Performance of GMA950 in Mac mini

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by Beafy, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Beafy

    Newcomer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Germany
    Hi everyone!

    Apple has just announced updated models of their Mac mini. As an owner of an older model, I am wondering if the new onboard GPU Intel GMA950 is actually better than the previous one, a Radeon 9200? It even uses shared memory, which always seemed like a big no-no to me for any kind of halfway-decent performace...

    Specs of the new version:
    http://www.apple.com/macmini/whatsinside.html

    Does it perhaps support some vital features needed to run Quartz Extreme or whatever GPU compositor Apple will use in Mac OS 10.5?
     
  2. Florin

    Florin Merrily dodgy
    Veteran Subscriber

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2003
    Messages:
    1,650
    Likes Received:
    222
    Location:
    The colonies
    Well, the only review I've found of the GMA950 is here at Extremetech and I think it's fair to call this part's performance pathetic.

    While power gamers are probably not the target market for any mini device let alone a Mac, I do think it's rather disappointing that this one isn't even likely to be able to play World of Warcraft very well.
     
  3. archie4oz

    archie4oz ea_spouse is H4WT!
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    1,608
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    53:4F:4E:59
    Well it's still going to outperform the older PowerPC Minis, and it's not like people were buying those up for gaming anyways... And the GMA950 is a far better component than the 9200 is for the tasks it's likely to be used for...
     
  4. Beafy

    Newcomer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Germany
    So it is actually faster than the Radeon 9200? I can't put those benchmarks on Extremetech in relation, since I don't know how fast that particular Geforce model is.
     
  5. [maven]

    Regular

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2003
    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    DE
    I don't know, but I was thinking about that as well; but more out of interest than actual need (as I've pretty much decided to buy myself the successor to the Power Mac as replacement for my Mac mini).
    If some gets their hand on a Intel Mac, I can benchmark on my PPC one, but you'd need a definitely not CPU bound benchmark, that is universal to boot.
     
  6. Pete

    Pete Moderate Nuisance
    Moderator Legend Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    5,086
    Likes Received:
    575
    Mac mini Core/950 vs G4/9200 here. Just keep in mind the games may not be Universal apps. UT2k4 is Universal now, I don't think the demo is. Logically, the 9200 should be choking on its 32MB and the 950 should be cruising, but I think Rosetta explains the performance parity.

    I tried the Halo demo on a new iMac 20", and it was Chop City.
     
    #6 Pete, Apr 1, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2006
  7. caboosemoose

    Regular

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    10
    Well, I'm not sure how much this all matters - both arepretty crappy chips, but I'd probably favour the GMA950 simply because it has a slighty more up to date dx9 feature set.
     
  8. Dave Glue

    Regular

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2002
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    25
    Not really. No vertex shaders, and not even hardware T&L.
     
  9. caboosemoose

    Regular

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    10
    Apart from the redundancy in that statement, I would point out that GMA950 has spec 2.0 pixel shaders whereas the radeon is pixel shader 1.x(?). I'm thinking more about OS GUIs and the possibility that some future feature might require DX9/PS2.0 hardware as a minimum. For gaming, well, who cares, they both suck.
     
  10. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
    Moderator Veteran Subscriber

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2002
    Messages:
    2,800
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Taiwan
    I think one problem of the Radeon 9200 in the PPC Mac mini is the lack of enough video memory (32MB in first version and 64MB in updated version). Since Mac OS X uses a lot of video acceleration for UI rendering, 32MB video memory is sometimes not enough. Therefore, some functions are reduced. Furthermore, the lack of pixel shader 2.0 means no Core Image functions and no "ripple effects."

    Since Mac mini is not designed for playing games, I can understand why they choose GMA950. However, I still think it'll be much more attractive if it has Radeon X1600 like iMac.

    Personally I'm looking forward to "next generation" Intel Mac mini, Conroe/Meron based ones.
     
  11. darkblu

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    2,642
    Likes Received:
    22
    performance aside, the 9200 in the ppc mini is an old featureset card. no ARB_fragment_program, just the ATI_* ps1.4-level counterpart, and ARB_vertex_program is rather skippy (celestia manages to kill the system when using that extension). and moreso when considerig performance the gma950 under a dual channel mem scheme (any indications whether that's the case on the mini?) is a way better choice for a successor.

