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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Intel x86 PCI-X add-on board for G5 Power Mac in the works

Intel x86 PCI-X add-on board for G5 Power Mac in the works
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Eug Wanker
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Jun 9, 2005, 11:58 PM
 
Interesting:

The excitement over the recent news is to be expected. Apple appreciates everyone's interest in Darwin, x86, PPC, Mac OS X, and of course "Macintosh".

Apple has maintained rights to the PPC architecture. The rights to this technology is incorporated in Apple's "Rosetta" Transitive based solution so that carbonized applications built for the PPC will work on x86 and visa-versa.

Customers with existing PPC G5's will have the option of a PCI-X based add-on card with a native Intel follow-on to the P4 "D" chip and of-course the Transitive/"Rosetta" bundle. Any other PPC machine bellow the G5 (i.e. G4, G3 machines) are not included on the current roadmap inclusion. Third-party providers have shown interest is providing a solution for down-level Macs.

In regards to the G5, IBM pretty much has hit a standstill with the existing PPC architecture (i.e. PPC G5) and scalability. The initial IBM roadmap to reach the 3 GHz mark never happened and has slipped not only months but years. This really disappointed Steve and everyone else at Apple as the architecture was quite promising.

The big problem is heat dissipation. As you guys have probably noticed, the high-end dual G5's have been sporting "water-cooling" for some time now. The old saying in the industry is "The last to water wins", IBM lost and Intel has clearly won.
     
Goldfinger
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Jun 10, 2005, 06:05 AM
 
And what do you think will happen with a G5 AND a Pentium in the same case ? Nuclear meltdown.

Also does PCI-X provide enough bandwidth ?

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Hanul
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Jun 10, 2005, 06:49 AM
 
Will it be like a second (or third) CPU to the PowerMac or a full system-on-a-card like SUN's "SunPCi IIIpro Coprocessor Card" (http://www.sun.com/desktop/products/sunpcipro/)?

Damn, I opted for the PCI-based Dual 2GHz PowerMac, thinking I would never need PCI-X...
     
TheGameguru
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Jun 10, 2005, 08:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by Goldfinger
And what do you think will happen with a G5 AND a Pentium in the same case ? Nuclear meltdown.

Also does PCI-X provide enough bandwidth ?
True...its plain that this at best is a "temp solution" until the user transitions into new hardware..

I cant imagine G3/G4 PCI based addoncards being much of anything but a waste of upgrade money as putting a Pentium D on a PCI addon card is nuts.
     
Krypton
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Jun 10, 2005, 08:28 AM
 
I'm hoping for a replacement motherboard (from Sonnet/OWC etc) that would go in a B&W G3 => MDD G4.
     
jamil5454
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Jun 10, 2005, 08:29 AM
 
I too bought the DP2.0 on Monday. Sheet.
     
Hanul
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Jun 10, 2005, 08:52 AM
 
I
I too bought the DP2.0 on Monday. Sheet.
I was thinking again about the PCI-X option. If Apple is going to sell such a board it will cost a few hundred bucks at least. Add the costs difference between DP2 and DP2.3 and you reach a thousand dollars. This money is better spend to upgrade to an Intel-based PM in 2007/8. I planned to buy the next system in 2008 anyway, so it doesn't matter having PCI or PCI-X.
     
d.fine
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Jun 10, 2005, 10:33 AM
 
I can't see the G5's not taking a huge performance hit with something like that. 3rd CPU through PCI-X?

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Ganesha
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Jun 10, 2005, 11:43 AM
 
It may be not so bad if its only job is to execute x86 threads.

Everything else would execute on the G5.
     
Goldfinger
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Jun 10, 2005, 11:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by Ganesha
Everything else would execute on the G5.
Like what ? And will it have it's own memory ? I guess latency would be huge when going through PCI-X.

I don't know much about this but I'm highly sceptical.

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Big Mac
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Jun 10, 2005, 12:22 PM
 
It does sound strange. Maybe it means Apple suspects developers will start creating Intel-Only binaries early on. I was going to agree about the latency issue, but if PCI-X is suitable for other high-speed co-processing why wouldn't think work as well? Is Daryl Shatto is a confirmed Apple employee?

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Eug Wanker  (op)
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Jun 10, 2005, 12:46 PM
 
If this were to exist I wouldn't see this as a huge benefit except to developers and people who roll their own custom code. PPC binaries are gonna be with us for commercial software for at least 5 years, so an x86 add-in card would be of minimal help to the average Power Mac user. Indeed, in such a transition period a PPC Power Mac is better than an x86 Power Mac, because of software compatibility issues. Having x86 support adds nothing if you're running the common apps, especially if it's crippled by architectural issues.

For developers though it means a way of testing universal binaries without having to buy a $500 high-end ADC membership and spend $1000 to rent a machine for 1.5 years. If such a card came out for say $799, it'd be worth it for a lot of people, since it would work well enough, and they'd be able to keep it forever.

Now for the big companies creating commercial software where raw performance is an absolute must, spending the $1000+ to rent the P4 machine is a small expense.
     
Taipan
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Jun 10, 2005, 12:49 PM
 
Hi!

This brings memories of the good old Amiga to my mind...
     
Hydra
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Jun 10, 2005, 01:37 PM
 
Wouldn't it end up cheaper to buy an intel based mini for what this thing is gonna probably cost anyway? I don't see this as really happening.

-Jerry C.
     
