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Summary:

Anandtech, well known for thei in-depth PC hardware reviews, have looked at the G5 with some interesting results and caveats.

Anandtech have an excellent reputation for in-depth reviews of hardware, and now they’ve repeated their usual exercise using G5 hardware. There’s a major caveat at the beginning of the article:

This article is written solely from the frustration that I could not get a clear picture on what the G5 and Mac OS X are capable of. So, be warned; this is not an all-round review. It is definitely the worst buyer’s guide that you can imagine. This article cares about speed, performance, and nothing else! No comments on how well designed the internals are, no elaborate discussions about user friendliness, out-of-the-box experience and other subjective subjects. But we think that you should have a decent insight to where the G5/Mac OS X combination positions itself when compared to the Intel & AMD world at the end of this article.

The comparisons are made between the G5 and equivalent Opteron and Pentium/Xeon based systems in the key areas Apple is pushing, database performance and web serving, using the staples of MySQL and Apache respectively. They also test the G5 running both OS X and Linux.

The results are interesting. Some of the performance numbers are atrocious, but they attribute the problems to Mac OS X (and in particular it’s threading model) rather than pointing the finger at the G5 processor. This is based on similar tests carried out on the same machine running Linux which achieved much better results.

Where they do see the G5 has an advantage is as a desktop solution, rather than a server solution. These threading issues preclude it’s use as a server, but correctly optimized applications that make use of the Altivec instructions obviously have an advantage. That’s not something that really comes out of the stats in the article, but it’s a conclusion they lead towards at the end of the article.

Certainly worth a read if you are worried and/or interested about G5 performance and quite possibly the recent Intel rumors (although changing CPU wouldn’t fix the threading issue in OS X!).

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  1. Correction: They do not test Linux on the G5. They merely argue that Linux on the G5 might be a better choice for server applications than OS X.

    They are probably right, but it is a bit misleading. For most websites the performance difference will not matter. A site that gets a couple thousand hits a day could be handled on a X Server running OS x without too much difficulty.

    Heavy load sites could improve performance by switching to Linux, but at the cost of ease of use. My main website runs Linux, as are my other sewrvers. I would not argue that Linux is easier to use and maintain than OS X though. For a client without an experienced administrator and moderate to low load OS X could easily justify its cost and performance hit based on maintainability ands lwer admin threshold.

  2. It is a bit surprising that people still believe that other Operating sytems are more maintainable when it comes to Web Servers. Since OSX is derived from BSD, it is no more and no less maintainable than Linux itself.

    Therefore the cost benefit of using Linux as webservers would certainly tilt the balance in its favour. Add to that the fact that Linux can handle higher loads and the choice should be clear..

    Pallav

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