PowerMac G5 DP 2.3 GHz

So, I finally got a g5, and his name is idio. It is, I must say, totally sweet. Because I find myself unable to gush as much as I would have a few years ago, I will instead quote myself from a few years ago:

April 7, 2000
I've got all the things I need in an operating system, but those qualities are spread out across two different OS versions. Mac OS 9 is way fast, but also unstable (occasional crashes compared to NO crashes). OS X is way stable, but also quite sluggish, and there is a lack of key apps (like photoshop and quake3, for example). This is a recipe for frustration. Working with photoshop in OS X through classic is clunky. It will be a while before I'm anywhere near as efficient with photoshop in OS X as in OS 9 - even after photoshop is carbonized, that will not solve the GUI speed problems. Rebooting into OS 9 is also extremely frustrating, because now I'm used to my computer never crashing, at all (I have used the retail version of OS X since it came out, and have yet to crash it even once - and I've tried). I get way more pissed than I used to when OS 9 chokes.

The worst part is that the short to mid term outlook does not look good. Certainly, things only get better from here as OS X becomes more fine-tuned and optimized, and as more applications become Mac OS X native. Again, though, I simply don't see my hardware *ever* running Mac OS X as fast as it runs OS 9. In fact, Mac OS X may never run as fast as OS 9 on *any* hardware... the question is how long will it be before the speed of OS X equals today's performance of OS 9 on today's hardware. Eventually, I will buy a new mac.... but it certainly won't be until I'm positive that OS X runs quickly on it.

Even with all of that, though, I'm still quite happy with OS X. I am more than willing to take a GUI speed hit for all of the great things OS X brings us. People eagerly awaited the release of Mac OS X, and Apple probably knew they had to get it out the door to get people really developing for it. That was only the first step in the long journey to OS X nirvana - and it is coming :) Now the real wait begins.

... and now it ends! Mac OS X performs at an acceptable level on my dual 800, which I got a couple years ago or so while working for ja computer store. However, it was not blazingly fast in terms of UI responsiveness, as OS 9 was on hardware of the day. Since I wrote the above, I have learned that this is largely because the Mac OS X window manager does a hell of a lot more. Opaque window dragging doesn't even scratch the surface.

Even then, Apple may have known that in time, most of the nifty things done by the OS X window manager could execute completely in the video card. In the early days, of course, this was not yet possible, and so everybody's CPU was busy drawing drop shadows, transparencies, and everything else. Quartz Extreme didn't show up until 10.2. 10.4 takes it a step further, with quite a bit more that is able to be done solely in the GPU. Of course this requires a fairly fancy video card, but hey... such is the price of progress ;)

From the text of this page so far, it would seem as though I'm quite preoccupied with the UI niceties. In fact, I've been quite deep in the OS X hoop from a system administration perspective. My time as an Apple Certified Trainer delivering their IT curriculum provided lots of excuses to explore certain things pretty deeply. The Core OS stuff isn't perfect, but what OS ever is? Point is, amazing progress has been made in terms of both new features and also performance enhancements.

To date, every version of Mac OS X runs faster than the previous version on the same hardware. Compare this fact to that other OS that everybody else uses.

The move from g4 to g5 was a big one. Internal bandwidth went through the roof. The CPU(s) went from 32 to 64 bit, which pushed max theoretical RAM through the roof also. Right now you can spec an xserve g5 with 16 GB of ram. Not surprisingly, these improvements combined with the steady performance improvements of Mac OS X have brought us well beyond the perceived performance from the os9 days. Not to mention the fact that OS X can do things OS9 could never dream of (e.g. continue running background tasks if the user happens to hold the mouse button down for more than a few seconds, lol).

My favorite thing so far about the new box, from a usability perspective, is the ability to work erratically, following multiple threads the instant I feel like it. For example, I launch photoshop for the first time and wonder if there are any free updates since CS (version 1). Immediately after I launched photoshop (with LaunchBar of course), I click the safari dock icon, get a new window instantly, and "macupdate/photoshop cs". The page loads about as fast as it always does, and as soon as I see there are no updates, I switch back to photoshop. Don't get me wrong, this is possible on older hardware too, but there is simply more waiting involved. For most tasks, an average g5 powermac has CPU cycles to spare, which means it is more able to multi-task without delays in responsiveness.

Next up, just to show off how nice the UI responsiveness really is, I've got a couple Snapz movies of me playing with the dashboard and the dock. Bear in mind that the simple ability to capture 640 x 480 at 30 fps is soemthing that was more or less impossible on my dual 800. Now I'm doing it while recording ... well, you'll see :) Keep an eye on the Quartz Debug frame meter and the QuickTime info window, which displays the current fps of the movie that's playing. There is no other OS on the planet that can do this stuff.

Foolin with Dashboard (h.264 / quicktime 7)
Foolin with Dashboard (sorenson3 / quicktime 6)

Foolin with the Dock (h.264 / quicktime 7)
Foolin with the Dock (sorenson3 / quicktime 6)

Also, a screenshot and a system profile.