News Archive for: Friday June 27, 2008 (w/1 item from Sat.)
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Initial Feedback on Mac Pro (and Xserve) Overclocking Utility
(See below for a couple reader's comments on initial use of this.) Received a mail about 3AM this morning from the developer with a link to the ZDnet article on it. (At first I thought it might be a hoax. It reminded me of an old Sawtooth timebase/OF tweak that appeared to work.) I don't have a Mac Pro to try this but sent the link to Oliver to see if he's tried it with his Mac Pros. (See below for his reply and another reader's experience with it so far)

"Subject: Mac Pro Overclocking (Utility)
Maybe that is interesting to you and your readers.

"ZDNet overclocking tool enhances performance of Mac Pro"
You'll achieve the best results with good memory modules. (Yes we tried it, because we we developed it.)
(I saw a comment from a user (apple forum) about a restart correcting the incorrect system time/clock issue when OC'd and asked if the OC settings survived a warm restart.-Mike)
Yes, after a warm reboot the (2008) Mac Pro runs with the oc-frequency and mac os synchronizes its clock to the new frequency. The result is that the clock is running accurate and the mac pro runs with oc-frequency. Rebooting with oc-frequency does work with the 2008 model (MacPro3.1.) but doesn't work with 1st generation (MacPro1.1).
The fact that the latest version of Mac Pro (Mac Pro 3.1) can be booted after overclocking also means that a higher frequency is possible under other operating systems. That is of particular interest because there has to date been no functioning overclocking tool for Windows. In contrast, the first-generation machine (Mac Pro 1.1) can be overclocked under Windows with SysTool. But that doesn't work with the current generation of Mac Pro (MacPro3.1). (Also see Problems resulting from overclocking that mentions Mac OS time problems after overclocking, Problem with standby (sleep) mode, after waking clock speeds are reset.)

To get the best oc-result you'll need good memory mdules. We did some tests with CSX-Memory with a poor oc-result.
Regards, Kai"

The above page has a link to another page on Downloading and using ZDNet Clock (OS X leopard required).
As with any overclocking, YMMV (I'd suggest having up-to-date backup of the drive in case of corruption and the usual disclaimers/risks on OC'ing apply) but if you have tried it, let me know the details (including system and ram specifics).
Update: Here's a reply from Oliver on his initial experience with it:

" Hi Mike, I did try it just now with my 2008 Mac Pro (dual quad-core Xeon 2.8 GHz with 4x2 GiB brandname DIMMs), and it seems to work. I gradually increased the bus clock from 400 MHz by 1 MHz increments (the FSB transmits 4 signals per clock, which is the reason it's usually called a 1600 MHz FSB). Note that the CPU runs at 7 times the bus clock in my machine, so by increasing the bus clock by 1 MHz, the CPU clock increases by 7 MHz.

So I kept increasing the bus clock in 1 MHz increments, waiting maybe 20 seconds after each increade to see if any memory errors appeared (as described in the ZDNet article), and continued. At 458 MHz bus clock (3207 MHz CPU clock) the machine panicked and I had to shut it down.

After restarting I again tried running it at 457 MHz bus clock (3199 MHz CPU) while running mprime (stress test linked in ZDNet article), and after about 10 minutes it panicked again.

So I'd have to choose something a little lower and run a CPU/memory stresstest for a day to see wether it's really stable. I'm not going to do that however. Maybe it would be stable at say 10% higher clockrate (3,080 MHz), but for what I do this doesn't matter. I'd rather run the system (especially the memory) at the speeds it was designed/tested to work well.

Plus the downsides noted in the ZDNet article turned me off, most notably that the computer's system clock (time) runs too fast (easily verified with my wrist watch). (I asked Oliver to check after a warm reboot, as the 2008 Mac Pros (but not earlier models) retain OC settings after a warm reboot and the system clock is corrected also. See replies to my question on this above from the OC utility developer. Oliver later confirmed this - see his later comments below.-Mike)

Sidenote: it's rather hot in my room ATM: 27.5 ˚C (81.5 ˚F).

During the tests the CPU front and exhaust fans did increase their spinning frequency, also the maximum power used (of the "Power Supply 1 Line 1" as per Hardware Monitor) increased from a maximum of about 310W at 2.8 GHz to a maximum of about 340W at 3.2 GHz with mprime running at full blast (8 threads, all CPUs busy).

I did not run any benchmarks. According to the ZDNet article, some of them (CineBench & GeekBench) rely on the internal clock and thus report more or less the same results with and without overclocking, but by using a stopwatch one'd see that performance does increase (I guess one'd have to multiply the results by the "overclock factor" to get proper results).
(the next day he wrote he had tested a warm restart)
Ok, I tried this, overclocking somewhat less this time: to 443 MHz bus frequency (3101 MHz CPU). Yes, OC survives a warm start, and yes, the system clock seems to run normally after that. It even says so in the ZDNet article (this page), but I didn't realize it until now. However, this only works with 2008 Mac Pros reportedly - older Mac Pros cannot be rebooted after using the OC utility. (confirmed by developer's comments above) I guess the system clock "reads" the bus frequency at boot time and then makes use of it, assuming it won't change. Hmm, so if I were to decrease the bus frequency (now that I've restarted the OC'ed Mac Pro) the system clock should run slow... *decreasing from 443 to 400 MHz bus clock* - Yes, the system clock does run slow now (after downclocking speeds after a restart).
Best regards, Oliver"

Another mail with some first impressions (updated w/later comments):

" Hi Mike, Saw the posting on the MacPro/XServe Overclocking Utility. Downloaded and installed. Results so far...

