The Cluster of POWER (And a Xeon)

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by AphoticD, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. AphoticD, Aug 5, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017

    AphoticD macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #1
    IMG_1247.jpg

    Left to right:
    1. Power Mac G5 (7,2) Dual 1.8Ghz, 3GB RAM, Nvidia FX 5200 64MB
    2. Power Mac G5 (7,2) Dual 2.0Ghz, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT 256MB
    3. Power Mac G5 (11,2) Dual-Core 2.3Ghz, 16GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 512MB
    4. Mac Pro (3,1), Dual Quad-Core 3.2Ghz, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 2048MB

    Introduction

    I started with the Dual 1.8Ghz, which I purchased in 2004, ex-demo through an Apple Firesale. The machine ran perfect for many years with an ATI Radeon 9800 Special Mac Edition (256MB). After more recently having my equipment in storage for 5 years, I pulled it out and drove over 2,000kms with it all last year.

    Within a week of setting it up in my new studio, the G5 gave up the ghost. The graphics card and the AGP controller on the logic board both failed. It started with some glitches which were only evident on VGA, then DVI and ADC failed and it refused to boot entirely with a graphics card installed. I was able to confirm that it was still working headless, but ordering in a simple FX 5200 graphics card to attempt a cheap repair didn't help the conditions at all and it still wouldn't boot.

    Setting out to repair my faithful old friend, I found a Dual 2.0 and Dual-Core 2.0 from a seller not too far from home (about 120kms). Both machines were listed as non-working, so I planned to just harvest parts from them. I took a drive to hand over the cash and pick up the two metal monsters.

    Upon inspection, both were beaten up and not booting. They had busted out bottom stands and the seller said to me "Yeah mate... It must be a design flaw". I told him G5s don't just fall apart and they have both clearly taken a fall, to which I got no response. Ultimately I offered him less than what he asked for because of the condition, which he did accept.

    I got them home and began the diagnosis...


    The Dual 2.0Ghz

    The Dual 2.0 was in pretty poor external condition, but internally okay. Just very dusty. There were no signs of corrosion or any shorted electronics, the power supply was responding and there was a chime.

    There wasn't a graphics card installed, but an extra molex power lead had been split off the optical drive. I figure there was an upgraded card in it which the seller sold separately. The hard drive was dead and didn't even attempt to spin up.

    I replaced the HDD with a known working Leopard boot drive, installed the FX 5200 and huzzah! That was all. It ran through AHT perfectly fine and had 2GB RAM already installed.


    The Dual-Core 2.0Ghz

    The DC 2.0 was a different story. It had a busted base, but otherwise it looked pretty clean and unscathed. Upon closer inspection however, there was a sticky brown substance in the gaps and down the sides of the top of the tower. This goop continued inside the machine and also through the front inlet, into the front fan and onto the Logic Board. The RAM bay was also coated in this sticky substance and there was corrosion built up on the connectors of the RAM DIMMs. I guess the tower was a good spot to keep a can of coke...

    First things first, I didn't have a power lead for this machine, which requires a "C19" cable with a 15amp female plug at the PSU and a 10amp standard male plug at the wall end. When I asked my local electronics store dude about this special cable he told me "NO! There is no such thing. A 15amp lead must have a 15amp wall plug".

    I asked him if I could buy the 15amp lead, cut off the plug and install a 10amp male plug. He told me it's not legal and he can't advise that I do it. I assured him there is no way the G5 will ever draw anywhere near 10amps over 240V (2.4kW). I'll take the risk and just forget I mentioned anything.

    Before even attempting to boot though, I took a day to dismantle the tower and thoroughly clean the logic board and fans with isopropyl alcohol to remove all the sticky business.

    I stripped the machine right down to it's components, cleaned out the internals of the power supply and dismantled the aluminum casing to clean out the sugary mess as well as reshape, repair, clamp and glue in the popped out standoffs holding the bottom half of the tower together.

    Once I was happy that everything was cleaned up, repaired and the logic board was free of corrosion, I put it all back together and attempted to boot. Pressing the power button resulted in a "beep beep beep", which as suspected, indicated the RAM was fried. So I ordered a pair of 2GB PC2-4200 (533Mhz) DDR2 DIMMs cheap from Hong Kong and waited.


    Back to the Dual 1.8Ghz...

