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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac OS X > 10.5 needs to be ready for more processors

10.5 needs to be ready for more processors
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Jul 28, 2006, 06:57 AM
 
Both the new Quad Xeons and 10.5 are due early next year.
We could concevably see Mac Pros with two (2) Quad Xeon chips by february.

That's 8 processors!

OK, maybe not that soon but how about Jan '08? 10.5 will still be the current system and it will need to be ready for the 2nd and third round of Mac Pros. And now that we're on the new archtecture it is very possible that apple could take another step into the enterprize market with a beefier server: multiple hot-swapable power supplys to go with those 16 CPUs.

Anybody think OS X 10.5 will be able to handle that? It does 4 now while Linux can handle 64 or more.
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Jul 28, 2006, 07:31 AM
 
I'm pretty sure OS X supports at least 8 processors at the moment.
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Jul 28, 2006, 08:58 AM
 
Latest rumors say Clovertown, and possibly Kentsfield, will be out before the end of this year. I think it's pretty much a drop-in upgrade (may need a firmware update), so it could be out before MWSF in Jan.

Updating OSX to use 8 processors efficiently could be done. They added support for 4 right before the launch of the quads.
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 09:34 AM
 
Even if OS X is ready to handle 8+ processors, the REAL question is whether any mac applications will be ready to go with it............
Personally I find it hilarious that you have the hots for my gramma. Especially seeins how she is 3x your age, and makes your Brittney-Spears-wannabe 30-something wife look like a rag doll who went thru WWIII with a burning stick of dynamite up her a** :)
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 09:35 AM
 
Seems that having the abiliity to adapt to processor evolution is a basic part of Apple's OS X strategy. The 1998 WWDC announcement of OS X was followed by sessions discussing the Yellow Box API as the direction of the future, allowing applications to be targeted for both Windows and Macintosh. There were dual 604e processors in the 9600 in 1997 and dual G4 450 MHz in 2000.

It will be interesting to see how bus/motherboard architecture evolves to take advantage of all those cycles.

I wonder about the CPU/GPU designs as this evolution happens. Core Graphics and Core Data in the OS, OpenGL-- wondering if there isn't a new paradigm/model in the works.

Craig
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 10:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by suthercd
Seems that having the abiliity to adapt to processor evolution is a basic part of Apple's OS X strategy. There were dual 604e processors in the 9600 in 1997 and dual G4 450 MHz in 2000.Craig
you fogot the Quad G5's

Again it's NOT the OS we need to be concerned about, nor the motherboards, it's the applications !

With Unix-based OS's, multi-cpu comptability was proven many moons ago, long before Apple, by IBM, Sun, DEC, HP and anyone else who has built servers and/or commercial workstations in the last 35 years.........
Personally I find it hilarious that you have the hots for my gramma. Especially seeins how she is 3x your age, and makes your Brittney-Spears-wannabe 30-something wife look like a rag doll who went thru WWIII with a burning stick of dynamite up her a** :)
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 10:14 AM
 
How long would it take to encode a DVD with 8 processors?
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Jul 28, 2006, 10:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by Velocity211
How long would it take to encode a DVD with 8 processors?
would depend on what you were encoding (data, audio, or video), at what bit rate, and whether or not your encoding app could utilize all 8 cpu's........

but suffice it to say: not long at all
Personally I find it hilarious that you have the hots for my gramma. Especially seeins how she is 3x your age, and makes your Brittney-Spears-wannabe 30-something wife look like a rag doll who went thru WWIII with a burning stick of dynamite up her a** :)
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 10:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by bowwowman
would depend on what you were encoding (data, audio, or video), at what bit rate, and whether or not your encoding app could utilize all 8 cpu's........

but suffice it to say: not long at all
Just a 4.7 GB DVD with iDVD, takes about 2 hours for my PowerBook. Also, I just need one thing cleared up. Is Core 2 (Merom, Conroe) 64-bit?
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Jul 28, 2006, 11:31 AM
 
Yes. um. Depends.

I think the mobile version - dammit, I can't remember the codename - isn't, but the desktop is.

Anyway - can you even fit 8Gb of RAM in a laptop ?
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 12:26 PM
 
Core Duo 32bit, Core 2 duo 64 bit (including the Xeon).
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 01:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by bowwowman
Even if OS X is ready to handle 8+ processors, the REAL question is whether any mac applications will be ready to go with it............
Some will...most won't. Depends on the number of threads the app can create.

