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It’s even funny that this “cheap” way to success brings no victory to Apple. The performance results for PowerPC970 as benchmarked by Apple were 800 in SPECint_base and 840 for SPECfp_base. Considering that Apple tested a 2GHz PowerPC970, it’s strange they got smaller results than IBM for the 1.8GHz model (IBM quotes 937 and 1051, respectively). That’s a shameless fraud and I really doubt such benchmarking methods will add Apple any popularity. Is it so bad with the sales that this measure was necessary?

But maybe that’s because the trump of PowerPC970 processor, the AltiVec technology, is not used in any way? Maybe this technology can turn the tables?

Well…We see the same marketing miracles again here. Firstly, Apple juggles with some mythical 16 Gigaflops on the 2GHz PowerPC970. But they forget to stress a trifle: the numbers refer to 32-bit calculation precision. Let me remind you that the very notion of Gigaflop was defined specifically for 64-bit precision. Yes, I could think of some spheres where 32-bit representation of numbers is quite enough for calculations, but they are scarce. Scientific and technical calculations as a rule involve 64-bit precision, as this is the minimally sufficient precision for this type of tasks. It’s a lie that 32-bit precision is enough for everyone. Of course, this performance is compared to correct performance results for x86 processors that use 64-bit precision. All of this goes under a banner of “fair game”.

Sorry, dear Apple marketing guys, but I don’t feel like eating this. You either follow the standard testing methodology from the SPEC committee (or give your systems to someone else to benchmark), or don’t quote performance results in SPEC at all. Give me nothing, if you can’t give me the truth. User-friendliness, ease of use, impressive stability – these are things you can limit yourselves with. You can talk about your leadership in multimedia. Trying to say your processor is the best, you forget that marketing should show advantages, rather than confuse the potential customer. Your “marketing” is a blatant lie.

You didn’t make it, guys, and that’s sad. Your processor wasn’t that bad, really.

Epilogue

Let me end this article with this sad note. PowerPC970 is the example of an improper marketing campaign. As we have seen, PowerPC970 processor (and the whole platform) is not bad at all. But it is not the best, either. Yes, it is slower than x86 processors and I can’t see any reasons for this gap to become smaller. No clusters on PowerPC970 will change this situation (recently Apple triumphed over a cluster on two-way PowerPC970 platforms in one of US universities). By the way, Apple is again not quite honest saying the cluster cost $5 million. This number doesn’t include the cost of building the cluster (the students who built it were working for pizza!), the cost of the cooling system, and other expenses. Apple says the university got the equipment at a special price. I won’t even tell you about the size of the system – they used ordinary system cases rather than Rack Mounts.

I hope Apple won’t continue using such “marketing methods”. It is simply very sad to see things like that happening in a company that was a pioneer and initiator of many revolutions and breakthroughs in the personal computer industry.

I would like to sincerely thank Vadim Levchenko, Yury Malich, Sergey Romanov and Valeria Filimonova whose feedback was very helpful. My special thanks go to Jan Keruchenko who contributed a lot to the hardest passages.

Links

  1. http://www-306.ibm.com/chips/techlib/techlib.nsf/techdocs/A1387A29AC1C2AE087256C5200611780/$file/PPC970_MPF2002.pdf
  2. http://www-306.ibm.com/chips/techlib/techlib.nsf/techdocs/A2CE393ABF2CE99787256D21006AE8A2/$file/PPC970_MPF_Review.pdf
  3. http://www-306.ibm.com/chips/techlib/techlib.nsf/techdocs/F6153E213FDD912E87256D49006C6541/$file/pem._64bit.d20030611.pdf
  4. http://a896.g.akamai.net/7/896/51/322f477f7e432d/www.apple.com/powermac/pdf/PowerPC_G5_WP_12082003.pdf
  5. http://a1280.g.akamai.net/7/1280/51/3aa967f4ca31ab/www.apple.com/powermac/pdf/PowerMacG5_TO_111803.pdf
  6. http://arstechnica.com/cpu/02q2/ppc970/ppc970-1.html
  7. http://arstechnica.com/cpu/03q1/ppc970/ppc970-0.html
  8. http://www.spec.org/cpu2000/results/cint2000.html
  9. http://www.spec.org/cpu2000/results/cfp2000.html
 
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