285037)
          Little known fact, but it's true.

          Do you have a cite? I don't believe it for a second. It doesn't take sales tax into consideration.

          A $20 item, plus 6% sales tax, comes out to $21.20.
          A $19.99 item, plus 6% sales tax, comes out to $21.19.

          What are the chances a cashier would be able to provide exact change for either of those without opening the register?

  • by RobRancho (569680) * on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:08AM (#6283253) Homepage
    While the methods Apple used may not have been in the best of intentions and possibly missleading, this just underscores the greater difficulties of benchmarking across platforms, specifically processor architectures. The playing field will never really be level using SPEC. The only way to truly determine which machines are "faster" is at the application level, where real work is done.
    • by MaestroSartori (146297) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:16AM (#6283331) Homepage
      I was going to mod you down, but...

      Apple has deliberately turned off processor features on the other platforms that would have led to their 'fastest in the world' claim being untrue. That's the point of the article. Cross-platform benchmarking IS hard, but deliberately crippling what you benchmark against in order to look better makes it seem that your software/hardware/whatever just isn't as good as what you're comparing it to...
      • by rob colonna (72681) * on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:24AM (#6283413) Homepage
        While the article linked does indeed make it look somewhat shady, it's worth pointing out that a major weakness of his argument is that he implies (credibly) that this lab test commissioned by Apple is not trustworthy, and then compares it with tests by Dell and Intel, which he seems to present as implicitly true. How do we know that's the case? If Apple did indeed gain anything by mucking about with the configurations (and it sounds like they did), who's to say that they did anything more than offset similar mucking about on the other side of the fence?
        • by adamofgreyskull (640712) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:47AM (#6283685)
          The G5 benches were provided by Apple, they optimised it as much as they could.
          The Dell/Intel benches were provided by Dell/Intel, they optimised them as much as they could.
          However, what he didn't include was benchmarks for a G5 which had been crippled by Dell and Intel..

          I usually hate analogies, but sometimes it's my only way of getting my point across:
          If Ford tweaks their engines and suspension set up before a test. OK!
          If Nissan tweaks their engines and suspension set up before a test. OK!
          If Nissan tweaks their engines and suspension set up, and pours sugar in the Ford's "gas" tank before the test. NOT OK!
        • by babbage (61057) <cdeversNO@SPAMcis.usouthal.edu> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:31AM (#6284168) Homepage Journal
          If Apple did indeed gain anything by mucking about with the configurations (and it sounds like they did), who's to say that they did anything more than offset similar mucking about on the other side of the fence?

          There is no saying which is right, and I don't think this guy was really trying to. If you read his writeup, he says that Apple claims a certain Dell model benchmarks at value $X, while Dell claims that the same model can do $Y.

          He doesn't actually say that one or the other is correct -- he says that the most charitable thing you can do is split the difference and go with the average -- and the kicker is that even that midway point is higher than what Apple claims for the G5.

          You've got a good point, but I think this guy is aware of it as much as you are. He's not saying that each vendor's analysis is authoritative, but that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, and that middle ground might or might not look to be in Apple's favor (in fact, it doesn't seem to be in Apple's favor).

      • by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:14AM (#6284006) Journal
        Apple has deliberately turned off processor features on the other platforms that would have led to their 'fastest in the world' claim being untrue. That's the point of the article. Cross-platform benchmarking IS hard, but deliberately crippling what you benchmark against in order to look better makes it seem that your software/hardware/whatever just isn't as good as what you're comparing it to...

        OK, I mostly skimmed the article, but he's among other things complaining that they turned off SSE2. May I mention that from what I could gather, the benchmarks used on the Apple platforms had NO Altivec optimisation? With that in mind it seems that disabling SSE2 was simply done to level the field. If there had been Altivec optimisations, then for comparison's sake it would make much better sense to use Altivec and SSE2. Actually, they might have chosen to disable SSE too, but they didn't!

        The other feature he's complaining about is the disabling of hyperthreading. From other benchmarks I've seen before, hyperthreading in SMP systems usually results in equal or slower performance, or at most a 10% addition in certain benchmarks. It was probably better to leave it off.

        Finally, about the discrepancy between Veritest's/Dell's/Intel's benchmarks, this is to be expected. Veritest compiled the benchmarks with GCC 3.3, and certainly used different compiling options and different testing options than Dell used. Unless you use the same options and methodology on every test, comparing benchmarks is useless.

