News Archive for: Friday, March 17th, 2006 (later posted items first)
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Attempts to Modify ATI drivers for Win XP on MacBook Pro
In reply to the earlier post below on graphics drivers (lack of) for XP on the MacBook Pro, a reader suggested using Mobility Modder to modify the current ATI desktop Catalyst drivers from support.ati.com (requires cookies enabled in browser) but later said the current version of Mobility Modder does not have the Device ID for the X1600. I asked Michael to send that info from Apple System Profiler but that's already been tried he said.

" That driver mod (and many more way-out-there ideas :)) have been tried. There are currently shipping drivers for the ATI X1600, but none of them work, and most usually have to be removed via the repair console or "last known good configuration" after an attempt, because after they're installed the machine fails to boot until they're removed.

(he later wrote that the device ID is known but it's not that simple)
it's a unique situation -- though it's the same chipset, the card is said to be "UGA" vice "VGA" spec -- makes sense since it's running on an EFI system (see link below). Which means (especially if it lacks a legacy VGA bios) that a driver for it will be a different thing than what you find on a normal PC. At least until ATI releases one with UGA support...
http://www.kernelthread.com/publications/firmware/
-Michael "

If anyone ever does get a driver working, let me know. Thanks.

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MacBook Pro owner Notes/Pix of Running Windows XP
Yesterday's news had a note/link on the first release of a Windows boot loader and instructions for Intel CPU Macs (available at this download page) and a note that a reader installed Win XP using it on his Intel Core Duo iMac, but here's the first report from a MacBook Pro user:

"Hi Mike, Here are some shots of windows running on my wife's MacBook Pro (1.83GHz).
Installation was fairly straightforward. Wireless, ethernet, firewire all work fine. Video drivers aren't working yet (lots of effort around it though). Included are some benchmarks... this machine is fast :) but we already knew that.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/36481061@N00/113870222/
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=113866881&size=l

(I asked him for more info on the graphics issue - i.e. glitches/problems or just no acceleration (no driver?)-Mike)
Re: Video: there's just no acceleration - it works fine for 2D use though (ClearType antialiasing looks good). It seems plenty responsive for general (non-gaming) use, and web pages scroll nicely.
Turning off all video acceleration (under Video Properties => Advanced => Troubleshooting) helps significantly with this.
(it's been a long time since I played with Windows notebooks and back then ATI driver releases were for desktop GPUs only (they referred you to the notebook vendor for mobile drivers so I used modified inf files edited for the mobile GPUs) but now ATI has driver downloads for mobile GPUs. As of today they had "Mobility Catalyst 6.3" at their support site, although the Mobility X800 was the latest GPU in the list. Update - see later news item above for tips on modifying the desktop ATI drivers but Michael replied that didn't work.-Mike)

There's been some debate about fans working properly, with reports of the MacBooks getting very hot. I have verified that they do work -- when performing the benchmarks I heard the speed increase, and you can definitely feel the heat being blown out the back. They're toasty, but then again they always are... I haven't measured the temp on the bottom, but it gets very hot.

SpeedStep is working fine -- the system idles around 1GHz / .98V, and bumps to 1.83/ 1.26 as needed.

(I also suggested he check windowsupdate.com to get the latest critical updates (frequently released) and asked what XP's device mgr reports on the Graphics chip.-Mike)
Yep, it's all updated now (first thing I did, after drivers). Most drivers are able to find their hardware just fine.

Sound only works through the headphone jack so far), but the graphics card is a big exception. The adapter section contains no information on it (just blank fields). I think this is an artifact of the way they got XP to boot (it was reportedly the hardest thing to manage the EFI conversion from, and so they used some sort of frame buffer mapping technique to give XP a basic level of control over it).
-Michael F. "

I asked Michael to keep in touch on any progress made and sent him a note about the desktop driver mods. (If you've done a Windows install on an Intel CPU Mac, let me know what you've seen. Thanks.)

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EyeTV 2.1 and EyeConnect 1.1 Updates (now Univ. Binary)
ElGato has posted universal binary EyeTV 2.1 and EyeConnect 1.1 updates. Both mention this in the readme:

" EyeTV 2.1 (and EyeConnect 1.1) is a Universal application. It requires a Macintosh computer with PowerPC G4 (500MHz or faster), PowerPC G5 or Intel Core processor, and Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later. We recommend Mac OS X 10.4.5 with all software and security updates installed. "

See the readme files linked on the update pages for more information. (There's also a 30 day trial version of EyeConnect 1.1 there.)

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Intel Core Duo Mac Mini World of Warcraft performance tests
" Just thought you might like to know that my Core Duo mini arrived a couple of days ago, and I've just run some WoW tests on it.

MacMini Core Duo 1.66GHz
1GB RAM (paired 2x512MB SO-DIMM)
WoW 1.9.4 Universal build 5086 (identified as "Intel GCC" on the login screen)
Resolution 1024 x 768 (Toshiba HDTV connected with a DVI to HDMI cable)

The first thing I noticed was that you can't enable most of the graphics options offered on higher-end machines. There's no FSAA options, only 16 or 32-bit color selections. None of the advanced shader effects are available, (Terrain Highlights, Full-Screen Glow, Death Effect), all of the vertex animation shader options are grayed- out and so is trilinear filtering. Obviously, none of these options are supported, either by the GMA950 chipset or Apple's current OpenGL drivers.

