HiTek Review

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New mac ends up being a Pad

Yes, I followed the crowd and got an iPad.
I’m telling you, it is the best computer you will ever have. It is as portable as a netbook, as easy to use as an iPhone and as capable as most notebooks. I thought you might like to know my opinion about this one so here it is: iPad 64 GB Wifi+3G review!

This might sounds a little bit weird coming from me but I do not indent to talk about all its good points anymore than I already did. That’s what everybody talk about and we all know what they are already. So, let’s bash the iPad to make sure you know everything there is to be known about your next purchase.

Ok, we know it’s awesome, now what?
After playing with it for two days, I’ve found two major bugs and one funny glitch. All of those are local to the Canadian iPad and might not be in the other configurations. The two bugs are in fact not even related to the iPad directly. You might never notice them unless you use an external USB, Bluetooth or dock keyboard and Rogers services.

The first one is a very weird problem. You will use your keyboard like you do everyday and suddenly, an app or a website will prompt your for your password. You type your password and hit enter expecting everything to work correctly but then… Wrong password. Type it again and you’ll notice that the accented characters on the keyboard as well as various alt-key shortcut doesn’t work. As I said, you might never notice that since it only happens in passwords fields and requires your password to use accented or some very specific special characters. However, if it still happens to you like it did to me, simply type the letters with the virtual keyboard and you are good to go.

UPDATE: This is still happening in iOS 4.2 GM. I’m also suspecting it to be present with the iPhone and iPod Touch. Don’t expect it to be fixed any time soon.

The second bug is related to our wonderful cellular network here in Canada⸮ –Where is that sarcasm punctuation mark when I need it.– The iPad is advertised as letting you upgrade your plan from nothing to 5 GB per month anywhere you want, anytime you want. That is not true. If you have no data plan, the 3G logo will still appear in the status bar but you will not have any internet access… not even on the Rogers website. It means that you can’t buy a 3G plan without any access to a WiFi network. Good luck buying that plan the moment you need it stuck in the woods with no WiFi kilometres around you.

UPDATE: I had the wonderful chance to give it a run on AT&T’s network. Same. Thing.

Last glitch only appeared in Things (from Cultured Code) so far but is still a bug with the operating system itself. If a popup window appear over a toolbox, rotating the iPad will cause the toolbox to rotate facing the wrong direction. It only happens in that particular cases which, so far, only Things have been using them in such conditions.

After two days of testing, that’s all the bad things I’ve found about my iPad. Next post will be about how to protect your iDevices with some very good products. See you all then!

Hands on the Apple Magic Mouse

Why you want it
Most persons just look at the Magic Mouse and see just an other one button mouse because, obviously, Apple doesn’t make any two button mouses. I really don’t know where does that thing started since Apple has been making multi-button mice for years now. Anyway, this doesn’t matter anymore because, we are back to one and don’t need anymore of them. To reuse the words of one of our friends at Apple: “The face of the product is pretty much defined by a panel of multi-touch glass”. That is exactly what it is, and believe me, it is the perfect material for a mouse. It has a beautiful slim profile that might seem awkward at first but is actually very comfortable. The reason is, it feel like using a touchpad. In fact, it is so slim that it just sit there, hollow like a ghost, under your hand. It cause your hand to end up in a very natural position which is very similar to the one you would get if you where to just let it lay with a natural curve on a table.

On a more technical perspective: the laser is very precise, there is no wireless lag since it is using bluetooth and, believe it or not but the built-in battery have around 1500 hours at constant use!

Why you will buy it
The reason why you will probably buy it is the same one that convinced me. It have nothing to do with the actual product and in fact, you can already get it for free on the Internet. It is a custom driver called BetterTouchTools and it work with both the Magic Mouse and the MultiTouch Trackpad you get on the Macbooks. This special piece of software let you discover what that mouse can really do.

