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Snow Leopard in action looks a lot like OS X Leopard, but its significantly faster, according to Apple.  (Source: Apple)

The new OS also improves accessibility, adding support for braille wireless accessories for the visually impaired.  (Source: Apple)
Apple is ready to spread OS X 10.6 to the masses

Apple's new operating system, OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", will beat the company's own launch target of September – an official launch date of August 28 was just announced.  The new OS is priced at $29 per license for OS X Leopard users (with additional discounts for bulk license users).  Apple notes, "Snow Leopard builds on a decade of OS X innovation and success with hundreds of refinements, new core technologies and out of the box support for Microsoft Exchange."

Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, describes, "Snow Leopard builds on our most successful operating system ever and we’re happy to get it to users earlier than expected.  For just $29, Leopard users get a smooth upgrade to the world’s most advanced operating system and the only system with built in Exchange support."

The new OS is set to go head-to-head with Microsoft's Windows 7 and delivers many major improvements for Mac users.

Over 90 percent of the 1,000 core programs in OS X had their performance tuned and improved, according to Apple.  Many -- namely, Finder, Mail, iCal, iChat, and Safari -- were moved from 32-bit into a 64-bit world, which boosts memory performance, among other things.  Apple says that its Finder is "more responsive", its Mail client is twice as fast, and Time Machine is 80 percent faster at its initial backup.

Apple includes the new QuickTime X and Safari 4 with the OS.  Apple says that the new version of Safari is more resistant to plug-in crashes and 50 percent faster at general web browsing (Safari recently received the accolade of being listed by Futuremark as tied with Google's Chrome as the fastest browser).

The size of the installation has also been cut in half freeing 7 GB. 

Apple is pushing a couple of new technologies with Snow Leopard.  The first is its Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) a technology designed to optimize multi-core usage.  Another new tech is OpenCL, a C-based open standard, which looks to provide heterogenous processing on both GPUs and CPUs.

Ironically, one of Apple's biggest selling point with the new OS comes from competitor Microsoft.  Apple explains, "Snow Leopard is the only desktop operating system with built in support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, and it allows you to use Mac OS X Mail, Address Book and iCal to send and receive email, create and respond to meeting invitations, and search and manage contacts with global address lists. Exchange information works seamlessly within Snow Leopard so users can also take advantage of OS X only features such as fast Spotlight searches and Quick Look previews."

Unlimited licenses of Snow Leopard are available for $499, half the price of an unlimited pack for Leopard.  The new OS will start shipping this Friday to customers that pre-order. has already been holding an unofficial pre-order for the last couple weeks and saw Snow Leopard jump to the top of its software sales charts.

Snow Leopard Server will launch on August 28, as well, alongside the new consumer OS.  The Server edition comes with Podcast Producer 2 and Mobile Access Server and costs $499 for an unlimited license.

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By on 8/24/2009 7:54:41 PM , Rating: 2
I agree it is a good move, but I feel unless you move to newer hardware, you're pretty much SOL.

How would you know this for a fact without actually trying Snow Leopard?

There is no reason why my Macbook can't address 8GB of ram with a 64-bit OS, but Apple went ahead and made sure to cripple it to only work with a maximum of 2GB of ram, which sucks. I have a laptop that cost $1700 at the time it was purchased, but it was crippled by the company.

Dells, HPs, Lenovos, etc with the same hardware from the same period could support 8GB of ram, provided you have a 64-bit OS.

Sorry, this claim is simply wrong.

From your other posts, there is enough information to identify your exact Macbook model:

This MacBook model has GMA950 graphics. Using the list of Intel chipsets at we can eliminate the possibility of 8GB. All the mobile chipsets with GMA950 are codenamed "Calistoga". There is only one Calistoga variant which supports more than 2GB while also having GMA950: the 945GM, which supports 4GB.

Does that mean you can really use 4GB on the 945GM? No. If you carefully read the chip's manual:

You will find that it doesn't support 64-bit addresses for PCI, so PCI devices are always mapped below 4GB. It has a register, TOLUD, which is used to set the partition point between RAM and PCI address space. Every address below TOLUD is interpreted as a RAM address by the address decoder, and everything above is an access to PCI.

The highest possible setting for TOLUD reserves 128MB for the APIC (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller), probably since the APIC is the most essential memory mapped peripheral (a computer without an interrupt controller isn't terribly useful). This means that in theory -- if the OS/machine does not need any use of PCI devices other than the APIC -- a 945GM computer could use as much as 3.875GB of RAM.

In practice, of course, reserving more address space for PCI devices is required for a useful machine. You probably wouldn't be able to use things like USB, ATA/SATA, etc. if TOLUD was set to its maximum value. Apple appears to have chosen 1GB as the amount to reserve for PCI, leaving 3GB for DRAM.

Apple also chose to only advertise the machine as supporting 2GB, even though their firmware is set up to allow 3GB. Why they did this, I do not know, although I think I have a reasonable guess. The 945GM has a dual-channel memory controller. Installing SODIMMs in size-matched pairs allows it to enable "symmetric mode", which increases performance. That means if you want 3GB without disabling interleave, you are forced to buy two 2GB SODIMMs and waste half of one of them.

Apple is not a company which wants to try to explain something as complex as this to a non technical consumer. So you get a bonus over the promised 2GB, provided that you're willing to live with reduced performance (a 1GB+2GB DIMM configuration) or wasted memory (2+2).

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