How much of a boost can we reasonably expect from Arrandale?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Anuba, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. Anuba macrumors 68040

    Anuba

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    #1
    I'm itching to replace my 2006 Dell Precision M65 (15", 2.0 GHz CoreDuo) with an MBP 17". But looking at Geekbench numbers and such, there hasn't really been any massive developments on the portable side. Sure, my 2006 machine scores a lowly 2400 in Geekbench (Mini/MBA territory), and the MBP 2.66 I would buy today scores around 3400-3500 which is certainly faster. But it's not sock-knocking faster, nothing like the awesome jump from Penryn to Nehalem on the desktop side of things.

    Based on what's known thus far about Arrandale, what can we reasonably expect in Geekbench ballpark figures? A negligible 5% boost or a total knockout?
     
  2. ViciousShadow21 macrumors 68020

    ViciousShadow21

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    #2
    i just cant see the Arrandale making a HUGE difference. the Uni's are incredibly good computers. i think apple could make a laptop that would knockout the current MBP's, but they would have to give up things like battery life and such. i dont think it will be as low as 5%. more like 10-12%
     
  3. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

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    #3
    My guess is that unless you're using some heavy duty software that is specifically made to take advantage of multiple cores, you won't tell a difference performancewise with the new chips in day to day usage.

    If you encode a lot of video or do final cut pro, it will be great, otherwise, no difference. If you buy a current mac pro to do word processing or surf the web, you probably will find it not faster than the iMac.

    Like the rest of us, you'll have to wait and see if 10.6 will change the equation.
     
  4. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

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    #4
    Well I'm on the fence, with three ways to go.

    I replace my desktop and laptop once every three years, and my current machines are from June 2006. 2 months to go.

    I could get a UMBP 17" 2.66 now...

    I could get a Dell Precision m6400 17" now (let's skip the Mac-PC war, OSX or Windows 7 is literally a tossup for both myself and the applications I use)...

    ...or I could hold out for an Arrandale UMBP 17" some time in Q4 '09 / Q1 '10.

    The Dell is fatter and heavier and has poor battery life due to more or less using desktop-grade components. On the other hand it's expandable to quad core, 16 GB RAM and two raid-configured HDDs, and optionally ships with a 1 GB NVidia Quadro. Fully loaded this machine beats the MBP to a bloody pulp in benchmarks. It's not pretty, but the build quality is on par with the MBP.

    Since the machine will have to last 3 years of ever increasing RAM-, GPU- and CPU requirements, one might argue that the Dell is a better choice. I could go quad and get more RAM a couple of years down the line, when those parts will be much cheaper anyway. With the MBP I'll be pretty much stuck with the factory config for 3 years.

    On the other hand the Dell won't let me switch to OSX when I feel like it. I could wait for the Arrandale MBP, it might have better specs overall and would make up for the current MBP not feeling quite as future safe as the m6400 due to the non-expandability. Plus I have a hunch that they might be rolling out USB 3.0 with the Arrandale. I'd hate to be stuck with a USB 2.0 laptop until 2012 when the market has been swamped with mega-fast USB 3.0 storage for 2+ years. On desktops you fix that with a card, but no such luck on laptops.

    Sure, hi-tech ages quickly, it's part of the game, but occasionally there are milestones (new processor generations, new connectivity standards) that you don't want to be on the wrong side of.

    Damn, I've never been this torn over computer choices...
     
  5. darngooddesign macrumors G3

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    #5
    You can be on the wrong side of it and get your work done just fine.

    Only you know if you are looking at 5 seconds longer, versus a minute, to complete a task, and only you know if that's acceptable.

    The new processors should give around a 10% increase in performance. Compare two previous laptops that had a similar difference and see what the real world difference was.
     
  6. Patriks7 macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

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    #6
    Well looks like you never touched a MBP then.
    Onto your decision, it just depends on what you do with your laptop (if you really need all that power etc.)
     
  7. cathyy macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Westmere (Arrandale) is based of the Nehalem architecture, so yes, you will see an awesome jump going from Penryn to Westmere.
     
  8. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

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    #8
    Oh I have, but have you touched a Dell Precision? It's not to be confused with their plastic entry-level Inspirons. And the build quality on this one is particularly good... it was designed by Dell's AlienWare subsidiary. Aluminium enclosure, etc.
    When I make graphics it's usually 1-minute Flash trailers and fairly lightweight Photoshop work. For that, I could almost get by with a MacBook Air. But I also use it for music with lots of software synths, audio tracks and complex arrangements and this usually eats 4 GB of RAM (plus whatever the OS itself needs) and a constant CPU load of 60-80%. So that's where the raw processing power comes in. I need a laptop so powerful that I can move projects between my desktop and my laptop, the current one can't cope with that. Then again it's old and comparable to a Mac Mini or MBA.