What Apple doesn’t tell you about it is that even though there is only 4 “gestures” (aka: left click, right click, scroll and two fingers swipe left/right) the mouse actually supports up to 4 pressure points (11 on the Trakpad). What does that means? Well, it means that you can use up to four fingers to do some crazy moves on the mouse! Yup! 4 fingers! In fact, BTT supports 39 different gestures on the Magic Mouse and 47 on the Trackpad! And the best part of it is that they are 100% configurable. You can set them to do one of the predefined action or a keyboard shortcut. Combined with softwares like Cockpit, you can lunch scripts as macros and have complex operations (like renaming a bunch of files to match a specific scheme) in the touch of one (but probably more) fingers.

With this tool, you can laugh at all of those who buy gaming mice with 8 buttons and support macros because, yours can do a lot more than them plus, it got the looks.

The only bad point
Strangely enough, the only bad point about that mouse is what Apple always did the best: Packaging. It look nice, it is small and very space-friendly but it has two little problems. First is the way the mouse is hanging in it. There’s a glued plastic piece that hold it there and the glue has the tendency of remaining on the mouse. Second is the lack of a little transport pouch that would have been welcome considering its pretty surface that I don’t want to scratch. Plus, it could have doubled as a wiping cloth.

Snow Leopard, yes but…

.. it’s not that good
Hi everyone, I’m sorry if I let you in the dark for two weeks but I had a lot to do recently and didn’t had much time write. Who knows, it might even get worse as time goes on. Anyway, I’m here to talk about Apple recently released operating system. Snow Leopard, as it is called, is a very nice OS. It does have a lot more punch than his predecessor 10.5 but I’m not here to talk about stuff that you already know.

Core upgrade
Apple rewrote a very big part of the os with snow leopard and that’s nice for performances but, they also introduced an incalculable number of bugs. Nothing major but all of those things just keep on bothering you until you want to kill yourself. That’s what I’m going to talk about. The way Apple bunched 10.6 to release it before Windows 7.

First, Exposé. They did a lot with it and the new version is gorgeous; if you don’t have a MacBook. If, like me, you do, well, you’ll want to punch yourself in the face each time you use those wonderful 4 finger gestures. There’s a glitch with them that cause Exposé to stick and render it unproductive. If you bring Exposé and close it using your trackpad without lifting your hand of it first, shit will happen. It will get stuck in the mode you activated and the only way to get your windows back is to do the inverse gesture! It’s a very easy thing to solve and could take about ten minutes to fix but it look like it didn’t make it in 10.6.1 released just one week after the official release.

Next, Stacks. Finally, we can walkthrough a folder hierarchy without open a finder window. This was a long awaited feature but… It’s buggy too! It work very well until you have a stack of a network volume. Here’s what happen. First if the volume is not available and you click on it, it will display a transparent interrogation mark which is great but, if you click on it a second time, they stack up! Indefinitely! If the volume finally came online, they’ll stick there! They don’t even go away! Well that’s most of a graphical problem and is indeed pretty minor. But still, it’s just the start. As you’ll use this stack, you’ll realize that some obvious feature doesn’t work. Deleting a file for instance. Yup, you can’t delete a file from a network volume stack. Don’t ask me why but dropping them in the Trash Can does nothing.

Finally, Upgrade. OS X was always stated for it’s upgrade capability. I decided to test it, just for fun. I installed 10.5 and then upgraded to 10.6. No change in the settings, no app installed. And guess what. After one week, half of my icons doesn’t appear, VMware fusion icon display as 512×512 pixel of garbage, spotlight sometimes refuse to listen to my keyboard, and I’ll pass over random freeze (not kernel panic, just complete computer lockup) and random application crash.

Ho, I just forgot! There’s also a keychain issue with the clean install that can get you locked up from your own computer. The only solution, if it is a solution, is to make your way to the keychain application and reset your keychain password.

OS X 10.6 is a great operating system. It does work faster and has some new interesting stuff. On the other side, don’t, ABSOLUTELY DON’T try to install it as an upgrade. You’ll want to punch yourself so bad that you’ll actually do it before doing a clean install.


