Regarding Altivec Optimization- Mac gurus respond

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live

Regarding Altivec Optimization- Mac gurus respond

Post by Guest » Mon Jan 27, 2003 6:12 pm

i'm planning on getting one of the new powerbooks, the 12"er and I've been reading all the post about altivec on this site, it seems like the ableton team have plans to implement this optimization in the future, but what i'm kind of worried about is that even after including altivec it seems like the macs will still be way behind what we can expect in performance from
a pc laptop. Am I correct in assuming this? cause if thats the case it makes my ibook purchase at $1795.00 not that great of a deal, and live will be my primary program. I was messing around with this powerbook at the grove shopping center in bev. hills at the mac store and I didn't want to leave without it. only thing is I wish the keys were black like the ones on the 15"pwrbook 867 but they made them all sylver what the hell is that. I'm sick of sylver. anyway I want that damn powerbook but I don't want to drop $1800 bucks for something that wont' perform well even after altivec.
so whom ever has the knowledge please pass me a plateful.



Post by zstv » Mon Jan 27, 2003 7:01 pm

correct. altivec will speed up certain operations like a CPU-hungry reverb for example, but it can not magically increase overall system performance by an order of magnitude, which would be necessary for the ibook to compete with other computers available for $1795, such as a 2.4ghz laptop from dell, sony, toshiba, ibm, etc. i suspect this is one reason altiec was not a priority, theres so many other things unfinished on the mac as well, from vsti/au support to rewire, that something which would not add any features and still not make it the fastest possible live setup available, takes a back seat. chances are apple will be switching to a competitive chip in the 2004/5 timeframe, either a 65nanometer powerpc, or amd 64bit. until then, it makes no sense to get a mac. i switched over to XP about 18 months ago after using macs my entire life,and have been pleasantly surprised. i do plan on supporting apple again in the future but certainly this doesnt look likely until about 2 more years



Post by carmen » Mon Jan 27, 2003 7:10 pm ... macpc.html ... spciii.htm

these are two objective comparisons between the available hardware, the first one focuses on laptops specifically. it is disappointing to see so many users complaining to ableton about mac performance, when after taking a look around, it is not their fault really. performance in these other media apps, for video and photo editing and production, are comparable. one thing to keep in mind is that apple is buying up media apps as fast as they can and killing the pc ports, and they are workoing with AMD and IBM to come up with better chips, so they arent oblivious. but it will take some time, certainly enough time to get a couple good years of use out of your pc laptop, and time for more apps to get ported and stabilized on the mac

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Post by geargasm » Mon Jan 27, 2003 7:36 pm

I'd stay away from the 12" model if you can. There's no L3 cache on it, and it will hurt performance in general. If you look around (not online), you might find a local dealer trying to get rid of some 800Mhz and 867Mhz 15" models at a price that can't be beat.
I am the bumpitron.


Post by Guest » Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:11 pm

this is not good news, i'm not really sure what to do now, what are most people doing in this situation?

tjwett not logged

Post by tjwett not logged » Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:23 pm

yeah, i'd avoid the 12" for now. no L3 cache is BAD for audio. i realised this when i saw my 550 w/a gig of RAM get it's has spanked by a 400 w/256. the 400 had L3 cache. plus, it's missing PCMCIA slot and DVI out. it's really more of a G4 iBook than a PowerBook. however, i can't really recommend the 15" ones either, only because mine was such a pain in the ass and they were so flimsy. honestly, i'd consider a 12" iBook or a ::gulp:: Windows machine. i've never used one but everyone here seems to be happy with them. i hear the IBM Thinkpads are good.

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Post by muser » Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:33 pm

Anonymous wrote: so whom ever has the knowledge please pass me a plateful.
I wouldn't call myself a guru but here's my $0.02. Altivec optimization won't magically improve performance, and to my knowledge only really helps tasks that require large constant blocks of data to be processed. I suspect this is one reason that certain Photoshop tests (not all of them!) perform so well on G4s.

I think that if you do get a powerbook (of whatever variant), do it because you're satisfied with the level of performance it will give you now. Don't buy it with the anticipation of Altivec enhancements to Live, which may never come and may possibly yield as little as a few percentage points improvement.

XP is good. Macs won't match PC's for raw power for quite a while. But if you're a mac user now, you have to ask yourself if you can handle the amount of tweaks you'll have to do to XP to get it work right with audio. When you do get it right, it will blaze. If not, all the speed will be for nothing. Also, consider that unless you intend to always plug your laptop into a power supply, powerbooks fare better on battery power due the G4s being more efficient and running cooler.

I'm in the same position as you, and was choosing between a Sager 5660 PC laptop (2.4Ghz Desktop Pentium 4 CPU for about $1800) and a Powerbook 15" 867 ($1999, refurbished). I'm ordering the powerbook because I'm willing to put with less raw performance for a system that is still more maintenance-free than a PC running XP. I chose the powerbook 15' over the 12" because the 1MB L3 cache makes a huge difference and because I want the PC Card slot to install an Echo Indigo in. Plus, the latest and flashiest stuff is rarely the best deal, dollar-wise. Be clear about what you need and what you can put up with, is my advice. Good luck.

