News Archive for: Tuesday March 3, 2009 (later added items first)
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iPhoto 8.0.1 and iLife Support 9.0.1 Updates
More software updates today:

"About iPhoto 8.0.1 Update
This update improves overall stability and addresses minor issues in a number of areas, including internet connectivity, keyword import, and slideshow export."

And a new iLife 09 Support update:

"About iLife Support 9.0.1
This update improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues. It is recommended for all users of Aperture, iLife '09, and iWork '09."

BTW - I had one Mac Pro owner write after applying all these recent updates his system will no longer stay in sleep. (I asked for more details, including any info from the Console/logs that might show some useful details. Also one of today's updated Apple Troubleshooting docs is on OS X: Why your Mac might not sleep or stay in sleep mode, although much of it is not new to savvy mac users.) However he later wrote the problem resolved on its own.
I installed all these updates Wed. morning (including yesterday's RAW update) and have seen no problems (including sleep tests) so far with this 2007 AL iMac running 10.5.6 (w/all updates except Safari 4 beta). I have Energy Saver prefs set to not allow idle time sleep - I manually select sleep when desired from the Apple menu.

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AirPort Client Update 2009-001, Airport Utility Software Update 5.4.1
"About AirPort Client Update 2009-001
This update is recommended for all Intel-based Macintosh computers running Mac OS X 10.5.6. It addresses issues with roaming and network selection in dual-band environments."

Running software update on my iMac today also shows an Airport Utility update. Here's the info from SU and download page link:

"Airport Utility Software Update 5.4.1
This update includes general fixes and compatibility updates for the following applications: AirPort Utility and AirPort Base Station Agent, including AirPort Disk Utility for Tiger."

There's also a D/L page for AirPort Utility 5.4.1 for Windows.
FYI: When actually running this updater D/L in OS X here the name appears as Airport Utility 2009-001 update. (And BTW - I'm baffled (and a bit disturbed) by Disk Utility's Permissions check showing some PNG (image) files in the Airport Utility pkg should have executable permissions...)

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New Nehalem-based Mac Pros announced
After seeing benchmarks on the Core i7 based PCs several months ago, I'd been waiting for Apple to announce updated Mac Pros (although these use new 3500/5500 series Nehalem CPUs - production availability of the new series CPUs I assume was the holdup. Intel won't officially launch these CPUs until later this month.)

"Apple today introduced the new Mac Pro. Featuring Intel "Nehalem" Xeon processors running at speeds up to 2.93 GHz and a next-generation system architecture, the new Mac Pro delivers up to twice the performance of the previous generation Mac Pro. It also features the latest graphics technology and an updated interior that makes expansion even easier than before. Available next week, the new Mac Pro starts at just $2,499."

The Design page notes easier memory installs via a slide-out processor/memory tray and (as expected) the new models use (triple-channel) 1066MHz DDR3 RAM, not the higher-latency (parallel/serial) FBDimms as before. (And the Nehalem CPUs have an integrated Memory controller, another plus.) The Performance page includes several Pro Apps, Benchmark and Game comparisons of the new Dual 2.93GHz vs previous Dual 3.2GHz model,includes several Pro Apps, Benchmark and Game comparisons of the new Dual 2.93GHz vs previous Dual 3.2GHz model, but I wish they had compared the previous 8-core 2.8GHz model vs the 2009 base 8-core 2.26GHz model and 2009 4-core 2.66GHz. (And their Game FPS benchmarks used the low end/base ATI 2600 card for the 2008 Mac Pro - the 8800GT card option would have performed much better. For COD 4, the ATI HD 3870 beats the 8800GT. And the new (faster) Mac ATI Radeon 4870 card ($349) works in 2008 Mac Pros also, but they didn't include results in a 2008 Mac Pro with it...)
The cost for higher speed CPUs with the new duals is very high, as are 4GB dimm based memory upgrades. Apple shows 8GB max ram on the new single cpu model, as if it has no support for 4GB dimms?)
The Graphics page has info/benchmarks (Call of Duty 4, Quake4, Motion 3.0.2) on the Nvidia GT120 (base card) and optional ATI Radeon HD 4870. The graphics cards feature dual-link DVI and Mini-DisplayPorts. I was hoping for a higher end option like an X2 w/more vram though. (BTW: They also offer an ATI Radeon HD 4870 upgrade kit ($349) for PCI Express 2.0 Mac Pros.)
The Apple store lists 2 base models (each with options for faster CPU, more RAM, larger HD, Graphics cards, etc.) Both base configs show est. shipping in 4 days. -

