Wait for 64-bit Conroe this July?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by slb, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. slb macrumors 6502

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    #1
    According to Intel, Merom and Conroe are ahead of schedule. These are the next-generation chips redesigned with ideas from the Pentium-M/Core Duo line and will run on even less power than the Core Duo. They'll also have a 4MB cache.

    But the big thing for me is that they will have 64-bit capability. I ordered the new iMac last night and then read that Conroe is ahead of schedule, and now I'm wondering if I should wait the six months until July when the chip is now due to be released.

    Normally, Apple's secrecy doesn't bother me, but this is one of the cases I really wish they'd open up about their future plans. Are today's Core Duo Macs just a 32-bit stopgap? Will they be obsoleted in two years as everything goes 64-bit (for better or worse)?

    I need a new Mac this year, and I'm seriously considering canceling my order and waiting a few months to see what starts rumbling from the rumor mills. You always go obsolete when you buy a computer, but I'd rather have a Conroe-based iMac and not worry about begging for 32-bit binary compatibility in apps in the future, especially if OS X Leopard has a fully 64-bit version.

    If developers supported 32-bit at least another two years, I'd be satisfied that I could upgrade then when 64-bit became necessary, but unfortunately there's no way of knowing how much 64-bit will take over in the next 12 months. Anyone else's thoughts?
     
  2. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #2
    to me it just depends on how long you need the computer to last, and how often you purchase a new computer. how knows when 64-bit will be the standard. it'll be awhile at least. i ordered an imac a few days ago, and i might end up buying a new computer in the next 2 years (i'm sure i will). but that's me. (yeah, i know i waste all of my money on computers, but to me, it's not a waste)
     
  3. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

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    #3
    I think we're all pretty much agreed that 64-bit doesn't really mean squat unless to happen to want to address - what I like to call - a **** load of RAM. What is important in the next gen stuff from Intel is the HUGE bumps in cache. It's that which will deliver performance boost, and it's that that I'm happy to wait for.
     
  4. jhu macrumors 6502a

    jhu

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    #4
    the ppc970 powermacs came out in 2003. and mac os x still isn't quite 64-bit because apple still has to support all of those ppc750 and ppc74** based machines.
     
  5. jhu macrumors 6502a

    jhu

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    #5
    actually, an x86 program recompiled to x86-64 will see measurable gains due to having a larger number of visible registers. in other architectures, a straight 32-bit to 64-bit recompile would probably result in a decrease in speed.
     
  6. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

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    #6
    um, ok, I really have no idea, just going on what I've read around here :eek: 32-bit or 64-bit doesn't really seem that bigger deal. 4MB of cache interests me far more. As sad as that may be. :eek:
     
  7. Fiveos22 macrumors 65816

    Fiveos22

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    #7
    You've got me interested...care to elaborate?

    I'm very much interested in that too.
     
  8. slb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    64-bit x86 is a little faster in some cases, but that's due to the added registers on that particular chip and not specifically because of being in 64-bit mode. Conroe will no doubt be a step up in speed from Yonah, but that's okay, since everything gets outpaced by something else in six months. I'm solely concerned with binary compatibility. I still use an iBook from three years ago, and it runs great. But will a Core Duo iMac still be viable like that in three years? Even though I'll probably buy a new machine in two years anyway, I'd still like the peace of mind.

    I guess it depends on how much 64-bit mode takes off this fall when Vista and Leopard are released and the 64-bit Intel chips (Conroe and Merom) are out to compete with the 64-bit AMD chips. It's really up to developers to decide at what rate to further this movement or not.

    I wish Apple was forthcoming about their 64-bit adoption plans. Maybe at WWDC this year, but that's still months away.
     
  9. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #9
    I think we will see Merom before Conroe, and I still don't see Conroe coming out until late in 2006, regardless of what Mr. Jobs claims. I'm glad the chips are ahead of schedule, but let's just say I won't believe it until I see it. ;)

    WWDC should be an interesting event this year - some stuff on Merom/Conroe/Woodcrest, some stuff on Leopard... it'll all be good. :cool:
     
  10. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #10
    Agreed.

    Also I expect Conroe to be a costly processor - more so than current duo which means it's probably be reserved for the powermac range which can absorb that cost. An iMac or iBook profit margins wouldn't warrant a more expensive processor.

    Memron maybe by July and into the fall, with Conroe due Winter 2006.

    Like everyone say's it also depends on how often you upgrade. I upgrade at least one of mac's once a year and it's always inevitable that faster processors and newer technologys will be released, but if you reserved buying on that principal alone, then you would never purchase anything.

    Just make a decision and be comfortable with it. Is a mac bought today regardless of G5/Intel Duo going to be useable and functional in a year or two? Yes of course......
     
  11. slb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    It's not Jobs claiming the Conroes and Meroms are ahead of schedule; Intel is and has moved their release schedule to summer. July was mentioned.

    After doing some more reading, apparently Merom will be pin-compatible with Yonah. No word on Conroe's compatibility. Probably Apple will just drop in the Merom in the iMacs with little to no changes other than a firmware update. This raises the question of whether Apple would allow you to send your iMac Core Duo in and get it upgraded to a Merom, or if it would be something you could do yourself (given that you could go through the ordeal of taking the iMac apart).

    I just worry about binary compatibility with the future. It feels like there's another upcoming chip transition that few are talking about--the one from 32-bit to 64-bit. It makes me want to wait until July, but I need the Mac now. So I feel like I'm stuck getting a platform that's already on its way out, and there are a ton of buyer questions that there aren't any answers to, which is a little disheartening.
     
