News Archive for Monday August 31, 2009     Goto Current News Page

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SuperDrive Firmware Update 3.0 (iMac and Mac Mini)
Apple doesn't mention it but this update is for 2009 models only as far as I know.

"SuperDrive Firmware Update 3.0
This update will eliminate the noise made by the optical disk drive during system startup and wake from sleep on your Mac. This update works with the following EFI updates:
  • iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.4 (released 5/2/2009 for 2009 iMac, fix for ATI 4850 issues)
  • Mac mini EFI Firmware Update 1.2 (new today - see below)

To complete the firmware update process, please follow the instructions in the updater application (/Applications/Utilities/SuperDrive Update.app). The updater will launch automatically when the installation is complete. For detailed information about this update, please visit this website:
About SuperDrive Firmware Update 3.0."

BTW - that comment reminds me of the apple doc/tip (reset drive) posted here in the July 2nd news page on the same optical drive noise with June 2009 MacBook Pro. (Makes me wonder if they'll release a superdrive firmware update for that model.)

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Mac Mini EFI Firmware Update 1.2 ('improves memory kit compatibility')
Apple doesn't say but I assume this is for 2009 Mac MIni's but it should appear in software update if it's for your Mac Mini model.

"Mac mini EFI Firmware Update 1.2
This update improves compatibility with the latest Apple memory kits on Mac mini computers.

To complete the firmware update process, please follow the instructions in the updater application (/Applications/Utilities/Mac mini EFI Firmware Update.app). The updater will launch automatically when the installation is complete.
System requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later
For detailed information about this update, please visit this website:
About EFI firmware updates."

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OS X Server 10.5.8 Update 1.1
Spotted these at Apple today:

And a related support doc - OS X Server v10.5.8: Invalid serial number after updating. (Notes OS X Server v10.5.8 Update v1.1 fixes that.)

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Notes/Tips on FileMate 48GB SSD Expresscard OS X 10.6 install
First OS X 10.6 report on this SSD Expresscard (although there are OS X 10.5.x user reports on it here from the past on the MBP/Expresscard reports page.) I don't know if his experience is common (often it's not) but posting as a FYI:

"I've come across an interesting issue. This weekend I successfully installed SL on my three macs (new mac mini, unibody 17" and unibody 13" MacBook pro) both laptops have SSD's as well.
I've even been able to load SL on my 16 GB Sandisk Extreme III SD card, for doing repairs for the 13"... however, when i try to load SL on my 48GB Wintec Filemmate SSD Expresscard drive, I have gotten TWO failures. SL reports a failure and it cannot finish installing. i am trying one more time, but i fear that SL will not load onto this expresscard. odd though, because the original disks from the unibody with 10.5.7 installed just fine, and ran perfectly.
I also did a disk utility erase and partition to create one partition and it failed again. am trying now for one last time and will call the manufacturer tomorrow...
(But he later wrote with a fix)
I figured it out. Multiple tries, failure, nothing... Reformatted - no help...
THEN I ran Snow Leopard's disk utility and hit repair disk.
I saw then that the repair added some BOOT files for the partition per necessary (or something to that effect...) and VOILA!


(FYI: That "Boot" related message in Snow Leopard's Disk Utility seems standard now on every repair run, based on what I've seen in repeated checks here. (During my "OS X 10.6 Tests w/Cheap eSATA SI3132 PCIe and ExpressCards".) This is the message that appears below the "Volume Repair Complete" message in OS X 10.6 Disk Utility (every time)

    "Updating Boot Support Partitions for the Volume as Required"

That message appears every time I "repaired" an external drive using 10.6 DU. Running a "Verify disk" again (all reported OK) and then another "Repair disk" shows the same "Updating Boot Support ... as Required" message.-Mike)


I don't know if others will get this stymied, but the important point here is if you run across a problem, and you've already upgraded your internal HD, then make sure you repair your external drive and have SL add those all-important boot files to the partition!
-Adam S."