Bartman
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Jun 10, 2005, 04:33 PM
 
it reminds me of DOS compatibiliy cards which were availble in the 90's... time for that orange company to sell pentium cards again...
anyway, where did u get that from? knowing apple, G5 owners (like myself) will get the shaft probably..

after apple switched to intel, everything is POSSIBLE

have a nice day
     
gameguy56
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Jun 11, 2005, 12:22 AM
 
yea, seriosuly, Orange Micro made chips up to Pentium 233 MMX in PCI slots I think
     
jcadam
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Jun 12, 2005, 02:05 AM
 
just think, VPC will run hella fast.
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Bartman
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Jun 12, 2005, 04:37 AM
 
better than all that,, we will have access to new technology faster than ever,, remember how long it took apple to put DDR ram into their macs? with an intel chipset, apple will be able to put the fastest type of ram in the market, fastest SATA2 hard disks and best video cards without having to wait for the manufacturer to make a mac version (video cards). lets wait and see what happens.. can't wait for the next Macworld SF in january
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discotronic
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Jun 12, 2005, 09:50 AM
 
Am I missing something with VPC on an Intel Mac? I use VPC on an actual PC and it is dog slow. What will the difference be?

If it is slow on an Intel based PC I don't see how or why people are saying it will be fast on an Intel based Mac.
     
polendo
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Jun 12, 2005, 11:12 AM
 
You use VPC on an actual PC? Why would you do that (if you could do that anyway)?
     
discotronic
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Jun 12, 2005, 11:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by polendo
You use VPC on an actual PC? Why would you do that (if you could do that anyway)?
I use it as a test bed for Windows Server and Linux.

It is easier to just work with an image than to keep multiple partitions.
     
Bartman
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Jun 12, 2005, 11:39 AM
 
VPC on a PC? I use it to run a stupid app (for 3com dsl modem... crappy one) on windows 98,, somehow this app doesn't run on the mac version of VPC,,,
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jcadam
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Jun 12, 2005, 12:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by discotronic
Am I missing something with VPC on an Intel Mac? I use VPC on an actual PC and it is dog slow. What will the difference be?

If it is slow on an Intel based PC I don't see how or why people are saying it will be fast on an Intel based Mac.
You would eliminate the need to do x86 --> PPC translation. This couldn't help but provide a speed up.
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discotronic
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Jun 12, 2005, 01:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by jcadam
You would eliminate the need to do x86 --> PPC translation. This couldn't help but provide a speed up.
Since VPC on a PC running an emulated Windows environment on top of Windows is painfully slow it seems to me that running an emulated Windows environment on top of OS X will be also. I understand that it should be faster but I really don't see where it will be faster.

Unless MS does some real optimization to VPC I believe that the slowness will never really go away. If we could get the speed that Mac-on-Linux has I would never buy another PC again
     
zoetrope
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Jun 12, 2005, 07:55 PM
 
Actually, I've been running a comparable setup at work now for over 2 years. And by comparable, I specifically mean I'm running a Sun Solaris workstation with a Sun PCi coprocessor card inside. To be even more specific, it's a Sun Blade 150 Workstation running Solaris 10 as of last week, with a SunPCi IIIpro Coprocessor Card running Windows XP Pro SP2. The Sun Blade 150 is a regular PC in every respect except that it runs a 550-MHz UltraSPARC-IIi Processor. And if this doesn't sound familiar enough to you Apple hardware guys, it even takes standard off the shelf PCI33 168-pin SDRAM memory, which we buy from a third party vendor so we save money from paying the "Sun Tax"! And yes, Sun has it's own version of VPC (or an even better comparison would be to VMWare) Sun PCi Software. I don't want to drag this out because you can go to the links I've provided to see all the nitty gritty details, but the PCi Coprocessor card can even run Windows natively (including booting both Solaris and XP at the same time) because its an entire PC on a PCI card. It has its own integrated video chip, memory, sound, CPU, and even its own controller for an additional two USB 2 and Firewire ports.

What Eug has sent us here looks to me to be a similiar setup that Apple will provide those with Power Macs. And yes, this will benefit primarily developers. I know because I am one (Solaris developer that is) and this setup is a real boon for those who need to develop for multiple platforms. Oh, the PCi card isn't the fatest, and if you care to look close enough the most recent version of the card is running an AMD laptop chip, not an Intel one, but I expect something similiar in Apple's version and running of course an Intel chip instead.

By the way, I only use Apple when I'm home because I'm a UNIX biggot (of course) but playing with Photoshop is my hobby. Can't do that with Linux yet. However, if Microsoft continues down this path that may force Adobe's hand to change to "other" platforms. Sorry about the brief digression there.
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Eug Wanker  (op)
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Jun 14, 2005, 12:29 AM
 
Well, it's doable, but it's only doable if it's soon and it's cheap. Otherwise it's pointless.
     
Nugget
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Jun 14, 2005, 03:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by discotronic
Since VPC on a PC running an emulated Windows environment on top of Windows is painfully slow it seems to me that running an emulated Windows environment on top of OS X will be also. I understand that it should be faster but I really don't see where it will be faster.
I use Virtual PC on my PowerMac all day long and I'm completely satisfied with the performance. I run XP in order to use Quicken and also to run Lotus Notes and the Cisco VPN client to a customer. I find it more responsive and less annoying to use Virtual PC than my old solution of using Remote Desktop Client to connect to a real XP box I hide in the closet.

All it takes is a dual processor machine and enough RAM. It's quite viable -- and that's with the G5 endian incompatiblity and the full x86 emulation that has to take place due to the differing architectures. VPC on an x86 host machine would have even fewer hurdles in the way of decent performance.
     
   
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