Tuesday, January 31, 2006

OS X does not use the X1600's H.264 decode acceleration

Although the new iMac Core Duo does extremely well at H.264 playback, it apparently does so without the help of the Radeon X1600. OS X does not (yet) use this GPU's H.264 decode acceleration capabilities.

While that is a bit of a disappointment, there is a silver lining. It means that Core Duo CPU alone is very well-suited to this task, and given the fact that HD H.264 playback usually uses less than half of the computing power of a mid-clocked Core Duo, it may bode well for a future single-core Yonah-based Mac mini for use as an HD HTPC. Even if the first Yonah Mac mini is borderline for this usage, it certainly will be a vast improvement over the current G4-based Mac mini.

AnandTech tests iMac G5 vs iMac Core Duo and Solo

AnandTech has posted a fairly extensive set of benchmarks comparing the iMac G5 1.9 GHz vs iMac Core Duo 1.83 GHz. Interestingly, this article also tests the Core Solo 1.83 GHz configuration, by deactivating one of the iMac Core Duo's cores using the developer tools.

Their conclusion is one that I agree with: If you need a computer now to do very basic things such as what can be done with Apple's iLife and iWork applications, the iMac Core Duo is an excellent and fast solution. However, if you need anything substantial that is not a universal binary then you'd better think twice. I personally will be waiting until at least late 2006 or possibly even 2007 before I buy my first Intel Mac. Rosetta translation is a significant achievement, but it can only take you so far when you want to do real work with your applications. Don't forget about drivers for your third party hardware either, since existing drivers may or may not work with the new Intel machines.