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News Archive for: Monday April 23, 2007       Go to Current News Page

Systems | CPU Upgrades | Video | Storage | SCSI | Audio/HT
MacBook Pro Performance problems with Win XP (fixed by XP Dual Core Hotfix)
(Updated w/notes on XP Dual Core Hotfix)
A reader with a new MacBook Pro wrote he's had very poor disk performance with a fresh install of Win XP (using Bootcamp 1.2 beta). He suspected the onboard SATA was running in PIO mode although windows reported it running in DMA mode. He also mentioned performance problems with a FW drive as well, but I wasn't sure if it was a general issue or something he saw primarily when running Pro Tools, but I suspect the latter. (I was never able to get any benchmarks or additional details.) I asked if he had checked Windows Task Manager to see if anything was eating CPU cycles and if he'd benchmarked the system with something like Sandra (for comparisons to similar systems) or HD Tach, etc. - Friday I had asked if he ran a check for updates at windowsupdate.com and he said yes, but today he wrote the solution was a Windows XP (SP2) Dual Core Hotfix (released Dec. 19th, 2006) - I searched the web and found a Microsoft support page KB896256 (support.microsoft.com/kb/896256) with a download of link for the hotfix:
"Computers that are running Windows XP Service Pack 2 and that are equipped with multiple processors that support processor power management features may experience decreased performance"

That article also refers to a support doc on gaming performance issues.

Earlier today (before getting the hotfix note) a reader replied to this post:

"I'm on my 2nd MacBook Pro - running Win XP under BootCamp 1.2 is a breeze, no performance issues (gaming, video editing, etc). Leaves my Dell d620 for dead...
(I asked Pat if the hotfix had appeared in windowsupdate (would be shown as a KB number typically) and if he had already applied it - checking Windows "Add/Remove Progams" control panel usually lists hotfixes/updates applied (often near the bottom of the list) as I don't remember any MBP owners complaining about XP performance in the past.)
Didnt notice it going though on my macbook pro, but interestingly had to apply it manually to my dell... Performance was rubbish till i did. But still not a match for the mac.
as an aside, i run parallels too, with a vanilla build of xp. And that runs sweet...
Regards, Pat C.
IT Manager"

Although I was never able to get more details from him, I suspect he primarily saw the problem when running Pro Tools as his main complaint was choppy disk/streaming performance. (Which is why he kept insisting that it was running in PIO mode, despite windows reporting DMA mode.)

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Note to Airport 802.11b card users that have Airport problems after 2007-004 Security Update
(Update: on May 1st, 2007 Apple released Version 1.1 of Security Update 2007-004. In the About Security Update 2007-004 v1.1 it mentions this version "corrects an issue where the AirPort connection may be lost after waking from sleep" with 10.3.9. For those that did see the problem (Airport 802.11B card users it seems), hopefully this update version solves the problem for them without needing to move/delete extensions as mentioned in the apple forum thread below, although a PB G3 and iMac G3 (both Airport B cards) said another reboot fixed it. BTW - comparing the versions of the Airport (802.11b) and Airport2 (802.11g) extensions on my PB G4 (10.3.9) after the latest Security update 2007-004 v1.1 showed neither had been updated by it. The versions and last modified dates are exactly the same as they were when I took the screenshot below, done after the original 2007-004 security update was installed. And although my PB G4/10.3.9/802.11G AE card rarely fails to reconnect on wake from sleep, after installing the 1.1 Security Update on a 10.3.9 drive in my 2003 G5 tower, the first reboot after the update didn't auto-reconnect. I had to turn airport off/on...)

(the original April 23rd, 2007 post follows)
A clamshell (G3) iBook owner wrote he had Airport problems after the 2007-004 update for 10.3.9. I installed the same update on my PB G4 (10.3.9) and had no Airport or other problems (although for years I and some others have have seen cases where waking from sleep does not reconnect to the network automatically). It's using an Airport Extreme (G) card however.