    Well, I was referring more to the USB 2.0>3.0 thing. I agree that a 10% increase in CPU performance won't do squat in terms of real world difference. We're talking 480 Mbit/s vs. 5 Gbit/s. It's the speed of PCI Express 2.0 through a cable(!). This will make a world of difference for external storage, external audio devices etc. It's not inconceivable that Apple will drop Firewire within 2-3 years and go USB 3.0 all the way. You will also get more bus power so there will be more devices that don't need a separate power supply.
     
  9. darngooddesign macrumors G3

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    #9
    USB2 has never managed the speeds its specs claim and is still roughly half the speed of FW800. USB3 devices will take several years before they become common place, and by then its time to buy a new laptop. FW800 should satisfy your needs until then.

    Remember, that will you can plug a USB3 cable into a USB2 port and have it work, you will need a dedicated USB3 port before you will get the faster speeds.
     
  10. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

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    #10
    Right, I know that USB 2.0 is much slower than advertised, 480 MBit is the theoretical speed. But USB 3.0 is still ten times faster, so even after protocol overhead you will still have around 400 Megabytes/sec, compared to 30-40 for USB 2.0 and 60-70 for Firewire 800. Plus, it's full duplex. So even if Firewire has less overhead, the new Firewire 3200 will not be able to match USB 3.0. I think USB 3.0 will do to eSATA and Firewire what Intel Core2Duo did to G5 and AMD. ;)

    With 400 MB/s you will almost be able to use a Flash drive as a poor man's RAM expansion. The "ReadyBoost" feature in Windows, which lets you use a Flash drive as a kind of virtual memory swap file, will be lightning fast... just plug in a 32 GB USB 3.0 flash drive and assign it to ReadyBoost and you've almost built your own SSD for a few bucks...

    I don't think it will take several years. USB 3.0 ports will start showing up on computers around the time that Arrandale, Snow Leopard and Windows 7 is out, and USB 3.0 devices will start showing up in 2010.

    No, USB 3.0 B plugs do not fit USB 2.0 sockets, but USB 3.0 sockets are backwards compatible so you can plug in 1.0 and 2.0 devices.
     
  11. Firefly2002 macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Errrr... you expect a 50% speed boost from Nehalem? Lol?
     
  12. Apple Corps macrumors 68030

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    #12
    Anuba - if the usb 3.0 is so important can you not get there today with SATA II pci expresscard/34 ?
     
  13. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

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    #13
    Errrr... where did I say that?

    It's not just the speed I'm after, it's more about not being shut out from a whole market of devices just because I'm stuck with a bloody expensive laptop with old ports. Therefore I was thinking about maybe holding off buying a laptop until USB 3.0 is introduced, which isn't that far away.

    I remember buying a laptop with USB 1.0 many years ago, just a month or two before every new laptop suddenly had USB 2.0. So I was stuck with the slow-as-molasses USB 1.0 for a couple of years and couldn't buy any of the new webcams, high DPI mice, external hard drives etc because they would all have been useless on my machine.

    This is one of those things that only change once every 10 years or so, it's not the same thing as "boo hoo I bought the 2.5 GHz model a week before they upgraded it to 2.6 GHz". ;)
     
  14. darngooddesign macrumors G3

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    #14
    http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2007/12/battle-of-the-next-gen-firewire-s3200-vs-usb-3.ars

    "Maximum theoretical data throughput will definitely be a point of contention between the two standards. Intel has stated that it expects USB 3.0 to be 10 times as fast as USB 2.0, which would give it a 4.8Gbps transfer rate. In contrast, the current iteration of S3200 will top out at 3.2Gbps. It's impossible to predict how much the throughput difference between the two standards will impact real-world device performance, but it's definitely a marketing edge that USB 3.0 proponents will lean on."

    Firewire has always come closer to its specs in real world so while USB3 may be marginally faster its not going to be a lot faster. Much like the difference between FW400 and USB2.

    "FireWire isn't just going to go away, however—it's currently included on a number of set-top cable boxes and is deployed in certain military situations. But that doesn't mean a new specification will trigger a fresh wave of peripherals, either. The peripheral interconnect market is already crowded; USB 2 is already popular, and eSATA support is growing. Combine this with the inevitable swarm of USB 3.0 products, and S3200 may end up buried, save for its continued presence and popularity in the market niches where FireWire has already established itself."

    Apple will probably keep a single FW3200 plug on the MBPs and do USB3 only on the MBs.


    "ReadyBoost requirements
    * 2.5 MB/sec throughout for 4 KB random reads
    * 1.75 MB/sec throughout for 512 KB random writes"

    That means that FW3200, if it delivers even 3.0Mbs will be fast enough for ReadyBoost. So FW3200 should be fine for swap drives provided you can find a platter drive that doesn't bottleneck it. The first devices using USB3 are going to cost more than just a few bucks due to the early adopter tax, but USB3 is more suited to ReadyBoost.

