Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Qualms

582 words

August 9, 2004, 15:51

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Comment by d.w.: User icon

I remember Be’s explanation for not being able to run on 601-based machines was not that the processor was so different, but that the overall system architecture of the first generation Apple PPC machines was so different (NuBus vs. PCI) from the later ones, so talking to video, main memory, etc. was completely different. Properly written productivity software, of course, just talks to the OS, which abstracts all that away, but operating system kernels (and games written “to the bare metal” for performance reasons) have to deal with things like video hardware at a very low level, and in both cases (BeOS and Westlake, who IIRC did the Unreal port) they decided the engineering resources necessary to do it weren’t worth the effort on the first gen machines, which at that point were already a small enough portion of the PPC installed base (with clockspeeds that topped out around 100Mhz, remember) to make it less than worth the effort.

August 10, 2004, 18:30

Comment by ssp: User icon

I can understand these points. But they don’t really apply for what I had in mind. There was a full generation of 601-based PCI PowerMacs.

I used to have the 8200/120, so let’s say I felt a bit cheated at the time.

As far as I could tell the 601 felt faster per MHz than the 603. (Which may have been due to the technical differences in the ars article - basically my 8200/120 was at least as fast as my brother’s 4400/160 on everyday tasks, but slower on computation expensive ones like MP3 encoding – so probably Apple’s choice to frequently complement the 603 with sub-par boards and other hardware may have added to the impression.)

August 10, 2004, 18:58

Comment by d.w.: User icon

I actually didn’t remember there being any PCI based 601 Macs! Looking here explains why: the 8200 wasn’t sold in N. America (though the 7200 was, but I’m pretty sure I never actually saw one.) That was during that horrible nasty Spindler/Amelio period when Apple sold dozens of nearly identical beige boxes with nearly identical names, segregated into different product segments (home vs. educational vs. business, Europe vs. Asia vs. N. America…) and no one understood the product line or what differentiated a 7200 from a 4200 from a 4300/AV… ugh.

Anyway, yeah, they used to do stupid things like crippling machines by selling them with no L2 cache, or with 16-bit video, or whatever. The 603 was the designated “low end” chip so machines based around it were frequently the victims of these kneecappings.

August 10, 2004, 22:10

Comment by ssp: User icon

Once you look at the ‘big’ picture things do start getting fuzzy. Over here we didn’t have any 4xxx models before the 4400, therer were only the 6, 7, 8 series to begin with. The 7200 was quite a popular machine, and the 8200 was quite good as well but rather uncommon. With the L2 cache and 4MB of VRAM it could do quite a few things. It’s a very strange and non-upgradable machine, though (not that I cared, as I don’t believe in significant upgrades, I never even bought a PCI card of which it can take 3).

There was also the 7500 as a 601 based PCI PowerMac.

I’d also say that the 4400 was the only truely ugly computer (there used to be a readme with MacsBug which claimed that new features were recognition of the Powerbook G3 Series “Main Street”, Powerbook G3 “Wall Street” and PowerMac 4400 “Who cares?” hardware. [I may have gotten the Powerbook names wrong here for the obvious reasons]). Needless to say, the 4400 was rather cheap and thus relatively successful in Germany.

Anyway, those were strange times. I remember people saying that buying a PowerMac would be future proof in terms of the upcoming new OS (System 8, Copland). Then people said - well not the first NuBus generation because it’s got too much legacy stuff in there, but the PCI PowerMacs would be future proof. Then… ahh we all know the story. That was probably even worse than not being able to play Unreal.

(Not that I didn’t like OS 8 and 9 as they came to exist, system 7.5.3 was pretty crappy if we’re honest. I booted into OS 9 recently and was very happy to see how snappy things can be and how little space Finder windows could take while showing exactly what I was interested in.)

August 11, 2004, 0:16

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