View Full Version : The future is bright.... 10.4

03-27-2004, 11:55 AM
see rumour info below from http://www.macosrumors.com/

Looks like apple is pulling out all the stops to push the performance of the G5 chip with software optimisation, with claimed targets of 300% in some areas. I can't wait to see what a optimised version of LW will do on a os like this. Also see the bit a the bottom regarding X-grid.
By the end of the year the way we create content with LW could become a very different place, i.e. rendering times decreasing threefold, fprime, using x-grid for stills rendering.
Mac OS X 10.4 and the 'Year of the G5': Earlier today, we first spoke of receiving several (highly embargoed) reports detailing some of the planned features and marketing points for Mac OS X 10.4 (preliminary code-name "Merlot;" an official Big Cat codename has yet to be announced).

Now, thanks to the slight loosening of one of those embargoes, we can write in a little bit more detail about this. Some of 10.4's biggest features remain under wraps (even Apple is still in the late alpha phase, where feature lists remain in tremendous flux) via embargo, and still others are known to us in only the vaguest terms; some, no doubt, not at all.

That said, as we hinted in this afternoon's rumor update, from what we've been told the first and foremost improvement in 10.4 will be optimization for the PowerPC G5 (970, 970FX, 975). Not just another round of the lukewarm efforts Apple put into 10.3 Panther -- but rather a ground-up rewrite for as much of Mac OS X's codebase as Apple can manage between now and September when development is expected to wrap up.

There will undoubtedly still be some room for further improvements, particularly for the PowerPC 975 which is based on IBM's more advanced POWER5 architecture as opposed to the PPC 970/970FX which is based on the POWER4, but according to one of our most reliable sources familiar with Apple's OS development operations Cupertino expects to settle for nothing less than 85-90% of the gains that can be made by re-compiling and re-writing code for the G5.

Mac OS X has always been "64-bit clean," meaning that it was ready even from the Rhapsody days to migrate from 32-bit to 64-bit processors. However, users commonly confuse general 64-bit support with optimization for a particular 64-bit CPU, in this case the IBM G5. 10.4 will definitely take further advantage of the G5's 64-bit capabilities, but that will not require a dramatic effort. True G5 optimization, which means not just compiling code differently but actually changing the development philosophies used to create that code, requires a change in thinking by the developer him/herself. Compared with 'coding style' choices suggested by "60x/G3/G4" PowerPC software development guidelines, substantially different choices are required to write code that really takes full advantage of the G5's decidedly different capabilities, strong points and weak points.

Although it is definitely too soon to make predictions about specific performance gains from this change in how Mac OS X is written, ballpark figures given to us by sources range from over 300% in specific areas -- to a roughly 50% overall system and Finder speed boost from the G5-optimized code alone. This is on top of any performance gains made by 10.4 in hardware-independent areas.

One side effect of these optimization efforts is that 10.4 will contain as much as a 1-2GB or more of duplicate system components; one copy for G5 systems, another for earlier machines. This is because G5-specific code rarely breaks backward compatibility (thanks to the PowerPC's migration-smoothing design), but it often reduces performance when run on older PowerPC processors. To avoid performance hits on G3 and G4 systems, Apple will have to make both copies of the code available on the 10.4 Install CDs/DVD. There have even been hints that multiple discs could be required even with the DVD version!

Beyond G5 optimization, there are a few other features sources say are under consideration for 10.4 that sources haven't asked us to embargo:
*Expose 2.0, with more eye candy (imagine if Expose warped windows as they moved, ala the "Genie" minimizing effect) and new window-managing behaviors.
*Improved Help, which auto-updates and locally mirrors the support articles it accesses to give offline users more useful information.
*Support for multiple compression/encoding formats in the system's Archive function.
*Simplified Finder, with fewer buttons, bells and whistles active by default to distract less advanced users.

*Built-in Xgrid support: 10.4 owners will not need to install any extra software to take advantage of distributed computing resources on other 10.4 systems -- it will be ready out of the box.
*Even more Windows-friendly. Although we don't expect a full-blown "Red Box" Windows emulation/compatibility environment inside 10.4, Apple has examined in great detail how to further woo the Windows crowd, and this will be quite apparent when Merlot is first demo'd at WWDC