" I downloaded the 2007-004 security update as soon as it was posted on XLR8yourmac. My clamshell iBook was running fine with 10.3.9 before, but afterwards there were AirPort problems. AirPort would not connect to or even find any networks after the computer awoke from sleep.
(Note: If the only problem you're seeing is the Mac is not reconnecting to your base/network after waking from sleep - that's not uncommon (I've seen it hundreds of times over the years - and still do at times).
What I have always done when waking from sleep doesn't reconnect to the Airport network automatically is just turn off Airport from the menu bar item and then turn it back on. That works every time here. (A couple years back someone said changing the Base to a different channel helped, but at times I still have to toggle airport off/on after waking from sleep.) Every time I thought an update or change had 'solved' this for good, within a few weeks or so I'd occasionally see it happen again so I just use the Off/On toggle. I'd not go moving/deleting extensions, etc. - I doubt that is a permanent fix really and those that have done that say Software Update then later lists older Updates (perhaps due to the missing extension).
)
Since I scour the Apple Discussion boards, I came across this thread describing my exact problem and the solution.
http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=934143&tstart=0
It seems there is an extra AppleAirPort file in the extensions folder after the update. (There are notes down the page there that deleting/moving the "AppleAirport2.kext" (Airport Extreme/G driver) helped - but again if the only problem you're having is not connecting after wake from sleep just turn airport off/back on from the Mac's menu bar rather than delete/move extensions.
BTW - The Airport2 extension has been present in OS X for years, since the Airport Extreme cards were introduced. (I saw it years ago during 10.2.8 and earlier 10.3.x tests of 802.11g Airport-compatible cards, installed even on 802.11b airport card systems), although the Airport2 extension was not loaded unless an Airport Extreme or other Airport compatible 802.11g card was installed.
)
Removed it (AppleAirport2.kext) and all works like before. Hope this helps others.
-David L. "

My PB G4 w/AE card shows all 3 of the AppleAirport extensions present in ASP's Extensions list, but as before, the Airport2 (G) extension is listed as loaded, not the Airport (B) extension. The AppleAirportFW ext. is listed as not loaded. I'm guessing that's a firmware file for some other Airport cards (Apple in the past updated original airport cards for 128bit WEP and WPA support, but not running OS X on any Mac here with one of those cards to check. Apple also included firmware updates (loaded files) for 802.11n adapter equipped Macs as part of Airport Updates earlier this year.)
Here's a grab of the Apple System Profiler Extensions listing from my 10.3.9/Sec Update 2007-004 on the PB G4 (w/802.11g AE card) - showing the Airport Extreme (G) Extension loaded, but not the others:

ASP Extension info from Airport Extreme (802.11g) card equipped Mac

FYI: The later 'Version 1.1' of Security Update 2007-004 (released 5/1/2007) did not change the Airport or Airport2 extensions on my 10.3.9 PB. (The version numbers and last modified dates are the same as above.)
I doubt he remembers but I asked David if he noticed what AppleAirport Extensions were listed as loaded, etc. when he had the problem. (The AppleAirport2 extension he deleted should not have been loading on a "B" Airport card system.) He later replied he didn't check before he deleted the AppleAirport2 extension but currently only the (802.11b) AppleAirport extension is shown as loaded.
BTW - a reader replied to this post saying a 2nd reboot solved the problem for him:

" I also suffered a complete loss of Airport function after the most recent Panther update (running 10.3.9 on a Powerbook G3 2000). It would not see my own network (just an audio link to an Aiport Express base station) nor any of the other networks in my apartment building. However, after a second reboot (the first being due to the required reboot after the security update), full function seems to have been restored. I can once again connect to my Express and I can see other surrounding networks.
cheers, Vinai "

An iBook G3/900 owner w/Airport (B) card also said another reboot solved it. If the wake from sleep (re)connect problem happens again, first I'd try just turning airport off/back on again to see if that helped before messing with extensions. (BTW - the first reader to report this (Airport 802.11B card user) later wrote that turning airport on/off didn't help, but nobody in the thread mentioning trying that before messing with extensions. Regardless, the v1.1 Security Update 2007-004 hopefully fixes that for those that did see the problem.)

