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Apple vs. PC in Adobe After Effects 84

An anonymous user wrote, "Digital Video Editing ran some tests to compare the Dual G4 with the Athlon MP in After Effects. They didn't use the fastest Athlons, but the results are pretty clear anyway. This is especially interesting after Apple announced that they would be killing Shake for x86 platforms. If Apple really wants to position the Mac as an alternative to x86 on the film / video effects market, they are going to need to improve their hardware, especially with AMD's 64-bit CPU just around the corner. From the article: 'Not one of the objective tests we conducted using After Effects bore out Apple's claim of Mac superiority. In fact, in most of the tests, the Mac was left lagging far behind.'"
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Apple vs. PC in Adobe After Effects

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  • I couldn't find it in the article, but is AfterEffects AltiVec and/or 3DNow! optimized?

    • According to Adobe's AF5.5 New Features document, "After Effects 5.5 introduces important performance improvements, including Pentium 4 optimizations and faster parsing of expressions.", nowhere do they mention Altivec in the 5.5 documents (at least in what's available on the web). However, Altivec support has been present since AF version 4.*, and one would assume that it has been maintained since then...
    • I don't think it's really all that important - thus test shows up quite nicely that the G4 is currently pretty hamstrung by t's 133Mhz memory bus. I do video compression professionally using both Mac and PC workstations, but the Mac is currently one generation behind the PC in terms of performance owing to it's memory bus. We're betting that Apple will address this during the summer, and we'll add a new Mac workstation at THAT point. Whether it's a G4 or G5 that'll be powering it doesn't really matter that much - right now the Mac just needs more bandwidth. Set againstt all that is the simple fact that our existing G4 workstations have both 64bit PCI AND Gig Ethernet, so in some ways the Mac is still pretty quick. But, no doubt our fastest machine is our Athlon XP 2100+ - it's a screamer. Our 933 Mac gives around the same performance (generally) as our older 1.4 GHz T'bird. Still f**king fast by any reasonable measure, and amazing when doing it Altivec-style (you should see the Apple MPEG2 encodr go!).
  • [I'm assuming that the systems were running OS X and XP, respectively]

    How much could OS overhead play a part in the results? Does XP eat up an equivalent number of CPU cycles to OS X?

    • Really now...

      It's our beloved Aqua and Quartz that use up the processor, not Mach (the kernel). Mind you, Mach doesn't help the situation, even though it is an elegant solution. In other words, I'd think that unless the reviewer was playing with the Dock, or window resizing while running his tests, it's probably just a case of cheaper, faster hardware.

      Of course I'm so taken with OS X, that I doubt that I'll ever go back to Windows (X11 is another matter).
  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elliotj ( 519297 ) <slashdot.elliotjohnson@com> on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @10:55AM (#3484446) Homepage
    I really like the Mac. Honestly.

    But I'm glad to see some independent testing on this front. I think those contrived Photoshop bakeoffs are an embarrasment.

    I personally don't think Apples are as fast as PCs. I think most people agree. That's really not the point. There are many good reasons to buy a Mac. But a Mac running OS X is slow and everyone knows it.
    • I'd say Apples in OS 9 are a lot faster than PCs. There's just something about OS 9, everything is very snappy and crisp, apps just open with out that familiar winding of your HD you get in Windows. Unfortunately, this isn't a very good argument considering OS 9 is officially dead but soon so will be Windows 98 yet I'm sure people will continue to run that for years to come as well. As for OS X, yes, if you're going try and run it on your Tangerine iBook, sure, it'll be slow, but so would Windows XP on that Celeron 333 box you have lying around. I run OS X on a PowerBook G4 550 and it's pretty quick. I get a higher FPS rate in Quake III with the 16MB Mobility Radeon than I do in Windows 2000 AS with a GeForce2 MX 400 64MB, go figure? Is is as fast in every day use as Windows 2000 AS on my dual 1GHz P3 box? Hell no, but a lot faster than it would be on that P3 500 I have lying around. OS X just like 2000 or XP require high end hardware.
      • The "snappiness" of OS9 vs. OS10 is more for interface elements. Purprotedly Jaguar fixes a lot of this. The things discussed in this article about AfterEffects are much more tied to Adobe's coding and the speed of the processor and thus are quite separate from "snappiness."