        I'm not saying Veritest and Apple didn't do their best to look good, of course they did! But at least you have to give them credit for going with an independent firm with a full report (where everything is laid out), instead of absurd and evidently fabricated application benchmarks like they've done in the past.

        As another poster mentioned, benchmarking is HARD, and harder across platforms, especially on a new CPU platform with no optimizations and no way to use some of the CPU features. When we get a benchmark version that allows for full use of al the features of the 970 (G5) and the x86 CPUs, then we might get a clearer picture. It also doesn't remove the fact that these machines are MUCH, MUCH better than the G4s, or that Apple also promised the processor would scale to at least 3GHz within a year.

        Oh of course one of his arguments about his righteousness is "Look at all these Mac fanatics who flame me". He's not much better than them, from what I can see. One fanatic from one camp doesn't make all of them fanatics, and doesn't validate his points one iota (neither does flaming him destroy his points, which is why intelligent rebuttal would be better, but I have the feeling he would most likely not publish that).

        • by p7 (245321) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @12:24PM (#6285356)
          My guess is the did use Altivec optimizations. See this section

          For the Mac

          â Installed theTachyon development environment version 6K452. This provides the appropriate development tools for generating the SPEC binaries and installs Appleâ(TM)s version of the GCC compiler ( version 3.3 build 1379 ) on the test system

          For the Dell

          â Downloaded GCC version 3.3 ( gcc-3.3.tar.gz ) from http://gcc.gnu.org.
          â Followed the documented steps to build and installed GCC v 3.3 on the system.

          And here from the appendix

          -fast
          This flag is used with C and C++ and specifically targeted to the G5 and enables G5 specific instruction usage, tuning and 64 bit arithmetic. In addition to enabling the -O3 optimization level, it also enables the use of C99 aliasing rules and relaxed IEEE math operations.

          G5 Specific instruction usage sounds suspicious. I really like the relaxed IEEE math operations.

          I also like this part

          â Installed a high performance, single threaded malloc library. This library implementation is geared for speed rather than memory efficiency and is single-threaded which makes it unsuitable for many uses. Special provisions are made for very small allocations (less than 4 bytes). This library is accessed through use of the â"lstmalloc flag during program linking.

          Doesn't say anywhere that they did the same for the Dell.

          I don't think Apple was looking for to even of a field for this test.
    • by Jad LaFields (607990) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:18AM (#6283349)
      Absolutely correct. I was somewhat bemused by all the hoopla yesterday about the G5 and it's 'speed'. I need to know how it will run programs that I will use. I don't run benchmark software very often. =)

      I'm not a graphic artist, so Photoshop is unimportant to me. I don't render video, or manipulate sound, so that's not for me. I actually mostly use my home comp for games, the internet, watching movies and listening to music. Maybe it was optimistic of me to think that I was going to find a Mac that would fit my needs, but with all the hype about the G5, I thought I would finally have some reason to be interested in Macs. Does anybody have any numbers for any other programs other than Photoshop? At least some fps in Quake 3? (I don't play it, but it's a good game benchmark)
  • Apple's benchmarks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pendersempai (625351) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:08AM (#6283257)

    Apple is always a little sketchy when it comes to speed measurements. I can't count how many questionable run-offs Steve Jobs has demonstrated during his keynotes.

    They're always a little suspect. I love Apple as much as anyone, but their talk of the megahertz myth and the amazing clock cycle of the G4/G5 and the biased tests they use are starting to sound a little shrill. Apple needs to admit that their machines aren't as fast as the fastest Intel has to offer. They're much cleaner and much more elegant, though, and that's why they're in the market. That's what they should stress, since it actually attracts customers -- rather than THE NEED FOR SPEED.

  • by Astrorunner (316100) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:09AM (#6283265) Journal
    OMG, you mean benchmarks are subjective? Marketing execs get a hard on the size of Georgia when they hear the term "benchmark." Let us all hope and pray AMD and Intel don't hear about this, lest we never be able to trust an ad campaign again!
  • by valisk (622262) * on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:09AM (#6283268) Homepage Journal
    It's a shame if Apple have resorted to this sort of thing, I thought it was bad enough that nVidia had produced drivers designed to give false results, but actually crippling your opponents hardware, to show that your product beats it, is pretty low.

    Lets hope we can look at some independent tests in the coming days and see which unit is really value for money, because if Dell's benchmarks are correct their unit is 20-30% faster and only 2/3rds the price.

