Why do some G4 bechmarks look a lot like a fast G3?

When using G4TimeDemo there is a big speedup compared with results from a G3/500. A G4/450 is almost twice as fast. Yet other tests, such as the Macintouch G4 benchmarks show a much smaller improvement. Why is G4TimeDemo so much faster on a G4?

Old applications

    The Macintouch G4 benchmarks measure the improvement in existing applications, such as Adobe Photoshop 5.5 and Casady & Greene's Sound Jam MP 1.1. These are older applications which were started before the G4 arrived. Certain parts of the code have been enhanced to support the Velocity Engine in the G4. For example, Photoshop provides a plug-in to speed up some operations, such as Gaussian Blur.

    The important phrase is Certain parts of the code. The applications have not been designed from the 'ground up' for the Velocity Engine and the G4. Pieces of them have been improved. This means that the G4 will speed up some parts of the application, but not all of it. A fast G3 may even be faster than a slow G4 at some things, so the differences between a G3 and G4 may not be very big in real world operations.

PC ported games

    The same issues may apply to the PC port of a game. If the game was not designed to use all the features of a G4, then the game may actually be faster on a G3/500 with a good video card compared with a G4/400. From our testing and other peoples benchmarks of PC ports, one very interesting difference is apparent. PC games seem to be designed for PC's with slower CPU's and faster 3D cards than those in the G4 (or even some G3's). This means that the common advice for G3 and G4 owners who want good PC gameplay is to switch your video card (which you already paid for) for a faster one.

    However, if G4's are so much faster than G3's or Windows PCs, then you are going to need a 3D card that is faster than any available for a PC to make the most of your G4! This is very unlikely to happen anytime soon. If you don't have such an unbelievably fast 3D card, the G4 will always be slowed down from maximum speed by the design of the game. Even if such a card existed, it may not be enough, as the AGP graphics bus may not be fast enough to cope. Even a good port may not help, as everything has to change - how many polygons there are in a level, how many characters are on the screen, and the amount of physics calculations going on.

New applications and new games

    New applications, of which G4TimeDemo is the first example, are designed from the 'ground up' for the G4. Rather than add some G4 code to an existing application, they are designed from the start for the G4, and take full advantage of all that hardware you are paying for. A PC port or an existing application with some Velocity Engine bits bolted on is a bit like taking the engine from a big expensive car (e.g. an expensive Mercedes) and putting it in a light sports car (e.g. a Ferrari). The Ferrari will still go fast, but it will never behave as well as with the original engine that the car was designed for.

    PC games are designed for slower CPUs and faster 3D cards. If you design for a G4, you design for a fast CPU and slower 3D graphics. Games will look different from PC games. Level design, character design, even physics will be different. Of course, the G4 will allow games to be made that PC's will not be able to do for some time. For this to happen, the games will have to be Mac first, as they will be designed with the G4 in mind. Only then will you see games that really show what your Mac can do. G4TimeDemo is a taste of things to come.

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