        I think most informed people have always known Apple's hardware has speed problems. It isn't exactlly parallel to MHz, of course. But it does show the problems with Motorola. I think Apple has to fix this or all their wonderful OSX fixes will be of little help.

        Having said that, most computers today have far more power than people need. Network speed is almost always the problem. So unless you are doing computationally intensive work (i.e. heavy graphics) it is all moot. Any computer today is powerful enough. (Except perhaps a weak G3 with OSX, due to the UI elements)
    • I wholeheartedly agree. I haven't been a mac user for long (bought a G3 600MHz iMac seven months ago) but since I got it, it's become my main machine. However, it's one of the most unresponsive machines I own... and I have a 233MHz machine running at 180MHz (don't ask) a Performa 475 (a 68k machine!) and a 486... yes, the iMac feels slower than it's 68k cousin. I'm able to make a side-by-side comparison between my iMac and my windows 2000 pro machine... it scares me. Win2k box: PII 450MHz, 128MB RAM. iMac: G3 600MHz, 256MB RAM. I love my mac, I really do... but 20 seconds to switch windows (in the same app, no less!) is absoloutely intolerable. Apple's attempt to resolve this? Leave users like me out in the cold... Quartz Extreme (the first real speedup of OSX since 10.1) requres a graphics chipset not in my machine... and since it's an iMac (I wanted a G4, but I couldn't afford it) I can't upgrade the graphics. So the speedups in 10.2's QE will help me not at all.

      Just my two cents. But, you should know, slow as a 68k machine or not, I still use it as my main machine... out of all nine of my boxes.

      • but 20 seconds to switch windows (in the same app, no less!) is absoloutely intolerable.

        Okay, what are some people doing to their computers? I just don't get these claims. I own a G3 300 which is running Mac OS X 10.1.4 and there is not that much lag at all. I am using a G4 450 at work and while it is more responsive, my G3 isn't quite the dead horse a lot of users are claiming such computers to be.

        I don't know what it is, but it seems either there are a lot of trolls out there spreading FUD about OS X or my computers (one that is 4 years old) have some kind of super-hidden ability.
        • Just so you know... I wasn't trolling, just blowing off some steam. And let me toss a few examples your way... I type a one line IM message... in the time it takes to appear and be ready to send and the rainbow disk cursor goes away, I could have gone and made a sandwich. Shitty IM client, you say? More than likely. How about something closer to home..., for one. I like it as an email client, but it's HTML rendering when images are imbedded... painfully slow.

          If you don't have these kind of speed problems, I'd be delighted to find out the tricks you've used to boost OSX in the ass and make it responsive enough to use it as heavily as it's capable of. If you haven't tweaked anything, I'd say yes, your machines must have a super-hidden ability, because mine's simply not that fast. Well, unless I reboot into OS9... but that doesn't happen very often, fast or not.
  • How is dual 1.533GHz Athlon processors anywhere equal to dual 1Ghz G4 processors? The combined processing power of the Athlons is over 1Ghz greater than the combined processing power of the G4s. Again, I ask, how is this equal? Also, we know the amount of ram in each system but what type of ram was it. The G4 had PC133 but the Athlon? It was likely using 266MHz PC2100 DDR ram, far superior. What about the hard drives? Apples was probably a DMA 66 5400 or 7200 RPM drive while the PC was likely supplied with a DMA 100 7200 RPM drive. With the processors aside, there's a lot more to consider when comparing apples to oranges.
    • by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:40AM (#3484738) Homepage Journal
      Nice defense. You basically argued that it isn't fair to compare the two because Apple's hardware can't compete, and I would agree.

      All this trial does is throw some long-deserved doubt on Steve Jobs' repeated claims that hardware specs are meaningless and that performance must be intuited emotionally rather than objectively measured.

      This strikes me as a predictable outcome after years of focussing more on pretty cases and bouncing icons than on what's inside. Being 2 years behind the cutting edge in hardware just isn't going to pass muster.