  • by YomikoReadman (678084) <jasonathelen@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:10AM (#6283281) Journal
    Well, it certainly isn't the first time that a company has used a benchmark to make a product look better than it is, and it certainly won't be the last time. I think what we should all learn from this is as follows. Don't worry about Statistics, Benchmarks, or any Media Hype. Just go to the store, buy whatever kind of computer you want that floats ur boat, Be it a Mac, Linux Box, Windoze Box, or god forbid, a compaq. Set it up, get broadband internet, and read lots of Slashdot and play Starcraft.
  • by T40 Dude (668317) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:12AM (#6283298)
    Both Apple and Dell are guilty of using misleading prices. For example, Apple gives the price of the low-end G5 as "$1999", and the high-end G5 as "$2999". In other words, they have subtracted $1 from a $3000 computer to make it seem cheaper, which is absolutely ridiculous. This demonstrates that both Apple and Dell are willing to mislead people when stating their prices.


    Mislead people ??? $2999 IS cheaper than $3000.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:13AM (#6283304) Journal
    I mean computers are so fast that there's very little that I might want to do at a consumer level that makes a difference. Most applications are responsive on my ancient 500MHz Pentium 3.

    The only things that really need speed are things like 3d rendering, video compression and compiling large appllications. 3D rendering in games is influenced by the speed of the graphics card a lot more than the speed of the CPU, so we're left with the long slow scenes. Personally, it makes very little difference to me if a rendering a scene or compressing a video takes 30 minutes rather than 40. If I can kill 30 minutes, I can kill another 10 quite easily.

    In the past, I'd have been able to tell you whether I was using a 20MHz or a 25Mhz 386 just by using it. I can hardly detect the difference between a 1.5GHz machine and a 3.0GHz machine without using a benchmark.

    In the end, it's just numbers.
  • by putaro (235078) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:16AM (#6283319) Journal

    I watched the video. (http://stream.apple.akadns.net/ - requires QuickTime). Now, I'm sure there's many ways you could tweak the benchmarks and so forth but the Photoshop and Mathematica benchmarks rocked. The G5 was 2x faster than the Xeon.

    I used to get involved doing benchmarking back in the good old days of Whetstone when I worked on supercomputers. Every manufacturer had a different nasty tweak to the compilers that were pulled out only when it was time to do benchmarks for a customer. The mantra then as now was: the best benchmark is the app you want to run (since most buyers of supercomputers write their own apps, porting them for a benchmark was a possibility).

    The G5's may not be the hottest thing on the planet but they're close enough to get Apple back in the ball game. Nice systems architecture, nice case and the claim is they're quiet as well. Oh, and don't forget you can put in 8GB of RAM. Now even OS X doesn't need to swap :-)

  • by JWW (79176) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:17AM (#6283335)
    The 1GHz backplane is the real news. No processor benchmark test really takes into account the total real speed of the system when running applications.

    The fast backplane will speed up IO, which is a common bottleneck. 1GHz for a PC backplane is huge. The only machine I had seen a 1GHz backplane in so far is a HP-UX server. It cost wayyy more than $2000 or even $3000.

    I really believe that with this new chip alliance with IBM Apple will finally be able to put that "the OS is really cool, but PCs are always faster" stuff behind them.

    Yesterday was a good day for apple.
  • by beavis88 (25983) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:22AM (#6283395)
    Anyone who's followed the computer industry for more than a couple minutes knows that there are lies, damned lies, and benchmarks.

    Go use a machine, for tasks you'd typically perform -- that's the only benchmark that matters.

    But if you must assign a number to the size of your virtual phallus, by all means, benchmark away...
  • Yes ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG (134989) <be.eclec@tk> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:24AM (#6283409) Homepage Journal
    This is nothing new. nVidia and ATI play with 3DMark, Apple and Intel put instructions on their chips to make photoshop run better. This really isn't anything new.

    Benchmarks aren't what sells apples and price certianly isn't the drawing point. People use macs because they like macs. Hence why the mac market doesn't increase that much, they're too pricey and don't act like a PC. Granted as a user who uses windows, linux, and Mac OS, and all the subvarients between I can tell you that there are perks to all the operating systems. But as far as hardware goes x86 wins hands down.

    Why is x86 better than apple? Simple, they're more tweakable, upgradeable, provide more selections, and are used by more people. Apple makes up for the "not used by many people" by making every mac an exact clone of another. Hence why when you get a file for a mac to be installed you just drop a binary in, every mac is the same (to an extent), whereas every PC is not, but the components are the same some just perform better than others.