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8-Core Mac Pro owner notes on 10.4.9 Build Number and Unknown CPU after 2007-004 Security Update
(Updated twice with replies, see below.)
In an earlier post today from a 8-Core Mac Pro owner that had problems with his Seritek 2SE2-E card being recognized with the original OS X install, I mentioned that new macs often ship with later builds of OS X than the public release of the same build. A reader replied:

"The Mac Pro 8-Core does have a later build.
    [Ocho:~$] sw_vers
    ProductName: Mac OS X
    ProductVersion: 10.4.9
    BuildVersion: 8P4037
    [Ocho:~$]

Standard 10.4.9 is reported as build 8P2137.
(You can also get the build number by clicking on the "About this Mac" OS X version number.)
Applying 2007-004 Security Update causes "about this mac" to report "unknown" 2 x 3GHz but System Profiler and CHUD Processor shows proper information. (Another 8-Core Mac Pro owner said he saw the same thing after the 004 security update - unknown processor reported in About this Mac.) Cosmetic only it appears and no change in stability or performance (knock on wood!).

Good news is that it is "only" software or firmware issue probably, rather than hardware which would be more serious I guess.
I hope George is able to get his hands on 8-core. I think the switch to Intel and EFI may have been a difficult one for FirmTek.
Thanks for your site and keeping us informed.
-Gregory"

The 8-Core Mac Pro owner that sent a note about problems with his Seritec 2-port SATA PCI card wrote to confirm the above:

" I can confirm the two builds already on your site (8P2137 - ok with firmtek - and 8P4037 - no go with the sata board). I can also confirm that applying the security update I also have the "unknown" processor issue. :(
-Maurizio "

I wrote Maurizio about the replies to his post earlier today (i.e. a Sonnet 2 port card working OK in 8-Core Mac Pro and reminder on a Cable kit to use the 2 available/unused SATA ports on the Mac Pro motherboard.)
I don't own one but if anyone else with an 8-core Mac Pro has seen any compatibility issues or quirks with one, let me know the details.
BTW: A C2D MacBook Pro owner wrote he's also seen strange reporting after the 2007-004 Security Update:

" I have a similar problem with with "About This Mac"/System Profiler displaying strange data after the security update.
My 15" C2D MacBook Pro now shows "2.16GHz 0 MHz RAM"
Brandon "

An Intel-CPU iMac owner said he's not seen the problem:

" On my Intel-CPU 24" iMac I applied the security update 2007-004 just fine and it still properly identifies my CPU as a 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo.
-Joe S. "

I applied the 2007-004 security update to a 10.4.9/2003 G5 tower and it still reports the correct CPU type/speed in the "About this Mac" and no other problems seen so far. (I also applied the 2007-004 Security update for 10.3.9 on my PB G4 here and it still reports the correct CPU type/speed, etc., with no problems seen so far.)

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Problem with Seritek 2SE2-E eSATA card in 8-core MacPro (updated w/notes)
(Update: The next day he wrote that he'd forgotten about an Install CD with drivers for the Seritek card that have to be installed on the Mac Pro's boot drive.) His earlier mail follows:

" I'm writing to you because you're the only who can spread the word about this issue and eventually get some report from someone else with the same issue.
I have a new MacPro 8-core and the Seritek 2SE2-E. The card has firmware 5.2.0 (nov 18 2006) and cannot get recognized by the computer...
With the application "Expansion Slot Utility" I can see the board as "unknown other mass storage controller" but anyway it's not usable by the computer.