      • that's not really fair, the Mac isn't REALLY 2 years behind in any realistic sense - the performance of that dual 1Ghz G4 would have been off the charts 2 years ago. Certainly, the Powermac is showing it's age (particularly that of it's mobo chipset) but I think that we're rapidly approaching a new mobo from Apple that will meet or beat the best PC configs. If you look back, you'll see that Apple's performance hikes tend to come in bigger steps, less often whereas the PC world gets a newer and faster chip every month or so. The Powermac definitely isn't out of contention yet, but the overhaul is due. FWIW, the article bears out my experiences quite closely as someone working in a cross platform environment.
    • How is dual 1.533GHz Athlon processors anywhere equal to dual 1Ghz G4 processors? The combined processing power of the Athlons is over 1Ghz greater than the combined processing power of the G4s. Again, I ask, how is this equal? Also, we know the amount of ram in each system but what type of ram was it. The G4 had PC133 but the Athlon? It was likely using 266MHz PC2100 DDR ram, far superior. What about the hard drives? Apples was probably a DMA 66 5400 or 7200 RPM drive while the PC was likely supplied with a DMA 100 7200 RPM drive. With the processors aside, there's a lot more to consider when comparing apples to oranges.

      Uh, I think that's the point! Look at what you get for your money, see how much faster the PC is? It would be nice if Apple would include faster RAM, bus, and drives. Unfortunately they have chosen not to sell computers with those features.

      The only comparison that anyone can make has to use what they sell. The Mac system compared in the article uses what they sell - in fact, the FASTEST computer currently available from Apple. Note that the Athlon system they compared it to is not nearly the fastest available Wintel, yet it wins the test anyway, and costs less than the Mac.

    • I would imagine that the equality is in the prices of the respective systems. Bang for the buck, I think my dad called it.

      The Polywell [] starts at $3000, as does the dual G4.

      The equality is also in the long standing claims of superior performance from some Apple tr^H^Henthusiasts.

    • The point is that they're not equal. They picked the fastest available processors for each archetecture. Mac processors are RISC, and PC are not. So if you used dual 1GHz Athlons, and Dual 1GHz G4s they wouldn't be equivelant to the Althons. A 1GHz RISC processor has an advantage over a 1GHz processor that doesn't use RISC. You can't really compare them easily. But thats not what really matters anyway.

      Mac processors have been almost always lower rated in MHz that PC processors. When PCs were 1GHz, Apple was still making 500MHz(about) Macs. Apple said that because they were RISC, they were equivelant to the PC processors. The test approaches things from a practical point of view. In reality a platform is represented by its current(see latest) hardware, at least for PCs and Macs. The point is that the latest PC hardware beats the latest Mac hardware in this test. Combined with the cost factors, this means if you are someone who wants to get an after-effects workstation, you have two choices. You can get a PC for under $1000 which will be much faster than the Mac, or a slower Mac for over twice the price. This will seriously reduce the number of people that would go with the second option.
      • The whole point of the article was that they didn't pick the fastest available Athlon to date. They picked one that was supposedly most equal to the Apple. Apple claims dual 1Ghz G4s are roughly the speed of a 2.4GHz P4. There you have 400MHz of play between the two. In this comparison, there is 1Ghz of play between the two setups. It's not even comparable to Apples claims, it far exceeds them. The article didn't prove that an equally equipped Athlon setup could out perform an Apple. The price of the two systems in this articles comparison is not relevant.
        • The price of the two systems in this articles

          says you! I'd like to have an extra $400 bucks as well as the extra time to spend it. This test is fairly conclusive... the fastest mac is not as fast as the fastest pc, moreover, it's not as fast the fastest PC from 6 months ago. I like macs, but the PC is obviously faster in After Effects rendering.
    • I think the last sentence tells us why they ran this test.

