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News Archive for Friday October 2, 2009     Goto Current News Page

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3GHz Clovertowns (Quad-Core X5365s) in 2006 Mac Pro

(Reply to post in Wednesday's news, which also included links to previously posted upgrade guides.)

"Yes, I've upgraded my '06 Mac Pro with two Xeon 5365s (bought from EBay for $400 each). Works great. Attached are screenshots of the About This Mac (running 10.6.1) and System Profiler screens.
(I asked Rob for comments on performance improvements (vs the original dual-core Xeons) and any other observations (or tips/notes) he'd care to share.-Mike)
Before the upgrade, my '06 Mac Pro at home was the 3GHz (dual Xeon 5160s) model.  The performance gain from upgrading to the 5365s really occurs with apps that can take advantage of the extra cores... in my case:

  • compiling software (I'm a programmer and work with software consisting of millions of lines of code) where parallel makes can fully load all the cores
  • transcoding video with software such as Handbrake

    When idle, the CPU temperatures of the 5365s are about the same as the 5160s were; however, when all the cores are fully loaded, the 5365s do seem to run a bit hotter than the 5160s... perhaps 5 or more degrees (F). The Mac Pro remains relatively quiet. [Using smcFanControl is always an option to bump up the RPMs on the system fans if the CPUs are going to be run maxed out for long periods of time but so far I haven't seen much of any reason to worry about heat.] I've had the Mac Pro max'ed out for days at a time.

    Overall, upgrading to the 5365 Xeons was easy. The hardest part was having to deal with a stripped screw (apparently, a common problem) and removing the internal fan assembly (which was a really tight fit).

    As a comparison, my '09 Mac Pro at work has two 2.26 GHZ quad-core "Nehalem" processors and is noticeably (50% or more) faster than the 5365s due to the combination of twice the cores (16 virtual cores instead of 8), faster memory, faster bus, etc. However, to get a fully loaded (max CPU speeds, max ram, etc.) '09 Mac Pro would cost $7K or more. Instead, for $800, the '06 Mac Pro (with RAID, 24 Gigs of RAM, a modded ATI Radeon HD 4870, etc) gets a worthy speed boost for a fraction of the cost... meaning that I can wait for another rev or two of the desktop line before I feel the need of doing a costly upgrade to a brand new box.

    I would give the upgrade a solid 9 out of 10. [Minus one point due to having spent a couple of hours basically tearing the Mac Pro apart to get to the CPUs; not as easy as upgrading RAM or hard drives.]
    Regards, Robert"
    About this mac
    system profiler info

  • BTW: I had a 2006 Mac Pro owner write recently about buying some Xeon 54xx series (aka "HarperTown") Quad-Core CPUs - but as mentioned here in the past, the HarperTown/54xx series CPUs are not compatible with the early (2006/2007) Mac Pros. The 2008 Mac Pros used HarperTown CPUs but they have a different motherboard (w/PCIe 2.0 slots, 800MHz FBdimms vs 667Mhz in the 2006/2007 Mac Pros.)

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    Reader notes on 64-bit Handbrake not supporting AVI and OGM (ditto for 0.9.4 release)
    (Updated - see below for later reply/notes on why some codecs/presets being dropped in the next official release also.)
    From a reader mail today regarding yesterday's FYI/Link about 64-bit version of Handbrake.

    "re: 64-bit Builds of HandBrake
    The 64-bit build has half the output formats of the 32-bit version - no AVI and no OGM. I suspect that those libraries or converters or whatever do not yet have 64-bit versions.
    (See below for an explanation on why and their future roadmap/focus. Future versions (even 32bit) won't support them either.-Mike)
    Sadly, I need AVI for Windows & FCE compatibility.

    As I mentioned yesterday, I'm using the std 32bit version (+ VLC 32bit) and very happy with performance and quality. (Primarily used for MPEG-4/H.264 conversions.)
    Update: A reply to the above this afternoon:

    " should refer that Handbrake commenter (above) who needs AVI and OGM to the release notes for the latest SVN builds. (At the bottom - AVI and OGM (and XviD) support are gone as of 0.9.4 final release)
    So maybe he'll be using 0.9.3 for awhile...
    Best, Garth"

    That forum thread ("HandBrake SVN2845 Snapshot", Sept. 28th) has an "An afterword on project focus":

    "As we've had on our roadmap for quite awhile now, one of our goals for version 0.9.4 is to refocus on HandBrake's key strengths and to remove dead weight. As part of this process, several presets, containers, and a codec have been removed from HandBrake..."

    See the linked page for comments on why they're dropping AVI, OGG/OGM and XviD - as well as Video game presets (PSP, PS3, Xbox 360).

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    FYI - Kernel Panics after removing eSATA Expresscard in Snow Leopard w/iAntiVirus installed
    I suspect most readers are not using PCtool's iAntivirus with Snow Leopard but just a FYI. Earlier this week I had a mail from a MacBook Pro owner regarding kernel panics in Snow Leopard when removing (after powering off) an eSATA Expresscard even with no devices connected to the card. He was using a natively supported JMB360 chip (single port) eSATA expresscard. Since I knew this was not normal behavior from my own experience (reported earlier) with a (appx $20 in 2009) Low cost OWC eSATA Expresscard (JMB360 based) in Snow Leopard, my feeling was he had either a suspect SL install or some 3rd party software was a factor. (I.E. Perhaps something not releasing the eSATA expresscard, despite turning it off from the menu item.)
    Thankfully he later sent a crash log and I saw that PCtool's iAntivirus and Virtualbox 3.0.6's kext were loaded. I asked if VirtualBox was running (wondering if it could be using/not releasing the expresscard) and he said no. The other suspect naturally was iAntivirus. (And regardless, I wasn't thrilled after doing a google search for "iAntivirus + kernel panic", plus a check of their forums regarding SL compatibility.)
    Personally I'd not have installed it and asked he write back after tests without it. Yesterday he replied a clean install (without it) solved the problem - no more KP's. I can't swear that iAntivirus was the source of the problem (I'm not going to install it to prove that), but rule 1 on troubleshooting is to 'minimize the equation' so to speak.
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    BlackBerry Desktop for Mac OS X available, hands-on report
    As promised, RIM has posted BlackBerry Desktop Manager 1.0 for Mac (for OS X 10.5 or 10.6). I don't own a Blackberry, but Cnet this morning posted their Hands-on with BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac.
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    Apple Support/How-To/Troubleshooting Doc Updates
    (updated during the day, later added first)

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    Other News/Reviews/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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