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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 20th April, 2006, 02:24 PM
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Windows on Mac Faster than OSX?

Gabe over at Penny Arcade has apparently booted up his MacIntel and run Boot Camp on it with Windows, and gotten some interesting results. Running World of Warcraft with all the settings maxed out, he got 15-20 FPS under OSX, while he got 35-40 FPS under Windows.

Now this is interesting, because one of the things the Apple crowd have always said was that on a given hardware platform, the Mac was faster than the PC. It's just that up until now we never had a way to directly compare the two.

So, here's the question to consider. Was this really a fair test? After all, there are a lot of things that could come into play here, and chief among those (at least in my mind) is how optimized the Mac video drivers are vs. the Windows video drivers.

What I suspect will be found when people start sitting down and really comparing the two OSes is that OSX is really good at some things and stinks at others, just like Windows. What do you think? Tell us!
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Old 20th April, 2006, 02:53 PM
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I very much doubt that this is a fair test.

OSX was originally designed to be used in conjunction with Altivec, which, in general use, is an extremely effective SIMD instruction set. Now that they have changed to Intel, they are reliant on the SSE/SSE2/SSE3 SIMD instruction set.

My question is, has the version of World Of Warcraft that is being used been optimised to use the SSEx instruction sets available on the macbook, is it designed to operate with Altivec, or is it designed to take advantage of neither.

Its one thing for OSX to be working on X86, but the programs that run on it, not only have to be compiled for it (or emulated with some loss), and then ther SIMD instruction used creates another question.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 03:17 PM
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I mean, on top of that, you have the fact that, as with most cases, you can easily blame half arsed performance on ATI.

You see...

ATI's drivers on linux / bsd / unix, have been at best, completely half arsed. Then you have the fact that ATI's OpenGL performance, is, and has always been, half arsed.

Combine the two... I'm guessing the OSX ATI drivers can't hold a candle to the Windows drivers.

And to further add fuel to the fire, Microsoft does not licence Direct X. As a result, Mac OSX uses OpenGL exclusively. This would mean that WoW is using DX9.0C on Windows (its native form). And OpenGL on mac.

So WoW would be running in OpenGL mode (performance hit) on an operating system that it was not originally designed for (OSX X86), with video card drivers that are probably rubbish (Based on a long history), on a 3D API that ATI have never been any good at.

All in all, I think it would be a true miracle on earth if WoW on OSX was even half as fast as it is on Windows. The chips are just stacked so high against it.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 06:07 PM
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WoW can run both DX9 and OpenGL. Although OpenGL is notably worse performance wise.

Wow defaults to OpenGL on Macs, Windows, DX9 (Although it is possible to do so)

Coupled with bad Drivers and ATi's lesser performance under OpenGL enviroments, I think it answers the question.. :P
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Old 20th April, 2006, 06:22 PM
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There are two interesting points that this raises, both of which are quite exciting.

Is OpenGL now more prefferable? John Carmack has been running with the OpenGL API in Doom 3 / Quake 4, and every major title up to then. People have wondered why, but its always been loved by the mac/linux comunity, as Carmack's games are always ported to linux/macOS easily and quickly, often with BETTER performance than windows.

Now that developers can easily make games for both platforms (Windows and MacOS) OpenGL might gain favour again.

The other possible outcomes are, possibly Apple will switch to Nvidia. There are no two ways about it at this point, in an Apple computer, Nvidia cards are far better than any ATI solution.

Also, perhaps, and this is a big perhaps. Someone at ATI will finally decide to pull their finger out, and make drivers that arn't complete rubbish for linux/unix/mac. Maybe they will even improve their OpenGL support.

There IS a more interesting benchmark to run to compare the two platforms though.

Doom 3 / Quake 4 is OpenGL native, and should be a fairer comparison. That still leaves the ATI OpenGL handicap, and the ATI rubbish mac drivers problem, but it at least improves things.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 06:49 PM
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WoW is DX native, with OpenGL support so naturally the results are completely void.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsio
Doom 3 / Quake 4 is OpenGL native, and should be a fairer comparison. That still leaves the ATI OpenGL handicap, and the ATI rubbish mac drivers problem, but it at least improves things.
This, however, would be very interesting to see.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 07:59 PM
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I may be wrong on this point, but it's been my understanding that Apple writes it's own graphics drivers. I haven't seen much literature on this particular topic, though.