A TPB company
The Pirate Bay announced a while ago a new service called IPREDator. It’s a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service for the rest of us. VPN’s are generally used by big company to help away workers keep in touch with their work documents. By using a VPN connection, they can have the same access as they normally have in house but kilometers away. IPREDator is the same kind of service but not for managing your home documents. It was designed to give you an private and 100% secure internet access. It uses industry-grade 128bit encryption to assure you that no one, not even your IPS, will be able to peek in your data transfers.

This is specially useful if your ISP is using a proxy or if it’s limiting peer to peer transfer speed. The idea is to tunnel every internet communication through the VPN and access the internet from a unlimited internet access in Sweden. And it work quite well actually! I’ve been beta testing the IPREDator service for three days now and I think this service as a great potential.

What does beta means?
It means that if you try IPREDator, you’ll experiment everything that a beta is. Slow, buggy and somewhat limited. I had a lot of issue accessing some websites and very slow speed. In fact, it literally split my internet access in half. But, on the other side, I can’t complain since it do it’s job. My IPS normally limit P2P traffic at 25 KBps between 18h and 2h30. When I enabled the IPREDator service, I got a lot of speed back. I jump from 25 KB to 250 KB witch is pretty good.

As I said, this service is currently in private beta and with reasons, I doubt that it wouldn’t blow up if everybody could try test it right now. If it don’t it will just be slower and slower. Let’s give TPB some time to make it work well before starting to use it every day.

iPhone 3G S Review – Software

When 1 + 1 = 3
Many people think that software is not that important. Well, on the iPhone, it is so important that it would probably never had shined as much as it did. iPhone OS 3.0 is what every iPhone users consider the first feature complete iPhone operating system. It bring to the end user every thing that they need and was long promise. Seriously, all that I can think of now is minors upgrades. If Apple release iPhone OS 4, it will be as long standing as OS X which will celebrate it’s 9th year of existence soon.

Cut-copy-paste, undo-redo, push notifications, accessibility features, spotlight, youtube uploading, compass, full-fledged AGPS. What would you want more? Space to store your medias? Is 32GB enough? Space to store you documents? Is 20 GB enough? What do you really need more?

The iPhone as a PDA
Apple want you to see the iPhone as a simple yet powerful PDA. The software was also made accordingly. The first version had only simple and yet very useful features that about every phone has today, unless you found a phone that can’t call, off-course. The second revision showed how much it can really do, by letting third parties play with it. Finally, the third and current revision was designed in response to the users and developers who wanted Apple to let them do more.

Apple want you to see the iPhone as a PDA; With powerful calendar, contacts, media and internet capability. Under this perspective, you will always get limited potential. Even then, this limited potential is still very far away.

What it can do
In OS 3.0, Apple added support for more than 1 000 APIs which bring many more possibilities with them. Right now, you can see augmented reality app emerging, ways to know what’s going on instantly on the world with push notifications, record wonderful videos and publish them directly to youtube and that’s over the already possible stuff. I must say, those features work very well and are functional up to the very detail. Just try to tap the microphone in the Voice Memos app and you’ll see the VU meters peek. Even if it’s not very useful, it show you that it work so well that those who created it even think it’s time to relax and have some fun!

What you can’t do
The limited vision of PDA’s give the iPhone a great knock-back. There’s so much it can do and so little that it does. Ho yes, the app store is full of surprise but no one ever released an app that’s on every single iPhone. An app that could really make that 800$ device do something other than enjoyable. That’s something that would certainly interest business which is not the iPhone’s specialty right now. That something is a fully fledged iWork or Office for the iPhone. There is very much you can do right now with web apps like Google Docs and Office 2010 web services but they where not designed for this. We need a real, official, office suite for the iPhone. We also need it to be used like a USB drive. And I’m not talking about getting root access to everything. Even if it’s just a sandboxed app that work like the iDisk or Air Sharing, it would be perfect. It will let you use those 32 GB of space. And with this come the ability to download any file to the phone, directly to the storage app if there’s no other application that can do something with the file.

