PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

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PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:59 am



Saw this video (TenFourFox is mentioned!) I thought the analysis here was fair, considering how old these computers are.
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:42 pm

Interesting video. 8-Bit Guy did a very similar video six years ago where he forced himself to use an iBook G4 as his primary system for a week:



He concluded that they were still quite usable for everyday tasks in 2010.
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Shiunbird » Sun Feb 26, 2017 2:34 am

I do most of my serious business on my G5 Quad, in both Mac OS and Linux, depending on what I'm doing.
I own an Intel Mac Mini, but that's mostly a Civilization 5 machine to play with my friends, and random web browsing is done on my employer-provided iPad.

The Mini is up 24-7, but it can't handle high CPU load for a long time without giving up (bunch of VMs, and etc), and whenever I want to do something serious and be sure it gets done to the end, I end up using the G5. And the IntelliStation will replace 2 HP Microservers and the Mac Mini as my linux/24-7 machine once I get it up to speed.

From 10 years back, computers are fast enough for almost anything you throw at them, just sometimes you have to wait more, besides things like 4K video or the newest games.

Some of my colleagues, surprisingly working in IT, use their Windows laptops and replace them whenever they start feeling slower. Recently one of them replaced a 3-year old Lenovo ThinkPad W-something that has 16GB of RAM and 2 SSDs. How can that be slow I wonder...
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:20 pm

My daily drivers are a Quad G5 (usually in Reduced, but it runs fine, if loudly sometimes, in Highest), and a 1GHz iMac G4. The G4 is certainly poky, but it's decent. I don't feel that the G5 is terribly slow, personally.

For laptops, I alternate between an i7 MBA and a 1.33GHz iBook G4, but the MBA admittedly gets more use because it's smaller and lighter and has better battery life, though the iBook still manages around 3-4 hours under modest usage.

I'm displeased the 11" MBA was discontinued, because the current small MacBook leaves me really cold.
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:37 pm

The G5's biggest problem for me and why I've never held onto any of them is their power consumption and the noise. Even the water-cooling models make a low frequency buzz not unlike a Keurig coffee machine. They're also far slower than I'm willing to put up with. My W530 is fast enough to game and be a regular everyday system and with me_cleaner I don't have to worry about the backdoors Intel has been putting in their PCs for years.

The other issue with the G5 was OS support. FreeBSD runs okayish on it but not everything works, I've been able to use my friends Power8 server with a big endian FreeBSD VM and it was much more usable (didn't attempt X or graphics at all though) simply from a userland standpoint, less shit was broken! Either way, little endian is POWER's future. I would consider the A One X3500/X5000 if it wasnt inordinately expensive. The ARM offerings are paltry. I need a 64-bit system with decent power. I'm probably going to eventually get an Power8 ATX board that will fit in a nice ATX case I have lying around and use that as a development machine for Fox BSD and utilize its virtualization to run both Linux and BSD variant operating systems
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:32 pm

Even the water-cooling models make a low frequency buzz not unlike a Keurig coffee machine.


I don't notice this in Reduced mode, but my unit has a refurbished LCS.
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:52 pm

Owned two of them - the one I sold to you that got busted up by FedEx (I still owe you for that, lmk if/when you ever need anything) and another that I re-hosed, changed the fluid and the O-rings on for a friend. They both make a sound even after bled the other one that sounds like a Keurig or other high pressure coffee maker makes when they draw water from the water tank.
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Y888099 » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:01 am

Raion-Fox wrote:I'm probably going to eventually get an Power8 ATX board that will fit in a nice ATX case I have lying around and use that as a development machine


That's interesting! Which Power8 ATX board ? Where can you get it?
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby robespierre » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:12 am

Y888099 wrote:That's interesting! Which Power8 ATX board ? Where can you get it?

The Tyan BP010 and BP012 are available from http://www.advancedhpc.com for around $4k (note that I have not done business with them and do not know if they are in stock or not).
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Y888099 » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:30 am

I believe the best PowerPC 32bit ever made is the PowerMac G4 MDD dual 1.4Ghz!

It comes with four PCI slots at 64bit, and processors can be upgraded with the last super-rare Sonnet dual-cpu kit.
Elegant, powerful, I believe there is no other G4 tower in these conditions around the world!

Linux works great there!
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:17 pm

Y888099 wrote:I believe the best PowerPC 32bit ever made is the PowerMac G4 MDD dual 1.4Ghz!

It comes with four PCI slots at 64bit, and processors can be upgraded with the last super-rare Sonnet dual-cpu kit.
Elegant, powerful, I believe there is no other G4 tower in these conditions around the world!

Linux works great there!


It's also limited to 31-bit addressing (2GB) has no 64-bit support, is slow as a sloth with AIDS and noisy as hell.

The G5 air cooled are even worse even though they have far better memory capabilities.

I don't get the hard on for obsolete 32-bit hardware. Even my old SPARC and MIPS computers are all 64-bit - even if the Indy can only support 256MB and the O2 can only support 1GB it doesn't matter when you have a screaming fast CPU. I'd not be surprised if a dual 600 Octane outclasses a dual G4 MDD.