I use the following settings for my test:

  • Terrain Distance: Medium (slider in the middle)
  • Environment Detail: Low (slider at left side)
  • Anisotropic filtering: Low (slider at left side)
  • Terrain Texture: Low (slider at left side)
  • Texture Detail: Low (slider at left side)

Running through Duskwood from Raven Hill to Darkshire, my FPS was consistent at between 16-20 FPS for the whole run. Entering the Darkshire village, frame rate initially dropped to 6 FPS and then climbed back to around 15 - there were at least 6 other players present at the time, since Stitches was on the loose. Entering the Scarlet Raven Tavern, it jumped to over 30 FPS, even with several other players present.

Even with all the graphic options turned down, the game still looks good, and the framerate is solidly playable, if not spectacular. As always with WoW, Terrain Distance seems to be critical - raising the slider above about halfway kills the framerate, dropping it below 10 in some areas. Indoor areas are consistently better than outdoor.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprise by how well the Mini coped with WoW. I wouldn't want to use it as my "everyday" machine, but for the odd game it was more than acceptable.
(he later wrote with comments on reported vram size which he said remained at 64MB regardless of resolution, etc. - see post below. He also mentioned a higher res test-Mike)

BTW, WoW gets about 12FPS outdoors (Loch Modan) at 1920 x 1080, although indoor framerate is still in the low 30's. Again, the distance you can see is the critical factor.
Hope this is of use to people
-Simon Lawson, UK"

I'll add this to the previous page of Mac WoW performance on the next update. (The first Intel Mini report there only had 512MB of RAM.)

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PowerMac G5 Dual 2.0GHz w/Tiger from $1499
(from site sponsor OWC)

" We are now offering PowerMac G5 Dual 2.0GHz 'Dealer Refurb' systems including Apple OS X 10.4 'Tiger':
  • G5 Dual 2.0GHz with 512MB/160GB/16X DVR-110 'SuperDrive'/Radeon 9600 /10.4 "Tiger" is $1499
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    Both have a 1 year OWC Warranty. The additional 2 Gigs of memory in the 2.5GB configed system are further covered by an OWC Lifetime Warranty. Freight starts from only about $12.
    Also offered is Apple iLife 2005 (not 2006) for $45.00 with the purchase. It is found via the same link - but at checkout or on the phone, customer needs to use coupon code "G5ILIFE05" for a discount of $55.00 to make the price $45.00. As this iLife 05 is available with the G5 purchase only, the higher site listed price is to discourage individual sales of the software. The coupon for iLife is only valid on purchases which include one of the PowerMac G5s.
    http://eshop.macsales.com/?mkt=1492
    Best Regards,
    Lawrence R. O'Connor
    Other World Computing "

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    Review of Daystar 1.92GHz CPU Upgrade for AL PowerBook G4
    Troy posted a review of the Daystar 1.92GHz upgrade for his 2003 AL Powerbook G4 (1.25GHz originally). He comments on pros and cons, heat, some issues seen when running at full speed (a few kernel panics), notes on VirtualPC and more.
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    Notes on Varied Intel Mac Mini VRAM (shared) reported Sizes
    (Updated again with replies - see below)

    "Mac Mini Core Duo VRAM/System RAM bug (?)
    I recently ran across what may be an interesting bug in the new Mac Mini's. Not having one myself to test i cannot say for sure but thought i would run it by you and see what others are coming up with.

    A friend of mine in LA (I'm in TX) recently purchased the Core Duo Mini and upgraded the ram to 2GB. I wanted him to test the IMAX: Deep Sea 3D HD 1080p (http://www.apple.com/trailers/imax/imaxdeepsea3d/hd/) trailer and tell me if it dropped any frames during playback using the Movie Info window. He told me it didn't drop any frames, but i was a bit skeptical, as this trailer can bring most machines to their knees. So i headed to the Apple store to try on one of their mini's.

    At the Apple store I opened the About this Mac window of the Core Duo Mini and found it had been upgraded to 1.25GB of RAM. I ran the IMAX: Deep Sea trailer and watched the Movie info window to monitor the frame rate. It ran at 24FPS until it started playing through the fast moving school of fish just after the WB logo disappears, from the 10 to 12 sec mark, and then it returns to 24FPS for the rest of the trailer. Just out of curiosity i checked the Apple System Profiler and discovered under Graphics/Displays VRAM (Total) was showing 256MB.

    I had my friend in LA check his Mini with 2GB RAM and it was showing only 64MB VRAM. I found this odd that a system with more ram would allocate less RAM to the onboard video. I had my friend try reseting the PRAM and rebooting but nothing changed in the system profiler. I even asked the "Genius" if there was anything they did to their mini's to make it allocate more system ram to the VRAM. He said they didn't do anything special to their mini's, all they did was open the mini and put the ram in.

