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Architosh Staff (info@architosh.com)
20 Oct 2003
 

Architosh: G5 Performance Information, Results Begin to Come In

For a long time now us power users in the Mac space have been clamoring for the arrival of the Next Big Thing by Apple in terms of performance. And since mid summer we have known what that big thing was: The new Power Mac G5.

Of course we've had to wait. It didn't ship right away like some Apple products do, and the model that most of us wanted -- the 2Ghz dual processor Power Mac G5 -- has taken the longest to arrive. During this time many journalists have been poking around with single and dual processor units. Don't ask why the journalist got theirs first? To tell a good story of course, but inevitably they don't produce the type of hard performance evidence that is so deserving of the G5.

 

Getting to the Hard Numbers

One of the first series of hard performance numbers done outside of Apple has come from Computerworld magazine online. Bob Freeman PhD is a Boston-based specialist in bioinformatics and has run a three part series on the new G5, along with other authors. In Bob's article he tackles computationally intense work in the bio-science area, an area where Apple has historic strengths and has grown recently.

Bob saw speed gains of 25 - 65 percent for most of the various tests, when comparing the new G5 to the G4. These are good results that speak to the raw performance potential of the underlying architectural improvements and the G5's floating-point as well.

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The CAD Story

On the CAD front Nemetschek North America, makers of the award-winning cross-platform VectorWorks line of applications, have announced G5 performance figures with a not-yet-fully-optimized version of VectorWorks. VectorWorks performance gains are staggering on the G5 when compared to the old G4 Power Macs. According to Sean Flaherty, Chief Technology Officer, Nemetschek North America, VectorWorks 10.5 on G5 hardware "redraws twice as fast, renders three times as fast and performs solid modeling operations nearly five times faster" when compared to a dual processor 1.25Ghz G4 Power Mac. These scores related to a midrange 1.8Ghz Power Mac G5 with only 512MB of RAM.

It Gets Better - PC's Are Whipped in Rendering and Redraw Speeds

According to internal documents shared with us, Nemetschek's internal testing shows that their standardized performance tests -- which include 2D-Redraw, Solids, and Rendering areas of focus -- indicate that a 1.8Ghz Power Mac G5 with 512 MB of RAM is up to 50 percent faster than a 2.8Ghz Intel Xeon workstation with 1GB of RAM. Architosh is currently working on the results of these tests for a fuller story on the matter.

We are hearing from a range of developers in the CAD and 3D markets that their early performance tests are showing dramatic performance increases over the Power Mac G4 line compared to the new G5 machines, with performances over Intel hardware being mixed but dramatic in a number of areas.

Architosh is planning on implementing a fair cross-platform test suite specifically aimed at architects in the future. It is being developed in cooperation with developers. We hope to begin testing Pentium 4 2.8Ghz machines with the new 800Mhz front-side (quad pumped) buses against the new single and dual processor G5 Power Macs. Based on early results by developers it is becoming apparent that the new Power Macs will definitely dominate Intel machines at rendering work. This is great news for architects and other 3D rendering professionals. Intel has been leading at rendering for a number of years now so the chance to regain the speed crown in an obvious way is a real delight for Apple customers.

It should also be pointed out that most Mac CAD and 3D applications are not developed with Apple's new tools (Xcode) and thus are not benefiting from the new GCC compiler which is being highly tuned by IBM and Apple for the G5 processor and its 64-bit units. We suspect that Codewarrior-based Mac applications will not see final G5 optimizations until early next year. Nevertheless, these Codewarrior apps on the new G5 hardware are outperforming their Intel competition.

Architosh Analysis: We are extremely happy with the type of news we are receiving about the performance of the new G5. At the same time, we are hearing great things about IBM's progress on new faster PowerPC 970 chips being developed, including news that Apple and IBM plan on substantially increasing memory caches on the chip. New chips are expected to increase frequency as well but more info on that has not come forward.


 

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