I did some tests with my roommates dual CPU G5 aircooled and my Tezro (4x1GHz) before the fuckwad kicked me out, and it turns out my Tezro was more than capable of holding its own - it failed a number of times due to the G5 having a faster SATA interface, faster memory etc. but not by much - it was mostly immeasurable. Namely, I did manage to compile libevent on MIPSPro considerably faster than the G5 - which seemed hesitant to do anything at all :/

The Tyan dual sockets are in stock at a few retailers, IBM also sells a system for like $5000 thats nicely equpped.
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Y888099 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:39 am

Raion-Fox wrote:It's also limited to 31-bit addressing (2GB) has no 64-bit support, is slow as a sloth with AIDS and noisy as hell


Nah, it's fast for my needs! gEDA doesn't need more than 700MB of ram. So 2GB is fine!
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby guardian452 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 6:11 am

Raion-Fox wrote: I'd not be surprised if a dual 600 Octane outclasses a dual G4 MDD.


You're comparing a $30,000 machine to a $3,000 machine of the same vintage.

SiliconClassics wrote:He concluded that they were still quite usable for everyday tasks in 2010.

2010 was a long time ago in the computer industry. Those machines are twice as old now.

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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Y888099 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:30 am

guardian452 wrote:2010 was a long time ago in the computer industry. Those machines are twice as old now.


Well, sadly the Truth: for a lot of C++ applications and C++ library (e.g. QT) needs more than 2GB or ram and modern simulators eats more than 3GB of ram. So you'd better have 64bit kernel and userland, and more than 4GB or ram installed in your system.

PowerMac-G4 are doomed since they are limited to 2GB. Correct!

Fortunately I don't need to develop on C++, but I happen to use those simulators, and I have recently installed 8GB of ram on my C3600 because I need 6GB of ram disk. I am using opensource-EDA and its simulators on linux-hppa and they all run 400% faster in this way.

In the theory I could buy a sATA-RAM-DISK but it's very expensive: 32GB costs 500 euro + VAT + postage.

It's the main and only reason why I have put 130 euro in 8GB of ram and also the reason why I have moved from 32bit-kernel to 64bit-kernel, but I am still with 32bit userland. No reasons to move, especially on an experimental architecture.

I bought a XEON M3 machine for my job staff. It's also perfect for commercial EDA (OrCad, Altium, etc), even OrCAD requires x86 and Windows. Unfortunately I am still with a mixed set of 32bit and 64bit applications. Some of them requires XP/32bit, so … I am obliged to have a virtualizer, and WMPlayer is perfect for my needs.
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Re: PowerPC Macs - Are They Still Useful?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:36 am

Y888099 wrote:Nah, it's fast for my needs! gEDA doesn't need more than 700MB of ram. So 2GB is fine!


Not everyone has that level of needs. Some of us, like me, have to test databases that are fastest when completely loaded into RAM - some of the ones I've tested are 6-16GB in size - so my everyday PC has 32GB of RAM.

guardian452 wrote:You're comparing a $30,000 machine to a $3,000 machine of the same vintage.


The clock speed of an Octane at 600MHz is more than twice as slow as a 1.42GHz MDD. The MDD has DDR RAM, vs the SDR of the Octane, and the 2MX and greater graphics cards do perform on par or better than a V8/V12.

Y888099 wrote:Fortunately I don't need to develop on C++, but I happen to use those simulators, and I have recently installed 8GB of ram on my C3600 because I need 6GB of ram disk. I am using opensource-EDA and its simulators on linux-hppa and they all run 400% faster in this way.

In the theory I could buy a sATA-RAM-DISK but it's very expensive: 32GB costs 500 euro + VAT + postage.

It's the main and only reason why I have put 130 euro in 8GB of ram and also the reason why I have moved from 32bit-kernel to 64bit-kernel, but I am still with 32bit userland. No reasons to move, especially on an experimental architecture.

I bought a XEON M3 machine for my job staff. It's also perfect for commercial EDA (OrCad, Altium, etc), even OrCAD requires x86 and Windows. Unfortunately I am still with a mixed set of 32bit and 64bit applications. Some of them requires XP/32bit, so … I am obliged to have a virtualizer, and WMPlayer is perfect for my needs.


You have quite abstract needs for a computer. Overwatch on my W530 burns through 9GB of RAM. My video rendering can easily take up 12GB.

I'm limited in some ways by using a laptop as a workstation, but other than the fact that the Quadro K1000M is not super good for some modern games, I'm quite happy with it. The docking station is nice, the screen is good etc.

The way I see it, with an eventual upgrade of the CPU, I can use this computer until it falls apart.

I did use a Powerbook G4 15" 1.5GHz 2GB in 2009-2011 as my main and a G4 MDD but I sold the MDD to a buddy and the G4 got beat into dust from being dropped/broke so many times.
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