    Apple's prices are outrageous, and let me get into it a little more. A first time computer buyer is wary of a computer. They don't want to invest a whole lot of money in something they don't know if they're going to be able to use. But for $600 they can have a pretty decent machine that plays most every x86 game out there and runs most every x86 OS out there with little or no trouble. For $600 you might be able to score an old iMac. That old iMac MIGHT be able to run Mac OS 10.2, but it's going to be hella slow and not be able to do half the things the same priced PC will be able to do.

    People who buy computers are looking for the most they can get with the least amount of money. Most people's computers are still beige. Most peoples computers have all the same applications. And Most people rely on somoene other than themselves for computer help, hence more PC's more help available.

    I like OS X (especially with a two button mouse). I like linux (especially when everything works right). And I like windows (especially when XP loads correctly and doesn't crash and doesn't require me to kill processes in the task manager all the time to get some of my memory back).

    All of these systems have their perks and they all have a place in the market, just they all want more of a place in the market, hence the competition. If Apple wanted to procreate so much they'd come up with a bargain computer other than the eMac or iMac. Something that has the ability to be upgraded (even if the user never wants to) and has the ability to run popular programs, hence MS, hey MS if I buy a copy of Word I want to be able to install it on either my PC or my Mac, I don't want to have to buy two different copies.

    Anyways, these computers will be blasted out of the water in no time when Intel and AMD roll out their 64-bit badboys. Remember the 970 is actually an older chip in comparison to the AMD and Intel varients. Granted x86 isn't exactly new ... but neither were the moto's.

  • by MarkedMan (523274) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:29AM (#6283486)
    The author of the article makes the point that most programs use a single processor unless specifically written for using two, so we should downplay the dual processor results. A good point on the surface but examine it more deeply and it has two flaws:

    1) This is Apple's Pro machine and many of the users are in the Graphic Arts, Audio and Film industry. The most siginificant programs in these fields do get optimized for the Mac platform.

    2) I don't know about you, but it is normal for me to be doing several things at once on my computer. Listening to music, downloading email, munging video, plus about a hundred background tasks. The OS itself balances these separate tasks between the processors, so there is a very real and significant advantage to the dual processor even if the individual programs don't take advantage.

    -I have no Sig yet I must scream...
    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:00AM (#6283835) Homepage
      2) I don't know about you, but it is normal for me to be doing several things at once on my computer. Listening to music, downloading email, munging video, plus about a hundred background tasks. The OS itself balances these separate tasks between the processors, so there is a very real and significant advantage to the dual processor even if the individual programs don't take advantage.

      That's true. However, those hundreds of backgrounds tasks are normally asleep. As an example, open up ten different desktop apps, run top or whatever and note that CPU usage is only a few percent. Those apps are blocking in an event loop, and until they receive events the kernel won't allocate them any timeslices.

      Because of the way pre-emptive multitasking works however, having a dual CPU machine generally simply gives you more cycles to burn. You could get the same effect by buying a chip that's twice as fast - in fact, performance would be better as you don't have the overhead of the communication between the two CPUs.

      So, this is useful if you spend a lot of your time doing very processor intensive things, because adding extra CPUs is generally easier than finding chips double the current speed of what you're using (assuming you're already on the cutting edge).

      But, for most desktop users, it wouldn't make any difference, because no matter how many apps they have open, only a few of them will actually be doing any processing at any given time.

  • by MarkedMan (523274) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:34AM (#6283536)
    there is a bit of a bias there. He complains about Apple tweaking its benchmarks. I have no problem with that. Companies should get blasted for running bogus benchmarks. But then he compares Apple's results to Dell's and AMD's without questioning their tweaks.

    Perhaps what he meant to say is: "If we are going to use bogus benchmarks, let's compare them to the bogus ones from the competition."
  • by DAQ42 (210845) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:46AM (#6283664)
    Go read Jon "Hannibal" Stokes article about the world of benchmarking., over on his site, Ars Technica.

    http://arstechnica.com/cpu/2q99/benchmarking-1.h tm l

    This will give you at least a basis for understanding why benchmarking is used, and what makes or breaks any given set of results. Also, feel free to argue about anything and everything that is said about these benchmarks, since, apparently, everyone of you is in the benchmarking labs day in and day out, testing systems and looking at the results on a scientific level.