There’s not really something to review about the iPhone OS that wasn’t already discussed. The only thing I can add is that the iPhone is now very mature, people and business ready and just wait for a user to download some apps and get it to do it’s job; As the best smartphone on the market yet.

iPhone 3G S review – Hardware

Does it really need one?
No not really, the iPhone is a proven device since the start but, there has been some little changes since the release of the first iPhone 2 years ago. It is the first time two iPhones generation live together in the stores. You now not only have to choose how much space you want. If you’re planing on getting an iPhone and you’re not sure which one you want, this review is for you.

Decisions, decisions, decisions…
First of all, the 3G S is not only about having a compass in a phone. Even if many people only see that in the 3G S, there’s so much more. In fact, it was enough for me to get one at full price! Yup, no one is sending me hardware for review. I do this all on my own! At least, for now… Anyway, back to the iPhone. Well go through some specs comparisons and well talk about software features after that.

Component iPhone 3G iPhone 3G S
CPU ARM 1176JS(F)-S v1.0 @ 412 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 @ 600 MHz
GPU PowerVR MBX Lite 3D PowerVR SGX
Storage NAND Flash, 8 or 16 GB NAND Flash, 16 or 32 GB
Wifi 802.11 b/g 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth 2.0+EDR 2.1+EDR
Cellular GSM 850 900 1800 1900
UMST/HSDPA 850 1900 2100
GSM 850 900 1800 1900
UMST/HSDPA 850 1900 2100
7.2 Mbps HSDPA
Compass No Yes
Ear-Phone Stereo ear-phone
Basic remote
Stereo ear-phone
Advanced remote with volume control
Voice Control No Yes
Screen 3.5″
320×480 px
18 bit colors
Scratch resistant glass
Two fingers touch-screen1
320×480 px
18 bit colors
Scratch resistant glass
Three fingers touch-screen
Oilophobic coating1
Camera 2 megapixel still 3 megapixel still
640×480 30 fps video
Automatic macro mode

Majors changes
The iPhone 3G S was advertised as a very fast iPhone and there is specs to back those claim up. The Cortex-A8 is between 2 and 4 times faster than the older one. This make your web-browsing faster, your games smoother, and since the CPU is the bottle neck of that device, even data transfer is getting faster. Believe it or not but the iPhone 3G S sync 80% faster than the iPhone 3G.

With more memory, you can now run bigger and more complex applications without continuously getting interrupted by low memory warnings. With the iPhone 3G, applications had about 40 MB of free memory to run2. This is not very much when the interface itself is using a lot of graphical elements. OS 3.0 doesn’t eat very much RAM than OS 2.2.1 so if you choose the 3G S, you will literally get 128 MB of unused memory over what there already is. This is a real plus since, even with all that RAM, you’ll often run around 25% of free memory. But this time, no app will fill it up. At least, none that I know of!

The GPU also got a bit refit. The SGX is up to 4 times faster than the MBX Lite. This means better frame rates in games, smaller CPU usage when playing videos because of it’s wider support for hardware decoding codecs and more complex animations with support for Open GL ES 2.0.

Limited world
If you’re beginning to see my point you’ve probably stop reading here and got the iPhone 3G S. It’s not like the iPhone was a closed platform with very little developers. They will use those new technologies at their full potential. They will not cut features just to support the old 3G. If you don’t upgrade to the 3G S, you will see more and more of those low memory warnings and softwares that can’t keep up with the old CPU and GPU.

If you are using the iPhone solely for business purpose and can wait 2 or 3 seconds for your apps to load then the 3G is for you. On the other side, if you PLAN on using the iPhone only with business software, then there’s 90% you’re wrong and you’ll want to try that last game. If that happen, you might suffer a big deception.

Minor changes
The rest is pretty much minor. They are just add-ons that might be nice to have. First there is that support for 7.2 MB HSDPA which is nice but the iPhone can’t process data at that kind of speed anyway and there is no support for HSUPA which limit the 3G upload speed to 384 kbps. The new ear-phone are nice, specially if you own an iSkin Revo for the iSkin Solo. As this belt clip block the volume control, it’s nice to still have them on the ear-phone. There’s also a pretty nice new camera (which I use a lot by the way) which is nice addition and already well implemented. On the other side, there’s been report of issues with the oilophobic coating which loose grip with time and let marks on the screen under very high température.

