News Archive for: 6/8/2005 Wednesday's News
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Security Update 2005-006 for 10.3.9 and 10.4.1
The security update is available in Software Update or at these pages:

The 10.3.9 version mentions Bluetooth and PHP updates. The 10.4.1 version mentions AFP Server, Bluetooth, CoreGraphics, Folder Permissions, launchd, LaunchServices, NFS, PHP and VPN updates. (Matthew called to suggest running repair permissions after the update. If RP is really required/recommended after an update, I wish the installer would do that as part of the updater script.)

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Comments/Info on the Mac X86/Pentium 4 Development system
(revised per request)

" I'm going to keep this brief, so please write me with the questions you have and any tests you want run on one of the dev kits. I will have one of my own next week as well.

First, the thing is fast. Native apps readily beat a single 2.7 G5, and sometimes beat duals. Really.
(I asked about real-world apps - if any were already available in native code-Mike)
All the iLife apps other than iTunes, plus all the other apps that come with the OS are already universal binaries....

They are using a Pentium 4 660. This is a 3.6 GHz chip. It supports 64 bit extensions, but Apple does not support that *yet*. The 660 is a single core processor. However, the engineers said that this chip would not be used in a shipping product and that we need to look at Intel's roadmap for that time to see what Apple will ship.

It uses DDR-2 RAM at 533 MHz. SATA-2. It is using Intel GMA 900 integrated graphics and it supports Quartz Extreme. The Intel 900 doesn't compare favorably to any shipping card from ATi or nVidia. The Apple engineers says the dev kit will work with regular PC graphics cards, but that you need a driver. Apple does not write ANY graphics drivers. They just submit bug reports to ATi/nVidia. So, when we asked where to get drivers for better cards the engineers said "The ATI guys are here." He's right, they've been in the compatibility lab several times.

It has FireWire 400, but not 800. USB 2 as well. USB 2 booting is supported, FireWire booting is not. NetBoot works.

The machines do not have Open Firmware. They use a Phoenix BIOS. That's right, a Mac with a BIOS.
(I asked if the Bios had any tweaks like Memory Timing which is common for many PC motherboards, although Intel OEM motherboards don't usually have any end user tweaks like that.-Mike)
They won't tell us how to get in the BIOS. I'm sure we can figure it out when out dev kits arrive.

They run Windows fine. All the chipset is standard Intel stuff, so you can download drivers and run XP on the box.

Rosetta is amazing. (see earlier post on limitations of the Rosetta emulator - it's a G3 emulator basically - will not run Altivec code, etc. and performance isn't going to be as good as native code, but most Mac apps will run on a G3.-Mike) The tests I've run, both app tests and benchmarks, peg it at between a dual 800 MHz G4 and and a dual 2 G5 depending on what you are doing.
(I mentioned to him the limitations of Rosetta (posted below)-Mike)
It's true Rosetta does not support Altivec, but most apps run on a G3, right? Rosetta tells PPC apps that it is a G3. Apps should fall back to their G3 code tree. Everyone I tested did.

The UI tests in Xbench exceed a dual 2.7 by a large margin. (other specific tests are much lower than a G5 per Xbench site results.-Mike)

I've been talking to and watching a lot of devs. There are a lot of apps from big names running in the Compatibility lab already. Some people face more pain, sure, but Jobs wasn't kidding when he said that this transition would be less painful than OS 9 to OS X or 68K to PPC.

Game devs seem optimistic. They see porting Windows/x86 to Mac/x86 as much easier. They look forward to the day they don't have to support PPC.
I was talking to a (game Developer) that said about 1/3 of the process is handling endian issues, the rest is Win32/DirectX. For the next 3-5 years, their job will be harder since they have to port to two processor architectures and most bugs *are* endian related and that they will have a hard time making the PPC versions run as well as the x86 versions.

This transition is not about current P4 vs G5. It is about the future directions of the processor families. Intel is committed to desktop/notebook and server in a big way. Freescale/IBM are chasing the embedded market and console market. Apple would have been in a lurch in 2 years.

Also, all the cell people and the AMD people need to be quiet. Apple evaluated both. AMD has the same, if not worse, supply problems as IBM. Their roadmap is fine, but the production capacity is not.