Also, note the fact from that Penny-Arcade posting that the MacBook's X1600 card is actually underclocked to help with heat dissipation and battery life. I find that quite interesting to say the least, but of course you can change it back to stock speeds (possibly at the risk of voiding your warranty.)
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Old 20th April, 2006, 08:03 PM
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True, but since the Windows vs. OSX test was conducted with the exact same hardware, whether the card is underclocked or not would be irrelevant to the relative performance of the two machines, unless the underclocking is done by the drivers themselves.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmo
True, but since the Windows vs. OSX test was conducted with the exact same hardware, whether the card is underclocked or not would be irrelevant to the relative performance of the two machines, unless the underclocking is done by the drivers themselves.
Indeed... I guess I didn't make my purpose clear, but I just thought it was another interesting graphics-related development as far as that computer goes.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 11:02 PM
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One of the things that the company I work has been doing is looking at revamping our password cracking systems. One of the systems used is a Sun Opteron based system, and another system used consists of a few Mac Minis. For some types of password breaking, the Mac Minis are significantly more powerful (like, 4 times as fast) as the Opteron system. This is especially impressive given that compilation of the tools for the Opteron use optimised code, whereas the tools for the Mac Mini use generic C code.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 11:04 PM
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Are those Intel based or the G4 ?
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Old 20th April, 2006, 11:14 PM
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G4 based.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 11:15 PM
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Am I right in thinking that the G4 is RISC based and is designed to run un-optimised code? - That could go some way to explaining the performance I guess.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 11:20 PM
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It is true that the G4 is RISC based, but the x86 version of the code we use uses various features such as MMX, whereas the G4 version of the code doesn't use Altivec. Thus the G4 machines /should/ be at a disadvantage but don't appear to have a problem running rings around the Opteron.
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Old 20th April, 2006, 11:28 PM
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Have you ever tried running the plain C code on the Opteron, just out of curiosity?
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Old 21st April, 2006, 03:02 AM
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Theres another interesting el cheapo cluster system, in the form of the MSNTV 2 boxes. They can run linux with a little coaxing, and each is a Celeron 733Mhz with 128MB RAM. The cool thing is people have made clusters of 30+ machines for under US$300 as most of them go on ebay for $1-10.
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Windows on Mac Faster than OSX?-cluster1.jpg   Windows on Mac Faster than OSX?-cluster2.jpg  
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Old 21st April, 2006, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsio
ATI's drivers on linux / bsd / unix, have been at best, completely half arsed. Then you have the fact that ATI's OpenGL performance, is, and has always been, half arsed.

Tried the new ones out?

https://support.ati.com/ics/support/...asp?deptID=894
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Old 21st April, 2006, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadaveca
The last driver I downloaded was on the 16th of April, which would have been the current one. Running the X800Pro VIVO under linux, XGL fails completely. OpenGL based applications throw errors stating that the card doesn't support a heap of function calls.

This was a big letdown to me, as I have my laptop running Fedora (and have been using Fedora for a few weeks straight as a workstation OS) and I wanted to run my second best machine (8K3A Athlon XP 2400+ X800Pro VIVO 512MB RAM) on Kororaa with XGL. Failing that, I tried running Ubuntu with XGL/Compiz manually applied.

The problem is still in ATI's drivers.

Now, it is possible to make it work. But spending hours upon hours on a workaround for the inadequacies is just not on. The R300 series cards also fail completely or alternatively artifact and stutter badly.
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Old 21st April, 2006, 03:45 AM
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Interesting to know. I have several versions of Suse as well as REDHat here, but have failed to take the plunge because i only own ATI hardware.

Thanks for saving me some frustration, although these new drivers are geared towards teh x1k series more than anything else, including the avivo support(hardware-assist video encode).

this bodes bad for half the pc crowd running ati and MacOS, although mac laptops with ATI chipsets seem to ahve no issues with bootcamp. I wonder if there is a driver hidden in bootcamp that may help linux users?

Anyway, the first XBOX360 demo machines were equipped with dual G5's, 2gb of ram, and an x850...w/ two machines joined together. what i saw working on these machines says that ATI support on OSX isn't as bad as you surmise it is on linux.
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Old 21st April, 2006, 03:50 AM
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To be fair I have had the X800Pro working with some success in the past. If anything the newer drivers have been worse than the older ones. I can sort of understand that if the X1000 series is what they have been working on.

That said, reports of results with the X1000 series cards have not been very good at all. The previous version of Kororaa came with a blanket warning that basically said, if you own an X1000, don't even bother.

The new version (0.2) does not say anything about the X1000, so I can only assume it works with the new drivers (Kororaa releases have to include driver packages in order to work).
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