I've written to FirmTek but they are unaware of this issue and they have passed the question to George Rath who's in charge of the firmware. I can't really use the new mac until I get this working as I heavily rely upon external disks for my work. I would be happy to hear a second voice. Could you please ask if someone else can test the combo just to see if they work together and please report also firmware versions? Thank you in advance.
(I asked him if the card had worked OK in dual-core Xeon Mac Pros)
The card is perfectly ok with a previous 3GHz 2x2 (dual core) MacPro. But news of the morning is that it seems a totally software problem.
Starting from a clone of my old MacPro (dual core) disk installed in the new quad core, the card works! If I use a fresh newly installed with factory disk, I cannot get the card working.
I'll report this to FirmTek now, hope that they investigate. I'd frankly prefer to use a fresh install, not the clone of my old computer...
Best regards,
Maurizio C. "

Firmtek later replied with a reminder to install the drivers on CD. I wonder if there are any OS changes in the 8-core OS X build/install (shipped from Apple). Sometimes new macs ship with a later build (w/changes) than the public release of the same OS X version. (Update - see later post above with info on 8-core Mac Pro OS X 10.4.9 build version and comments on the 2007-004 security update.)
If anyone else with an 8-core Mac Pro has seen any compatibility issues, let me know the details.
Another 8-Core Mac Pro owner wrote:

" Concerning the problem that Maurizio C. had with the Seritek 2SE2-E card, I have an 8-core Mac Pro and here are two possible solutions:

1) I purchased a Sonnet PCI Express 2-port eSATA card from OWC that is working fine for me. (I assume he's using the Tempo SATA E2P.)

2) There are supposedly two unused SATA ports in Mac Pros (present since the first models) and at least one company is making a plate with two eSATA sockets to replace an empty PCI slot plate on the back panel. There are cables to extend the two unused ports to the back panel ports. Unfortunately, I don't recall where I saw it. :-\
(He's referring to the Newer Tech cable kit, mentioned in the April 19th news, and again today in earlier post below on mac pro onboard SATA ports.)
-Lew K. "

Lew later sent comments on CPU Usage with Pro apps, Power Fractal results and Power Usage shown on a KillaWatt meter that i'll add to the 8-Core Mac Pro feedback page.

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Yellow Machine P400 Firmware Update
(from one of the readers that commented previously on the Yellow Machine on the Mac NAS feedback page)

" My YM came with firmware version 3.01 There is a .iso version of the final version (3.30) available here:
http://www.daffysworld.info/files/Yellow_Machine_3-30_Installation_CD.iso.

I was able to upgrade my YM using Virtual PC, But it was a struggle.
I reran Helios LAN test WiFi (802.11G) and didn't really see any big differences.
Still can't get NFS to work.
-M"

An earlier report from Jeff on the NAS page noted he enabled NFS via a checkbox in configuration but he had to rename his Macs as some had spaces, etc. in the names (Mile later wrote he had tried that, but still unable to connect with NFS.)

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Notes on Mac Pro onboard SATA port drive swaps
(in reply to a post last week on eSATA Extender cables (w/PCI slot bracket) from Newer Tech for use with the 2 unused ports on the Mac Pro motherboard.)

" this may be of some interest for your readers.
From the Intel 631xESB/632xESB I/O Controller Hub data sheet:

"Hot-Plug Operation
Dynamic Hot-Plug (for example, surprise removal) is not supported by the SATA host controller. However, using the PCS register configuration bits and power management flows, a device can be powered down by software, and the port can then be powered off, allowing removal and insertion of a new device. "

(I asked if he knew of any way to do that in OS X.)
the SATA controller does support AHCI mode, which enables hot plugging (same as with the raid southbridges ICH6R - ICH8R which support hot plugging with raid drivers from Intel without Intel assuring this).

But it does not support AHCI if the PATA port is used as in the Mac Pro. And without AHCI there is no way to do hot plugging.

Using a SATA DVD drive may not mean AHCI is used automatically. The controller has to be switched from IDE to AHCI mode. Maybe the Mac Pro does it on startup or some EFI specialist can finds out how to do that.

BTW Tiger can handle an ICH8R in AHCI mode on all SATA ports without a problem.
Kind regards,
Martin S. "

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Recent Articles and Reviews
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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