    "Hardware partners are expected to have USB 3.0 controllers designed by mid 2009, and consumers won't see the first end products utilizing the spec until early 2010 (though a late Holiday 2009 push for new products isn't out of the question)."

    That still boils down to at least a year for anything beyond the first out of the box laptop, which you may not like anyway. Which means that the OSes will be out half a year before you might find a laptop you like.

    If a 3 socket fits a 2 plug, then a 2 socket can fit a 3 plug.

    http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/everything_you_need_know_about_usb_30_plus_first_spliced_cable_photos

    "Like the upgrade from USB 1.1 to 2.0, the new 3.0 connectors and cables will be physically and functionally compatible with hardware from the older specs."

    "...you won’t be able to maximize your bandwidth unless you’re using a USB 3.0 cable with Superspeed devices and ports, but at least plugging a 3.0 cable into a 2.0 port won’t blow up your PC..."

    Yes they do.
     
  15. Apple Corps macrumors 68030

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    #15
    What devices would require the bandwidth you are after? HD video written to CF cards can be loaded onto your MBP so far as the bandwidth is concerned - via the expresscard/34 at 3.0 Gb/s

    External storage via SATA II - 3.0 Gb/s.

    It is okay to wait for usb 3.0 if you want - but if you NEED more portable computing power now I would not worry about usb 3.0.
     
  16. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #16
    And you don't? Arrandale isn't Nehalem, anyway.

    Penryn-Nehalem was about 20%, minus Snow Leopard (15% there is generous).

    Nehalem-Westmere will be about 15-20%.

    Penryn-Westmere, then, would be 35-40%, minus Snow Leopard, which would be on any Westmere machine from the start.
     
  17. darngooddesign macrumors G3

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    #17
    Don't forget that Arrandale chips may be throttled back for laptops so the speed boost could be different than on the desktops. Other components will also bottleneck the performance on laptops so its going to be less than we think.
     
  18. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

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    #18
    Right, but there's the rub... FW400 was faster and FW800 was significantly faster than USB 2.0. This time FW will be slower right out of the starting block. Hence the Intel>AMD comparison. When Intel was struggling and had hit a dead end with the Pentium 4, the little guy (AMD) had a window of opportunity to increase their market share. It was the only advantage they had against the giant. But once Intel scrapped the P4 and started building everything around the Pentium-M/Centrino, they left AMD in the dust and so AMD lost pretty much all relevance (as did the PPC soon afterwards when Apple announced the Intel switch).

    And since FW won't even have the speed advantage this time, I'm guessing that USB 3.0 will take over completely. Apple will probably keep FW for a while for legacy reasons, but it will probably start disappearing from PCs. And eventually Firewire will join Minidisc, HD-DVD, wma and Betamax in Format War Losers' Heaven.

    Yes, that's what I'm thinking. But since we know from their history that there's nothing they like more than removing things before everyone else does (SCSI port, 9-pin serial, floppy, 25-pin parallel, VGA port, trackpad buttons etc etc), I think they would love it if they only had to include two kinds of ports: DisplayPort and USB 3.0.

    It's not a year though is it? It's April '09. The "late Holiday 2009 push" is only 8 months away.

    Sorry, I misread something on Wiki about USB 3.0 receptacles. What they said was "only USB 3.0 Standard-B receptacles can accept USB 3.0 Standard-B device plugs". But Standard-B is a different plug and existed for USB 2.0 as well.

    Firewire 400 has become the industry standard for external audio interfaces (professional multi-channel stuff), but you often find it buckling under the load, especially if you're using a lot of channels. FW800 adoption is pretty much non-existant, and USB 2.0 multi-channel audio sucks. With the speed of USB 3.0 (or FW 3200 for that matter) you'd be able to do crazy stuff like 64 audio channels, 192 kHz, 32-bit, and still keep the latency down to a couple of milliseconds, and have plenty of headroom left. A bottleneck-free audio workstation has been every musician's dream for a looooooooooong time.
     
  19. Apple Corps macrumors 68030

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  20. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

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    #20
    OK that's a stretch, but 32 is pretty common. I have this thingamabob called Yamaha 01X, in theory it's capable of 32 channels out, 32 in, 96 kHz, 24-bit. It has a FW400 interface and I doubt that anyone in the world has actually been able to use the 01X to its full capacity without the audio crackling so bad from all the glitches and dropouts it sounds more like a fax modem than music. So with these devices you always have to compromise, keep the number of channels down, step down to 44.1 kHz/16-bit, or set the buffer so high that the latency makes the whole system unusable. Something like FW3200 or USB 3.0 would kill those problems forever.
     
  21. iMacmatician macrumors 601

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    #21
    Released Nehalems (Bloomfield, Gainestown) have 3-channel RAM and QuickPath, which won't be on the mobile versions.

    So the performance increase would be somewhat less.
     

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