The tested Cell as well. That processor is NOT intended for PC applications. (it was designed for game systems, not as a general use CPU) The lack of out of order execution and ILP control logic creates very poor performance with existing software. Having developers rewrite for cell would have been MUCH more work than reworking for Intel. And that's what this is, you rework your codebase in ALL cases, not rewrite it. "

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Limitations of Rosetta Emulator
(NOTE: The info below was correct/current as of June 8th, 2005 - HOWEVER apple has revised Rosetta features and info and links to them. I've updated some of the links and info below to show what is current as of April 25th, 2007.-Mike)

(original post from June 8th, 2005)
" Hey Mike, There's a very interesting and bad bit of news in that link you posted (yesterday) about Universal Binaries. I don't know if you've seen this mentioned anywhere, but unless Rosetta changes before release, it is not going to be nearly as useful as Steve Jobs made it out to be yesterday....
What can be Translated? (Note: original link no longer works as of 2007 and was removed - See below for current link/info as of 4/25/2007 - Originally Rosetta was limited to G3 or older emulation but as of 2007, they show it can emulate later processors and no longer have the Altivec exclusion note. See my updated post below.-Mike)
Note that the page is long, but the important message is Mac OS 8,9 (Classic), G4- and G5-required, and AltiVec-using apps will all not be translated via Rosetta. (This was later changed somewhat - see below-Mike) It seems to me that this is a good portion of the Mac OS X software library. (Most apps run on G3 Macs, but iDVD, some Pro apps and features require a G4 or better. However by the time Apple ships the X86 Macs, those apps should be already converted (at least the Apple apps.)-Mike) Granted, there's at least a year to redo apps, but it makes it very clear that this will not be similar to the 68k->PPC transition in it's smoothness. For example, this seems to imply that games using AltiVec will not run on OS X Intel via Rosetta or at best use a codepath for G3 processors.
Anyway, thought this was an interesting news tidbit,
Mike S. "

I mentioned in yesterday's news post on the Universal Binaries guide it has some notes on "Preparing Vector-Based Code" (page 53) and page 73 has info on "x86 Equivalent Instructions for AltiVec Instructions".
Here's a clip from the linked page on Rosetta (info as of June 8th, 2005, see below for April 2007 Rosetta info):

    "What Can Be Translated? (info from 2005)
    Rosetta is designed to translate currently shipping applications that run on a PowerPC with a G3 processor (emphasis mine) and that are built for Mac OS X. Rosetta does not run the following:
  • Applications built for Mac OS 8 or 9
  • Code written specifically for AltiVec
  • Code that inserts preferences in the System Preferences pane
  • Applications that require a G4 or G5 processor
  • Applications that depend on one or more kernel extensions
  • Kernel extensions
  • Bundled Java applications or Java applications with JNI libraries that can't be translated"

Info on Rosetta as of April 2007 Here's a link to the (April 2007) Apple doc on Rosetta - that article links to an updated (since the original Rosetta info in 2005) page on What Can Be Translated? (info below as of 4/25/2007)

"Rosetta is designed to translate currently shipping applications that run on a PowerPC with a G3 or G4 processor and that are built for Mac OS X. That includes CFM as well as Mach-O PowerPC applications.

Rosetta does not run the following:

  • Applications built for any version of the Mac OS earlier than Mac OS X that means Mac OS 9, Mac OS 8, Mac OS 7, and so forth
  • The Classic environment
    (FYI: see the Intel Macs section of the FAQ here for notes/links to an intel-cpu mac version of "Sheep Shaver" to run OS 9.x/classic apps.-Mike)
  • Screen savers written for the PowerPC architecture
  • Code that inserts preferences in the System Preferences pane
  • Applications that require a G5 processor
  • Applications that depend on one or more PowerPC-only kernel extensions
  • Kernel extensions
  • Java applications with JNI libraries
  • Java applets in applications that Rosetta can translate; that means a web browser that Rosetta can run translated will not be able to load Java applets.

    Rosetta does not support precise exceptions. Any application that relies on register states being accurate in exception handlers or signal handlers will not function properly running with Rosetta.

    For more information on the limitations of Java applications using Rosetta, see "Java Applications" and Technical Q &A QA1295, Java on Intel-based Macintosh Computers, which is in the ADC Reference Library."

