Friday, January 27, 2006

Dodging Road Apples

First there was the January launch of the Apple/Intel systems (lovingly called MacIntelitosh by TheInquirer as well as many others). We got to hear Jobs hisself announce how the new Intel Macs were 2x to 4x faster than the equivalent PowerPC machines. This, after years of hearing how much faster the PowerPC machines were compared to equivalent Intel-based machines.

Next came MacWorld's analysis of the iMac. They were a little more critical of Apple's claims, showing a 10% to 25% increase, but not the 2x claimed by Apple. That led to an enthusiast site, MacSpeedZone, to claim that the new iMac was 2x faster. What's peculiar about the MacSpeedZone is their example of why MacWorld's analysis was flawed. They compare a QuickTime encode on a quad G5 with the iMac Core Duo. Let me quote:
When running a QuickTime encode the Power Mac Quad G5/2.5GHz took 84.85 seconds. The Intel iMac Core Duo 2.0GHz took 97.02 seconds
Advantage: Power Mac by 14% .... Nothing to write home about ... Not even keeping up with the clock-speed difference between the two machines

Not convinced .... I wasn't either ... Ok lets try something different. Lets run two encodes at the same time .... just for fun. It is easy to do, just duplicate the file and run the processes concurrently.

What scores did we get?

When running the QuickTime encodes the Power Mac Quad G5/2.5GHz took 86.25 seconds. The Intel iMac Core Duo 2.0GHz took 176.60 seconds
Advantage: Power Mac by 105%

Ok let's get this straight when doing twice the work it only takes the Power Mac with its four processor cores, about 2 extra seconds, but takes the Intel iMac an extra whopping 79+ seconds - almost twice as long as in the single test?

What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong is processor capacity vs processor usage.
No, there's nothing wrong with the picture. Later on in the article the author notes that a single Intel processor was being 87% utilized while the PowerPC core was being 42% utilized. When the single cores on both machines were given the two encode tasks, the Intel core hit 100% utilization while the PowerPC only hit 87%. This illustrates to me the inherent superiority of the G5 core over the Intel. The rest of the MacSpeedZone is so much poorly written crap. Bottom line: the Core Duo is no better, and is probably worse, than the PowerPC chips. But what the hey. If Jobs says the new MacIntelitosh is better, then it must be.

Finally there's this interesting article from ZD Net Australia about latent flaws in Mac OS X. Suresec is finding bugs fixed in other operating systems (read Windows and Linux) 10 or more years ago. The kind of bugs that, when exploited, allow non-admin users to gain admin rights to the machine. Read the article. Maybe you'll laugh as hard as the Apple developers did when they were told about one such trivial bug. Or maybe not.

I thought at one time that Apple could provide a better alternative to Windows and Linux. Better quality, better security, better hardware. A better overall experience. I had even convinced myself I should switch. But as I've watched this move by Apple from PowerPC to Intel, it's become quite evident that Apple is only interested in style over substance. With what I've read and seen I'd just as soon stick with standard Intel systems and operating systems I already know, such as Linux and Windows. Let those with more money than sense buy Apple. I'll stick with Intel's "boring" partners running other operating systems I know are more secure. I've got too much work to do to play with Apple.

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