      "But if Mac users are under the impression that their machines can render After Effects composites faster than any Windows-based workstation, our tests do not support that conclusion."
  • Let me state the obvious - Apple needs to release G5 based systems soon, or it will be in deep do do. It needs to be cutting edge - DDR266 ram! Dual processors well over 1GHz! Oh wait, I meant "cutting edge as of a year ago". It should be said, though, that the dual G4/1GHz system they tested did OK considering the system and processor speeds. It has me drooling for one of those Dual 1.6GHz G5 system! MacWorld NY will tell...
    • Having processors speed over 1ghz doesn't mean anything.

      A dual 400mhz Sun Server comes in at $18,000 and I am sure it can blow away your PC with 2.4ghz chips.

      What I want to know is how long it takes me to:

      Start up from sleep
      Read my email,
      Surf some web pages,
      Open Dreamweaver
      Make edits to web sites
      Open Fireworks
      Edit some web images
      Open QuickTime VB Authoring App
      Stitch some QTVRs
      Open Movie Editing Software
      Download and edit some movie files
      Render out movie for TV, CD and web
      Upload web sites
      Surf the web (web site testing)
      Read some more emails
      Put the machine back to sleep.

      In 90% of this work (apart from Stitching the QTVR's and outputting Movies) I am not going to be waiting for the machine but waiting for me.

      That is why the user experience on the Mac is so important. If you can get around quickly, moving data easily then the Mac will out perform the PC any day. For me this is what makes the Mac head and shoulders above any PC.

      The simple fact that my Mac has stayed up for a couple of weeks now without rebooting (since the last update) is invaluable. It cuts many minutes out of my day.

  • by Doktor Memory ( 237313 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @11:52AM (#3484851) Journal
    You can run Shake on x86 to your heart's content, as long as you run it on Linux. This being slashdot, you'd think the story editors would be clued up on this sort of thing...
    • You can run Shake on x86 to your heart's content, as long as you run it on Linux.

      But after mid-2003 it will be biting the dust as well along with the IRIX version. Yes, Steve is very genorous.

      I know of a few long format productions that had geared their pipelines towards using Shake as their comping tool. When the time comes to deploy, they can no longer get licenses and what we're left with are some seriously pissed off people out there.

      Effectively, Steve didn't just kill Shake, but the entire client base as well. Good job.
      • But after mid-2003 it will be biting the dust as well along with the IRIX version.

        Er, no. Nobody from Steve on down has said a damn thing about the fate of Linux/Irix Shake after 2003 other than that they'll evaluate it at the time.

        Apple has been pretty consistant about being willing to publish non-MacOS versions of their top-end software (ie: WebObjects) when they know that there's a demand for it. I strongly suspect that if current Shake customers make their needs known, they will be tended to.
  • Apple Has FCP (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's really silly to think that Apple has anything other than its own video editing software in mind when it makes claims about itself in that market.

    Apple makes sure that Final Cut Pro works just as well on their hardware (or better) than any other comparable editing solution on any other platform. Lots of professional editors have moved to it.

    Apple aquired the sofware that would later become FCP from Macromedia. Look at what happened with Apple aquired Zayante. Now look at how they used them.

    The same thing will eventually happen to Shake too; it will be Applefied -- a new skin and some new features added and, most importantly, its useful pieces integrated in other Apple products where it will increase product value.

    That's Apple's thing:
    Apple Hardware + Apple Software (original or aquired and retooled) = better overall product/user experience. At least, that is what it looks like they are doing to me, and until you get a benchmark to measure that, I can't trollbait like this too seriously.
  • after Apple announced that they would be killing Shake for x86 platforms

    No, Apple announced that they were discontinuing for Windows. They are continuing to support of x86 operating systems until at least 2003, at which point they would re-evaluate the market. This is not killing it, just leaving their options open.
  • These are some benchmarks the scientific community will be interested in:

    (1) See how long it takes each machine to completely align a large gene (i.e., 500+ nucleotides) for a large number of isolates (i.e., 30+).

    (2) See how long it takes each machine to complete a maximum likelihood hueristics search using a large gene and a large number of isolates, to determine the phylogeny of the isolates.

