G5s obsolete after Universal software?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Superlat, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. Superlat macrumors member

    Feb 17, 2006
    I've been waiting a while to get a new machine, mostly for 3D rendering and video crunching, and read all the advantages of the G5 architecture, as well as the fact that I'll have to wait a year for the Intel pro machines. I'm inclined to buy a G5 quad or dual now, despite the crappy graphics cards, but I'll be stuck running obsolete software 2-3 years from now, wont I? Will Universal versions
    of software run on today's G5s?
  2. PrOeliuM macrumors member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Yes they will, that's why they're called Universal (as in they work on PowerPC chips as well as x86 ones). Developers will most likely continue to provide universal binaries for several years (until the vast majority of Mac users are on x86 chips) so buying a G5 now means you will still likely be able to run all of the software for Macs for a while.
  3. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I personally would not feel at all worried or uncomfortable about buying an fast G5 right now. The Quad is still the fastest Mac ever made. Even when a faster Intel based model comes out, the Quad will be very powerful. Expect it to be perfectly useable/compatible for a long time. A dual should be fine too.
  4. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    just picked up a refurbished iMac for myself, its a G5.

    the PowerPC architecture will be supported for i would say five more years at least? given how long lasting the towers are as well as the iMacs.
    there are people who still use G3 iMacs and PowerMacs out there...
  5. cr2sh macrumors 68030


    May 28, 2002
    I agree 100%.

    However, if I were you... I'd wait until the intel "powermac" comes out.. and then get discounted g5 powermacs.
  6. FarSide macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2006
    Buy a QuadG5 if you need it & afford it

    There have been several discussions already on this topic. Check the forum and you will find other threads...

    The Classic Benchmark:

  7. Hodapp macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2003
    New York, NY
    I think what will quickly happen is that PPC software will quickly get crappier and crappier. For example, right now most shareware programmers are writing and tweaking their apps on PPC, they build a universal binary, send it to someone they know with an Intel machine and ask them if it works.

    In the future, when everyone has Intel macs, the exact opposite will happen and there will be no tweaking for slower PPC processors. So I think the PPC macs will quickly become MORE obsolete than they otherwise would have been thanks to the architecture change.
  8. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    I'm not sure I would use the term crappier, but the fact of the matter is that between 3 to 5 years from now Universal applications may not be written to take advantage of things like Altivec because that'll take an additional step that developers may not see a need to take by then.

    At that point the users of PowerPC systems will have to decide between upgrading their applications to get more features... but less optimized for their systems, or staying with the current version of their applications which take advantage of their hardware.

    At that point I would guess it'll come down to buyer beware when looking at application upgrades. You'll want to make sure that an upgrade is optimized for your system... not just able to run on it, before you spend your money. Otherwise you'll find yourself paying for a downgrade rather than an upgrade.

    That having been said... I like cr2sh's idea. ;)
  9. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Although I'd guess that folks running a five-year old mac as their main machine at that point probably aren't the type of user looking constantly for the latest and greatest software. the computer will work fine, just not with the newest stuff.
  10. dwd3885 macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    i don't think you should rush out and buy the powermac now. It's a tough transition time for Mac users. But an iMac intel won't last you 5 years I don't think, just because the limited amount of ram you can install. As long as there is powerpc programs, you will be ok. but are there really going to be powerpc programs after these next 5 years? I really don't think so.

    So you're kinda screwed :eek:
  11. Whistleway macrumors 6502

    Feb 16, 2005
    If you are a dev, would you optimize your software for Intel or PPC?
  12. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004

    I agree......people who have decided not to spend the money to upgrade their hardware often aren't spending the money to have the latest software either

    plus the latest, hottest, coolest new software isn't usually written to run on older machines either. it's quite common for the "state of the art" software to require a fairly new computer
  13. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Games might be the first (and perhaps only for the time being) casualty. Few game developers have already said that in the near future, some titles will be developed for Intel platform only.
  14. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    Actually I would think that PowerPC systems are going to be on their way out when the version of Mac OS X that they run is no longer within the minimum requirements for most software.

    Building for both PowerPC and Intel is pretty straight forward. Optimizing for Altivec on PowerPC isn't and will be the first step to go. And once Apple stops shipping a version of Mac OS X for PowerPC, that is when PowerPC users really need to start worrying.

    How long will that be? Apple dropped support for many 1997/98 systems with Mac OS X v10.3 (Oct. 2003)... about 5 to 6 years after their release. Now look at how much software requires at least 10.3.x (and therefore excludes systems supported by 10.2.8) in today's market.

    It really isn't hard to predict this stuff. Specially if you look at the 680x0 to PowerPC transition. Those of us who lived through that (and still remember it) have a pretty good idea how this will end up being played out.
  15. ethen macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2005
    i actually went out and buy G4 powerbook, this is how i see it

    1. Current apps is PPC optimized
    2. Within 2 years all apps will be intel optimized already
    3. If i buy the current intel mac now, within 2 years, i would probably need an upgrade already (i never have my computer that lastest more than 16 months)

    I would probably need to upgrade my intel mac to a better machine to keep up with new applications.

    so the mac i bought 2 years ago would probably be too slow for me.

    not sure why but it seems more logical for me to stick with G4 right now :p rather than buying intel mac that still depend on rosetta for my photoshop work.
  16. uspcommuter macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2004

    Hey RacerX,

    I am thinking about getting the iMac G5 with an edu discount. So i am more interested in your quote about how the transition of 68000 to PPC. I didnt come on to the mac scene until the quicksilver revision so can you enlighten me?