Having 8 processors has its advantages even if apps don't utilise all 8 processors. It means 8 single apps can each use an entire processor. It means you'll rarely see interface slow-downs since one processor will usually be free.

It means I can have my computer become a PVR with, for example, eyeTV without having to worry about the recording getting messed up if I'm using another CPU-hungry app...sure, it could still happen if I really push the computer to its limit but I think we agree that it's already much more convenient to have 8 processors than 4 or even 2 even when single apps don't take advantage of SMP.
( Last edited by Horsepoo!!!; Jul 28, 2006 at 02:05 PM. )
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 03:15 PM
 
Unless I'm mistaken, Darwin is already capable of handling an arbitrary number of processors. Apple just compiles it for the largest number in a shipping system.
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Jul 28, 2006, 03:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit
Unless I'm mistaken, Darwin is already capable of handling an arbitrary number of processors. Apple just compiles it for the largest number in a shipping system.
"Handling" and "handling well" are very very different. OSX still has a number of places where it uses quite coarsely grained locking, which I hope 10.5 will improve. Anecdotally I've heard that the first time Linux booted on a 512 processor machine it locked up almost immediately, and they have a significantly longer history of building for large-n smp machines than Apple/FreeBSD does. Not that 512 processor SGI boxes are all that similar to 8-way Xeons...
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 06:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by Horsepoo!!!

Having 8 processors has its advantages even if apps don't utilise all 8 processors. It means 8 single apps can each use an entire processor. It means you'll rarely see interface slow-downs since one processor will usually be free.

It means I can have my computer become a PVR with, for example, eyeTV without having to worry about the recording getting messed up if I'm using another CPU-hungry app...
Bingo, if one single app would use the n processors available, there is no room for any other app getting a fair responsive behaviour. I miss too much a second CPU inside my MDD…
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 06:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by Catfish_Man
Not that 512 processor SGI boxes are all that similar to 8-way Xeons...
Damn!, now I also miss my Octane2 freaking amazing stuff…
     
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Jul 28, 2006, 07:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by angelmb
Bingo, if one single app would use the n processors available, there is no room for any other app getting a fair responsive behaviour. I miss too much a second CPU inside my MDD…
I would assume OS X is smart enough though to throttle back on the app that makes heavy use of multiple processors to free up some CPU time for threads that have higher priorities or other apps.
     
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Jul 29, 2006, 06:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by Catfish_Man
"Handling" and "handling well" are very very different. OSX still has a number of places where it uses quite coarsely grained locking, which I hope 10.5 will improve.
That was my understanding; as you scale up you need tuning. The Linux camp spent a couple of years getting the kernal tweaked for multi CPU machines. Correct me if I'm worng, but I believe that was the major element of the 2.6 kernal.

"Throttling back" smartly is the kind of -ready- I had in mind. We may end up with a situation where 16 CPU machines would be ready to ship except for the OS fine tuning. If 10.5 is really ready then we should see a simple compile switch and the new machine is out the door. In other words the OS is out ahead of the hardware not the other way around.

I have a feeling the multi-processor thing is going to mushroom in the next couple of years. Not just apple but everyone will have CPUs coming out the shnang. Alienware Ultimate Gamer Box, etc. This is another area where OS X may outpace Vista, MS is sure to keep the 64 bit, mutli-processor abilities in a special version that only an oil company can afford. Apple, if it plays its cards right, could be in a position that it can drive anything Intel can throw at it over the coming 2 or 3 years, while MS cannot.

I'm sure they have a 256 CPU XEON blade server running 10.5 beta in the basement. The "one more thing" may be "we're shiping 8 bangers in January so have your aps ready for multi-processing"
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Jul 29, 2006, 09:36 PM
 
I know that people had the old Openstep running on a lot more than 8 processors. Running indeed doesn't mean running well, and the priorities for a one or two processor system is very different from a 32-processor one. One of the problem is the kernel locks, or funnels - the areas that are locked by one processor working in them. The smaller the areas the more CPUs can be in the kernel, but the bigger the overhead of trying to keep track of the funnels.

Possibly the biggest multi-CPU limitation in OS X is the filesystem. HFS+ is by definition not threadsafe for writing, because the entire file directory is in one file (with a backup). Apple needs to either fix this or move to a different file system, and neither is a minor thing to do. You can tweak the kernel all you want - Apple did this for Tiger, improving the threading for multiple CPUs and simultaneously freezing the kernel APIs to make it easier to keep improving - but HFS+ is not threadafe by definition. UFS is better here (there is one file per directory, without backups), but UFS is older than dirt and Apple hasn't been working on improving it.