    While the DC was on ice, I returned to my original plan to repair the 1.8. I stripped down both the 1.8 and the Dual 2.0, cleaned up all the internals (and PSUs) and made a mashup, using the parts which were in the best condition out of the two to build a better 2.0 in the cleanest case. I also repeated the process of dismantling, reshaping and repairing the banged up tower base, with all of it's popped out standoffs.

    It's amazing how much dust the PSU's will hold. It was like emptying out a cyclonic vacuum cleaner, except it was all caked on. It's no wonder they ran hot and LOUD!

    Next I found an exact replacement logic board for the Dual 1.8, which I ordered in from the US to "show my respect" to the G5 which I had used to produce my best work. My original plan to simply harvest parts became a labour of love to get all three G5s running perfectly, and in the process, maxing out the specs where I wanted them.

    I ordered more RAM, this time of the 400Mhz variety for the Dual 2.0 to max it out at 8GB. I also ordered in the top-of-the-line-at-the-time GeForce 6800 GT (256MB) AGP8x card, which would go into this slugger.


    And then; How the DC 2.0 became a BEAST.

    After a couple of weeks waiting, the 4GB of 533Mhz RAM finally arrived for the DC, which I promptly installed. It fired up A OK and ran Leopard like a pro. It was much more responsive than the Dual-processor machines and internally has a far better thermal design. This DC machine runs cooler and the fans are much quieter than the previous models. The 1MB L2 cache (per core) also makes a big difference over the 512K L2 caches in the prior models.

    I haven't had any experience with the liquid cooled units, but from reading accounts of leakages and pump failures, I think I prefer the air cooled design.

    I got excited about the speed of the DC and wanted to max it out, so I ordered in another 12GB of RAM, a SATA II PCIe card and a 3G OWC Mercury SSD (480GB). I also found a perfect drop-in replacement Dual-Core 970MP 2.3Ghz CPU+Heatsink module for only £15 from the UK. Next up was to research and find the ultimate monster of a graphics card for the beast. I managed to locate a Quadro FX 4500 (512MB) top-of-the-line-at-the-time PCIe 16-lane, double height, monster of a card, which was brand new and sealed. Then I waited for all the parts to come rolling in.

    Once it all arrived and with everything now maxed out, this machine became an absolute power house. It runs Final Cut Studio 2 beautifully. Breezes through Photoshop and InDesign and I got some ridiculous benchmarks out of Doom 3 and Halo (which I forgot to write down). Needless to say, this is my favourite PowerPC. Geekbench2 scored it a step above my MacBook Unibody (Late 2008) Core2Duo 2.0Ghz with it's 1067Mhz system bus and 3MB L2 cache (per core).


    The Mac Pro

    During all of the trial, error and waiting for parts, I needed a desktop machine to keep working on. So, I decided to buy a secondhand Mac Pro (Early 2008), which I am still thrilled about. It's an absolute pleasure to work on with HiDPI enabled on a 27" WQHD (2560x1440) IPS display and even boots back down to Leopard if I want to keep a Leopard-Only environment across the board. I typically run El Capitan as standard on this machine and have countless VMs with almost every version of Mac OS X (10.1 through to 10.13 beta) and various Linux and Windows instances available at any time.

    I documented the flashing of the GTX 680 graphics card here.


    A micro-cluster of parallel processing power.

    For fun, I did setup both Pooch and Xgrid on the G5s, mixed with a mac mini G4, and an 8-core Snow Leopard Server VM on the 'Pro. It's fun to watch the speedometer shoot off to nearly 40Ghz of power!! But alas, I don't know what to do with it. I will have to nut out Final Cut Pro's Qmaster tools to create a render farm (If I ever finish a new video project). I could also configure Xcode to do distributed builds.

    The only other thing I thought of was a cluster-powered h264 encoder to re-encode a huge library of divx/3ivx/mkv movies. Handbrake and VLC can't talk Xgrid, but I read about an abandoned Mac app called VisualHub which used to do it. Trying it out lead to a dead end when I couldn't get the required custom vh131ffmpeg tools to compile for PowerPC.


    In conclusion.

    All in all, I think I spent way too many hours on these old Macs, but it was all for my own satisfaction. It's a shame I didn't document the adventure with photos!