    As for will G5's be obselete... I thought long an hard about this one. One advantage of going mac was that most software runs on most os version 10.1-10.2 etc. it will run slow if you only have min. req. wherease windoze wont even let you install if you dont have the system requirements. So I wouldnt worry too much. and if G5 does go obselete....shouldnt mac os x's support of G4 come first? Just like hows beige G3's are not officially supported?
  17. bodeh6 macrumors 6502a


    May 18, 2005
    Most Pro apps aren't going to be universal for a while. Look at Photoshop and other Adobe products. According to the rumors we aren't going to be seeing the universal apps till at least end of 2006 or early 2007. If you buy a decked out PowerMac now, plan on running it for at least 5 years if not longer. If you keep the current software on it, it will run for even longer.
  18. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    Yeah, that was how the 680x0 series systems were phased out. When Mac OS 8 was released, it only ran on 68040 (and 68LC040) based systems and not on 68000, 68020 or 68030 systems.

    So yes, there is a good chance that G4 systems would be dropped from support in Mac OS X before the G5s... and that would give G5 owners the warning that they are next.

    The 68040 systems were dropped with the release of Mac OS 8.5 about a year after Mac OS 8 was released... but that was back when Apple was doing a major release about once every 15 months (which started with the release of Mac OS 8), they stopped that schedule after the release of 10.3.

    I would guess G5 owners will have about 2 years of OS support after the G4 systems have been dropped. And another 1-2 years of application support from a majority of developers after that.

    So unless you are like me (I'm typing this on an 8 year old system), you'll most likely have a newer system by then.
  19. uspcommuter macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2004
    Thanks for sharing the experience. Also, I am typing this quote on a iMac G3 (7 year old) running 10.4.5. :).

    I hope the transition doesnt hurt the G5s too bad b/c I am trying to purchase one of the 20inch G5 before they phase out.
  20. jhu macrumors 6502a


    Apr 4, 2004
    what program are you using for 3d rendering? do you do rendering and video processing at the same time or use 3d rendering for videos?
  21. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    The main reason for this is that a whole load of new stuff was introduced in 10.3.x that is largely invisible to users but makes dev's lives a lot easier. The same is true with 10.4 though to a lesser extent. Also, if you look at the market for smaller third-party apps, to a large extent the user base is at the forefront of adopting new software. If you believe Omni's stats (http://update.omnigroup.com), more than 90% of their users are using 10.4 and the rest are on 10.3. How 'worth it' is it to Omni to write a new app that supports 10.3? For most Cocoa developers, Intel support is a pretty easy thing to provide so they do it despite the fact there are very few intel machines actually out there. Supporting older OSes is actually more of a pain.
    If I was using Cocoa the answer would be neither. You're so abstracted from the hardware you rarely do anything 'processor specific'. Ideally your algorithm design works well on both. I'd agree that as soon as OS support for PowerPC goes you'll start to see third-party apps stop supporting it.
  22. Warbrain macrumors 603


    Jun 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    For the most part, I wouldn't even worry about the transition and when Apple is going to cut the cord on the PowerPC support. They've done these transitions before, they know what they're doing. PPC support will exist for at least another five years, even if it's not for all the processors. The 680x0 processors were supported for a while. People still made FAT binaries through OS 9. The same will most likely happen here. Not everyone is going to transition to an Intel-based Mac immediately, there are going to be more PPC Macs in the wild for a very long time, so there's no reason to panic.

    Go buy that G5, I'd even buy an iBook now rather than buy the first generation of the Intel-based model because it's going to have a lot of problems. The MBPs apparently have lots of problems. So spend your money on something that will last you longer and you know works.
  23. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    You optimise for whatever benefits from optimisation.

    For example, there are some games that will never get an Intel version because the developers decided that they are plenty fast on the slowest Intel Mac you can buy, and users wouldn't have any advantage if the game ran twice as fast.

    Applications with low requirements will be optimised for the slowest machine that can reasonably run them. If the slowest Intel processor and the slowest G5 is plenty fast, you optimise for G4 or even for G3.

    It is different for applications that need the fastest machine you can lay your hands on; you would optimise for that machine. Why optimise for G3, if no sane person would run the program on a G3 anyway?

    That said, a lot of optimisations work across different platforms anyway. The biggest performance killer, whether on Intel, AMD, G5 or G4 is memory latency, and the biggest gains are made by using L1 cache and L2 cache properly. These optimisations work everywhere.
  24. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK
    Would not touch PPC now with a 10 foot bargepole...
  25. maxvamp macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2002
    Somewhere out there
    Luckily, Developers don't have to make the decision.

    If a developer wants to write an app that take advantage of Altivec and SSE, there are two frameworks they can use that will allow a developer to code once, and the APIs will compile optimized for both engines. One framework is Apples, and heavily encouraged by Apple, the other is a third party tool.

    Both companies have made a code once, run twice type of approach.

    The only danger is the endian issue, and this may lead to slightly buggy software in the future.

    All in all, Any PM-PPC purchase today should be sound for 5 years.

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