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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Classic Macs and Mac OS > What IS accelerated video in OS X?

What IS accelerated video in OS X?
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Apr 3, 2002, 11:24 AM
 
I just picked up the new copy of MacWorld's "Total OS X" Special Issue. In
it they have a brief discussion of OS X and unsupported Macs and XpostFacto
2.11 (pages 21-22). They also briefly mention using a Rage 128 card.

Reading this raised a question which I can't answer from what I've read:
What precisely do people mean when they say that the Rage 128 and early
Radeon Mac edition cards "support accelerated video" in OS X? Clearly NO
video card supports acceleration of the graphics primitives in Aqua (at
least from what I gather from other forums). So what does get accelerated?
Is it really only GL? Is the benefit mainly video and Quicktime? Is it
mainly just 3D and especially games in OS X that people are talking about?
Does anyone know?

I'm interested personally because I've been trying to find a used card
mainly to speed up scrolling in MS Office v.X and Aqua window resizing. This
is for a 7600 which currently has 4mb of VRAM. Will a new video card help?
Does anyone have ACTUAL personal experience?
     
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Apr 3, 2002, 03:47 PM
 
Lack of hardware accelleration in osx simply means that these cards are unsupported in mac osx. That is to say that there are no available drivers to support these graphics cards. Graphics cards are used primarily in games, and other graphically demanding applications. A new one will do you no good as far as running applications such as MSOVX. The computer you are using only supports pci graphics cards, so it may be a little more difficult to find a pci graphics card that is compatible wiht mac osx than it would be to find a newer AGP one. I assume that you've either put a G3 upgrade card in the 7600, or you've found some way to get mac osx running on the standard configuration. RAM is the only thing that may speed up scrolling in mac osx. How much do you have? You should have a minimum of 128 megs of ram to be running mac osx, which is still a bit skimpy. A new graphics card will do you no good in non graphics acceleration affiliated applicatoins. Keep in mind when buying a graphics card that your computer has between 40 and 50 mhz, and the slots are pci, not agp, making games rather slow, even with upgrades. Your best bet is buying more RAM. Since your computer can hold a whopping 1024 Mb of RAM, you can do a lot of good with it. If it helps you at all apple-history.com has the specs on your computer.
Mac Pro 8x2.8 | Macbook 2.13 | Saab Trionic 7 (thats right, runs on a 68k!)
     
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Apr 3, 2002, 08:27 PM
 
Originally posted by gto47:
<STRONG>A new one will do you no good as far as running applications such as MSOVX....A new graphics card will do you no good in non graphics acceleration affiliated applicatoins. </STRONG>
I beg to differ... From what I've read, Aqua takes up so much video RAM with its pretty interface that you *can* improve scrolling speeds in standard applications simply by adding a supported video card with more VRAM. The overwhelming majority of legacy PCI Mac users with successful OS X configurations point this out (even mentioned in Xposfacto docs, I believe). The guys over at LEM and elsewhere strongly reccomend the ATI Orion, which I will be putting in this 7500 as soon as I find one cheap enough. Only the ATI PCI cards with Mac flashed ROM work in OS X right now, so others to consider are the Xclaim and Radeon cards.

Best of luck! Can't wait to try OS X on my machine once I get a more respectable processor card.

--Chris

PM 7500/200 604e
4 gig/16MB
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Portable: iPhone 3G White/16 / 12" PowerBook 1.5/1.25/80
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WizOSX  (op)
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Apr 4, 2002, 09:46 AM
 
The discussion above raises the following interesting question: which will improve Aqua's speed more:
1) moving from a G3 to a G4 with a somewhat higher clock speed
2) buying a much faster with video card with 8 times the VRAM

These two choices cost about the same for people with Beige machines (7-8-9000 series with accelerator cards or Beige G3's). From what gto47 says, at the current state of OS X it would seem that choice 1) would be by far the best--EVEN WITH MACHINES WITH SLOW BUS SPEEDS (50-66mhz). However, hempcamp's arguments it would say it would probably be better to go for choice 2) and get a PCI Radeon Mac Edition. It seems the answer would also be somewhat relevant for people with Blue and whites. Any thoughts?
     
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Apr 4, 2002, 04:35 PM
 
Originally posted by WizOSX:
<STRONG>However, hempcamp's arguments it would say it would probably be better to go for choice 2) and get a PCI Radeon Mac Edition. It seems the answer would also be somewhat relevant for people with Blue and whites. Any thoughts?</STRONG>
Not exactly what I was saying. A video card with more VRAM *CAN* add performance to scroll speeds in Aqua, especially under your current configuration. However, you will probably get the best overall performance jump if you get a G4 (an option way out of the price range for many of us!). OS X is optimized for Altivec. If you can afford a fast G4 upgrade card, by all means get it!