  12. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #12
    you are right, but don't let it get ya down. buying an intel imac now will treat you very good for years to come. just look at it that way. i'm in the same boat
     
  13. Fiveos22 macrumors 65816

    Fiveos22

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    #13
    That's the feeling that I've had about Yonah ever since Ars did an article on it back around WWDC '05. The current Intel Mac lineup seems temporary...transitional, and the real x86 Mac potential lies with (hopefully) 2nd generation hardware. I'm holding off on my powerbook purchase until something more refined is made, or until it appears that Apple is sticking with what they initially offered.
     
  14. EGT macrumors 68000

    EGT

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    #14
    Which of these processors will be the mobile powerhouse I'm waiting for?

    I agree with edesignuk, 4 mb of cache sounds lovely. Is that at all possible for portables?
     
  15. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #15
    Merom. :cool:
     
  16. jhu macrumors 6502a

    jhu

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    #16
    these are povray rendering times using the benchmark scene file on linux. this compares my 1.6 ghz duron vs. 1.6 ghz sempron in 32-bit and 64-bit modes. the difference between the duron and sempron in 32-bit mode can probably be attributed to the sempron having an on-die memory controller. for the sempron 32-bit vs. 64-bit, i suspect the additional registers is the cause of the performance boost.

    1.6 GHz Duron
    Time For Parse: 0 hours 0 minutes 3.0 seconds (3 seconds)
    Time For Photon: 0 hours 0 minutes 60.0 seconds (60 seconds)
    Time For Trace: 0 hours 39 minutes 43.0 seconds (2383 seconds)
    Total Time: 0 hours 40 minutes 46.0 seconds (2446 seconds)

    1.6 Ghz Sempron 64, 32-bit
    Time For Parse: 0 hours 0 minutes 3.0 seconds (3 seconds)
    Time For Photon: 0 hours 0 minutes 53.0 seconds (53 seconds)
    Time For Trace: 0 hours 33 minutes 45.0 seconds (2025 seconds)
    Total Time: 0 hours 34 minutes 41.0 seconds (2081 seconds)

    1.6 GHz Sempron 64, 64-bit
    Parse Time: 0 hours 0 minutes 1 seconds (1 seconds)
    Photon Time: 0 hours 0 minutes 41 seconds (41 seconds)
    Render Time: 0 hours 28 minutes 45 seconds (1725 seconds)
    Total Time: 0 hours 29 minutes 27 seconds (1767 seconds)
     
  17. Glen Quagmire macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Conroe is a desktop chip, replacing Pentium 4 (LGA775). Merom is a laptop chip, replacing Yonah (socket 479?). It is highly doubtful that Intel will allow Merom and Conroe to share the same sockets.

    Intel's current 64-bit chips - Pentium 4s and Xeons - allow 64-bit and 32-bit software to be run without problem. 64-bit chips are backward compatible - you can run 32-bit Windows XP, for example, with no problems at all. Binary compatibility should be the least of your worries.
     
  18. slb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Yes, some more reading confirms that. Yonah and Merom are pin-compatible, and Presler and Conroe are pin-compatible. When Merom comes out, Apple will probably just drop it into the MacBook Pros and iMacs unchanged since apparently all that's needed is a firmware update.

    It's when the big apps start migrating to 64-bit, such as Logic, that keeps me anxious. It's a little uncomfortable investing in a platform with a slightly uncertain future. Hopefully, it won't be a real concern for years.
     
  19. AUBPsych macrumors member

    AUBPsych

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    #19
    Yeah, I know how you feel about not wanting to buy a machine that is already on its way out. Five years ago, my parents bought a Pentium III @ 1Ghz Gateway desktop as the P4's were rolling out. I have regretted it ever since.

    Then again, as soon as you pull your computer out of the box, it's outdated anyway. :(
     
  20. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #20
    Precisely - if you play the waiting game, you'll always be waiting. :cool:
     
  21. bigandy macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    #21
    if it consumes less power than the current core duo, as the lead post says, then yes.
     
  22. ieani macrumors 6502a

    ieani

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    #22
    Im in the market for an iMac. What kind of performance improvements will we see?
     
  23. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #23
    there will be no 64-bit iMac anytimwe soon.

    Apple is NOT moving to Intel's "Itanium" they are going to some xeon-like but lower powered chip. The only difference then is the amount of RAM that can be addressed.
    A 64-bit CPU will not help an iMac. 64-bits will allow you to address more than 4GB of RAM. Unless you actually have more than 4GB of RAM you shouldn't care.

    My bet is that Intel's 64-bit server chips are going to go into the replaement for the Power Mac. Likely if you wait 6 months you will see an incremental bump in the iMac's clock speed but going away from the Core Duo would be a total redesign. You can't simply swap CPU chips.

    Apple will likely not redesign the newly introduced Intel Macs under after they have finished the Power PC switchover and then you might expect them t make a second pass in 07 and 08.
     
  24. jhu macrumors 6502a

    jhu

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    #24
    my informal benchmarks posted above reveal a 15% increase in performance between a 32-bit vs. 64-bit version of povray. performance increases should hold true for other computation intensive applications.
     
  25. slb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    But they didn't lose binary compatibility. Yonah won't be able to run 64-bit code. That's what I mean by it being another chip transition. I guess it will all depend on whether developers continue with 32-bit apps and 64-bit doesn't really catch on in the consumer space for another year or two (when more than 4GB of RAM becomes necessary).

    At any rate, I really can't wait another six months for the next chip, so I don't have a choice but to get an iMac based on the Yonah.

    My issue is binary compatibility.

    The Merom is pin-compatible with the Yonah and uses the same chipset, so it should be as simple as plugging it in and updating the firmware.

    I'd be surprised if Apple didn't refresh the iMacs and MacBook Pros with the new Intel processors when they come out. Especially the Merom with its greater power usage enhancements.
     

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