    Just for fun, here are some benchmark results:

    Tower Mac Benchmarks.jpg
     
  2. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Location:
    Lincolnshire, UK
    #2
    When reality hits.... the difference between G5s and Mac Pro in Geekbench ;)
     
  3. eyoungren, Aug 5, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017

    eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #3
    1.8Ghz Dual Sonnet PowerMac G4, 1.5GB ram: 1328 Geekbench

    1328_Dec18_2015.gb2.png

    2.3Ghz Dual Core G5, 10.5GB ram: 2269 Geekbench

    2269_Jan3_2017.gb2.png

    2.5Ghz Quad Core G5, 12GB ram: 3462 Geekbench

    3462_Feb24_2017.gb2.png

    Same as above, but with 16GB ram: 3685 Geekbench

    Untitled.png

    PowerMac G4 had one NVDIA 6800GT, one ATI Radeon 9200 and one ATI Radeon 7000.
    At the time of testing, Dual Core G5 had one NVIDIA Quadro FX4500 and two NVIDIA GeForce 6600
    Quad Core G5 had one ATI Radeon X1900 XT and two NVIDIA GeForce 6600.

    Currently my DC has the NVIDIA FX4500 and two NVDIA GeForce 6600s and my Quad has the ATI Radeon X1900 XT and two NVIDIA GeForce 6600s.

    Youngren14.png

    Yes. I run six displays.


    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/quad….2032117/
     
  4. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #4
    I guess they ultimately balance out, but your first Quad appears to be faster at Integers and the second is MUCH faster at FPU. I wonder if it has anything to do with RAM or if it's just a quirk of the benchmark tool?


    That truly is an EPIC PowerPC setup. Kudos on putting older tech to (hard) work.

    I rarely run my machines all at once, but during winter it has kept my studio nice and toasty warm. :)
     
  5. eyoungren, Aug 5, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017

    eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #5
    Probably just a quirk. The only difference between the two was the ram, which was a later addition (to max it out).
    Thanks. You have an awesome setup too and I respect your ability to make things look clean in all your photos. Generally my stuff looks like a tornado blew through and I barely managed to make it look presentable.

    I have the DC and the Quad at home. The Quad is my main desktop Mac and the DC which was the first G5 I got is just a really smooth and cool Mac. I have two 1TB hard drives in that one and I use it for documents and finances. The Quad is just an all around machine, but mainly for graphic design (hence the six displays).

    I do have a 2.7Ghz Dual PowerMac G5, but I have it at work and haven't tested it. I need to check out it's LCS when I can finally get around to it as it tends to spike under load. Not sure what running Geekbench would do to it. But once I can take care of that and some relocation of furniture in my work area it's also going to have six displays.

    All three G5s were a gift from different forum members and I really appreciate that. My Quicksilver just had too many limitations for what I was asking of it. These G5s are handling everything very nicely.

    PS. My coworker has a 1.8Ghz single processor G5 that my boss bought in 2005. I used it from February 2005 until mid-2013 when either the logicboard or CPU failed. I replaced it all as one unit and my coworker has used it since.
     
  6. AphoticD, Aug 5, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #6
    Thanks. I'll need to make it presentable for an 'overview' shot next with all the PowerBooks lined up.

    I think the Dual 2.7 LCS was possibly an overly ambitious attempt by Apple/IBM. From what I understand it was an overlocked Dual 2.5 with the LCS attached. It really was pushing the G5 to the extent of it's thermal capacity and I can understand why they dropped the speed on the models which followed.

    You've got generous friends! It has been difficult to find Australian PowerPC anything. But, watching the Apple/PPC and Vintage/Macintosh sections on eBay still reveals there are a few Aussie PowerPC collectors "watching" and waiting to pick up a vintage steal to round out their collections.

    Just for fun, here's an interesting find in the posted benchmarks...

    Code:
    Model     #CPUs  Total Score   Per CPU score
    D1.8      2      1,660         830
    D2.0      2      1,819         909
    DC2.3     2      2,228         1,114
    XDQC3.2   8      11,479        1,435
    
    eyoungren's Scores
    G4D1.8    2      1,328         664
    DC2.3     2      2,269         1,135
    QC2.5     4      3,462         866
    QC2.5     4      3,685         921
    
    The DC2.3 performed the best efficiency "Per CPU" score of all the PPCs, and not far under the Xeon, (considering the gap in Ghz).

    Comparing specs and benchmark results might be my idea of fun on a sunny Sunday afternoon, but now I should really go work on the family wagon, which is due for an oil change and mow the lawns before I get into more strife from the wife :)
     
  7. 128keaton macrumors 68020

    128keaton

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    #7
    Oh man an encoding farm would be fun. I'd have a use for the two G5s I have chilling. I have an old copy of FCP 7 that I can use too on the render farm idea.
     
