News Archive for: Monday April 28, 2008 (later added items first)
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Apple posts iMac ATI Radeon HD Graphics Firmware Update 1.0.1
(Update: The next day Apple revised the web page on this update to note its for the new "iMac Early 2008" models only - and on May 1st they changed the page URL/title as well.)
(original post from April 28th follows)
Doesn't appear in Software update here (and will not apply) on my (2007) AL iMac 24in running 10.5.2 w/all previous updates (including previous iMac graphics firmware update 1.0) - but here's the info from the download page:

"About iMac ATI Radeon HD Graphics Firmware Update 1.0.1
(as of May 1st, now titled "iMac (early 2008) ATI Radeon HD Graphics Firmware Update 1.0.1")
This update is for iMac computers with an ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro or ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics card installed, running Mac OS X 10.5.2 or later.

It updates the ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro or ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics card firmware in the iMac to improve system stability.

To complete the firmware update process, please follow the instructions in the updater application (/Applications/Utilities/iMac ATI Radeon HD Graphics Firmware Update.app). The updater will launch automatically when the Installer closes.

Boot ROM or SMC Version Information: (They mean the ATI Graphic's ROM version)
After this update has been successfully completed, ROM version will be: 113-B2250L-259 (See below - they later revised that info too.)
(My AL iMac currently has ATI 2600 Pro ROM version: 113-B2250F-219, EFI driver version 01.00.219 and this updater will not apply on it.-Mike)

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.2 or later
(FYI - Apple later added another important requirement)
iMac Early 2008

(And yet ANOTHER later revision to this Doc - to include 2 specific ATI ROM versions it's targeted for - and to revise the ROM versions 'after' the update.)
This update is applicable for ATI Radeon equipped iMacs that have a graphics ROM revision number of 113-B2250H-249 or 113-B2250L-249....
After this update has been successfully completed, your graphics ROM version will be: 113-B2250L-259 or 113-B2250H-259 depending on your iMac."

Another case where an update doc was incomplete and/or revised later... (Would have saved a lot of time if the "Early 2008" iMac requirement (and 2 specific ROM versions) was listed to begin with.) But generally if software update doesn't list the update on your Mac - it's usually not for your model anyway.

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Apple announces updated iMacs (Faster CPUs/bus, Nvidia 8800GS Graphics option)
The Apple store was down this morning for updates. It's back up now and as rumored last week, they've updated the iMac:

"Meet the new iMac
The updated all-in-one iMac introduced today offers the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors (Penryn I assume-Mike) and the most powerful graphics ever available in an iMac. The ultimate all-in-one desktop computer includes faster processors with 6MB L2 cache, a faster 1066 MHz front-side bus across the entire line, and 2GB of memory standard in most models. And the 24-inch iMac now offers a 3.06 GHz Intel processor and the high-performance NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS graphics as options. Available immediately, the new iMac starts at just $1,199."

The new iMac Features page has links to Application performance (pre-production 2.8GHz model vs previous 2.4GHz model) and Graphics performance charts (Quake 4 performance at 1920-by-1200 High Quality - comparing 2.8GHz model w/8800GS option vs ATI 2600 - no FPS numbers but notes 2.2x faster w/8800GS). (They also have a press release on the new iMacs.)
Here's the base system summary for the new high-end 24in/3GHz model from the US Apple store:

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB memory (800MHz DDR2)
  • 500GB hard drive
  • 8x double-layer SuperDrive
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS with 512MB memory
  • Ships: 1-3 business days. Free Shipping - $2,199.00

The 2.8GHz/24in model (320GB HD/2GB ram, with ATI 2600 as before) is now $1799. The GeForce 8800 GS w/512MB GDDR3 costs $150 (which I'd personally select...) The 4GB RAM upgrade option (from 2GB standard) is now $200 (previously 4GB Option from 1GB was insanely high - $700 or so).
(FYI - The site specials page now has 4GB (2x2GB) PC6400 for 2008 iMacs for $115.75 with lifetime warranty. You could then reuse the OEM 2GB RAM in another Mac, sell or trade them in.)

