O'Grady's PowerPage » 2006 » January » 17

Sonnet 1.2GHz TiBook Processor Upgrade

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 23:58
Category: Hardware

Sonnet Technologies has announced a processor upgrade service for PowerBook G4 550 MHz and 667 MHz (Titanium) models. The upgrade features a Freescale 7457 G4 processor running at 1.2 GHz with 512K L2 cache (twice the original processor’s) running at full processor speed.

Until now, all of Sonnet’s processor upgrades have been standalone products created for DIY installation, and offer users a simply fast way to accelerate their Macs. Due to the complexity of replacing these PowerBook CPUs, Sonnet opted to start the PowerBook G4 TiBook upgrade service and take over the installation task. The service includes the purchase of the upgrade, and full installation and testing of the upgraded computer by highly trained technicians.
The TiBook upgrade service creates a path for PowerBook G4 owners to obtain faster clock speed and higher performance. The end result is maximum performance gains and 100% compatibility with existing hardware, RAM, and software–qualities that you have come to expect from a Sonnet upgrade.

The PowerBook G4 TiBook upgrade costs US$499.95 plus tax (where applicable) and shipping. More information about the PowerBook G4 TiBook Upgrade service is available on the Sonnet Web site.


MCE Offers 160GB PowerBook HDD Upgrade

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 23:42
Category: Hardware

mshd_kit.jpgMCE Technologies, LLC (MCE) is now selling a 160GB 5400 RPM hard drive for the PowerBook, iBook and Mac mini. The MCE MobileStor 160GB/5400RPM drive (US$399) is the highest capacity 2.5-inch drive available for these machines and includes an 8MB cache buffer.

The drive’s engineers have developed a method of standing data bits on end within the disks platters as opposed to the previous method of hard disk data recording which was to lay the bits down horizontally, parallel to the platter. Since the platter’s depth is now used to store bits vertically through the platter, more bits can be packed into the platter… hence the higher capacity.
In addition, because a slightly thicker recording layer is used the risk of thermal decay is decreased and this greatly enhances reliability in demanding high temperature and rugged operating environments. The MCE MobileStor 160GB PowerBook hard drive has sustained data transfer rates of up to 44MB per second with burst transfer rates of up to 100MB per second. The drive is also designed with an 8MB read and write cache buffer. This allows the drive to anticipate what data will be requested next by the PowerBook and the drive will pre-load this data into its cache buffer.
If the PowerBook requests this pre-loaded data then the drive responds immediately, transmitting the data from its super-fast cache buffer, eliminating completely the latency involved in having to search for the data on its disk. The larger the cache, the greater chance the data will already be pre-loaded. Since most drives include only a 2MB buffer, the MobileStor 160GB’s 8MB buffer gives it a further performance advantage.

The mechanism is a Momentus 5400.3 from Seagate Technology LLC with an Ultra ATA/100 interface, so it won’t work in the new MacBook Pro. A second version with a faster Serial ATA interface will be available later this year according to Seagate.


Core Duo and Battery Consumption

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 23:57
Category: Intel

intel-core-duo-logo.gifFrom a mailing list posting by Jason Watkins, SAS Computing:

Here are some facts about “Core Duo” that may shed some light on the questions of battery consumption in the new MacBook Pro laptops.
“Yonah,” the code-name that Core Duo previously went under, features 151 million transistors on a single die, dual core chip. Each core is equipped with 2MB of L2 “smart” caches, which can be combined when only one core is in use (4MB L2 Cache!). To preserve processing efficiency, both of the core’s L1 cache is kept full of data, regardless of core usage.
Bus speeds range from 533MHz to 667MHz. Power consumption is said to be equal to its predecessor, Pentium M. Intel plans to close the book on the Pentium M, following the release of Core Duo processors. Data is moved in and out of the cores as quickly as possible, and L2 is then flushed to RAM. After that the cores can be shut down, saving power. Will we need RAM defragmenting utilities now?
Information was obtained from Intel, and Maximum PC Magazine.


MacBook Pro Performance Analysis

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 22:55
Category: MacBook Pro

Craig Wood conducted a performance analysis of the pre-production MacBook Pro while at Expo and posted his findings.

On the last day of Macworld 2006 I revisited the prototype MacBooks and performed a series of tests to measure the new system’s performance. I conducted four media-related tests on the new MacBook Pro and previous G4/G5 systems, including audio/video encoding and HD video playback. The goal was to evaluate the performance of the new MacBook Pro and compare it to previous Macs.
To best judge the performance of the new MacBooks I conducted four media-related tests on each system: audio encoding using iTunes, video encoding using QuickTime Player, and HD video playback using QuickTime Player for 720p and 1080p content. These tests stress various aspects of each system, including the CPU and graphics cards. All test files resided on the machine’s internal hard disk and other applications were closed unless otherwise noted.

Click through for Craig’s results.


Apple Commercial Controversy: Round II (Updated 2x)

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 13:00
Category: Intel

apple-plagiarism.jpgThe Spunker has a blog entry calling out Apple for their latest television commerical. Apparently the new TV ad is almost an exact copy of a music video by The Postal Service for their song “Such Great Heights.”
Check out this video of the Apple television commercial side-by-side with The Postal Service video. (Thanks J. Haas)
Leander Kahney, Mac fanatic and author of Cult of Mac and Cult of iPod, has been tracking this issue over at his blog, Cult of Mac and has determined that the Apple commercial and music video were directed by the same people. Case closed.


Macworld Expo 2006 Impressions

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 09:36
Category: Macworld Expo

I spent a couple of days on the show floor this year. Here are some observations:
* The show is almost completely dominated by iPod accessories, ranging from “things you can plug your iPod into” (including cars) to various kinds of iPod “luggage.”
* Almost lost in all the frenzy around the new Intel-based Macs was Apple’s announcement of the iPod Radio Remote, a very cool device that adds FM tuning to your iPod (with dock connector). It even supports RDS so you can see the station name and the title of the song. Not bad for a $50 dongle!
Read more…


Price Deathmatch: MacBook Pro v. Dell Inspiron E1705

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 00:33
Category: MacBook Pro

dell-inspiron-e1705.jpgMike McHargue decided to see just how much of a price premium exists between Macs and PCs. This is a much easier task now that you can match components exactly. Mike compares the MacBook Pro to the Dell Inspiron E1705 and his results are a pleasant surprise. Final Price:
MacBook Pro: $2,399
Inspiron E1705: $2,341
Read the whole story on Mike’s blog.


The Apple Core: PC Card = Obsolete

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2006, 00:24
Category: The Apple Core

expresscard-logo.jpgWith Apple’s announcement of the MacBook Pro they also obsoleted a popular notebook technology – the PC Card slot (formerly PCMCIA).
ExpressCard/34 is a blazing fast replacement for the venerable PC Card slot found on many notebooks, including several generations of PowerBook. ExpressCard is a serial interface delivering between 480 Mbytes/sec and 2.5 Gbit/sec/direction of bi-directional throughput, depending on the interface (USB 2.0 or PCI Express) while a CardBus PC Card is a parallel interface capable of only 33-132 Mbytes/sec.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.