News Archive for: Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 (later posted items first)
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Seagate 750GB SATA Drives w/Firmware fix (for 4-drive RAID Performance)
(from site sponsor OWC)
"Seagate 750GB Drives with latest Firmware Updates for Mac Pro
(Fix for 4 drive RAID performance)
ALL 750GB Seagate SATA Drives being shipped from OWC are being flash updated for full performance when installed within the Mac Pro Quad Xeon. As provided by OWC, they have this latest Seagate firmware installed and are all ready to go. :)
Best Regards,
Lawrence R. O'Connor
Other World Computing"

Update: Later reports noted this performance issue is still not resolved. Seagate is reportedly still working on a fix as of late 2006. As of late 2006 the issue of low random read performance with 7200.10 Seagate drives (not just 750GB capacity) also still exists. See the random read tests at the bottom of this Dec. 29th, 2006 article on Mac Pro 4-drive RAID tests (4x320GB 7200.10 drives). The lower than expected 7200.10 single drive write speeds w/onboard SATA (appx 45MB/sec vs appx 70MB/sec w/PCI SATA) doesn't seem to show in multi-drive RAID however.

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10.4.8 (Manual) Patch for external drive DVD Movie playback (w/no internal DVD drive)
(in reply to a previous post on the 10.4.8 feedback page)

"Clive E. was wondering about the DVD User Op patch (Clive had no internal DVD drive and was using a DVD player patch for external drives that was broken by the 10.4.8 update. If your internal drive is DVD-ROM compatible, you -do not- need any patches to play dvds from an external drive.-Mike) not working any more after the 10.4.8 update. I found out the same issue, and as there will no more be updated patches (the guy releasing the patches has "retired"), I figured out what the patch was actually doing with 10.4.7.
It changes the binary code at two offsets of the "DVDPlayback" file.
I found the corresponding code bits at the DVDPlayback v4.6.9 coming with the 10.4.8 (this time at different offset locations), and made the changes with an hex editor.
This seems to work. I don't have an external DVD drive but at least the DVD Player control buttons honor again the user actions.
The file to be changed is: (backup before editing)
/System/Library/Frameworks/DVDPlayback.framework/Versions/A/DVDPlayback

and the changes are (in red):

Offset 669CC:
    4082 0020 80A1 0040 3860 0000 7CA4 F430
-> 4082 0020 38A0 0000 3860 0000 7CA4 F430

Offset 9D7E8:
    4E80 0020 7C48 02A6 429F 0005 BE01 FFC0 7FE8 02A6
-> 4E80 0020 3860 0000 4E80 0020 BE01 FFC0 7FE8 02A6

Editing the file needs naturally Admin rights.
(name withheld by request) "

Several readers (with no internal DVD drive) later verified this patch worked.
(Update: OS X 10.4.9 was released in March 2007 and patching requires different offsets. See this page for OS X 10.4.9 DVD Playback patch info for ext. drives (w/o internal DVD drive).)
Again the patch is only needed if there is no DVD rom compatible internal drive in your Mac. There's an old FAQ (DVD section) note from the Jaguar (10.2) era with tips for those that installed OS X originally on a Mac w/o any internal DVD compatible drive (DVD pkg is not installed then), where Pacifist was used to install the DVD pkg from the OS X install disc.
Update: a reader replied this patch does work:

" I can verify that this works on an iMac G3 700 with an internal cd/ rw. I have an external firewire Pioneer DVR-109 and it will play movies now - it did not work for playback prior to patching.
(I asked to confirm he was running 10.4.8-Mike)
Yes. I'm 100% up to date.
-Shon H. "

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New OWC External SuperDrive pricing
(from site sponsor OWC)

"New OWC External SuperDrive pricing
The OWC Mercury Pro DVR-111 FireWire/USB2 External 'SuperDrive' solution is the easy, plug and play solution for up to 16X DVD, 8X DVD Dual-Layer(8.5GB per disc), and 40X CD burning as well as read. Compatible with Apple's iLife suite as well as other authoring utilities such as Toast, this solution is also EMC/Dantz Retrospect Backup Certified.
Solution was $129.99, now $125.00
All OWC Mercury Pro DVR-111 solutions include Firewire cable, USB2 Cable, EMC Retrospect Backup, NTI Dragonburn CD/DVD Authoring application, 25 pieces of CD-R Media, 5 pieces of DVD-R Media, and a 1yr Warranty.

Also available is our OWC Century DVR-111D USB 2.0 SuperDrive solution. Now $79.99 (was $87.95). This iLife compatible economy solution includes USB2 Cable, NTI Dragonburn CD/DVD Authoring application, 25 pieces of CD-R Media, 5 pieces of DVD-R Media, and a 1yr Warranty.
Shipping is available from $4.50 for either of the above units. "

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More Tests of SRS iWOW iTunes Plugin CPU Usage
Follow-up from a Mac Pro owner that mentioned a 20% CPU Usage (w/o audio playing) with the iTunes SRS iWOW plugin.

