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First Feedback on Newer Tech 7448 CPU Upgrades
Posted: 3/23/2007

(The Mar. 22nd news page had a note that OWC had several Newer Tech 7448 CPU Upgrades in stock now for G4 AGP (Uni-N 7 or later) "Sawtooth", Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio, and Quicksilver/Quicksilver 2002 Systems. I mentioned that a reader (Dave) was testing one but couldn't comment publicly on it due to an NDA.-Mike)
As you know, I'm the "reader" who's been testing the new 7448 CPU for OWC for the last month and a half.

Since OWC just released the new 7448 CPU's I'm no longer bound by my NDA and can report on the new 7448, after having it here in my Digital Audio G4 for more than 1 month. I've enclosed my XBench v1.3 scores, and I did 4 tests and threw out the high and low ones. (See below for sample results)

Subjectively, the 7448 is significantly cooler running than the 7447A CPU's are, as the hottest that I saw here from CPU Director (there's a temp sensor on the CPU die in these CPU's) was 65-degrees Celsius. (The 7448 upgrade pages mentioned cooler running also. The later PL upgrades had a temp sensor on the module that was read/reported by CPU Director, but it was not an internal CPU temperature-Mike) The heat sink is just warm to the touch even after significant bench testing/stress testing/CPU loading, which is a HUGE change from the 7447A's which can get so hot that you can't even touch them after similar use.

The install was similar to the 7447A install, i.e. having to boot into OS 9.2.2 and do a special Firmware Patch from a NewerTech's CD ROM that's furnished with the CPU kit.
Unlike the Sonnet installer for their 7447A CPU's patch, the NewerTech CD ROM boots the Mac, and applies the patch, then you shut down, install the CPU, and still there's one more step to do before it will actually boot into OS X 10.3.9+ (required). There's a NVRAM patch for both OS 9 and OS X that has to be applied, so you boot one more time with the CD (hold down the C key), install the OS X/OS 9 patches, and finally you're ready to boot with the new CPU installed.

With 1MB L2 Cache running at the full 1.8GHz CPU speed, performance is significantly enhanced vs. a similar 7447A CPU. My XBench scores are heavily biased downward because I'm using the OEM system bus and a 120GB Seagate ATA/100 HD for the boot drive in the DA Mac, but I have seen Ben Priest's XBench scores over at the XBench site, and they're as I recall in the high 70's because he is using an OWC SATA Card and a SATAII HD, so his Disk Scores are 5X as high as mine are, but if you look at the CPU scores in my XBench reports here the numbers are about 30% higher than the best scores I ever got from either a Giga Designs or Sonnet 7447A CPU. (Dave had previously reported here on those upgrades, which eventually had problems and were returned. After the comment on the dual PCI slot fans causing airflow/cooling problems, I wonder if they were a factor with the Sonnet upgrades repeated problems. (They were not installed with the Giga Designs upgrade per his comments below though)-Mike)

There's a lot to be said about this new CPU system and it's all good, compared to the 7447A systems that everyone has been literally forced to live with for the past 3 years. I'm running Folding@Home 24/7 on all my Macs, and the 7448 has been knocking off proteins at record speeds compared to 7447A performance, for example. Everything's more responsive, faster across the board, and most of all I haven't had a single crash, KP, or system freeze or other anomaly since I've installed the 7448 CPU.

This is the CPU to have if you're keeping your old Mac tower, and I can see where OWC is going to sell a LOT of the 7448 CPU systems. I give this CPU a 10 rating overall, and see no reason why it won't be able to replace the 7447A as the Gold Standard in G4 upgrades.

(He had originally seen some stability problems and I asked if they were solved now)
The problems I was seeing were USER GENERATED PROBLEMS! First, I had a bad DIMM, which worked fine with the OEM CPU, but not with the 7448...so that accounted for sine major problems, especially with Folding@ Home 0x0 errors.

Then I had twin PCI Bay Exhaust Fans in place, which I didn't think anything about, as they'd been in there since I had the last Sonnet CPU. I did NOT think that they would be a factor in the cooling of the CPU, but sure enough, Chris Anderson, the OWC/NewerTech engineer/supervisor of the 7448 program told me to get those suckers OUT of there, and guess what.
The CPU stopped operating above 65-degrees Celsius like RIGHT NOW! When I removed those fans the CPU started acting normal. Can you believe that? Amazing! So don't ever let anyone tell you that little things don't make a difference, because they are EVERYTHING!

According to Chris Anderson the engineer, this totally disrupts the normal airflow of cool air over the CPU heatsink, which the heatsink fans depend on to furnish cool air to blow over the fins. Makes perfect sense to me.