I haven't yet tried to boot from ext drives (I have some FW and/or quad interface Ext. drives) with 10.6, but have booted from internal drives OK (w/10.5.7, 10.5.8, Vista64 on them). Disk Utility Repair (disk) has also helped in the past with some Firewire (or USB) External drives that failed to mount (after an update for instance, or just from a crash/corruption.)

BTW - While on the subject of External drive SL installs, Apple has a doc about OS X 10.6 install problems to a volume that was used for TimeMachine (even if it was used for TM in the past and not currently) - doc includes tips for that.

Update - a 64GB FileMate SSD Expresscard user wrote he didn't see any problems updating it to 10.6:

" I've been using the 64GB Filemate Expresscard SSD as boot disk / test disk. I finished installing SnowLeopard on it and had no issue except for my iStatmenu not working anymore, but seems like islayer is working on a fix already. The 64GB SSD is regarded as a USB drive with 35MB/s (read) - 30MB/s (write) speeds, a bit slower than the SATA (48GB) version, but still very responsive. (he sent a screenshot of Apple System Profiler info showing the drive as USB)

I first ran 10.5.7 (on it) which I had upgraded to 10.5.8 and now upgraded to 10.6. It boot's 10.6 both in x32 or x64 kernel no problem and I've extensively used it with vmware fusion (at work we use in-house developed windows software)
-Alain"

Unless there's a new update to Fusion, v2.0.5 (latest as of 10.6 release last Friday) only works with 32bit 10.6 kernel.

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Mac Pro w/GTX-285 Sims III FPS tests (OS X 10.6 vs Vista)
Follow-up from a reader that post in Friday's news about the Sims 3/GTX 285 driver issue being fixed in 10.6.

"Sims III/GTX-285 in OS X 10.6.0
I managed to squeeze in an hour of The Sims 3 last night and must report that the performance of the game running under 10.6 with an EVGA GTX285 is atrocious.
In fact the fps differ marginally from those I was achieving with 10.5.7 and a GT8800 in my MacPro.

To activate the fps display in The Sims 3 one needs to press and hold Control-Shift-c this brings up the cheat console into which one types fps on (carriage return). This puts a small display of fps in the top right corner of the game screen.

I tested the GTX285 in Bootcamp with Vista (SP2) using the latest Windows nVidia drivers (190.62 released 8/21/2009.-Mike) and in Snow Leopard with 10.6.0 supplied drivers.

All graphics features were set to max and display resolution was 1920x1200
I needn't give more than a few figures as the results speak volumes.
I went to three locations using the exact same gamesave in both the Vista and SL.

Sims household with three active Sims:
Vista averaged 70-88 fps whilst observing the household activities
Snow Leopard achieved a max fps of 44 but stayed in the 20's most of the time.

Park view with several active Sims:
Vista averaged 72-90fps
Snow leopard managed 45fps max but again held at the mid 20's.

Coast line (one Sim fishing)
Vista hit 270fps
Snow Leopard 105fps

As I mentioned earlier the Mac OS X 10.6.0/GTX 285 performances are near identical to the nVidia GT8800 10.5.7 rig. So a $450.00 GTX285 adds approximately nothing to this gaming experience. How much of a performance hit is a result of Cider running The Sims 3 or the nVidia drivers built into 10.6.0 is unknown.
Regards, Neal"

I'm really not surprised at the lower OS X game FPS scores although I'm sure Cider just makes it worse. Historically game FPS has been higher in Windows vs OS X on the same hardware (I saw the same thing with COD4 w/10.5.x vs Vista and others noted it with Doom III, X-Plane, etc). Future OS X 10.6.x/driver (and app) updates may improve performance (and fix bugs). Nvidia and ATI are very aggressive/proactive on driver updates for Windows.
And GTX 285, 8800GT and 8600M (MacBook Pro) 10.6.0 users have also reported no AA options in World of Warcraft with OS X 10.6. And several GTX 285 owners have said WoW objects have 'outlines' around them in 10.6.0. But as usual I didn't expect any "dot zero" OS release to not have some problems, bugs, etc...). Some (not all) ATI 48xx/10.6.0 WoW users also had problems.
I've not swapped the ATI 4870 back in the Mac Pro (w/10.6) but I saw a slight drop in GL benchmark performance in 10.6 vs 10.5.x with the GTX-285. But I didn't expect a "dot zero" OS update to improve everything though. I just hope there's more frequent graphics card driver updates for SL than we've seen in the past with earlier OS X versions.

