Is anyone really surprised

At Macworld, Steve Jobs announced that the new Intel Core Duo-powered iMac and MacBook Pro would be anywhere from two to four times faster than their PowerPC counterparts.
  • Apple today unveiled the new iMac featuring Mac OS X running on the new Intel Core Duo processor, delivering performance that is up to twice that of its predecessor.

  • Apple today unveiled its new MacBook Pro notebook computer featuring the new Intel Core Duo processor which delivers up to four times the performance of the PowerBook G4.

Anyone familiar with Apple's performance claims in the past should have looked at these performance claims rather skeptically. Apple has long touted the superiority of their PowerPC chips over AMD/Intel's x86-based counterparts in performance, so for them to claim anywhere from two to four times the performance of their “uber” G4 and G5 PowerPC chips should have have raised some red flags.

MacWorld put Apple's claims to the test and ran some benchmarks on Apple's new 2GHz iMac Core Duo and the 2.1GHz iMac G5. The site's testing showed that the new iMac Core Duo was on average 1.1 to 1.3 times faster than the iMac G5. In a few cases, there was either no performance increase at all or an actual performance decrease. The iMac Core Duo was, however, able to crank out startup times that were 1.8 times faster than its older counterpart.

But where things get really interesting are in applications that don't have Intel-native versions. These applications must instead use Apple's Rosetta emulation software which resulted in performance that was about half of what was seen on the iMac G5:

We tested three different non-native applications on the Intel-based iMac, and compared the results to the iMac G5. All of the tests showed that PowerPC applications run on the new iMac at less than half their native speed. Our standard Microsoft Word scrolling test ran at 48 percent of the speed it ran on the iMac G5; our standard battery of 14 Photoshop CS tasks ran at 45 percent of the G5's speed; an MP3 encode using the non-native iTunes 6.0.1 ran at 34 percent of the speed.

The new Core Duo based machines are by all means a great accomplishment for Apple company, but the company is going to have to get up a bit earlier in the morning to get one over on us. Maybe MacBook Pro benchmarks will show performance closer in line with the hype, but I'm not holding my breath.

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