Friday night topic: G4 benchmarks reveal truth

— 6:32 PM on March 15, 2002

The Register picked up a theme we've been following for a while now with this story about the performance of a dual G4 processor-based box in industry-standard SPEC benchmarks conducted by C't. Whether or not you like SPEC, the comparative data of the G4 versus familiar x86 CPUs is instructive. And Macolytes may not like what they learn:

The German tech bible has put the latest dual G4s through the SPEC CPU2000 processor benchmark, and the results make dismal reading for hardcore Apple loyalists. C't found that the RISC-based machines running OS X fall severely short of expectations, being bested in the floating point tests by an eighteen month old Pentium III-based machine

You might still be able to buy one of these, on eBay.

In the integer tests, which give a better indication of performance for the kind of general-purpose desktop computing most of use every day, the G4 held its own against the ancient Pentium running at 1Ghz.

But when C't ran the floating point benchmarks it found that performance was particularly wanting. The elegant PowerPC was designed with floating point as a key consideration, and with these kind of tests, it should be on home turf.

As C't wryly notes, "In theory the PowerPC FPU with its 32 registers ought to have been superior to the x86 FPU with its antiquated stack structure and eight registers only."

The G4 scored between 147 and 187 on the floating point tests, while the Pentium III scored 297. Today's Pentium 4's double that figure, and as a result, today's PCs are four times as fast as Apple's professional line in some situations.

(You can see the full benchmarks here.) So the G4 isn't all that fast. But then we knew that, didn't we?


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