    Quad-Core
  • One 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem WS" processor (3500 series)
  • 3GB (three 1GB) memory (4 slots, apple notes 8GB max)
  • 640GB hard drive
  • 18x double-layer SuperDrive
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 512MB
  • $2499

A 2.93GHz CPU adds $500, ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB adds $200.00. Airport/wireless still optional at $50. (BTW - not sure why Apple lists 8GB max ram on the single CPU models (although they didn't originally note 4GB dimm support with the Mac Pros either, but even 2006/2007 Mac Pros could run 32GB (8x4GB)). Even consumer/desktop PC Core i7 Motherboards list 4GB dimm support (some have 6 memory slots, some 3, although one I saw had 4 slots). Personally I'd want a triple-channel configuration running 3 like-size dimms. I've not seen the specs on the Nehalem WS (3500 series) CPUs but hope there's actually support for more than 8GB RAM in these systems.)

The base 8-core model is a dual 2.26GHz (vs dual 2.8GHz previously). CTO options for faster (5500) CPUs are very expensive:

    8-Core
  • Two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem EP" processors (5500 series)
  • 6GB (six 1GB) memory (8 slots, apple notes 32GB max)
  • 640GB hard drive
  • 18x double-layer SuperDrive
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 512MB
  • $3299

ATI Radeon HD 4870/512MB card option adds $200. The Dual 2.66GHz CPU option adds $1,400; Dual 2.93GHz CPU option adds $2,600. Ouch... And CTO costs for RAM options using 4GB dimms are also extremely high - the 32GB (8x4GB) adds $6,100!. (The 5500 series CPUs have MP support w/dual QuickPath Interconnect but the CTO costs of faster CPUs make the original dual 2.8GHz look like a bargain.) I've seen the previous Core i7-920 2.66GHz CPUs for appx $289 and Core i7-940 2.93GHz CPUs at appx $560 each (with many motherboard options available in the $300 range) - I wish Apple offered a lower-cost tower based on these.)
I was hoping to buy a Dual-CPU (8-core) model, but the total cost is out of my budgeted price range (being practical/considering my usage/needs at least). I'm looking at a single-CPU model with 6GB ram/HD 4870/Airport options instead. (BTW - a local Apple retail store had some left-over early 2008 Mac Pro dual 2.8GHz base systems at $2499 ($300 off original list). All things considered that's tempting (I could add 16GB (8x2GB) for $374 from OWC) Since most all my apps don't fully utilize even 4 cores though, I'm still on the fence... I was really hoping the new 8-core (dual CPU) systems would be priced similarly to the previous models. I guess I was dreaming that a 2009 dual 2.66GHz system would list for $2799 as the previous Dual 2.8's did. (I feel foolish now thinking the 2009 Dual 2.66's would be under $3000 - adding the 2.66GHz CPUs option to the base 8-core alone is nearly $4,700...)

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New iMacs announced (lower prices, new Graphics options)
(Clip from Apple's news page)

"Available today, the new iMac line includes a 20-inch model for only $1,199 and the flagship 24-inch iMac which is priced more affordably that ever before. For the same $1,499 price as the previous generation 20-inch iMac, the new 24-inch iMac delivers a 30% larger display, twice the memory and twice the storage. It features the Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at speeds up to 3.06 GHz, 4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 memory, a 640GB or 1TB SATA hard drive, and several options for graphics processors. (NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics or Nvidia GeForce GT 120 and GT 130 or ATI HD 4850 discrete GPUs)"

The new iMac features page has a popup iMac Graphics performance chart where you can select to see relative performance of the various models in Call of Duty 4, Motion 3, Doom3 and Quake 4. The ATI HD 4850 showing the best performance. 2.66GHz, 2.93GHz, or 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs. The Specs page notes Mini DisplayPort output port with support for DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI via adapter. These are now at the Apple store.

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New Mac Mini announced (w/Nvidia 9400M graphics, 2GHz/2.26GHz C2D CPUs)
(Clip from Apple's news page)

"Starting at $599, the new Mac mini is an innovative, tiny desktop that measures just 6.5 by 6.5 by 2 inches. Now featuring the same groundbreaking NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processsor that comes in MacBook family computers, it delivers up to five times better graphics performance. It's also the world's most energy efficient desktop, drawing less than 13 watts of power when idle. The new Mac mini is in stores now..."

2.0GHz or 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo CPU options. One FW 800 port, 5 USB 2.0 ports. Specs page notes Mini DVI and Mini DisplayPorts. Available now at the Apple store.

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Updated Apple Troubleshooting/How-To Docs
(later added items first)

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Other News/Articles, Misc. 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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