So for Leopard to be significantly better at suppportring multiple CPUs, it needs a new filesystem. Knowing Jobs, if we get one it's going to be the best thing since sliced bread, which means WinFS squared. Considering that WinFS original release date was in 1996 (only it was called OFS then, but it was the same thing) and it is currently delayed withut even a tentative reease date, that is not easy to pull off.

There was word some time back that Apple was makinga filesystem plugin for ZFS, Suns new filesystem. I thought it was simply a case of someone wanting to make a filesystem plugin to make sure that they work (there used to be issues with this because of the kernel interfaces not being frozen) but maybe there is more to it.
     
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Jul 29, 2006, 10:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by P
There was word some time back that Apple was makinga filesystem plugin for ZFS, Suns new filesystem. I thought it was simply a case of someone wanting to make a filesystem plugin to make sure that they work (there used to be issues with this because of the kernel interfaces not being frozen) but maybe there is more to it.
forget WFS!

ZFS, from the horse's mouth, so to speak

http://www.sun.com/2004-0914/feature/

note the parts about "endian-neutral", "128bit", and "works on both Sparc & X86-based systems"

and yes I remember those rumours too, pehaps adopting this technology is/was part of the hold-up with getting Leopard ready, huummmmm...........

interesting possibilities 4 sure
Personally I find it hilarious that you have the hots for my gramma. Especially seeins how she is 3x your age, and makes your Brittney-Spears-wannabe 30-something wife look like a rag doll who went thru WWIII with a burning stick of dynamite up her a** :)
     
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Jul 31, 2006, 03:30 PM
 
I have a macbook pro 2x2.0 and a dell core duo 2x2.0 and I have few operations that are CPU bound. DVD encoding is one, but almost all the other times my computer is slow is from when it's waiting on the disk.

People talk about PVR functionality thinking that only uses CPU power. It also uses disk bandwidth, something I don't have enough of. Even on a desktop with Core 2 Duo and a raid 0 array, the bottleneck for many operations will be disk.

About the only thing 8 cores can do for me is scientific computation or media encoding, where the ratio of processing to disk access is high. Can I watch a video, record an incoming stream, download files and compile my software at the same time at full speed? Depends more on my disk than my CPU.
     
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Jul 31, 2006, 04:33 PM
 
I've doubled up my DIY Windows Media Center box that has a hyper-threaded P4 with MS Virtual Server. I know it's not a "true" multi-processor configuration, but with enough RAM, I can at least retask a computer that otherwise sits around idle 90% of the time.

Originally Posted by Horsepoo!!!
It means I can have my computer become a PVR with, for example, eyeTV without having to worry about the recording getting messed up if I'm using another CPU-hungry app...sure, it could still happen if I really push the computer to its limit but I think we agree that it's already much more convenient to have 8 processors than 4 or even 2 even when single apps don't take advantage of SMP.
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Jul 31, 2006, 11:03 PM
 
First of all having multiple cores is not the same as multiple CPUs. Multiple cores in one chip all share the single CPU bus to the rest of the computer - which can be a bottleneck right off the bat.

So more cores is not always a linear increase in computational power. There are many other factors involved (memory to CPU bandwidth, CPU to I/O bandwidth, contention for control of the main bus by each core...).

Secondly all software need not be multi-cpu aware. The OS can and will divvy up tasks, from one app or with several apps, and run them on various CPUs/Cores as designed. This makes the software exactly what it should be - hardware agnostic.

Notice that Apple's dev tools were changed to show one or *more* cores/CPUs before the Quad? The software isn't (any longer) hard-coded to recognize only 2 (or 4) cores/CPUs. Instead it asks the OS how many cores/CPUs there are and works with what it finds. This is how all multi-core/CPU software should work IF it makes sense for the application e.g. DVD encoding, HD video editing etc.

A web browser need not throw threads all over 8 cores to download a page faster, in fact a lot of web content is very serial i.e. raw HTML first, layout/download media next, display last.

