Posts in category apple - page 16

MacBook Pro round-up

Just a few quickies regarding my favorite laptop…

MacBook Pro disassembly

iFixit has published a MacBook Pro disassembly with photographs guiding you each step of the way.

Vista on the MacBook

Some other enterprising individuals have managed to use Boot Camp to get Vista going.

Windows right-click with the touch pad

RH Designs’ Apple Mouse lets you trigger a right mouse click from the track pad by holding down control – similar to what you do under OS X.

Meron 64-bit pin compatible with Core CPU

Intel have announced that their forthcoming Merom processor will be pin compatible with the existing Core Duo chips – indeed during his demo he swapped out one processor for another on his Dell laptop. The Merom gives 20% more performance at the same power consumption whilst also adding 64-bit processing. While the MacBook’s CPU is soldered in the Mac mini’s isn’t…

MacBook Pro benchmarks

I’m hoping to get some benchmarks together soon from PCMark05, Everest and 3DMark but here’s a sneaky preview of what’s to come

CPU

MacBook Pro CPU benchmarks

FPU

MacBook Pro FPU benchmarks

Memory

MacBook Pro Memory benchmarks

In the meantime check out the benchmarks from MacWorld.

MacBook iBook replacement

The current Rumor mill is putting the money on Apple releasing their iBook replacement soon bringing it under the Mac brand as simply MacBook (no Pro suffix). Whether it is going to be Duo or Solo based is up for debate but there seems to be some evidence to support multiple colours and a 13″ widescreen display.

[)amien

Life with Windows & Boot Camp on the MacBook Pro…

Performance

The performance is quite amazing.

World of Warcraft runs nicely under Windows giving an acceptable 20 fps at 1440×900 24-bit color 24-bit depth 1xmultisample with everything turned up high or on. Dropping down the anisotropic to mid-point and turning off the full-screen glow effect and smooth shading bumps that up to 30 fps.

Unplugging the power means ATI’s PowerPlay kicks in which can results in a 50% speed reduction as the X1600 GPU cuts it’s clock from 310MHz down to 128MHz and a similar drop for it’s 256MB GDDR3 RAM. You can turn this off by un-checking the PowerPlay option in the ATI driver settings.

Everest provides a few interesting details including some synthetic benchmarks that show memory performance to be near a Pentium D 820 with Dual DDR400 – a little disappointing given that the laptop is equipped with DDR2-667 SO-DIMM’s.

Memory was a single Micron 1GB module with 5-5-5-15 timings. I added another 1GB of Kingston – a more patient me would have picked up 1GB from Crucial for half Apple’s asking price. Installing the memory isn’t as easy as flipping up the keyboard on the TiBook but only required a couple of minutes and a small Philips screwdriver.

The CPU benchmarks are where it shines with it out performing the P4 530HT, P4EE HT and Athlon64 3200+. Only the Athlon64 X2 3800+ beat it in two of the three tests. FPU performance placed it directly below the desktop chips I’ve mentioned but comfortable margin above a P4 2.8GHz again on two of the three test. On FPU SinJulia it came second only to a 8 way P3 Xeon 550MHz…

Hardware

Running Everest also shed some light on the internals. Worryingly it identified the Core Duo T2500 CPU as being an “Engineering Sample” but I’m putting this down to Everest warning at start-up that the current version doesn’t know much about Core Duo (Yonah).

The motherboard is identified as an Apple design equipped with the Intel Calistoga-G i945GM north bridge and Intel 82801GBM ICH7-M south bridge. These are part of the Centrino 3 (Napa) platform but having gone with the Atheros AR5006X Wireless instead of Intel’s own 3945ABG they’ve missed out on compliance. They’ve gained 108 MBit and extended range though.

The south bridge is home to Intel’s high definition sound using the SigmalTel STAC9220 and provides the two PCI-E x1 links to the wireless and Marvell Yukon 88E8053 gigabit Ethernet.

Everest was unable, sadly, to report any sensor information such as fan speed and CPU temperature. Hopefully this is possible in a future update. The hard drive was running at 42°c and is a Seagate Momentus ST9100824AS as I went with the stock 100GB 5400RPM.

Windows annoyances

First up is the clock… as far as I can tell Windows uses the BIOS to set/determine local time while Mac OS X uses it to store GMT and adds the appropriate time zone offset. For me here in the UK this just means a one hour shift either way but obviously the problem gets worse the further away from GMT you are.

Next is the keyboard.. While eject is mapped the various volume controls and brightness etc are not. Also get used to the Mac keyboard being slightly different to Windows – alt and Apple/Win are in each others places and various symbols are where they would be on a Windows keyboard – not where they are on your Mac’s.

One oddity is the SPDIF laser is on by default, shining it’s red rays out from the left of your laptop onto whatever might be nearby. Head into the SigmaTel Control Panel and disable Digital Output before somebody looses an eye.

Battery life

One worrying thing is the battery life – something which Apple have been very quiet about indeed. Unplugging the power at 100% battery charge in Windows with all the default power saving stuff turned on reports a lifetime of around 2 hours with a few apps loaded but idle.

While this is on par with other T2500 based systems such as the ASUS A6J it falls a bit short of the 3-hour expectancy set by the Pentium M and significantly short of the PowerBook G4’s 5 hour. No wonder they didn’t want to mention it.

I’d hope that Intel will release updated chipset drivers that better under-clock the system on demand but I won’t hold my breath.

[)amien

Apple’s Boot Camp and my new MacBook Pro

Apple announced their Boot Camp technology – basically a set of drivers for Windows XP, a wizard to help resize your existing disk partition and the necessary magic to load XP from the EFI BIOS.

