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News Archive for: 5/9/2001 Wednesday's NewsReturn to Accelerate Your Mac!

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Top stories of 5/9/2001:

Apple TIL on OS X 10.0.3 and Direct Download Link:
I found an Apple TIL doc on the OS X 10.0.3 update. The download disk file listed there shows a 14.9MB file size, where the size in Software Updates was listed as 1.6MB. Perhaps the download version includes the prior 10.0.2 update, it says it requires OS X 10.0.1 (or later). The Readme info there notes what appears to be the same comments as the 10.0.2 update had:

" This update delivers CD burning support for iTunes, a number of improvements for overall application stability and includes the latest version of the Internet file transfer service (ftpd) which features important security improvements. "
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OS X 10.0.3 Update Available:
"FYI, I just checked the updater for OSX and there is a 10.0.3 listed. I didn't see any mention of it on Apple's site so I'm not sure what it is supposed to address. It didn't seem to do any harm to my G3 upgraded Power Tower Pro though.
Tim Bergin"

I just checked with the PB G4 here and it does show the update. The update was listed as 1.6MB in size in the Software Updates Window. (See above for direct download link.)

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Enter to Win the Diablo II Expansion Pack (beta version):
EBgames has a contest giving away 35 copies of a pre-release beta version of the Diablo II Expansion Set: Lord of Destruction . The winners are to be announced May 11, 2001. You can also pre-order the expansion pack due to ship June 28th, 2001. (They also have a page with 17 screenshots from the expansion pack.)
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Expert's Comments on 2D Quartz Acceleration in OS X:
Ken Dyke, former programmer with 3dfx and now with Apple posted some comments in the forums here about graphics card (GPU) acceleration for OS X's Quartz API. Here's a snippet:

" Just a little FYI...

The Quartz/CoreGraphics imaging model is essentially the same as PDF/PostScript, and makes heavy use of Bezier curves. There are no GPUs out there that can rasterize PostScript/PDF paths, so the CPU is at the very least stuck with the burden of rasterizing an alpha mask that represents the anti-aliased shape of the path you are trying to draw. Given such an alpha mask you might be able to use it as a texture to then render a character glyph or whatever else you're trying to draw.

QuickDraw and GDI use a very simplistic imaging model (basically just simple lines, rectangles, polygons, etc.) with no AA coverage information required. All of these are fairly straightforward to accelerate in hardware, and this has been a "solved" hardware problem for many many years. Unfortunately, this means that the "state of the art" in 2D imaging has pretty much not changed since the 80's (unless you count Display Postscript).

Also, it's probably worth mentioning that the original Macintosh didn't ship with a GPU. It took *years* for any kind of 2D accelerator to show up that was capable of doing any part of QuickDraw, and in the meantime QuickDraw had to use the CPU for *everything*. I think people have just gotten "used" to how fast the older 2D rendering APIs can run, without realizing that people have been optimizing them (and the hardware accelerators for them) for nearly ten years.

With Quartz, a huge leap in 2D image quality was raised (for better or worse), and we've once again surpased what the current generation of graphics hardware is capable of dealing with.

Over time I suspect we'll see GPUs that do more of what Quartz needs, but right now they simply don't exist.

IMHO, I'd much rather have the current PDF/PostScript based 2D rendering API than yet another tired circa-1980's style rendering API, and the speed hit doesn't bother me in the least, even on my stock G3-400 (okay, so it has 768MB of RAM...).
-Ken "

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New iBook Dev Docs - Max Hard Drive Height and RAM Module Height:
One of the more popular questions since the introduction of the new iBooks is how large a hard drive can be installed inside, and if there are any 512MB SODIMMs that will fit. Yesterday I searched and found the new iBook developer docs which answer both questions. The maximum drive height is shown as 9.50 mm (listed here). This means the current, Travelstar 32GB and announced 48GB travelstar drives are too tall as they are 12.5mm. (I thought the 30GB model was the same height as the 32GB, but a reader noted per this 30GN specs page, the 30GB is 9.5mm high)
The memory dimm expansion slot has a max dimm height of 1.25 inches (listed here). The shortest 512MB SODIMM I know of currently available is about 1.5 inches high and would not fit.
So until drives with denser platters are available, it looks like the maximum hard drive size that would fit is 30GB and the maximum SODIMM capacity (that I'm aware of) that would fit is 256MB.
* UPDATE * - Using 64x64 RAM chips (I'd never seen that density used before), Ramjet has a 1.25" 512MB SODIMM for the 2001 iBook.
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More Info on Filesharing Performance with Firewire Drives:
Two readers replied to the post in yesterday's news regarding very slow Firewire filesharing performance:

" I have a relatively good comparison of FW vs SCSI. We have a ASIP server connected to a SanCube FW drive. We also have a ASIP server connected to a DataDock7000 w. a UW SCSCI card. Both are connected to the network via 100BT ethernet. I can read from and write to both at about 300MB/min or 5MB/sec. I have not noticed any significant difference from either set of HDs. Just my 2c.
Stu Duncan "

Another reader wrote with comments from the developers of FireNet:

" Hi Mike,
just grabbed this snippet from the unibrain website http://www.unibrain.com and thought it might have some bearing on the filesharing problem noted on your site ...