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    Firmtek (open firmware/bios) comments on Mac/Intel Switch
    Here's a copy of an email from George Rath of Firmtek (supplier of Mac controller cards, etc.) on the Mac/Intel switch:

    "Hello Mike - greetings from FirmTek's George Rath. How are you? I know what everyone is looking into and talking about, but I found two very troublesome notes in Apple's document describing the universal binary information. A switch to Intel could well benefit Apple's bottom line, users and the developers. It depends a lot on execution and architecture. This switch seem to have a MAJOR flaw.

    The evidence:
    1) Apple Univ. Binary Tips Ch. 5, Section 7 - "Disk Partitions"

      "The partition format of the disk on a Macintosh using an Intel microprocessor differs from that using a PowerPC microprocessor. If your application depends on the partitioning details of the disk, it may not behave as expected. Partitioning details can affect tools that examine the hard disk at a low level."

    2) Apple Univ. Binary Tips Ch. 5, Section 18 - "Open Firmware"

      "Macintosh computers using Intel microprocessors do not use Open Firmware. Although many parts of the IO registry are present and work as expected, information that is provided by Open Firmware on a Macintosh using a PowerPC microprocessor (such as a complete device tree) is not available in the IO registry on a Macintosh using an Intel microprocessor. You can obtain some of the information from IODeviceTree by using the sysctlbyname or sysctl commands."

    What does it mean? Open Firmware is responsible for a great deal of seamless work and a great deal of so-called "Macintosh experience" is thanks to Open Firmware. With Intel-based Mac the Open Firmware is gone. What we will have instead? There could be two choices: the new 64-bit EFI boot driver initiative from major players like Intel/Microsoft/Adaptec/etc ( or... the standard BIOS which would reflect the ancient PC motherboard architecture. How a BIOS works? An x86 computer always boots in the IA-32 "real mode" -- an emulation of the 8086/8088 Intel processors. The BIOS executes in this mode "emulated" mode. Compared with the Open Firmware it is severely limited. For instance the address of a certain memory location is calculated by multiplying the segment (a 16-bit number) by 16, and adding the offset (another 16-bit number) to it. For instance, the 1000:0016 or 1001:0006 is the same address. The IP (instruction) register is also 16-bits wide -- placing a 64 KB size limit on the code segment. Memory is a very limited resource in real mode. This ancient 'real mode' is responsible for severe boot drive limitations. PC partitions may be primary, extended, or logical, with no more than 4 primary partitions allowed on a single disk. The first 512-byte sector is called 'Master Boot Record' (MBR). These 512 bytes are strictly structured: 446 bytes for bootstrap code and the rest 64 bytes for max. four partition table entries of 16 bytes each. The last and 2 bytes are the signature.

    Compared with any 68K or PowerPC Mac, the BIOS is an enormous step backwards to times before Mac Plus. An X86 Mac based on the EFI inititive or Open Firmware could well be the future. To base the Mac on BIOS seems to be a bad joke. Looking at the EFI feature set and combining the information under 1) and 2) I fear the worst did happen. If we are going to get the BIOS, it is time to stand up and strongly push back.

    The information in this e-mail in NOT confident. It is NOT based on any NDA or any other info I received from Apple. Due time shortage we are not even attending WWDC (which would automatically mean, we are under NDA what we learn from there). What I do see was made public by Apple.
    George Rath
    FirmTek, LLC"

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    Tiger user report on Belkin F5D7011 Wireless PCcard
    Broadcom chipset Wireless adapters are still reported to work in Tiger, unlike other chipsets that required drivers for 10.2/10.3 which were broken in Tiger. Another reader with a Belkin F5D7011 confirmed it's still natively supported in Tiger. (Although vendors seem to often change chipsets, so if in doubt buy from a dealer with a return policy.)

