Real world performance - What is Snow Leopard going to do for the Mac Pros

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by zepharus, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. zepharus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2007
    Ive been reading much about the new OpenCL planned for release with Snow Leopard.

    I just purchased an early 2009 Mac Pro Quad 2.66 and tossed in a 4890. What sort of tangible power boosts will OpenCL and snowl eopard bring. Thanks in advance
  2. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    Performance increases due to things like OpenCL depend entirely on the nature of the applications that you are using, and whether their developers update the apps to support it. Out of the box I'm guessing there is little if anything in the OS itself that will benefit from OpenCL.

    The same is true for Grand Central, although there is probably more of an opportunity there for Apple to use it in the standard OS X apps.

    It sounds like Snow Leopard's real 64-bit support will probably give some meaningful performance increase, as well as the improvements to Finder, Quicktime, etc.
  3. JPamplin macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2009
    Nashville, TN
    I have a 2006 Pro upgraded with 2 quad-core 5355s, and using the SL beta (build 411) has been a real pleasure. Apps load faster, and the whole system feels snappy and responsive.

    The only real benchmarks I've run is for Safari, and there is a distinct improvement in 64-bit SunSpider benchmark scores over Leopard on the same hardware (430 ms vs. 557 ms). CPU utilization of non-SL-optimized apps (Skype 2.8, for instance) is lower in SL (6-7% vs. 12% for video).

    It's absolutely true, though - whatever application you're using needs to be 64-bit and recompiled for SL (Grand Central/OpenCL aware) to really see a huge improvement. But if you are using apps that need to wring the very last drop of performance out of your Mac, then I would pretty much guarantee that the developers will release a new version when SL is out.

    Unfortunately, as in the case of Adobe CS5, they may charge a fortune for it.

    Hope that helps, JP
  4. 2002cbr600f4i macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2008

    Out of the box, you're not going to see any improvements directly because of OpenCL (unless Apple has written some of the OS to make use of it.)

    You'll have to wait for developers to change their code to make use of it. Now.... MOST code won't really get any benefit. The programs that will are ones that do a lot of processing that can be done in parallel (ie: the job can be broken up into a bunch of small tasks that can be run at the same time, and aren't dependant upon each other either for data or results.) Ray tracing is an excellent example of this... Video processing (where multiple frames can be processed independant of each other), etc. Basically, email, finder, other stuff like that isn't going to see any sort of improvement from OpenCL.

    Still, I'm looking forward to it coming out so I can get my hands dirty with it and try some things out.
  5. lemonade-maker macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2009
    It is possible to see real-world performance gains due to the new OS architecture, without writing new app code. That is one of the justifications of a new OS version.

    Snow Leo runs better/faster than 10.5.x, with all the same apps. Really shines running multiple vmware clients under heavy load. My one wish is Xen virtualization were a built-in/an option.
  6. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    I think he was referring mostly to OpenCL, which does require 3rd party developers to rewrite code in order to take advantage of it, and will be of limited use for Apple in the OS itself.
  7. 2002cbr600f4i macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2008
    Exactly. The OP was asking about OpenCL... That's going to require code changes to apps to take advantage of it. There WILL be some performance gains just from the new OS, but you won't get everything possible until apps are changed to be pure 64 bit, non-universal binaries, utilizing OpenCL and Grand Central. That's going to take a few months MINIMUM for the non-commercial stuff, and probably longer for the big packages.
  8. JPamplin macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2009
    Nashville, TN
    I thought I read somewhere that Apple's apps will be recompiled from day 1 to be OpenCL aware, but who knows. It may take an iLife '10 to have iDVD compile using the GPU, or iPhoto do image effects with it. We can only hope, right? I don't think any of the iApps are 64 bit yet.

    I wish we had Apple engineers frequenting these forums. Maybe we do.

  9. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    If we did, I think it can be guaranteed that there's no way we could be allowed to know. Secrecy and all. Though come to think of it, it's not impossible that some developers with access to  engineers frequent here. Again, there could be NDA issues.
  10. admanimal macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2005
    A very small percentage of common apps can make appreciable use of OpenCL. I doubt most of the standard OS X apps will make any use of it. While the purpose of OpenCL is to make "general purpose computing" possible on GPUs, there is still a pretty precise set of algorithmic circumstances that must occur in order to actually make it possible and worthwhile to use. It is mostly useful in linear algebra/ray tracing/signal processing/physics simulations, etc. although of course that's not to say that some of these things don't appear in mundane desktop applications.

    iPhoto already does image effects using GPU acceleration, because that's what GPUs were created for. That's not what OpenCL is for. The goal of OpenCL is to allow non-graphics related computations to take advantage of the GPU's massive parallel computing power. However, this requires that the data and computations can be represented as matrix/vector operations where the result of processing one element is independent of the result of processing any other element in a given step (I'm oversimplifying).
  11. t0mat0 macrumors 603


    Aug 29, 2006
    Which apps would they be?

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