    (3) Etc.
    • Ok, I'll bite. Which side wins your proposed gene counting, Mac or PC? As a recent purchaser of a new dual-1ghz Mac, I thought I was getting a reasonably fast machine. I
      m satisfied with what I've got and I'm enjoying the hell out of learning this beautiful new OS along with grinning from ear to ear as I cat foo | grep oof in the
    • For a market like this -- parallelizable scientific computing will, at least for several years more, stick with x86. Why? It's cheap. No one cares about a slick desktop or neat UI features if you just want another headless box in the cluster chewing away at numbers.

      Of course, none of these people are going to be using Windows, either...
      • Hey! "parallelizable scientific computing"??? ASCI (used to be world fastest until a week ago) computers more or less alternate between fastest Intel and fastest IBM/Motorola/Apple processors. How comes they are 'stick with x86"?

        Paul B.

        P.S. check out for specs...
    • AfterEffects runs like a dog in OS X. Here's some more benchmarks:

      From:Computing using Mac OS X []

      "For people who would like such a comparision .. this code (after AltiVec and dual processor optimization) runs almost 10 times faster on a dual 800 MHz G4, as compared to a 1 GHz Pentium III (g77)!! If you compare it to a 1 GHz Pentium III with a commercial compiler (Intel Fortran: ifc) .. hey, its only fair :-) .. the dual G4 800 MHz is still more than 4 times faster!"

      "Not convinced? Then read this study [] done by NASA on the G4's scientific computing potential. In my view, it is probably the most detailed and extensive study done in this regard."

      In the NASA document:

      "While AltiVec compiler support is not available for general F77 computations, Absoft has implemented AltiVec in a limited number of F90 vector functions and BLAS routines in their the Mac OS v6.2 compiler. These operations are accelerated under AltiVec by providing vectorization and 4-way parallel processing of single precision floating point computations [Reference 6]. To test this feature, a benchmark code was developed using the F90 "matmul" function, which multiplies matrices in array form. In this test, 200x200 matrices A and B were multiplied to form the 200x200 matrix C, and the computation was repeated 100 iterations for more accurate timing."

      Table 4: "Summary of F90 'matmul' Benchmarks" shows that when code is written to use Altivec a 500MHz G4, running Mac OS 9 completed the test in 1.5 seconds and scored 1067 MFLOPS. A 800MHz Pentium III running Red Hat Linux completed the test in 10.3 seconds and scored 155 MFOPS. The next fastest after the G4 was a 500Mhz Alpha 21264 running Red Hat. It did 286 MFLOPS in 5.6 seconds.

      "The MFLOPS benchmark was obtained by dividing the time benchmark into the number of floating point operations (FLOP) needed to perform the matrix multiplication with traditional scalar computations (involving nested DO loops). Using an operation count of 1 FLOP for each scalar multiply and add, the multiplication of NxN matrices requires approximately 2N3 FLOP [Reference 9]. For 200x200 matrices, repeated 100 times, this results in a total of 1596000000 FLOP, or 1.596 GFLOP." []

  • These guys []use openGL to speed up video compositing (to the point where it's real time!). It's interesting to see what is esentially gaming hardware used for professional video production.
  • Not surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aram Fingal ( 576822 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @01:22PM (#3485462)
    Apple has always been careful to compare the G4 to the Pentium 4 and not Athlon. The tests I have seen comparing all three (even by MacAddict) tend to more than validate AMD's claim that the Athlon is faster Mhz for Mhz than the Pentium.

    Apple has tended to fulfill Moore's Law in fits and starts rather than the smooth curve you see with the x86. They pulled well ahead about 3 years ago and then hardly moved until just recently. We'll see how far the current surge takes us.

    Speaking of 64-bit processors, I suspect that the more portable UNIX core of Mac OS X will allow Apple to support a 64-bit machine at the consumer level before Windows can.
    • Speaking of 64-bit processors, I suspect that the more portable UNIX core of Mac OS X will allow Apple to support a 64-bit machine at the consumer level before Windows can.