  8. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Location:
    Lincolnshire, UK
    #8
    The second Quad was tested under 64bit Geekbench which returns a higher score.
     
  9. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #9
    Well spotted detective. That would certainly yield a better FPU result on the 64bit G5.

    I didn't have a registered copy of Geekbench 2, so my scores were limited to 32bit only.
     
  10. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix • 85037
    #10
    Thanks, I missed that and I was scanning those to see if they were 32 bit or 64 bit. Ugh!
     
  11. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #11
    Now that's a blast from the past. I used VH loads to crunch videos for my iPod back in the day as did everyone. There was much sorrow when it was abandoned. Never liked Handbrake as much.
     
  12. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #12
    It seems that since support was dropped by Techspansion, the conversion back-end support files can no longer be downloaded by the app.

    The special binary of ffmpeg was installed at /Library/Application Support/Techspansion

    Does anybody have this folder on an old PPC install of VisualHub?
     
  13. Hrududu macrumors 68020

    Hrududu

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Location:
    Central US
    #13
    I'll toss in my results for my fastest 2 G5s. The Dual 2.7 vs the Quad since nobody else has dropped their 2.7 results yet. Picture 2.png
     
  14. weckart, Aug 7, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017

    weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #14

    I have it on my Mac Mini running Tiger. Will upload it here when I get TFF downloaded so that I can open Macrumors on it. Safari isn't playing.

    [edit] too large for MR servers so had to use a file host

    http://www31.zippyshare.com/v/GWc3FNDN/file.html
     
  15. AphoticD, Aug 7, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #15
    Thanks! I haven't been able to get VisualHub to "Link in" to the support files yet, it won't get past the "Agree & Download" screen.

    Are you able to send through your copy of ~/Library/Preferences/com.techspansion.visualhub.plist ?

    Maybe the prefs file will let us pass...

    The Xgrid Cluster is ready and waiting...

    Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 1.51.10 PM.jpg

    Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 2.05.06 PM.jpg
    Everything is currently live and waiting for an Xgrid job, except for the PB17 1.67 (which is suffering from HDD failure), the Titanium 867Mhz and two MacBooks.

    D'oh! I just read here that VH's Xgrid feature doesn't work with Leopard. Tiger had the only compatible agent/controller config... Well, I can boot all of these PowerPC Macs into Tiger, but VMware Fusion doesn't support Tiger as a guest VM.
     
  16. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    Location:
    Lincolnshire, UK
    #16
    I'm sure I tried VisualHub a few years ago and found it's performance on a par with Handbrake and MPEG Streamclip?
     
  17. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #17
    Sadly, I don't think it will. It only contains licensing info for a non-free version. It looks like the build you have will need a codec installer to produce a different prefs file. This was shared on the forums here a couple of years ago. If you search for the name of the file you should come up with the forum member and can try DMing him if he is still active.
     
  18. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 6502a

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    #18
    Thanks. The dev released the project source under GPL bundled with their respective xcodeproj files. Building the app itself appears straightforward but it still needs a series of support binaries. I'll keep playing with it and post any updates.

    A G5 video encoding cluster is so massively uneconomic I know. But where there's a will there's a way!
     
  19. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #19
    Depends. HB can do a lot more but requires a lot of messiing around to get the best out of it. I found the presets for iPods etc needed a bit of tweaking. MPEG Streamclip had a few other tricks up its sleeve such as supporting .ts file formats.

    By far the best performer, I found was the Elgato 264 dongle. It really sped up processing while relieving pressure on the CPU. Even my Mac Mini stayed cool and quiet while crunching videos. The resulting clips weren't the smallest, though. Something that got worse when the HD264 dongle for Intel came out.

    It's winter where you are, so switch off the radiators and let your G5s heat your home.
     
  20. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    Lincolnshire, UK
    #20
    Definitely. Works to it's fullest on G4s I find.
     
  21. appleish19 macrumors regular

    appleish19

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2014
    #21
    I've got to get Xgrid set up with my PowerPCs as well. Love the POWER.

    Actually just ordered an Elgato Turbo 264 do either one of you guys (@Dronecatcher or @weckart) have the software that you might be willing to share? :)
     
  22. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #22

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