By the way, bus speed is almost always overrated. For the everyday desktop user, the bus speed between the processor and L2 cache is the important part, and with most upgrade cards (esp XLR8, Powerlogix, Sonnet), this number is in the 200Mhz range. MacGurus has boatloads of good info on this.

If you have even more cash laying around, the other thing you can do to speed up your legacy PCI mac is add a faster SCSI adapter card and faster SCSI drives. The Fast SCSI-2 bus of the 75/7600 is a measly 10MB/s, whereas Miles 2 provides 80MB/s speeds. OS X is very disk-in/out intensive, especially with lesser amounts of RAM, so the faster the better.

--Chris
Current: iMac 20" 2.4/4/320 / iMac G4 800
Portable: iPhone 3G White/16 / 12" PowerBook 1.5/1.25/80
Former: PowerMac G5 Dual 1.8 / iBook G3 700 / PM 7500, 3G iPod 10GB, 5.5G iPod 30GB
     
WizOSX  (op)
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Apr 4, 2002, 09:08 PM
 
Originally posted by hemcamp
However, you will probably get the best overall performance jump if you get a G4 (an option way out of the price range for many of us!). OS X is optimized for Altivec. If you can afford a fast G4 upgrade card, by all means get it!
Sonnet's recent price cuts give $200 for a G3/500mhz with 1mb cache. The current price for a G4/450mhz with 1mb cache is about $280. The question, I suppose, is whether the G4 would more than make up for the extra 50mhz in the G3, IN AQUA (I no longer use OS 9). I currently have a 200mhz 604e and 512kb cache in the machine.

Originally posted by hemcamp
especially with lesser amounts of RAM
I have 432mb, and, in spite of the constant claim by everyone that you cannot get enough RAM in OS X, I rarely come even close to using it all.
     
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Apr 4, 2002, 10:17 PM
 
Originally posted by WizOSX:
<STRONG>

I have 432mb, and, in spite of the constant claim by everyone that you cannot get enough RAM in OS X, I rarely come even close to using it all.</STRONG>
To answer your first question, yes I would suggest getting the G4/450 instead of the G3/500 since you will be using OS X exclusively. If you were not going to use OS X, the answer would be the other way around (with a few exceptions, like heavy Photoshop users).

Since you are mainly doing Word/internet/etc. 432 MB is probably more than sufficient. OS X itself eats up about 128 MB, so anything above that is available for your apps.

Sounds like you have a nice setup, which will be even nicer when you get a processor upgrade. It would be nice to hear back from you about OS X performance once you get the upgrade installed. I would like to do the same with my 7500 once I have enough cash.

--Chris

PM 7500/604e 200Mhz
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Current: iMac 20" 2.4/4/320 / iMac G4 800
Portable: iPhone 3G White/16 / 12" PowerBook 1.5/1.25/80
Former: PowerMac G5 Dual 1.8 / iBook G3 700 / PM 7500, 3G iPod 10GB, 5.5G iPod 30GB
     
WizOSX  (op)
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Apr 4, 2002, 11:08 PM
 
In early November I decided to upgrade my old 7600--when I had decided to switch over to OS X.

The machine, in November, was a "stock" 7600--132mhz 604, 256kb cache, 1.2gb HD, 128mb RAM.

I decided to slowly upgrade the 7600 in small increments to see what upgrades would give the most "bang for the buck" in OS X. I wanted to do everything EXCEPT buy the G3 or G4 upgrade card first, then see where I was at, and then possibly buy the card.

Just to load OS X and get it going with XpostFacto, I added a second HD (9gb SCSI). OS X actually ran fairly well!!! Next I replaced the processor and cache with 200mhz 604e and 512kb. Then, in increments I've boosted the RAM to 432mb. I've "benchmarked" each step using tasks that are typical of my work (MS Office (fairly large graphics laden documents), Canvas, etc.) Each upgrade was bought as cheaply as I could get them on ebay. So far I've spent about $230.

Overall, so far, the machine is more than twice as fast at the things I do than in November, and it really works quite well. There is no doubt that the RAM gave the least bang for the buck so far. The two remaining additions are CPU upgrade card and possibly video card. I'll certainly give you some results when I can sell the 604e and cache and get a G4 card cheaply enough.
     