" (Matt - a reader said minimizing the window cuts cpu usage to 5-10%. Did you try that?-Mike)
No, I didn't, but it does fix the "problem"! See below for more testing...

(BTW - what was the CPU usage when it was running/playing music?-Mike)
On my Mac Pro, I don't see much of an impact on iTunes CPU usage when playing music with iWoW versus without. It maybe adds a percent or two. iTunes sits around 3-6% when playing typically. This is with the iWoW window hidden. Here's a summary:

iTunes CPU usage
================
Idle, no iWoW window showing: ~ 0.6%
Playing, no iWoW window showing: ~ 3-6%
Idle, iWow window showing: ~ 5% and +20% on the WindowServer process
Playing, iWow window showing: ~ 11% and +20% on the WindowServer process
Idle, iWoW window showing, compact: ~ 4% and +4% on the WindowServer process
Playing, iWoW window showing, compact: ~ 8% and +4% on the WindowServer process

The "compact" mode is toggled with the (+) maximize window control in the iWoW window. In this mode, there's no fancy transparent sound scope. As you can see it drops the CPU load down, but it still doesn't drop all the way down to <1%, which I would expect for a static window. With my average 10-ish windows for work, the WindowServer still typically sits around 1% when I'm not interacting with anything. But, as you can see, it's definitely all in the GUI code. The sound processing doesn't add anything substantial, which is pretty nice.
-Matt H."

I welcome other feedback from iWOW users (they have a trial version download).

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More on No Video at Win XP boot with X1900 XT and 23in Cinema Display
In reply to many past posts here from Mac X1900 XT/23in Cinema display owners on no video at WinXP boot (or boot from XP install CD. A 24in Dell LCD owner also mentioned the problem, as have some 24in iMac owners (which has an Nvidia graphics chip, even though Mac Pro owners with nvidia 7300GT didn't have the problem)

"I am having the exact issue that these folks are all having with the Radeon x1900 / 23"cinema display combination. The big difference is, it is on my Windows machine. I am still running a dual 2.5 G5, so my "Boot Camp" solution is my Mac, a PC and a DVI switchbox for the video! Anyway, it was all working fine until I upgraded my motherboard, cpu and video card in my PC. I bought an ATI Radeon x1900xtx to replace my x800 pro in that system and have not been able to see any of the boot or setup screens on my Windows machine using my 23" cinema display. I connected my old Viewsonic 19" flat panel and everything works fine. I am able to setup the machine, install the ATI drivers and get the resolutions all squared away on the 19" monitor and then move to the cinema display.

In searching for a solution, I found an article (737-21340) in the ATI support knowledgebase outlining this exact behavior with an x1800 card, but nothing referring to the x1900. (see below for a copy of that ATI doc-Mike) It appears that it is a problem that has been around for at least a little while. Unfortunately there is no solution at this time. The article merely states that ATI engineering is aware of the issue and is investigating.

I know this isn't much help, but I thought I would share this information since I've seen folks starting to cast a suspicious eye towards their Macs and it appears to be an issue with the newer Radeon cards and the Apple display an not the machine itself. I am heading out this evening to grab an Nvidia card to see if it has the same issues. (Mac Pro/Nvidia 7300GT owners said they didn't have the problem with their 23in Cinemas.-Mike)
I wish everyone luck with this issue! "

As mentioned before, it's not possible to post a direct link to the doc, but I went to support.ati.com (requires cookies enabled in browser) and chose advanced search and entered the doc number to find it. Here's a copy:

" 737-21340: Cannot see POST or Windows Splash Screen using a Radeon X1800XT with the Apple Cinema 23" Display

The information in this article applies to the following configuration(s):

    * Radeon X1800XT
    * Apple Cinema 23" Display

When using the Apple Cinema 23" Display connected to the Radeon X1800XT the POST screen nor the Windows splash screen will be displayed.

ATI Engineering has been advised of this issue and is investigating. Any updates will be published when they become available."

I spoke to a friend at ATI (Mac group) about the Mac X1900XT/23in Cinema display WinXP boot (no video) issue the other day but he only works on Mac OS (which doesn't have the problem).
Users of 20in or 30in Cinemas didn't see the problem but it looks like a firmware update to the X1900 XT card will be needed to fix this since it appears at boot before any Windows GUI/drivers are loaded (like it's a display detection/mode problem during initial Windows boot).

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Other Net News/Misc. Software Updates
(later added items first)

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