That’s it! If you already own a 3G and feel that the app you use are a bit slow, you might love the speed boost the 3G S can give you as it make it feel just like if you had multi-tasking. See you next week with the iPhone OS 3.0 software review!

1: This data is not official but it would match the accessibility feature set, only available in the iPhone 3G S.
2: This is a best case scenario. There’s about 44 MB of available RAM when the device is rebooted. After 3 days, there’s generally less than 20 MB of free RAM remaining.

MacBook Pro 15" with SSD

Comming back
I finaly get the time to write this review. For those how might want to know, all my exams went very well and I have only one session left to do. Anyway, enough small talk and let’s get started! I’m sure can’t can’t stand the wait.

CPU for Pro needs
If it’s games, converting a bunch of video files or running VMware, you’ll find the T9550 very responsive. It should not be a very big bottle neck in that system. I often run many softwares at the same time (including Windows in a VM) and it generally don’t go over 80%.

I would not recommend the 2.4 in anycase. There is good chances that you’ll find the 2.4 MacBook Pro barelly enough for what you need. After all, we are in the Pro line here. Those are designed to do hard work. If you want a MacBook, the 2.4 model is probably the one that will give you the most for your money.

I’d say that the 2.93 gHz might be a bit overkill for this kind of computer. Even if you’re working with videos, You will proably lack of memory way before you’ll need a bigger processor.

Forgetting the lack of memory
The basic configuration come with 2 GB of blazing fast DDR3 memory which is nice but barelly enough to see how OS X can work at peek efficiency. If you get the small model, at least, take the 4 GB of memory option; Specialy if you plan on running VMs on your computer. On the other side, if you are very… hardcore at multi-tasking, you’ll want 8 GB of ram.

Many people will stop at the Apple website and take the 17″ just for that. WRONG! Never, absolutely never trust Apple specs! The 2.4 gHz is limitted to 4 GB of memory but the 2.66 does support 8 GB. You will find the memory kit on third parties websites and it generally cost 640 CAD. See? Always double check; Never trust Apple specs.

SSD for Super Storage Device
The MacBook Pro come with a 250 GB or 320 GB depending of your configuration choise. But as every Mac, there is a way to suck up evey bit of power you can get from the machine and replace it by an SSD. If the majority of people is still not convinced by SSD’s life time or prices, I am. It’s this kind of thing you don’t know how you manage to live whitout it before have one in your hands.

Apple use Samsung SSD’s which are in the world fastest and more robust ones. You have the choice between two options: the 128 GB and the 256 GB. For the first one, even if it look small, you will find it more than enough as long as you don’t intend to use boot camp. If you do, you should take the 256 GB one.

There is an other reason why you should try to priorise the 256 GB SSD. Here’s a rumor many people have heard: SSD do not slow down even if they are full. That’s not true. Well, at least, not completely true. Yes, read speed will never go down even if there is 1 byte of free space lest on the drive. Write speed, on the contrary will be affected. To prevent SSD’s from fast degradation, every sector is written on a random place in the drive. The more used sector there is, the more time it will take to find a free spot. SSD’s seek time are less than a tenth of a mili-second when empty but this process can make it go as slow as an HDD when full.

The best balance of used/free space would be about 1:1. That means that if you care about your write speed, you’ll need to keep about 55 GB free on the 128 GB SSD and 110 GB free on the 256 GB model. If you need more, you should check on what is really important and but the rest of you data on an external hard drive.

Two graphic cards?
Yes, many people think the second graphic processor is optional but it’s not the case. NVidia developped a technology called hybrid SLI which was designed to boost battery life on laptop that use powerfull GPU. It work by switching from one GPU to an other when needed. In the MacBook Pro’s case, it can give you 2 hours more of battery when doing casual work. Unfortunatly, because of software limitations in OS X, you need to do the change manually and to logoff after that. But rest assured, the 9400M is strong enough to handle most of your HD video playback and small games. Since I bought it, I didn’t needed to switch to the 9600M more than two times (one to be sure that it work, a second one to do the benchmakrs).