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Apr 5, 2002, 03:30 AM
 
Originally posted by WizOSX:
<STRONG>In early November I decided to upgrade my old 7600--when I had decided to switch over to OS X.
</STRONG>
Cool. Ironically, I set out with a very similar project a few months ago. I bought a 7500, then slowly spiced it up with a 7200 RPM 4 gig drive (loud beast!), 200 Mhz 604e, 512k cache, and RAM on the way. I'm taking much smaller steps, though -- from 7.6 to 8.6 to 9.1 to X -- because many of the apps I use for my summer job (the main reason I bought the machine) don't need anything near OS X (Office 4.2.1, FileMaker Pro, PageMaker 5, simple video capture).

My goal? I want to quasi-benchmark each of the listed system versions to see which one gives me the best productivity/user experience ratio for the least amount of money. Including the 7500 bare system, I've spent about $200 so far (not including software). I'm trying to keep the total ceiling below $500 (roughly the cost of a B&W G3).

In the short term, I plan on upgrading to 8.6, adding more RAM (right now only 16MB, but it runs legacy apps like Office 4.2.1 fabulously!), and getting a processor upgrade card. Each time I upgrade, I'm shooting for doubling the current clock speed -- thus the 100 601 to 200 604e, and next will be 200 604e to 400 G3 or G4. I doubt we'll ever see 800 (a 16x multiplier?), but I guess only time will tell how smart those guys (and gals?) at XLR8 really are!

Long term: OS 9/X, LVD controller & drives, ATI Orion or Radeon, Firewire/USB.

Naysayers have told me that I'm only wasting my money, and that the bus speed of the 7500 is too prohibitive. I mean, what can one expect when 80% of the postings to the *book/iMac forums revolve around how terribly slow OS X is on such and such configuration? I say phooey! Bus speed is overrated unless you plan on rendering the next Pixar film on-the-fly. Every other aspect of the 7500 series PowerMac can be upgraded to meet or exceed (in the case of LVD) the stock specs of the latest overpriced PowerMac G4 monster.

What do I get if my hypothesis proves true? Another seven years out of last century's hardware. If I'm wrong? Oh well, $500 ain't bad for an all-in-one router/fileserver/tivo/mp3player.

--Chris

(Most of this rant was written previously for my web site, which is currently down. It was a propos material for the current discussion.)
Current: iMac 20" 2.4/4/320 / iMac G4 800
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Apr 10, 2002, 09:26 PM
 
Originally posted by hempcamp:
<STRONG>

Cool. Ironically, I set out with a very similar project a few months ago. I bought a 7500, then slowly spiced it up with a 7200 RPM 4 gig drive (loud beast!), 200 Mhz 604e, 512k cache, and RAM on the way.
(..)
My goal? I want to quasi-benchmark each of the listed system versions to see which one gives me the best productivity/user experience ratio for the least amount of money.
(..)
Naysayers have told me that I'm only wasting my money, and that the bus speed of the 7500 is too prohibitive. I mean, what can one expect when 80% of the postings to the *book/iMac forums revolve around how terribly slow OS X is on such and such configuration? I say phooey! Bus speed is overrated unless you plan on rendering the next Pixar film on-the-fly.
</STRONG>

You are largely right (imho); I've upgraded my 7500 with a 400 Mhz G3, more RAM - 184 mb at the moment - and a Rage128 video card, working under X 10.1.2 now. Fairly well, but even with the supported gfx card and extra RAM it's no speed demon. Runs Quake 1 OK now, but Unreal Tourney X is still a little too slow (though somewhat playable).

What is accelerated in Aqua with a supported video card - one can check this with Apple's Quartzdebug utility - is moving a window, QuickTime, OpenGL, and some other things. A *lot* of things aren't being accelerated yet though. Pulling down a menu, resizing a window, scrolling, it's all still done by the good ol' CPU.

So, at this time, I would say putting in a fast CPU - the fastest G3 or G4 you can get - is still the best all-around upgrade for an old Mac about to go X. Will accelerate things like games and graphics too, of course, and although the bus speed does play a limited role, don't forget a lot of the actual data is being shovelled is between the cpu and the L2-cache, which is on the accelerator card and therefore not hampered by the system bus. This also means a big - 1 MB - card is better than a 512 and certainly 256 kb cache.

Regards, R
     
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Apr 26, 2002, 01:36 PM
 
Originally posted by WizOSX:
<STRONG>
I have 432mb, and, in spite of the constant claim by everyone that you cannot get enough RAM in OS X, I rarely come even close to using it all.</STRONG>
Hmmm. What apps do you run, and how many at the same time? Do you shut down your machine overnight?
I currently run OS X on a 350MHz CRT iMac, which is kept running 24/7. And I multitask like crazy. I max out my 768MB of RAM on a fairly regular basis.
/mal
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