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Problems reported from Nvidia GPU users (8600M, 8800GT, GT285) in World of Warcraft under OS X 10.6
Friday's news had a link to a Blizzard WoW forum post about possible problems in 10.6 with ATI 48xx GPUs. Not everyone with a ATI 48xx has seen those problems however. But after getting mails from users of 8800GT, GTX285 and 8600M (MacBook Pro) GPUs in WoW under 10.6 having no AA options I wonder if that's a common issue. (WoW version wasn't mentioned but I assume the latest patch.)
And several GTX 285 owners are reporting other WoW issues like outlines around objects.
I don't play WoW, but in the little time I've used 10.6 on an 09 Mac Pro w/GTX 285 (upgrade over 10.5.8) it seems ok, although 10.6 (32bit and 64bit kernel boots) have slightly lower scores in GLview and CineBench R10 (render and GL tests). A couple test timedemo runs (1920x1200/HQ) in COD4 MP showed a boost (almost matching the 4870's FPS in 10.5.7) but also gave some console errors. (After that I had crashes when switching from COD4 SP to MP and failure of the MP app to run. I then did reinstall and reapplied the last COD4 update.)
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OS X 10.6 Report on Sonnet's 3132 drivers w/low-cost PCIe SATA card
1st gen Mac Pro owner report on (low cost) Sil3132 based PCIe SATA card in 10.6 (w/sonnet drivers)

" I have in a first gen MacPro, and Addonics 2 port eSata PCIe card (w/port mult. support) that only cost about $35 and I need nothing better. I use it to access a basically home built drive case that holds 10 sata drives. It worked fine until 10.6. (10.6 installer scan removes Sil3132 drivers as mentioned in Apple docs, previous posts here. Friday's news had tip on trying Sonnet's drivers.-Mike)
I tried the original drivers and got kernel panics. (where they the RAID 3132 driver or the non-RAID (1.1.9u) driver?-Mike)
It was the 1.1.9U drivers. (which are removed at OS X 10.6 install)
I just tried the Sonnet Tempo driver (http://www.sonnettech.com/support/kb/kb.php?cat=345&expand=_a3&action=b146#b146 (that's the expresscard d/l page but same driver download as the E2P 3132 card driver as I mentioned Friday.-Mike)
and it is now recognized.
I am not sure how long, but I will let you know.
thanks for the link,
(he later wrote)

Also when I installed 6 drives in my case with power in drive case off but Macpro on and then powered up, I got a kernel panic. But I rebooted the Mac Pro and all is working fine. I used to be able to power down the case, insert drives and power up and OS X would recognize them without a reboot. Oh well.
-Tim"

If Tim reports any other problems in longer term use I'll post it here. (Friday's news had other reports on OS X 10.6 and various SATA PCIe/Expresscards.)
If I can ever get the free time, I have a ($19.99 retail) Dynex 3132 chip 2-port eSATA PCIe card that I'll try in 10.6 with the Sonnet drivers. (Nothing exotic as far as eSATA port Ext. drives though - just a couple HD Docks w/eSATA and a (Quad Interface). dual-drive EliteAL Pro case from a few years ago.)

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Wanted: OS X 10.6 user reports on Multi-Function Printers
I'm still digging thru all the SL related mails over the least few days - including many printer related. One common question is support for Multi-function (Printer/Scanner/Fax, etc.) Printers. (Thursday here I posted links to Apple's doc on OS X v10.6: Printer and scanner software.)
If you've running OS X 10.6 with a Multi-Function Printer, let me know the details (Brand/Model, if you've seen any issues or not, etc.). Thanks.
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Apple Support/Troubleshooting Doc Updates

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Other News/Articles, Software Updates

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