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Latest 2008 Mac Pro owner feedback
(from a recent reader mail)

" I took delivery of Mac Pro eight core 2.8 last week. Stock model, but CTO because I added Mac OS X Server. Upon receipt I used Disk Tools to reformat the drive and installed OS X 10.5.2 Client (Server is for another machine) from the DVD (I let the DVD check run to completion). ATI 2600 driving two displays - Eizo CG210 and Apple CD23.

I installed two 74gb WD SATA Drives and Striped them for scratch disk. Also installed a 180gb SATA Drive. Additional 8gb RAM from OWC. Installed Adobe CS3, LR, iWork, etc.

From the first night, the machine has given me trouble; kernel panic when I arrived the next day. Random kernel panics for next day or so. Day Three, I'm cranking on some LR editing and it panics. I reboot and begin running check on my LR catalog. Kernel panic. Reboot. Panic right after login. Reboot. Panic at login. Rinse, repeat.

I pulled all three drives and the extra ram, disconnected a couple USB devices (APC UPS, CF Card Reader, Epson inkjet, Eizo display control) and a FW800 drive. No change.

I figure something must be corrupt on the disk so I do an archive and install. After moderate use the rest of that evening, the machine remains running until two days later at which point it KPs during the night.

Through all of this I noticed a high-pitched whine that would kick on and off randomly. I eventually traced it to the fan on the ATI board. Sounds almost like an impact wrench running from across the street.

Call Apple. Reset PRAM (a ha! forgot about that trick). On phone for five minutes and the fan noise doesn't kick in at all. No KPs. Hang up phone. Whine starts, but no KPs for balance of day. Next day it starts all over again. This time, I tried pulling the APPLE RAM, thinking maybe it is bad. No change.

Call Apple once again. Reset the SMC. At this point, the machine would stay running for more than five minutes or so. They have me run Quick Hardware Test (which is accessed via holding the "D" key down when booting from OS DVD). Finds nothing. Let the extended test go for forty minutes or so. Nothing. Disk Utility finds nothing.

After some friendly cajoling they are sending a replacement machine. I really didn't think that an erase-and-install was going to make a bit of difference.

Meanwhile, I've ordered an nVidia 8800 card that should arrive tomorrow. I got this so I could test my theory that it is the ATI board causing the trouble. If so, and this fixes it, I will have a working machine sooner. I'll keep you posted.

(Did the system ship with the latest EFI firmware? (And ATI 2600 firmware updated?) Reference - Feedback on 2008 Mac Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.3 and Feedback on Mac ATI 2600XT Firmware Update. May not help but just curious.-Mike)
Both were applied via SWUpdate right after installation of system.
-Matt K."

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Mac Drive Upgrades/Compatibility Database Updated
The Mac Drive/Storage Upgrades Database had 6 more reports added. Current total - 16,415. (Searching by drive type, brand, mac model etc. listed below will show the full reports, most recent first)

    DVD+R/RW + DVD-R/RW Drives:
  • IDE LG GSA-H55L Super Multi DVD Rewriter 20X in Mac Pro (OS X 10.5.2)

    Hard Drives:
  • IDE Fujitsu MHV2120AH 120GB in iBook G4 (OS X 10.5.x)
  • SATA Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 (7200rpm) 200GB in MacBook Pro (OS X 10.5.x)
  • SATA Hitachi Travelstar 5K500 500GB in (17in) MacBook Pro (OS X 10.5.x)
  • SATA Western WD7500AAKS 750GB in Mac Pro (OS X 10.5.x)
  • SATA Western Digital WD3200BEVT 320GB in MacBook Pro (OS X 10.4.11)
    (drive swap from Passport USB cased model)

You can read full reports (latest shown first) by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches). The database includes reports on Optical Drives (Blu-Ray, DVD, CD/CDR, etc.), Hard Drives, Tape drives, Removable media (ORB, ZIP, MO drives), NAS (Network Attached Storage), in all interface types (IDE, SATA, Firewire, SCSI, USB, adapters).
If you've added/upgraded a drive in your Mac send me the details (drive info/speed rating/mac model/OS used, etc.). Note: Please use the drive for at least a week before reporting on it and test for booting from Disc with Optical Drives (as well as burning discs). Thanks.

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Other News/Articles, Mac Software Updates
(later added items first)

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