Our config
Do you like specs? Everybody like specs! Let’s have specs!

CPU Intel T9550
Frequency 2.66 gHz
FSB 1066 mHz
Cache 6 MB
Memory 4 GB
Storage 128 GB Solid State Drive
Graphics (1) NVidia 9400M with 256 MB of shared system memory
Graphics (2) NVidia 9600M with 512 MB of dedicated GDDR3 memory

Here come a little surprise. As I didn’t have any old MacBook Pro close to me, I had to find a replacement. I knew that this MacBook Pro was a killer but… I have to say… I didn’t even see that one coming. Here we are, MacBook Pro vs Mac Pro. Yes, you didn’t hallucinated, I did say that I will compare this little laptop to a monster and I have to say, they fit pretty well with the other.

Here are the links of the official benchmarks:
Mac Pro (early 2008)
MacBook Pro 15″ (early 2009) using the 9400M GPU
MacBook Aluminum 13″ (early 2009)

Here’s a resume of the results with a little explanation from myself. I will take the result from the 9400M since they are more accurate.

Component MacBook Pro Mac Pro Details
CPU 179.47 188.34 This one is a bit tricky. It doesn’t test the real computational power of the processor. It test how it handle it in a single threaded environment. It gives a pretty good way to show how architecture difference can influence the result.
Thread 317.13 831.36 This test look at how much power it can get from a multi-threaded environment. Here, you can see the big difference between the two computers. I never saw a benchmark that give valid result on the first shot. Here, the results should be much higher on the Mac Pro side since the xBench is limited to 4 thread.
Memory 186.12 202.00 The result is a direct comparison of DDR3 dual channel vs DDR2 quad channel. You can see that the DDR3 at 1066 gHz is a very good gain over the old MacBook Pro’s that used about the same memory as the Mac Pro but with only two channels. In fact, you can see that the new MacBook Pro’s memory is close to twice as fast.
Graphic suite
– Quartz 219.06 278.33 This test is about the same as a Direct2D test. It represent how the graphic card will render basic images, text and shape on the screen. The results are just as expected. The 8800 GT and the 9800 GT have the same overall performance so there’s nothing strange at seeing a 9400M GT under a 8000 GT.
– Open GL 174.20 181.60 This is an other strange result. How come a little 9400M GT is running as fast as a 8800 GT. I really have no clue. There is no reason for this result to be so close on both sides.
Storage suite Ah! The interesting part.
– Sequential 73.80 275.81 As I say earlier, SSD’s benchmarks are very tricky to read. Here, we see that the Sequential read/write of the disk is way slower than the one from the Mac Pro. Here’s the little surprise. The Mac Pro use a Caldigit RAID card with 4 Seagate 7200.11 500 GB HDD in a RAID 5 setup. It can read an write about 270 MB/s but remember there is FOUR HDD here not just one. The details of this test show that in average, the MacBook Pro SSD is about the same speed as one Seagate 7200.11 HDD.
– Random 108.05 40.95 That’s where we can really the SSD shine. See? Not even 4 of the faster HDD’s in the world (actually in the top 10) can come close to one single SSD. The read and write speed are up to 16x faster than only one of the HDD.

There is no way a simple laptop cpu could compare to the dual Xeon on the Mac Pro so what went wrong? In fact it seams xBench has a little trouble with newer computer. This little guy could not even peek both machine CPU’s for a tenth of a second. I don’t know how it test CPU speed but it’s probably not a good way and there might be some serious issues in the other tests too. So How do you have to interpret those results. Just say that everywhere you could do more if you do it more time simultaneously, the result will double on the Mac Pro’s side but should stay quite the same on the MacBook Pro.

Now let’s talk a bit more about the storage test suites. The Apple SSD is as fast as one of the best HDD in sequential access and is up to 16x faster than the same HDD in random access. An other important detail, the default 320 GB HDD in the MacBook Pro has about half the speed than the other HDD’s used in this test. That means that by adding a little $300 to your budget, you’ll get a 32x speed boost in your every day use. You should then choose this option over 8 GB of ram or a faster processor since it has a better value.

