Power Mac G5 vs Pentium 4?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by gryffinwings, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. gryffinwings macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2012
    So can anyone explain why the G5 system run circles around the old Pentium 4 computers? I had a Pentium 4 system that I was running as a backup computer when my first gen AMD Athlon 64 x2 based computer died, my back up was a Northwood core and was kinda slow, but I'm seeing evn a G4 being faster. What's up with this?
  2. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    If I had to make a guess I'd say..

    RISC first

    FSB speed second
  3. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    The answer to this is in the RISC (reduced instruction set computing) vs. CISC (complex instruction set computing).

    From how I understand it the RISC chip has fewer instructions to perform within a clock cycle and generally processed more information per cycle. Therefore if a RISC and CISC chip both have the same clock speed, say 1.5 GHz, the RISC chip will generally perform faster because it is achieving more per cycle. Even in CISC chips that had a much higher clock speed than the RISC chip could still not outperform it.

    Obviously I'm being very vague in these descriptions but this is a general answer to your question.
  4. Hrududu macrumors 68020


    Jul 25, 2008
    Central US
    Its mostly due to the Pentium 4's NetBurst architecture which is a complete joke. They ran stupid hot and Intel got way too caught up in adding MHz/GHz and no improving how the chip handled data. That has a lot to due with why the Core architecture is based more on the Pentium III.
  5. thorns macrumors member

    Sep 27, 2011
    It's not so much RISC vs CISC. Practically, every modern processor is kind of a crossover of those two techniques. The Pentium 4 architecture scaled well if high clock speeds were achieved (which it did in the end), but power issues were too grave by then. I still own a hp xw6000 workstation with Dual 3,06GHz Xeons, and they are still okay. The G5s are certainly not running circles around them if you have a look at benchmarks from back then.
  6. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    I didn't run circles, but it benches faster while being a GHZ slower
  7. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    It's not just the differences in the CPU's themselves. Another crucial factor in PowerPC performance is that there are only 7 stages in the pipeline vs. 14+ in x86 hardware.

    This means a P4 board had to go through 14 different stages to crunch a process vs. 7 for G4/G5.

    Also, PowerPC is only one type of RISC chip. There are several different ones. Here is the list of different RISC CPU from wiki:

    "Well known RISC families include DEC Alpha, AMD 29k, ARC, ARM, Atmel AVR, Blackfin, MIPS, PA-RISC, Power (including PowerPC), SuperH, and SPARC. In the 21st century, the use of ARM architecture processors in smart phones and tablet computers such as the iPad provided a wide user base for RISC-based systems. RISC processors are also used in supercomputers such as the K computer the fastest on the TOP500 list in 2011."
  8. SuperJudge macrumors 6502


    Apr 2, 2008
    The Triangle, NC
    Actually, Willamette and Northwood had 20 stages, not just 14. But it gets better! The ultimate P4 chips with the Prescott and later cores had 31(!) stages in their instruction pipelines.

    In fairness, the double-pumped ALUs in the P4 chips is a pretty clever thing, but at the same time, it's difficult to optimize code for non P4 i386 chips when taking full advantage of that and the rest of the integer performance enhancing technology. Clearly the use of PIII tech in the genesis of the Core line of Intel procs shows the deficiencies of the P4 architecture, but the sheer weirdness of it in order to maximize reported GHz fascinates me to no end.
  9. G51989 macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
    Due to the timeframe and how Lackluster the Pentium 4 was ( shame really, the Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium 2, and 3 were GREAT chips with awesome performance for the time ), I would rather compare a G5 to a higher end AMD chip from the day, or maybe even a dual opetron depending on what model G5 we are talking.
  10. adcx64, Mar 27, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012

    adcx64 macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2008
    Too add to the good pipeline explanation Zen gave, there is another thing to take into consideration. Every so often in the pipeline there is a dependency branch "bubble" in the pipeline. This causes the pipeline to drain and it would need to fill with data again. With a longer pipeline, this would cause the data to take more time traveling through the pipe. With a shorter pipeline, data does not have to travel far after a error.

    An accumulation of these "bubbles" would take valuable CPU cycles. This is where RISC computing gets an advantage.

    In summary, it's faster to get the data to the cores on a RISC chip than an x86 chip.

    Edit: why the down votes?
  11. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Northwoods are kind of slow.

    However, I got to work on the Pentium 4 Apple Developer systems (alongside the G5s of that time) which were Prescott based, and I can say Prescott Pentium 4s were faster than the G5 running the exact same OS/software. They also ran cooler.

    Yeah, I know, horrible thing to say. But I tells them like I sees them.
  12. gryffinwings thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2012
    Are you referring to a G5 running windows virtually? If so, of course the Mac will run slower.
  13. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    No. As a developer I worked on both early Intel Macs with Pentium 4s running OS X and G5s running OS X side by side. Both running OS X natively.

    Same systems noted here, with other developers noting the same thing:

    Pentium 4 was faster at running OS X. Most my time was spent getting my software working on both Intel and PowerPC so I spent a lot of time comparing performance.

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