Category Archives: Computing

Hardware, software, computer science and the rest

Favourite Toy of the Week: Mac Pro

Apple finally released the Intel CPU based desktop Mac yesterday:

The Mac Pro

Just like I guessed back in January it took Apple a few more month to replace the old G5 based Power Mac desktops for two reasons:

  1. The Core Duo is an astoundingly fast CPU. But a system powered by this CPU cannot possibly beat the old Quad G5 Power Mac. And replacing the high end desktop with a slower Intel CPU based model is of course not something Apple wanted to do.
  2. The Core Duo doesn’t support Intel’s EM64T extension to be able to deal with more than 4GB of main memory efficiently. And because the old Power Mac G5 could handle upto 8GB of main memory Apple had another reason why they needed a better CPU for the new desktop model.

When Intel announced the new Core 2 Duo desktop CPU I thought Apple would use that to build the new desktop. But it turned out that they actually put two Woodcrest Xeon CPUs (based on the Core 2 Duo architecture) into the Mac Pro. That makes it a really fast workstation which e.g. beats all the Quad Opteron systems out there.

I wonder whether Apple managed to get the cooling as good as in the old G5 Power Macs. I can hardly hear mine especially not while one of my other computers is running in the same room. Highend workstation always were noisy in the past and it would be great if Apple could set an good example here.

I was really looking forward to Apple’s new desktop (because contrary to a lot of people I still prefer desktops over notebooks most of the time) and they didn’t disappoint me. The bad thing about the Mac Pro is of course that my G5 feels a lot less cool now. I’m especially envious that you can install two optical drives in the case of the Mac Pro. Being restricted to one optical drive was a bit of letdown when I replaced my old Power Mac G4 with the G5.

The final is question when I will be able to buy one (with approval by my secretary of domestic affairs and a good conscience) …

NetBSD 4 branch created

Jeff Rizzo created the NetBSD 4 branch yesterday. It will result in the NetBSD 4.0 release in a few month from now. I’m personally not convinced that NetBSD-current was ready for this. There are e.g. compatibility problems between GCC 4.1.2 and GDB 5.3: you have to compile binaries with -gstabs or GDB won’t be able to load a core dump written by a program.

I however see Core’s point that branching now will probably help to stabilize things after a few weeks. But it will probably require a lot of pullup requests and therefore a lot of work by release engineering to get there. 🙁

But maybe there is no better way to deal with such things in large Open Source projects.