"FireNet and the —Personal File Sharing bottleneck‚ FireNet is optimized to function in its full speed potential in Macintosh networks where Apple's Appleshare IP, or Mac OS X (to be released March 24) or Microsoft's Windows 2000 server is used. Using one of these Servers gives FireNet the ability to bypass the "Personal File Sharing bottleneck" and perform up to 4 times the speed of Fast Ethernet by using pure TCP/IP. If you connect your Mac workstations in a network where one of the above-mentioned servers is not present, then you rely totally on the performance of Personal File Sharing, which unfortunately functions as a bottleneck for high speed data transfers.
Similar low transfer rates will result by the use of the Personal TCP/IP which is also based on Personal File Sharing. In such cases you should not expect FireNet to be any faster than Fast Ethernet. FireNet will also perform better in fast machines. This means that if you compare FireNet's performance on an older G3 desktop to that of a G4 500 you will see significant improvement in data transfer. You should also keep in mind that since FireNet's bandwidth is much greater than Fast Ethernet's, you can connect more Macs to the network before it becomes saturated."

Hope it helps...
Andy Mees "

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Another Report w/Tips on Toast 5 and DVD RAM Drives:
There's been several reports on problems with Toast 5.01 and DVD-RAM drives (yesterday's news had the latest post). Another reader sent a report with some tips:

"Some comments on my experience with an Apple DVD-RAM drive that I pulled and put into a firewire case.

People have been reporting getting locked DVD-RAM disks after using them with Toast 5.0. I know it is going to sound insane but that is the way that Toast 5.0 writes DVD-RAM disks. According to the Toast 5.0 manual page 75 or so (and in the application help menu), it says that Toast writes DVD-RAM as a "read-only" file system. This means that the DVD-RAM disk cannot be changed via Finder copies/deletes until the disk has been completely reformatted. The problem: Once Toast writes this "read-only" format no disk utility will reformat the disk including drive setup, so your stuck with only being able to use the disk with Toast. I was testing this with he drive in a firewire case, so I am not sure if Drive Setup will reformat if DVD-RAM is installed as a internal IDE drive (original configuration). This "feature" of Toast is really kind of an annoyance in my opinion.

The other DVD-RAM insight I'd like to report is my experience with using the DVD-RAM drive in a firewire case in a Umax S900 with firewire PCI card. I spent a few hours last night working with all possible configurations of extensionsin OS 9.1. This is what I found out that works:

  1. Disable all Toast 5.0.1 extensions
  2. Disable the Retrospect firewire extensions including the one with SDAP support. These are only needed if you want to use specialized backup devices. You can backup to DVD-RAM as long as the DVD-RAM disks mount to the desktop.
  3. Use the iTunes 1.1 and Authoring support update 1.1 files. To install the authoring update stuff on the Umax I had to use Tomeviewer to extract and manually place the included files.
  4. You do not need the Apple CD/DVD extension. With the Apple CD/DVD extension on I was able to get the machine to autoload a DVD disk with a hacked Apple DVD Player 2.4, but the Umax can't handle the throughput and so you really can't play DVD disks using the software player on this machine (Umax S900 G3/400). So just disable the Apple CD/DVD extension unless you need it for another drive.

I have a Plextor CDROM drive and Intech CD/DVD speedtools controls the Plextor. I noticed no conflicts if the Apple driver was also loaded.
I hope this info is useful for someone.
Joe"

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Article Claims CDR Media Prices May Triple this Summer:
PCWorld has a story titled CD-R Media Prices to Triple This Summer that says discs may rise in price by as much as 350% later this year. (They're estimating 30-35 cents per disc costs vs about 10 cents/disc which I assume is distributor/mfr costs.) The reasons cited were consolidation of manufacturers, high patent royalties and increasing demand. They noted CDRW media pricing should not be affected.
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CPU Upgrades Owner Ratings Database Updated:
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 9 new reports (total to date: 5,636).

  • Daystar (Apple OEM) 604/180MP in 7600/120 (rated 7)
  • Newer Tech G3/500 in 9600/300 (rated 10)
  • Newer Tech G3/500 in B&W G3 (rated 10)
  • Other World Computing G3/500 in Beige G3/266 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G3/400 in 8500/132 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G3/300 in Performa 6360 (rated 1)
  • XLR8 CarrierZIF MPe w/G4 400 MPe ZIF in Umax S900 (rated 9)
  • XLR8 CarrierZIF w/G3 500 ZIF in 855500/120 (rated 10)
  • B&W G3/300 OC report

You can find these 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). For detailed reviews with performance tests and install tips, see the CPU Upgrades page.)

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CDRW/CD/DVD/HD Compatibility Database Updates:
The Drive Compatibility searchable database had 10 new entries added this morning. The database has reports on Combo DVD-CDRW, CDROMs, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, CDRW, Hard Drives and Removables (tape drive, ORB, ZIP, MO drives, etc.) in all interface types (IDE, IDE RAID cards, Firewire, SCSI, adapters). Current total 3,727 reports. [BTW - the drive database is not a place to post questions, it's for reports on drives you've used. For guides to drive installs, see the IDE, SCI or Firewire articles linked above and/or the FAQ. 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.]
You can find full owner reports by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches).
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.
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Software Updates, Apple TILs, Other Net News

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