    I also think benchmark scores are, quite frankly, marketing bullshit. A processor designer can tweak a program and a compiler any number of ways to increase thier scores. The true test would be to use the SPEC benchmark suite with no flags set on the compiles for either platform. That way you are testing just the base processor, with no SIMD instructions, no disabling of the software prefetch algorhythms, no "cheats" as it were. Then test those same systems with every trick in the book thrown in. Then look at the difference. This will probably give you a better picture of the performance you will see in real world activities.

    If you have a machine that absulotely sucks donkey when using no "cheats" and then you see this amazing boost in performance when the "cheats" are enabled, you probably are dealing with a highly optimized and specialized instruction set, which can be either very good for specific applications, but absolutely horrible for programmers who don't have access to, or don't bother to research, the abilities of that processor.

    These are the benchmarks I'm interested in most. And it'll be at least late September before we see any of that.

    Also, while all this is interesting, in an intelllectual sort of way, what about the actual perfomance gains over the current crop of G4's? Why not take a look at the difference between the SPEC scores of the dual 1.42GHz G4 towers, vs. the dual 2GHz G5's? That alone will tell you more about the increase in speed and power that has been delivered. If Apple had been smart, instead of trying to impress and piss off the x86 sparkheads they should have posted those scores as well, to give a real side by side comparrison between the speed and power of the G5 vs the bottlenecked, processor starving, gimp that is the G4. But that would make too much sense, wouldn't it? And you know marketing is all about confusing your consumer into beleiving that the latest and greatest is really what they want, not some old machine from 3 months ago...
  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:51AM (#6283731)
    First off, yesterday we have the day when all the Mac fanatics go overboard. Hey, I'm one of them and I went overboard. Enthusiasm goes right over the top and reality slowly slips away inside the Reality Distortion Field of the great and mighty Jobs. Yesterday was for the Mac users

    Today we get the backlash and debunking. I honestly don't know if it's completely true or not but I'm inclined to believe it. I've grown accustomed to the idea that benchmarks and anything else like them (side by side tests of any kind) can't be trusted so this seems to fit.

    The only thing that really makes any difference to me personally is how much faster the G5 is than the G4 it's replacing. The rest of it I just don't care about.

    I use a Mac for a lot of reasons and flat out speed isn't one of them. It has to be fast enough obviously but it doesn't have to be the fastest and never has had to be the fastest.

    I use a Mac because I have found it to be very stable and a pleasure to work and game on. If the benchmarks were rigged then it's a shame. They didn't need to do it and it wasn't worth the risk of negative press IMO.
    • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:11AM (#6283970)
      The only thing that really makes any difference to me personally is how much faster the G5 is than the G4 it's replacing. The rest of it I just don't care about.

      That's the key. Windows PCs have been beyond the point of general sluggishness for a some time now. I'd say they passed that point when the PII (yes, 2) hit 450-500MHz or so. Past that point, especially with the ridiculous speeds available on even the lowest end Dell, speed has lost most of its meaning except to the hardcore hardware fanboys (and people with specialized, professional needs). OS X is heavier duty than Windows, and the sluggishness is still there on the lower end G4 processors. The G5 finally puts Macs in the realm of not caring, just like PCs.

      The big difference, though, is that you have to pay quite the premium price to get a Mac in the "plenty fast enough" range, whereas you can go to dell.com and pick *anything*. In short, the G5 is a toy for the rich until the PPC970 starts showing up in the $1300--with LCD screen--iMac. That will probably happen in January, IMO.

      (I just priced a "bottom end" 2.2GHz, 256MB Dell at $658 before a $50 rebate. They also have free shipping--normally about $100--every few weeks.)
  • Who cares, really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scottme (584888) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:54AM (#6283770)
    A. Benchmarking is a black art, and benchmark results more often than not bear little or no relation to reality (i.e. the actual performance you will get, today, running your particular workload). Talk to anyone who does it for a living and they are the first to admit that.

    B. Benchmarks are very rarely impartial. Whoever is footing the not inconsiderable bill for a properly-done benchmark will have a result they want to see, and the benchmarkers can do a lot to make sure they do see it.

    C. "Perception is reality" is a well-known saying in marketing. It doesn't actually matter whether the perception is correct. If Joe Sixpack believes he has bought the fastest PC in the world, he will be happy. More so since he most likely has nothing on hand to compare it to.

    D. The speed this industry moves at, there will be a faster one along in a month or less, so if you really want something faster, wait for it.