So OUT they came, and Voila! Instantly the CPU die reading from CPU Director is 5-degrees Celsius lower! WOW! It was that dramatic, 5 degrees right then and there, and it stayed that way and the CPU worked perfect after that.

I'll tell you this, in a DA PowerMac there's precious little space for ANYTHING to disrupt the "normal" airflow inside the case, and you'd best leave it OEM stock if you want things to work nominally.

I just LOVE that 7448 CPU... Damn, to think if Motorola/Freescale had come out with those instead of the danged 7447A's back in 2002-3, how different things might have been, and I don't mean with the upgrade market. These would have been perfect for notebooks, Mac Mini's, and they certainly would have withstood the test of the environments that give the 7447A so much grief!

Now it's a happy CPU, operating nominally at around 62 to 64 degrees Celsius no matter how warm my studio gets, right up to 80-degrees F...if it's hotter than that, I turn on the A/Conditioner anyway. I'm amazed at how strong it seems to be overall. It just seems like it's the G4 that SHOULD have been made in the 1st place, instead of the 7447A. It's so much more stable, runs so much cooler, and can perform up to 40% better across the board, CPU Hz by Hz to compare the two G4's side by side.

I can tell you one thing for certain, this CPU is freaking bulletproof! I've put it through CPU Hell for almost 6 weeks and counting, with FAHome going on 24/7 along with all the other things that this Mac does for me here, and it's never crashed, KP'd, frozen, or had any weird symptoms other than the elevated temperatures from MY STuPIDITY, and the 0x0 errors caused by bad RAM and the high temps.

I thanked Larry, Chris and Ben so much that I think I wore out the "T" key on this BT keyboard! They were really good to me, understanding and patient as we worked all the issues out with this DA Mac, and never once came down on me for my stupid user errors that caused the problems that I had to happen in the 1st place.
Kindest regards, David C.

(here's one of the Xbench 1.3 results files he sent, trimmed for space. BTW - the 2MB L3 cache reported by Xbench is incorrect.)

System Info
Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.4.8 (8L127)
Physical RAM 1536 MB
Model PowerMac3,4
Processor PowerPC G4x2 @ 1.80 GHz
L1 Cache 16K (instruction), 16K (data)
L2 Cache 1024K
L3 Cache 2048K (? Incorrect, 7447/7448s have no L3 cache)
Bus Frequency 134 MHz
Video Card ATY,R200
Drive Type ST3120026A
CPU Test 96.03
GCD Loop 172.81 9.11 Mops/sec
Floating Point Basic 62.10 1.48 Gflop/sec
AltiVec Basic 360.20 14.36 Gflop/sec
vecLib FFT 96.86 3.20 Gflop/sec
Floating Point Library 58.56 10.20 Mops/sec
Thread Test 130.22
Computation 154.86 3.14 Mops/sec, 4 threads
Lock Contention 112.34 4.83 Mlocks/sec, 4 threads
Memory Test 33.81
System 38.52
Stream 30.12
Line 64.65 4.30 Klines/sec
Rectangle 69.02 20.61 Krects/sec
Circle 69.45 5.66 Kcircles/sec
Bezier 91.18 2.30 Kbeziers/sec
Text 267.90 16.76 Kchars/sec
OpenGL Graphics Test 82.42
Spinning Squares 82.42 104.56 frames/sec
User Interface Test 135.83
Disk Test 22.72
Sequential 61.74
Random 13.92

(In reply to the incorrectly reported 2MB L3 cache in Xbench's report)
Yeah, Apple System Profiler doesn't quite know *WHAT* to think of the 7448 CPU, and mis-identifies 2MB L3 Cache!... When I first saw that, I wrote Chris Anderson a frantic email about it, and he assured me that it didn't have any such Cache built into it, but that Apple System Profiler somehow "sees" the L3 Cache, which isn't there!

(I've also seen misreported L3 cache speeds (commonly seen with some upgrades, where Xbench will report it as a 4+GHz L3 cache speed (instead of 1/5 or 1/6th the CPU speed) and sometimes even misreports on-chip L2 cache speed (as half the CPU speed instead of full CPU speed).

Since he no longer has the other upgrade/cpus, it wasn't possible to do comparison tests with those but the Newer Tech 7448 CPU Upgrades product pages have some comparison benchmarks (at bottom of each page) of stock 400-500MHz towers vs a 7448 upgraded system. If anyone else gets one of these 7448 upgrades and does some real-world apps tests like those included in the full CPU upgrade reviews here (video encoding, audio, 3D, gaming, etc.) let me know. Thanks.
I've added Dave's comments as a Rate Your CPU Upgrade database report also (under Newer Tech G4 as upgrade type, G4/AGP slot as Mac Model) for that that search the database for end user CPU upgrade reports/reviews.-Mike

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