    " Belkin wireless card problems and options-
    Others and I have posted the incompatibility of the Belkin F5D7010 (54Mbps) card with Mac OS X 10.4, Tiger. The F5D7010 ver 3000 utilizes the Ralink chipset. There is at this time no available software for this card to function in OS X Tiger.
    I just purchased the Belkin F5D7011 card (125Mbps; Broadcom chipset) and it works in Tiger using the AirPort software in my PowerBook G4 (DVI, 667MHz). Oddly, the normal 'AirPort Setup Assistant' application did not work, but the 'AirPort Setup Assistant for Graphite or Snow' hooked up just fine. I don't know if there is a functional difference between these. (In the past when I've used 3rd party broadcom chip based PCI adapters I just used the System Prefs Airport panel for configuring it.-Mike)

    Others have claimed similar success with F5D7010 ver 1000 or 2000, also utilizing the Broadcom chipset, in Tiger. Should work just fine, I guess, but I have not tried these cards and cannot confirm their findings.

    I'm happy with the new setup. No more buggy Ralink software, and wireless access while in OS X 10.4. On the downside, the F5D7011 (Broadcom) in Tiger (10.4) appears to receive a lower signal strength (at 30-50%) than the F5D7010 (Ralink) card in Panther (10.3) at 65-85% a room away from my router. But hey, it works!!
    -Joseph S. "

    The F5D7011 card was reported as OK on the Summary list of Tiger reports w/non-Apple Wireless Network Adapters here early in May.

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    Other Net News
    (from PR emails - see Macupdate or Versiontracker for more complete listings of daily software updates.)

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    CDRW/CD/DVD/Hard Drive/Cardreader Compatibility Database Update Listing
    The Drive Compatibility Database had 3 new reports added this morning. (Entries today are added the next newsday morning.) The database includes reports on CDRWs, Combo DVD-CDRW, DVD-ROM, DVD Burners, Hard Drives and Removables (tape drive, ORB, ZIP, MO drives, NAS, CF/Smartmedia readers, etc.) in all interface types (IDE, IDE RAID cards, SATA, Firewire, SCSI, USB, adapters). Current total - 14,780 reports. (searching by drive type/brand, mac model etc. listed below will show the full reports, most recent first - does not include updates to previous reports) iApps burn support mentioned in reports unless otherwise noted.

    You can find full owner reports (latest shown first) by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches). For guides to installing CD/CDRW/DVD drives or Hard drives in many mac models, see the IDE Articles page. The Firewire articles page also has guides on case kits, installing drives, etc.
    If you've added a IDE, SCSI, Firewire or USB hard drive, CDRW, tape drive, etc. make sure you add a report to the database. (If you post an updated entry - make sure you use the same name, etc. as you did before so I can find your past entry. Thanks.)
    (Incomplete entries are deleted. Do not post questions in the database, it's for drive reports not questions on what drive to buy - for that try searching the database for reports from owners of your mac model on the drive type/brand/interface, etc. you're interested in.)

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    Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
    The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 3 new reports this morning (entries later today are added the next newsday morning). Total to date: 9,950. Here's a summary of the reports added (search by brand/mac model for full reports - latest reports always shown first):

    • Giga Designs Dual G4 1.8GHz (7447A) in (QS) G4/AGP (rated 10)
    • Giga Designs Dual G4 1.33GHz in (MDD) Single G4 DDR (rated 10)
    • Powerlogix G4 1GHz in (Sawtooth) G4/AGP (rated 1)

      (Full reviews of G4 and G3 upgrades compared to stock CPUs, including real world apps/game tests, install info, etc. are linked at the CPU upgrades page. OC/CPU module articles are on the Systems page.)

    (Warning - Overclocking may not be reliable and could lead to hardware failure or corrupted data.) You can find the full reports by searching the database selecting the indicated Mac model and upgrade card brand/type. If you've upgraded the CPU on your Mac, please post an entry in the database. Search the database for entries from most every upgradable Mac model *before* you buy. (Searchable by mac model/upgrade brand).

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    System/Video Card Benchmark Performance Database Updated:
    The Mac Benchmark/Game Performance database has been updated with Mac Splinter Cell results at 640x480, 800x600 and 1024x768 from a (MDD) Dual (867MHz) G4 DDR w/Radeon 9000 running OS X 10.4.
    If you haven't already, enter your results with any of the game titles or benchmarks listed on the entry page (details on how to test are there). If you're curious how a CPU upgrade or new Video card would help game performance, the search page options can help you find similar system/configurations to get an idea before you buy.
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    Recent Reviews and Articles:
    Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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