    E. All this debating about which is faster is more like masturbating. And "Masturbation, although an inherently pointless way to pass time, is at least enjoyable. Comparing PC performance is equally pointless, but rather less fun. The conventional epithet applied to those who engage in the former to excess is equally applicable to those who persist in the latter."
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:59AM (#6283824) Homepage Journal
    I think the author's a little confused about how well SMP works. He writes
    Faster on integer single-processor tasks, which is what most people use most of the time.
    This might be true for a tight code loop, but nowadays most every large program is written using threads. With Jaguar Apple did a good job of getting the OS using threads, and if you're running a Cocoa app, at least (I'm not sure of the current state of Carbon), the frameworks handle a good deal of threading for you. I don't think Windows XP is much worse in this regard - SMP offers a noticable improvement in system preformance today. It's very important to remember that applications depend on system performance, of which cpu performance is one important component. It's a fallacy to suggest, however, that system A is faster than system B because of a CPU benchmark. (e.g. if the CPU is memory-starved it doesn't matter how fast its clock is oscillating)

    With regard to price, if you're after a high-end system, he represents that the high end of the Dell line comes in at $3680, yet rapidly returns to promoting the idea that a $2000 Dell is equivalent. In an effort to configure up an Intel system comparable to the new high-end Apple PowerMac G5, I ran the Dell configurator. It clocks in at $3939:

    Dell Precisionâ Workstation 450 Desktop: Intel® Xeonâ Processor, 3.06GHz, 512K Cache
    Intel® Xeonâ Processor, 3.06GHz, 512K Cache
    512MB,DDR266 SDRAM Memory,ECC (2 DIMMS)
    Keyboard: Enhanced Performance, USB (8 Hot Keys)
    No Monitor Option
    ATI, FIRE GLâ E1,64MB,2 VGA or 1 VGA and 1 DVI,(dual monitor capable)
    120GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive with DataBurst Cacheâ
    1.44MB FDD,Full-size,no-bezel
    Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional with Media using NTFS
    USB,Logitech,2 button OPTICAL w/ scroll
    56K,v.92 data/fax modem,PCI
    4X DVD+RW/+R with Roxio® Easy CD Creator and DVD decode
    Sound Blaster® Audigy II with onboard 1394
    3Yr Parts + Onsite Labor (Next Business Day)
    No Installation
    1394 Controller Card
    and that's with a lesser video card and a smaller, slower IDE hard drive (add $840 for SCSI, a better comparison with Serial-ATA). I don't think I was being unfair in my selection of components. (OK, add $30 for a USB floppy on the Mac if necessary)

    This guy certainly has a point about the non-optimized Intel benchmarks, but he reveals his prejudice by not offering a fair price comparison.
  • by Fishstick (150821) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:07AM (#6283919) Journal
    I especially liked the hatemail at the end. This was my favorite:

    People that go to ivory league schools that live in trailers are a very low population, lets say 1% so since there are 99% of the people living in houses then you can clearly see that people that live in trailers are stupid, when compared to they're counter parts. Or put it this way, any finite number divided by infinity results in a number so small it does not exists. So any people that live in trailers that go to ivory league school you meet in passing are just figments of your imagination. Point is if you like Macintosh use it, if you don't then well don't use it.

    Heh. That sure dispels this guy's critique of Apple's benchmarks, eh?
  • by uncadonna (85026) <mtobis AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:11AM (#6283975) Homepage Journal
    In summary, if you buy a two processor box with an amazing new bus architecture that is optimized for floating point operations from Apple, and you run single-processor integer non bus-intensive apps on it and avoid multitasking like the plague (never run background tasks), you may be getting slightly less performance per dollar.

    Ok, ok, if you use both processors on an integer task, continuing to ignore floating point and bus performance, all you have to do is use a different benchmark on the Intel box to show the Intel box being a hair faster.

    No comments on using the G5 on appropriate applications or application mixes.

    Why rain on Apple's parade like that? They continue to do amazing work. The G5 appears to be dramatically faster than the competition in some perfectly realistic applications and at least comparable everywhere else.

    The people giving this anti-Apple rant any credence seem not to have read it very carefully. It exemplifies exactly the sort of spin-doctoring that it claims to be offended by.

  • by aksansai (56788) <aksansai@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:47AM (#6284315)
    If you visit the Apple store [apple.com], click on the big advertisement on the center to select your PowerMac G5. In the upper-right part of the screen it states:

    "Just how fast? Get the proof here." [apple.com]. Following this link will take you to Apple's own site where you can read details about the benchmark.