So in the end it really shouldn't matter to a multi-core/CPU aware app exactly how many cores/CPUs there are. It should *just work* like the Mac computer itself.
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Aug 1, 2006, 05:15 AM
 
So with a disk bottleneck threatening our CPU nirvana, how do these new hard drives with flash cache come into the mix?
A quicker cache can't be bad but the vista hype impies that the OS needs to be aware of it. It also suggests, if you include the "USB drive as cache" feature, that we may see slots on the motherboard for flash ram, for swap or some new beast - something between a ram disk and hard drive. I'd guess that 2 or 4 GB of flash ram, for things that don't need to be written to disk but shouldn't be in ram, would take some pressure off the drive. The OS would just make use of it if it were there.
Maybe we'll start to see MacPros ship with multiple disks in a RAID. Essentially, more of the enterprize server level things moving down into the consumer space. We've already seen multi CPUs and ECC RAM, so why not?
( Last edited by Gavin; Aug 1, 2006 at 05:34 AM. )
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Aug 1, 2006, 05:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Nitride
First of all having multiple cores is not the same as multiple CPUs. Multiple cores in one chip all share the single CPU bus to the rest of the computer - which can be a bottleneck right off the bat.

So more cores is not always a linear increase in computational power. There are many other factors involved (memory to CPU bandwidth, CPU to I/O bandwidth, contention for control of the main bus by each core...).
Well... the G5s shared a bus anyway, so having a couple cores share a bus is no penalty. In practice, the dual-core machines of a certain speed are *very* close in performance to the dual processors of the same speed. With the G5, at least. Dual cores really is two processors in the same package -- so there is the potential to be just as fast (or actually faster, because they can share cache and not ever have to touch the system bus) as dual processors of the same speed.

But yes, overall performance is a lot more complicated than # of CPU "cores," whether they are on the same package (physical unit) or on separate packages.

And of course, all performance figures of any sort whatsoever go straight down the toilet if the machine *ever* has to page during a benchmark. Given that accessing disk is about 10,000 times slower than accessing RAM... a dual 2.0 G5 that had sufficient RAM and thus didn't page to disk during a benchmark will be faster than a Quad 2.5 GHz G5 that has to page something once or twice. RAM is good... make sure you have enough!
     
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Aug 1, 2006, 07:39 PM
 
10.5 doesn't need to be ready for more processors; it needs to make programming multithreaded applications easier. More threading needs to happen automatically on multiprocessor machines.
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Aug 2, 2006, 04:11 AM
 
I'd say worry more about the third party developers taking their sweet time. Either they have no incentive to write software for a 2% segment or Jobs was a master at conning them into believing that making UBs is as easy as pie. "Just click on a little checkbox!"
     
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Aug 2, 2006, 07:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by Horsepoo!!!
Having 8 processors has its advantages even if apps don't utilise all 8 processors. It means 8 single apps can each use an entire processor. It means you'll rarely see interface slow-downs since one processor will usually be free.
99% of the time interface slowdowns are caused by a delay in disk access, not because of the CPU.

Originally Posted by Horsepoo!!!
It means I can have my computer become a PVR with, for example, eyeTV without having to worry about the recording getting messed up if I'm using another CPU-hungry app...sure, it could still happen if I really push the computer to its limit but I think we agree that it's already much more convenient to have 8 processors than 4 or even 2 even when single apps don't take advantage of SMP.
The problem with that is, even though you have 8 processors to run 8 apps at once, you still only have the same amount of RAM, HD bandwidth, GPU power, bus bandwidth, etc etc. So your computer is usually only going to be as fast as the slowest component.

Also, in regards to eyeTV, I think it must have hardware encoding because with my eyeTV 200 even on an old 867 MHz G4 tower when eyeTV is recording it is virtually unnoticeable if you are using the computer for other tasks at the same time. Also, you can only encode in 3 formats rather than the myriad formats that quicktime offers and that is probably because those are the only ones supported by the hardware encoding. I guess if you have the new HD eyeTV thing and are recording 1080p HD content then that is a different story, but again you will be limited by the disc access more than the processors.
     
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Aug 3, 2006, 06:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by Gavin
Both the new Quad Xeons and 10.5 are due early next year.
We could concevably see Mac Pros with two (2) Quad Xeon chips by february.

That's 8 processors!

OK, maybe not that soon but how about Jan '08? 10.5 will still be the current system and it will need to be ready for the 2nd and third round of Mac Pros. And now that we're on the new archtecture it is very possible that apple could take another step into the enterprize market with a beefier server: multiple hot-swapable power supplys to go with those 16 CPUs.

Anybody think OS X 10.5 will be able to handle that? It does 4 now while Linux can handle 64 or more.
Sorry, but I'm not convinced that Apple needs to have 10.5 able to run tomorrow's systems today. Just look at the Intel systems. Apple didn't release an Intel version of 10.4 two years ago, they just made it available when new systems came out. Same goes for the G5 release. OS X wasn't capable of running on G5s prior to their release, Apple included a version of OS X that supported the G5 with the new systems (it was the same OS version, but a different build number).
     
   
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