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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.  Amazon.com 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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RE: Ordered
By ffakr on 8/25/2009 12:16:10 AM , Rating: 5
The High End iMac ships with a Radeon 4850. That's a pretty high end video card. Even the lowly GT 120 is fast in terms of parallel Floating point performance.

I know there's really no point with arguing with the 12 year olds on Daily Tech,.. but what the hell, I've got nothing better to do right now.

Most of you have no idea what you're talking about.

* OpenCL is a high level API that abstracts technologies like FireStream and CUDA. If a new chip technology comes on the market with the appropriate instruction support, OpenCL will be able to support that as well (with little under the hood, and probably no developer changes). It's cool because it's the easiest way to write GPU accellerated code.
* OpenCL is called OpenCL in part because the functions map to OpenGL instructions. Rendering 3d and doing generic matrix math have a lot in common. It's no concidence that CUDA, FireStream and OpenCL use GPUs that are capable of running OpenGL code.. They all specialize in the same math.
* I know some of you hate Apple but I'll have to break it to you. OpenCL is an open standard. Apple was just a major contributor and a steerer of the project. OpenCL is open to Microsoft and the Linux community if they choose to adopt it.
* Yes, even a lowly GT120 or 9400M will do certain calculations faster than a Xeon or Operton. The point of OpenCL isn't to run Crysis. If that's all you can see, you're a moron [or a 12 year old]. Apple's providing a powerful tool to leverage a GPU with very minimial coding effort. If I need to do FFTs or Matrix Multiplication and I can move the data back and forth to the GPU without taking a big hit from the context switch, there's a good chance even the lowly GPU will be quite a bit faster than the CPU. A 9400 is a 16 "core" chip and a GT120 is a 32 "core" chip. These are simple cores that don't have nearly as many instructions available to them as a GPCPU but they can do an awful lot of work in parallel if it happens to be the 'right kind of work'. A Mac Mini has a dual core CPU. Do you see why it might be nice to leverage that lowly 16 core co-processor to help with heavy lifting.. like transcoding video in iMovie?

This isn't about how much faster Crysis will run, it's about tapping under-utilized computation resources in a computer system.
What you, as end users, will see is significant performance increases in some consumer apps. There are already CUDA aware apps for Windows which perform some functions, like transcoding video, at several times the unaccellerated rates. You can find examples at Nvidia's CUDA site. They've got more example apps with the speed increases posted every week.

Perhaps the best example of OpenCL's utility is how we might use OpenCL. Right now we're working with CUDA (an analog) because it can do some things two orders of magnitude faster than a CPU [with a powerful GPU]. Some Mathematica parallel routines are up to 100x faster with version 7's CUDA support.
The Accellereyes Jacket libraries for Matlab are 5-10-20x faster for supported calculations.
Go to the Portland Group's site to watch a demo of their next Fortan Compiler's CUDA support. It can be an order of magnitude faster with a GPU than with a CPU.

I really hate to shatter the world view of everyone here, but every new technology isn't designed for Gamers. OpenCL is extremely cool. It's extremely powerful. I've seen 3rd party app acceleration with OpenCL already. It's extremely impressive. If you're doing 'the right kind of' math, it's easy to realize a 10X performance increase with a decent video card.
The really cool thing about OpenCL though, is that the developers don't have to write to the Chip. Accelereyes Jacket is a CUDA acceleration library for Mathematica. If it were written with OpenCL rather than CUDA.. it would work on ATI and Nvidia systems. That's the real power of OpenCL.


RE: Ordered
By Pirks on 8/25/2009 1:26:33 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The High End iMac ships with a Radeon 4850. That's a pretty high end video card
Well, looks like telling these obvious things to Alex and Omni is a waste of time. The boys just like to bash Apple, that's all. Let'em play :)


RE: Ordered
By Alexstarfire on 8/25/2009 3:59:13 AM , Rating: 2
Ahhh, I'm quite sorry for getting that information wrong. I went and looked on the Apple website before posting but missed it. I checked several computers to see if I could configure it with a better video card, but I couldn't. I therefore assumed, which I suppose I shouldn't have, that none of them could be configured with a better video card. Still, the cheapest computer with that card would cost you $2000 from what I'm looking at, the 24-inch 2.93 Ghz iMac. I find it atrocious that it's a $200 upgrade to get a card that can be had for half that price for a PC. And mind you that's full price, not just for an upgrade.

Unlike Pirks, I can admit when I've made a mistake. With this new information I can say that what Omni said is false, but for all intents is quite true. You have to pay and arm and a leg to get a decent video card for a Mac. Though, I'd be interested to know just what kind of performance boost you'd get out of these video cards with OpenCL.


RE: Ordered
By MrBlastman on 8/25/2009 11:00:34 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget to mention the fact that the 24-inch iMac's response time for the screen is ~14 ms.

Far too slow to do any serious hardcore gaming. With a screen that slow you'll be seriously hindered in your playing ability.

A 5 ms screen for me is even way too slow, 2 ms is acceptable but nothing beats the sub 1 ms CRT's. So really, what is the point of having a fancy graphics adapter on a MAC if their displays are slow as heck?


RE: Ordered
By Alexstarfire on 8/25/2009 2:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares about games on a Mac? We all know that Mac OS is horrible for games and that no person in their right mind buys a Mac for gaming.


RE: Ordered
By MrBlastman on 8/25/2009 2:07:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you're right. :) But, to me, I only see a point in fancy high-speed graphics hardware for gaming. That is really the only point my desktop computer serves for at home. My laptop and office computers are for work.

The thing is--do Mac users know the Mac OS is horrible for gaming? Probably not. Apple's website says the 24 incher is good for gaming. We all know i-Fans follow the word of Jobs.


RE: Ordered
By Alexstarfire on 8/25/2009 4:03:42 AM , Rating: 1
I probably never made my stance clear, but I was never referring to games in my posts. I was referring to whatever tasks would be sent to the GPU.

Ohh, and the amount of actual cores isn't comparable to a CPU since they aren't designed the same. Much like saying a P4 and a P1 are equal just because they both have only 1 core.


"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton














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