    What's missing?

    The comparison between G4-optimized benchmarks and the current G5-optimized benchmarks.
  • by blinder (153117) <blinder...dave@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:53AM (#6284376) Homepage Journal
    Okay, I did RTFA, and well, as boring and tedious as benchmark tests result analysis is to me, I generally glossed right over it. What I found to be the most compelling part of this article was the "hate mail" section at the bottom. I read each one, and came away scratching my head.

    I simply do not understand how people can be so consumed with obvious hatred for another person debating COMPUTERS! Why do Mac users feel so threatened? Why do Linux users feel so threatened? Why do Microsoft users feel so threatened?

    I've been using Macs (since 92), Windows (since 93) and Linux (since 96) and FreeBSD (since 96) for years and well, I have yet to find anything about these systems that demand that I stand up and scream at the top of my lungs how wonderful any of them are, and to attack with such spiteful hate those who don't just fall in line.

    Having started out in the computer world as a designer, I used Macs. I like them, they are cute, and fun and make many things easy. They are also slow, crash a lot and the cause of a lot of frustration. I started using Windows (3.0) because I wanted a PC, but couldn't afford a Mac at the time. Windows was cool, it crashed a lot, and I had the hardest time trying to configure hardware with it, but I got the job done. I was introduced to Linux looking for a way to get up to speed with Unix. I had a hell of time first installing it, it was cool, seemed very powerful (I was in over my head) and never crashed. Same with FreeBSD. But I still have yet to understand the mindset required to say things like: "This guy is an idiot, and his article should be pulled and his email box should be flamed."

    or:

    "I can't believe the haxial web site is still up, you would think by now someone would have hacked it."

    Good grief, what is WRONG with people???

    A while back I chose Linux as my primary OS for my day-to-day computing, on an Intel chip. I love it, its fun, its cute (thanks KDE) and it hardly crashes, and low and behold, I get my work done. My girlfriend (she's a designer) has a few Macs. I like them, but, well, it doesn't feel right to me so I stick with Linux. Sure, we get into our little OSX vs. Linux debates, but it never gets down to where she threatens my life and I launch DoS attacks on her machine. They usually end as "we should all just go back to Amiga" or something like that.

    I would love to ask someone who is so delluded in their thinking to feel real hatred for someone who simply prefers not to use the computer/os/whatever that they use, what exactly do they have to fear? Why the need to act like a savage? Is it just because they are posting in a message board, and well, its time to be macho, because its safe and anonymous, and well, the need to act the tough-guy just overwelms better judgement?

  • who cares? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by asv108 (141455) <alex@phatauTWAINdio.org minus author> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @11:16AM (#6284587) Homepage Journal
    I noticed a lot of people are making comments like it looks true, but who cares?

    The reason people care is when you go to the Apple site [apple.com] there is a big headline that the Apple G5 is the world's fastest desktop computer, when in fact any way you cut it, it is not. If any other company pulled this kind of shit it would be ridiculed in a minute, but Apple abuses the loyalty of its users. As someone who uses macs occasionaly at work and home, I like the product but hate the BS tactics of the company and stupidity of a small but vocal portion of its user base.

  • by DavidBrown (177261) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @11:33AM (#6284771) Journal
    ...using a G5 that fell off the back of a truck and the latest computer from Dell. Borrowing Apple's technique of "tinkering" with the systems, I optimized the Dell system to it's highest level of performance. I made only a single modification to the Apple system: removing its power cord.

    Interesting enough, the Dell system matched the numbers found on the SPEC website, but the G5 was unable to complete the benchmark.

    I think that this test, which can be easily duplicated, shows conclusively that Apple's G5 marketing is a complete lie.

  • by merdark (550117) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @12:10PM (#6285203)
    I just read the veritest document myself. This guy did not show the complete picture at all. First, in favour of Apple, these tests were run on Mac OS X 10.2.7. I don't think this is the 64-bit kernel that can really take advantage of the G5. I'm not a mac head, but I'm guessing this is Smeagol?

    So right from the start the G5 is seriously crippled in these tests. Especially if they don't even take advantage of 64-bit as seems to be the case. Now, on the the other points that the spl dude makes.

    Sure the special malloc library seems a bit unfair. But then again, do these tests really focus on memory allocation? I'd think they are limited by CPU power more than memory allocation. In any case, it'd be nice if we saw results without this library.