    * ATI_text_fragment_shader, doh, can't memorize that ext for the life of me.
     
    #11 darkblu, Apr 4, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2006
  12. chavvdarrr

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Sofia, BG
    I was able to compare i915/i945 with R9200 in real-world games using ps1.4 and compare same game enabling ps2.0

    i915/945 are CRAP. Slow as hell.
    Using ps2.0 path it made like 2-3 fps, 10-20 with ps1.4, R9200 made 25-30.
    Dual channel memory of course
     
  13. darkblu

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    2,642
    Likes Received:
    22
    what titles, driver versions and hw paltform was that? dx or ogl?

    i'm using the gma950 daily at work and the 9200 nightly at home and i definitely haven't got that impression. yes, the gma takes a decent cpu and dual channel mem to run properly, but given those it's not a crawler. and for ALU-heavy fragment shaders the 9200 does not have a chance against it. of course, a mid-range r400 or nv40-based card will wipe the floor with it, but in bang-per-buck the gma is fairly decent. i'd take it over the 9200 w/o much hesitation, includingly in the new minis as they have cpu clocks to burn.
     
  14. chavvdarrr

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Sofia, BG
    HMM5, DX, both on iP4 3.0G, 2x512MB , latest drivers for GMA, for Radeon they were >1 year old (4.12 or 5.1)
    Oh, and playing on GMA was impossible. game crashed every 30 secs .... my best achievement was 3-4 minutes
    Buggy engine ? Sure. But it comes to show how much attention is paid to GMA from developers...

    There are many scenarios where dedicated video memory (even as less as 32/64MB) gives big advantage. Not to mention hardware T&L
     
    #14 chavvdarrr, Apr 5, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2006
  15. darkblu

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    2,642
    Likes Received:
    22
    *shrug* to each his own. for me, not having ARB_fragment_program is a pretty serious disadvantage. at least much greater than the card performing abysmally under some particular game title.
     
  16. Dave Glue

    Regular

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2002
    Messages:
    634
    Likes Received:
    25
    What absolutely kills the 950 in modern games is the complete lack of a hardware vertex, or even hardware T&L. These are hardly small omissions - check to see how HL2 runs on a GMA950.

    You can concoct some scenarios where the 950 will beat out a 9200, but in most games it likely won't.
     
  17. Rolf N

    Rolf N Recurring Membmare
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2003
    Messages:
    2,494
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    yes
    ?
    The 9200 is a cute little ALU monster. Four ALU blocks, each of which can co-issue a vec3 and a scalar instruction per cycle, and that includes MAD or DOT3 (DOT4 at the loss of co-issue) with all sorts of complex modifiers. AFAIK the GMA has half of the processing capabilities per clock at best.
     
  18. darkblu

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    2,642
    Likes Received:
    22
    AFAIK the GMA has a similar config - four pixel pipes with individual ALUs, but i'm not sure how the co-issuing goes (i'll try to get a clue when i have a spare hour at work). now considering GMA is running at 133% of RV280's clock (the latter tops at 300MHz, the former happily runs at 400), and the former has a full-fledged ps2.0 reg set (temps & constants), unless the GMA can't co-issue at all i can't see how the RV280 could top it in anything but texfetch-bound scenarios. and that of course given the latter is aptly equipped with local memory so it wouldn't have to swap textures constantly. mind you the mini has 32MB vram.
     
    #18 darkblu, Apr 8, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2006
  19. zurich

    zurich Kendoka
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    2,376
    Likes Received:
    2
    Ok, but how about things like DVD playback, H.264 acceleration, XviD/DiVX deblocking, and other HTPC types of use? Because really, I think the vast majority of Mini owners will look for these features and then go play Halo on an iMac Duo instead.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  • About Us

    Beyond3D has been around for over a decade and prides itself on being the best place on the web for in-depth, technically-driven discussion and analysis of 3D graphics hardware. If you love pixels and transistors, you've come to the right place!

    Beyond3D is proudly published by GPU Tools Ltd.
Loading...