System Specs:
MacPro2,1 (April 2007) 8 core 3.0Ghz
5GB RAM (Apple 512MBx2 in upper riser card slot 1&2 and Crucial 2GBx2 in lower riser slot 1&2) X1900XT
10.5.3 on 1TB(2x500GB) RAID 0, XP2 on drive 3 and Vista Ultimate 64 on drive 4.

Before starting to use the utility i used smcFanControl to set all fans to 50% of their max speed. I then started to clock up in the suggested 10MHz increments with a rest period of around 2-3 minutes in between jumps. I saw one RAM error very early on, but nothing more until a Bus Clock setting of 370Mhz (3338Mhz Proc Speed). AT this level, the errors began in a cascading manner with more errors reported each time the log file was updated. I clocked back to 369Mhz (3329Mhz Proc Speed) and have had no further memory errors.

I must admit that i have just been surfing the net and doing a few e-mails. Fans are also still at 50% of max. I intend to test the system a bit better tomorrow and will report back with further info.

Only problem i have seen so far is the fast forwarding of time, as mentioned on the utility download page.... (see notes above on this - for 2008 Mac Pros a warm restart corrects the time sync and retains OC, but for 1st gen Mac Pros, OC settings are not retained after a restart.)
(Kevan later wrote)
Shortly after i mailed you i set the fans back to normal. Within 5 minutes RAM errors started to appear. I clocked backwards in steps of 10 but didn't manage to get the RAM errors to stop. (Apple system profiler's memory section will show EEC errors/memory status) Eventually got back to stock settings. Restart failed with flashing power light. Forced shut down solved this. I think i will hold out for future versions of this utility.
Best Regards, Kevan G.
www.fixmymac.co.uk"

There's also a recent thread in Apple's Mac Pro forums on this utility.

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Request for Feedback from Toast 9 Blu-Ray/HD Authoring Plugin Users
Most of the Mac drive database reports here on Blu-Ray drives were before Roxio released Toast 9 with the optional/$19.99 extra cost (initially a free bonus back in March for a limited time) Toast 9 HD/BD Authoring Plug-in. A reader that's considering a BR burner and player wrote he's not found any success stories (even at Roxio's forums he said) and asked if I'd post a request for feedback here.
If you have used it to burn a BR video disc for use in a BR home player, PS3, etc. let me know the details. Thanks.
FYI - although he's not using a Blu-Ray drive, a reader replied with notes on using the plug-in for HD video:

" Toast 9.0.2 w/ Blu-Ray/HD Authoring Plugin
I was able to burn HDDVD data to a DVD and it played correctly on a Toshiba HDDVD player. No problems noted. Not able to test the BR disk as I don't have a player to run it on. The source of the video was from a HD station via Eye TV 500 (MPEG-2).
-Robert
This is my set up
Mac Pro Dual 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
OS X Version 10.5.3 (at the time the disk was created)."

I think this is the same Robert that sent the post in the April 10th news page on Playing Toast 9 created HD-DVD disc images with OS X DVD Player.
(NOTE: I've now posted a separate page with User reports on Toast 9 HD/BD Authoring Plug-in that includes the all reports on this plugin to date, plus later recd ones.)

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Hard Drive Price cuts on site specials page
Recent price cuts on the site specials page (prices/availability change over time so check links for current status):

Check the site specials page for other items including software, RAM, video cards, controller cards, 802.11N adapters, external drives and more.

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PowerMac G5 Coolant Leaks page updated
I've added another reader's report on a coolant leak (with resulting failure/major damage) to the page on PowerMac G5 Coolant Leaks.
(Page includes many reports on LCS (Liquid Cooled) G5 tower leaks/repairs, links to photos of the 2 brands of LCS (Delphi and Panasonic), DIY repairs some owners have done, photos of leak damage, etc.)
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Mac CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has another report added this morning. Total to date: 10,350. Here's a summary of the latest addition (search database by upgrade brand, mac model, etc. for a complete list/comments of all user reports on matching criteria - latest reports first).

  • Powerlogix G4 1.7GHz (7448) in G4 Cube (rated 10)

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

If you've upgraded the CPU on your Mac, send a review with your experience (performance/stability/installation, etc.), Mac Model/Upgrade brand info and overall rating (1= worst to 10=best). If you can, please run some tests with the original CPU vs the upgrade (for example time some tests with your favorite app, game, etc. - see full reviews here for example tests with common apps/games/benchmarks.)

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Mac Drive Upgrades/Compatibility Database Updated
The Mac Drive/Storage Upgrades Database had 4 more reports added. Current total - 16,448. (Searching by drive type, brand, mac model etc. listed below will show full reports, most recent first)

    Hard Drives:
  • SATA Hitachi 500GB Travelstar 5K500 in (17in) MacBook Pro (OS X 10.5.x)
    (drive is 12.5mm high - fits 17in Macbook Pro but too tall for 15in models. Samsung 500GB is 9.5mm high and fits Macbooks/Macbook Pros, Intel-based Minis, etc.)
  • PCI SATA card connected Hitachi 500GB P7K500 in Mirror Drive Door G4 Tower (OS X 10.4.11)
  • SATA Samsung 500GB HM500LI in MacBook Pro (OS X 10.5.x)
    (includes notes on Time Machine backup restore to new drive)
  • SATA Samsung 250GB HM250JI in MacBook (OS X 10.5.x)
    (problems noted)

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 version 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
(Updated 5:25PM)

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