If you plan on getting a MacBook Pro, take the SSD. This is final. It’s not even a choice, it’s a necessity. Next week, I’ll add some other benchmarks in this review. They are real life example so they take more time to plan and process than any other benchmarks. Those tests will include a boot time comparison with the Mac Pro and it’s monstrous RAID array and a laptop that use a HDD from the same series as the standard MacBook Pro.

Update 30 June 2009 11:47
I finally posted some benchmark results. If you are interested in a specific value that is not present in the list, just ask using whatever means of communication you’d prefer. I’m also open to suggestions about hardware comparison.

See you next week

Good news!

I now have three months of free time! That means I will release, as promised, my first hardware review next week! I’ll do a checkup with benchmarks on my newest MacBook Pro. I’ve searched the web and no one tested the 15″ MBP with a SSD so it will be a first.

See you next week

New arrival, First hardware review

I did it…
Last week, while doing my college homework’s, Windows 7 crashed on me… for the 100th time since my last post (and I’m not exaggerating). I do have patience but I didn’t take that it took my work with him. So, I’ve bought an other computer. That old laptop was very nice but it had a little problem with sleep making it … not that school friendly.

As a result, I decided to go with the best line of laptop for students. Well, at least, that’s what students say. Yes, it’s an Apple computer and it will go well side by side with my Mac Pro. That’s an other review coming… when I’ll have less school work to do. I might also review my last laptop and one from the Sony Vaio line.

Stay tuned for more details

Intel Core i7, Part 3 : Power management

As the title of this post said, I will not talk about required electrical power to sue the processor nor what kind of power management feature it has since there is not much new except in the Turboboost technology. Instead, I’ll talk about calculation power. What make those CPUs as fast as they are. You know… processing power management.

Super powers
Yes, those new processors are really fast but what about their super powers? You didn’t know, didn’t you? Intel made a deal with some super heros to provide the new Core i7 with super powers like :

  • Turboboost Technology – A real-time dynamic, per core, overlocking technology.
  • Wide Dynamic Execution – A technology that enable to dispatch up to 4 instructions per clock cycle per processing unit.
  • Hyperthreading – An other technology that enable the system to fetch up to two times more instruction in the processor.
  • Integrated memory controller – Help pushing data real fast into the processor.
  • Advanced Smart Cache – Cutting in fourth the time it take to do about every memory access.

Power at work
Those technologies give a big boost at speed make the processor way more powerful than before. Let’s start with the first one, Turboboost. It analyze, in real time, which core is idle and which are overloaded. It then cut off power to those who doesn’t need it and reroute it to the one that are struggling by overclocking them for up to 30% of their original speed. This technology gives a big performance boost for single threaded application that does not benefit from additional core’s presence. The second one, Wide Dynamic Execution, is a technology that will peek at your processor activities using techniques like data flow analysis, speculative execution, out of order execution, and super scalars to execute up to 33% more instructions per clock cycle on each core than before. On older Intel architecture and AMD Phenom architecture, the processor could only handle 3 instructions in the same clock cycle. This technology push that to four and will help on getting more data processed at faster rate in the CPU. Finaly, hyperthreading, which was on the older Pentium 4 HT processors, is coming back with some enhancements. It can now double the amount of data to process in the clock cycle in one core. For those who don’t know/remember how it work, we can say that it try to fill blank and thus unused quarter of CPU clock by filling them with an other thread.

Power to fill
While all those technologies get super processing power to the CPU they made it harder to fill with data. That’s where the new Integrated memory controller and Advanced Smart Cache technology come in place. Those two little guy help at fetching data in the processor up to three times faster than on the previous processors by using a faster connection to memory and three channel instead of two and the second one make data closer to every core of every processors thus nearly dividing by four the latency needed to check if a core is working on the same data as an other. Those little thing contribute on the 45% performance improvement over the older Penryn generation.