      Really? []

    • The "core" of both OS X and Windows (NT|2k|XP) has been available/ported to multiple platforms previously. What makes you think OS X is any more portable than Windows ?
  • by ultraslide ( 267976 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @02:13PM (#3485816)
    Sure enough, even the Mac lovers can agree that for the same cash a PC is gonna be faster than Mac. Intel and AMD have big incentives to keep those clock speeds as high as possible.
    But ... where are the studies about the entire work flow? Just because the machine is faster at grinding thru certain processes, it doesnt mean that the same job will get done quicker. What's the time to import/export files? What about saving those big files off to another disk? What about the learning curve for new apps (or OSs for that matter?) What about downtime for repairs and upgrades? What about end user training? These all "cost" in the end. I'm not saying that Apple would win this kind of study but I know from personal experience I do "get more done" on my Mac than on my PC.

    • For the same cash, you ALWAYS get a better mac than PC. Every time I've done a comparison, if you look at a Dell, Gateway, IBM, or other non-fly-by-night manufacturer, you spend about twice as much as you would for a mac with comperabe specifications (I'm talking about hardware.) When you factor in the fact that the mac is about 4-6 times as fast at speed intensive things, you find that the mac is a much better deal on a price preformace scale.

      Given that the largest installed base of open source software is on the Mac, and that the non-open source stuff kicks every other OS out there-- better video than real, better graphics than any desktop,(OpenGL implementation), faster application development, a vastly superior UI,etc. etc. I find it shocking that so many slashdot readers- obstensibly people that support opensource- continue to repeat the myths and outright lies spread by the evil empire.

      Get a Mac. Run Linux on it if you want, dual boot with darwin and OSX if you want. But get one and see what it is that you're missing.

      Only be evading actually using one or getting informed about the technology involved can you continue to hold the worldview you represent here on slashdot (and get moderated up for... hmmm.)

      Why is Gosling, Joy, and every other big name unix guy I know not intimately involved with linux development of going to the Mac? The titanium powerbook, and other great hardware.

      As I heard Gosling say yesterday "Mac OS X is unix with quality control and taste."

  • Charlie White published the following after MacWorld NY last year:

    "Worse, he (Jobs) engages in downright fraud. Consider the tired old "smoking Pentiums" routine. Funny that when Jobs compares the new G4 with the Pentium, he picks Cleaner, an application that runs significantly faster on a Pentium 4 than a Pentium 3. But lo and behold -- it's a single-processor Pentium 3 that's compared to the mighty G4.
    What would happen if a dual processor Xeon 1.7 GHz machine (based on the P4 chip) were tested against the G4? Guess. Another odd
    occurrence: Where was the AMD Athlon chip, another "Pentium Smoker," in this carnival? I say, next time, Jobs, get a copy of LightWave up there and render a few frames with that G4 against the fastest PC and we'll see who gets smoked.

    Charlie White Senior Producer Digital Media Net"

    Of course what Charlie didn't say was that he had not watched the Macworld P4vs G4 shootout himself, which was was he missed the big P4 signs and the apology from Jobs that though they knew P4 1.8ghz models were shipping, Apple was only able to obtain a 1.7ghz model for the NY Macworld. He also missed the explanation that both the Photoshop and Cleaner apps (optimised for P4 and G4) were running a series of processes common to complete a real world job and that the P4 and G4 were both running equiv RAM and HDs.
    It seems that Charlie White and Digital Media Net never let the facts get in the way of a good headline.

  • for Trolls.

  • I'm assuming that since the recent crop of Adobe apps are written as to run in both OS9 and X that the use Carbon. Has anyone done benchmarks on Carbon-based app performance in OS9 and X vs Cocoa based in X?

    I only wonder because I've noticed a little sluggishness in Illustrator 10 under X AND 9 that I didn't experience various Cocoa apps(some quite large) under X.

    Could the ease of platform transition that Carbon provides have a significant impact on performance?
    • Cocoa runs much more smoothly and much faster on new G4 OS X systems than Carbon can. They are really not even directly comparable when you get down to it, but being the owner of a great old B&W G3/450, I can tell you I would jump on anything Cocoa over anything Carbon any day of the week.

How come financial advisors never seem to be as wealthy as they claim they'll make you?