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Post by FORMAT » Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:47 pm

I can only back up what muser says, and I made the same decision despite that fact that I actually saw, first hand, how weak Powerbooks perform in Live. But I feel that you do get performance comparable to a sampling/arranging/loop tool like the rs7000 on the new Powerbooks - they just won't blaze like Windows notebooks which will do 32 tracks with one reverb each no problem at all. Last but not least, I decided for the Powerbook because of Logic.


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Post by macaddled » Mon Jan 27, 2003 11:23 pm

This is all pretty good advice, I think, even though I'm a life-long Mac-head. Apple laptops have a lot of advantages in power consumption, though, so a lot of the PC laptops' advantages evaporate when on battery power and they go through power cycling. How often would this be an issue, though, really?

But, Altivec is actually far more significant that it's being made out to be here. It's a vector-based processor and as such it is very, very fast on such things as fourier transforms... the kinds of algorithms that make up, for instance, audio plugins... your reverbs, say. Macs suffer in comparison to PCs for raw power, for sure, but Altivec makes a huge difference when properly applied to tasks it is suited for.


Post by Guest » Tue Jan 28, 2003 5:59 am

Anonymous wrote:this is not good news, i'm not really sure what to do now, what are most people doing in this situation?
I'm waiting for Apple to develop a 15" AlBook with L3 cache.

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Post by os » Tue Jan 28, 2003 9:05 am

Another perspective - it's not all about performance, IMHO. I use PCs all day and Macs at home, and I know which I prefer.
Think about what you'll be doing with your laptop. If it's just running Live, then sure, go PC for now & get the performance. But if you want to use it as a general purpose computer, consider that running a Mac OS could add a lot of value to the experience, performance aside.

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not again!

Post by neuronaut » Tue Jan 28, 2003 6:54 pm

I've used mac since '84 (19 years!) and PC since '88. I still use both but quite frankly Apple has let me down! Good looks aren't everything. OSX is nice but all the cool apps developed by wierdos and many mainstream apps are still 9.x ....

I do ALL my serious work on XP. It's UI is ugly but a bare bones version of XP is VERY SOLID! I haven't rebuilt my system or had more than 4 crashes since it came out (2 years ago?)!

PCs are cheaper.
90%+ of the world uses PCs (ultimate support group)
Live is MUCH FASTER on a PC

That said and done, I still use Macs for the music. You wan't to know why? Because I bought into the Apple dream 5 years ago and now I have 3 power macs running our show! With all Mac data. The BIGGEST issue for me is converting over to PC! All those stupid mac files with no .aif extensions will have to be remapped to the associated files. I'll have to sell my macs and buy PCs... If it weren't such a pain, I would have switched over years ago.

Long story short, you'll get stuck with what you buy for a while unless you're filthy rich and have time to switch platforms instead of writing music... so choose wisely. Choose based upon PERFORMANCE not LOOKS!
The world is sound.

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Re: not again!

Post by muser » Tue Jan 28, 2003 9:10 pm

neuronaut wrote:Choose based upon PERFORMANCE not LOOKS!
That's a very good point to emphasize neuronaut. However, Performance means different things to different peoople. To some people, Looks, and this would include a transparent user interface, are an integral part of Performance and are not mutually exclusive. Your point is both obvious and well taken though, and you're right, you get stuck with the hardware choices you make.

If you're using a laptop as a single-purpose machine, then there's not enough of a difference to warrant serious complaining about different user interfaces since you'll spend all your time within your audio program of choice. No doubt about it, XP is solid. For general purpose computers--email, word processing, sending pictures to loved ones (which is very important to me)--though, IMHO OS X is the best interface around at the moment.

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Post by macaddled » Tue Jan 28, 2003 10:23 pm

I think it's also important not to get hung up on a temporary performance delta, rather than overall commitment to innovation. 2 or 3 years ago those Macs you bought were very competitive performance-wise, and they will be again soon with the 970. Once we're rid of Motorola, ah, how nice it will be.

But I think Apple's commitment to pro audio as a core market, which you can see in a lot of purchases and hires in the last couple of years, mean that it will remain the innovator in that domain.

None of which necessarily helps someone who wants to buy a computer right now.


Post by Guest » Wed Jan 29, 2003 2:05 am

there are two things that I don't understand.

1. why would you say that osx is the best os right now, when xp has more available and is more capable, also most mac users prefer os9, cause it works better than osx, and i'm not talking about shortage of apps, i'm taliking about os9 performs better.

2. apple is trying to monopolize the audio market right now. I always here mac users saying that microsoft is an evil entity for trying to do such,
and universaly people seem to understand that doing such a thing is bad for us, the end user, and bad for development, and bad for innovation, over all a bad policy stemming from the very nature of restricting ones self to one train of thought, stifling creativity.

yet when apple does it, its a wonderful thing, I don't get it. I think the very notion of a singular format/platform is stupid, counter productive, and choice limiting. :?:

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