    I wanted my friend to try taking out one of his 1GB pieces of RAM and put one of the 256MB pieces the system came with back in and see what it said then, but he didn't feel up to the challenge.

    I'm curious what others are coming up with in the following memory configurations:

      Memory Config. | Total Sys RAM | Shared VRAM
    • 2 x 256MB | 512MB | 64MB
    • 2 x 512MB | 1GB | ?
    • 1 x 1GB + 1 x 256MB | 1.25GB | 256MB
    • 2 x 1GB | 2GB | 64MB

    It will be interesting to find out if this normal operation of the Intel chipset when running the system with identical pieces of RAM in Dual Channel mode vs. Single channel mode, or If this is an EFI issue.
    Thanks, Jason C. "

    I don't have an Intel CPU Mini but if you do let me know about your installed ram (and if matched pairs)/reported VRAM sizes and if it's dynamic. (Note - what I mean by dynamic is does the size change with demand - i.e. higher resolution used, etc)
    Update - Here's replies to this post as of 5PM Eastern Time (Friday)

    " Hello & thanks again for a very useful site. My mini's a stock duo from the Apple store (2x256MB SODIMM's), & System profiler shows 64mg Vram.
    However at the weekend I installed my "DisplayConfigX" so a friend could see his new Viewsonic TV in its native 1388 resolution, but it shows 256Meg, as you can see from the attached pic.
    BTW, another point is that to my surprise the DVD writer can't see some new Ricoh 8x DVD-RW's I just bought! Only my external Pioneer 109 can use them :-(
    Let me know if I can help out with any testing on this mini.
    HTH, John "

    The Intel Mini owner w/1GB of RAM (pair of 512's) that sent the WoW tests above wrote:

    " Mike, ASP continually reports VRAM as "64Mb of shared system memory" - it doesn't seem to matter what the resolution of the monitor is. I've taken it as high as 1920 x 1080 and seen no change when running WoW, or any other application.

    Although Apple says that the GMA950 may use more memory for graphics depending on what it is doing, it doesn't look like ASP reports any changes to the amount of memory being used by the graphics chip. I wonder if an application could be written to poll this information in real time? It would be interesting to see what is going on "under the hood" with graphics-intensive applications.
    -Simon "

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    Request for help with Multi-Person iChat Problems
    (Updated w/reader reply below)

    " I had a previous co-worker contact me because he noticed he could no longer multi-person iChat interoffice, he wanted to see if I could figure out why not (I am still his tech goto). Text chat was fine and single video chat works fine. I checked my iChat and found I canĖt multi-person chat anymore either, with him or even others in my own office on my local network either. I am running 10.4.5 on a dual 2.5Ghz with 4GB of ram. 7mb DSL connection. QuickTime 7.0.4 & iSight using my AL monitorĖs firewire hub. Single video chat works fine. Invite to video chat is grayed out when multiple buddyĖs are selected. + at bottom of video chat window is now grayed out during a video conference. Anybody else report this/know whatĖs up? Brian "

    If anyone has a tip/suggestion on this let me know. (Never tried mult-chat personally and too buried in a backlog of work right now.)
    First reply:

    " We experienced similar problems here. The solution apparently was to set a bandwidth limit in QuickTime's preference pane (i.e. a value different from 'Automatic' in the 'Streaming Speed' popup menu).
    Hope it helps.
    -Ivan G. "

    Brian replied that this tip did help with the problem.

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    World of Warcraft Performance on iMac Intel Core Duo 2GHz/256MB VRAM
    (added 3/17/2006)
    "WoW performance on iMac Intel Core Duo 20in, 2GHz, 1GB RAM, 256MB VRAM
    Resolution 1680x1050
    24 bit color 24 bit depth 1xmultisample (no FSAA)
    Terrain distance 50%
    Environment detail high
    Texture detail high
    Anisotropic filtering off
    Terrain texture high

    Box checked:
    Level of detail
    Enable all shader effects
    Vertex animation shaders

    Results:
    Indoor about 50 fps
    Outdoor 25-30 fps,
    The picture attached is from a scene with the above settlings. It must be seen on the 20" Imac screen!! (file was 560KB Jpeg, too large to post-Mike)

    Unchecking the "Enable all shader effects" -box, increases FPS to 40-50 in a normal typical outdoor scene and indoor scenes are up to 80-100 fps.
    -GE/Per "

    I've added this to the previous page of Mac World of Warcraft Performance which includes other Intel CPU Mac reports (including one Intel CPU Mini) and PowerPC Macs.

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    Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
    The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 5 new reports (entries later today are added the next newsday morning). Total to date: 10,226. Here's a summary of the reports added (search by brand/mac model for full reports - latest reports always shown first):

    • Daystar G4 1.92GHz in PowerBook G4 (rated 7)
    • Other World Computing G4 1.3GHz in (Quicksilver) G4/AGP (rated 5)
    • Apple (MDD) Dual G4 867 OC report (at 1GHz)
    • Apple B&W G3/350 OC report (at 400MHz)
    • Apple iMac G3/233 OC report (at 266MHz)

      (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.)

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