    Now for the comfusing part. The 8300 only has a single cpu. For the base tests, they use hyperthreading and an SMP kernel. They do the exact same test for the 650's base test, hyperthreading with a single processor and an SMP kernel. The G5 system is run with a single processor as well.

    So it seems this test is well balanced and fair. The confusing part is the rate tests.

    For the 8300 they have no hyperthreading and a uniprocessor kernel. For the 650 they have no hyperthreading and an SMP kernel with two processors. The G5 system is run with two processors. It's unclear why they chose not to use hyperthreading on the rate test. It could be that hyperthreading actually reduced the scores of these tests. I'm no expert on the SPEC tests and hyperthreading, but what I do know is that hyperthreading is an intelligent technology. It can't always increase speed, it depends on what kind of code it's running. In the rate test it's possible that hyperthreading is unable to yeild any improvements, in which case the overhead of enabling hyperthreading may make the scores worse than without hyperthreading.

    At anyrate, the tests were a LOT more fair than the dpl guy makes them out. And considering that the G5 could be seriously crippled by not running 64-bit and who knows what other optimisatoins, I'd say that the numbers are still impressive.

  • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @12:37PM (#6285501) Homepage Journal
    Here are some SPEC results I googled for, commisioned from SUN on their Xeon based Fire V65x, running a single 3.06 GHz Xeon. You'll notice that they, too, disabled Hyperthreading. Obviously, Sun would have wanted these benchies to be as fast as possible. So, probably, the single thread used for SPEC scores is best suited by TURNING HYPERTHREADING OFF.

    Meaning, if Apple's results are reliable (which I think they are...levelling both machines by optimizing them for neutral operations and having them run neutral code), they tuned the Dell FOR SPEC. They didn't decrease its performance -- they probably increased it a bit.

    http://www.specbench.org/osg/cpu2000/results/res 20 03q2/cpu2000-20030520-02193.pdf

    Just because you put the words "Fast" or "Hyper" in front of a chip's feature doesn't automatically make it faster, as any BIOS hacker knows.
  • I call FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gerardrj (207690) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @01:35PM (#6286144) Journal
    The author claims the test is biased mostly because:
    1. On x86 hyperthreading was disabled
    2. on x86 SSE was disabled
    3. on PPC a custom malloc was used
    4. on PPC a different set of optimizations were used

    1. I admit is seems odd that this was disabled. I think it's effect would be little, but it should be turned on
    2. So was the PPC's AltiVec. I recall that SPEC wants FP and INT performance from the ALU sections, not SIMD
    3. And I'm sure that there are many "tweaks" for x86 that are transparent within the GCC 3.3 code generators
    4. Again, each CPU has different optimizations, either allow them all or disable them all - on both platforms, command line switched or embedded

    What I think would be interesting for Apple to do to help settle all this (You know, spread around some of that $4B+ they have lying around):
    Purchase two of the fastest model of 1st tier systems they can get that run on x86.
    Using four different testing labs, send one machine to each lab (2 x86, 2 G5). Instruct each lab to perform any software/configuration optimizations they feel necessary to get the most performance out of the machine. Then they run a standardized set of benchmarks. They each fully document the changes they've made and the results.
    Apple (or perhaps a 5th lab) colates the data and produces a final result.

    Or some open source minded person with some extra bandwidth(ha) could create a web site where PCers and Macers could post their own results from the benchmarks. With sufficient results posted, the "noise" would get filtered out and the results would become statistically useful.
  • by grue23 (158136) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @01:39PM (#6286193)
    I don't think I've ever seen a numerical benchmark that has been really satisfying. Cook-offs are really the way to go IMO, and Apple blew the Dell away with Photoshop, PDF viewing, and Mathematica. What should matter is how well your applications perform, not what arbitrary benchmark number you've managed to come up with.
  • by Theovon (109752) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @01:44PM (#6286232)
    It's amazing how much flaming the author received for his analysis. People were calling him all sorts of names simply for pointing out that Apple's benchmarks were not fair. I think it's important to keep companies honest.

    But as is often said, the CPU processing speed isn't the main selling point of a Mac. They've been behind for quite some time now, but people are still buying them. This is a great advancement, bringing Macs up to speeds relatively comparable to that of the rest of the market. The 970 is a new chip, and IBM needs time to ramp up the clock speed. P4's didn't get to 3.2ghz in one day.

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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