I can imagine the Windows on Mac Intel project that raised $12,000 USD are wondering why they bothered…

Anyway, it’s good news for me as this means my Dell 8100 and TiBook G4 1GHz are now replaced with a single machine I can use at home for media goodness and at work for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 etc. Clarissa gets my Dell upgrade and I guess the TiBook will find a place on eBay.

Hardware

The hardware looks quite different from the TiBook – the keyboard is the same grey as the rest of the machine as opposed to the slightly translucent charcoal of the TiBook. I’d have gone with the TiBook’s look in this department until the MacBook Pro’s light sensor powers up the keyboard back light and the keys glow through….

On the other hardware fronts the machine’s finish feels less polished than the TiBook – Aluminum isn’t as cool as Titanium either… The ports on the side takes a bit of getting used to but I’m finding it less likely to snag the dongles and keyboards when they’re visible there…

The built-in 802.11G (as opposed to the B), web cam (tiny, great picture quality and lots of fun with Photo Booth) and built-in Bluetooth are all very welcome additions. The way the headphone and microphone jacks have fibre-optic inside the jack itself is pretty sweet engineering too.

Sounds is greatly improved and for a laptop sounds pretty damn good although still not up to external speakers obviously. The screen has very slightly less pixels but is substantially brighter.

One bad thing is the machine heats up pretty damn hot even with the latest firmware update. If there is a fan it’s either off or damn quiet… I’d prefer a bit of fan noise over cooler legs. Don’t even think of using it while wearing shorts.

I spent a few minutes trying to find the fabled Front Row app but couldn’t see it anywhere. I installed the dev tools and X11 from the optional stuff on the DVD but still no sign. In desperation I picked up the included infra-red remote and nearly fell off my chair as the screen shrunk and rotated while transparent icons flew over the top. :o I guess the X1600 Mobility can shift some serious polygons.

Boot Camp

First off I had to upgrade the MacBook Pro’s firmware and restart then into the Boot Camp Assistant which burnt me a CD-R full of Windows drivers before letting me re-partition my disk and asking for the XP SP2 CD. A quick reboot later and the familiar Windows XP installer became my home for the next hour.

Windows behaved exactly as expected and Apple have included a couple of minor tools such as monitor brightness and a driver to map the eject key. Graphics were taken care of by the ATI driver and sound by drivers from Sigmatel. The Bluetooth stuff works fine and is identified as Apple…

There are still a few devices unknown in Device Manager at the moment but I’m sure Apple will address those as they can. If they can’t I’m sure third parties will fill the void. One notable absence at the moment is the keyboard back-lighting doesn’t work under Windows.

Migration

My iPod 60GB has been a savior here allowing me to transfer important folders from my old mac such as Music, Movies, Delicious Library, Address Book, Mail and Documents.

I’m sure using the transfer option would have been easier but I didn’t want my crusty 3 year old profile full of god only knows what hitting this machine.

Compatibility

It’s run my usual apps fine so far although I’ve gone and re-downloaded all my favorite apps to make sure I get the Intel/Universal binaries where possible.

The only exception so far seem to be the Flip4Mac drivers to enable WMV/WMA support inside QuickTime which specifically told me they wouldn’t install on Intel and that I should check back soon…

[)amien

Gloomy long-term future for Apple?

Steve Jobs’ vision and leadership has turned Apple around from a great-promise but minimal market share in the computer business into a media and fashion darling envied by the likes of Sony, Dell and Microsoft.

Under his watchful eye they have put out a friendly computer called the iMac that redefined what computers could look like, a powerful Unix based OS with a simple but gorgeous user interface and practically took possession lock-stock-and-barrel of the portable music player market.

Now they looked poised to go even further forward with TV & movie downloads ,the video iPod and the apparent initial success of the Intel switch.

What could possibly go wrong?

Steve Jobs

Sure, there are a lot of bright people working at Apple. They engineer the great products you see but what you need is a guy at the top to put the best of it together. To decide the strategy, what ships what doesn’t. What’s ready. What isn’t.

As Jobs has proven he’s definitely the man for the job but does he still want it?

Steve celebrated his 51st birthday this February not long after brokering the deal where he sold his other venture, Pixar, to Disney for the tidy sum of $7.4 billion dollars. Jobs owned more than half the company. He steps down as Pixar’s CEO but takes a chair at the board of Disney.

A couple of days ago Jobs disposed of about half his Apple shares – those awarded to him by Apple in 2003 as a bonus – to pay his taxes to the tune of $295 million dollars.

Less than two years ago Steve was diagnosed with a rare form of life-threatening pancreatic cancer that put him out of the Apple driving seat for over a month. While the operation was a success it might be a reminder about taking time out to enjoy a less stressful life.

If Jobs wants to relax a little now may very well be the best time to do it.

If he wanted financial security for himself or Apple that’s done. If he wanted to prove his baby is better with him than without as happened in the 80’s that’s a big tick. If he wanted to point Apple in a positive direction that’s happened.

Maybe Apple Chief Technology Officer and brains behind the Mach kernel inside OS X Avie Tevanian knows something because at the end of March he leaves Apple to “pursue other interests”. He’s been with Jobs since the birth of NextStep.

Senior vice president of the iPod division, Jon Rubenstein, is also departing this month albeit to entire retirement.

Who on earth could possibly take over after Jobs?

Whether he’s leaving or not Jobs needs to find somebody to imprint his ideas, perceptions and desires upon. With at least a Jobsian imprint Apple might last beyond their CEO’s term.

Found this quote from Fortune, dated Feb. 23 2004;

“Why would I ever want to run Disney? Wouldn’t it make more sense just to sell them Pixar and retire?”

[)amien