intel mobile processors: My experience with XP

powermac

iMac Dual 2.0 17'
My trusty old PowerBook 800mg dvi, died a month back. After buying a new car, I am recovering some money before purchasing a new PB.

In the meantime, a friend let me take a surplus ThinkPad R40 1.8 M. Overall, I am impressed with the actual ThinkPad. Of course it has windows XP and Office.
I been using it, as a laptop is essential for my job.

Overall, windows has freak out a few times, in the short time I have had it. A program started running that took over 80-90% of the CPU. Using the find feature, XP was not able to find the .exe. Additionally, the processor view app does not tell you the where the programs are installed. Not being able to locate the file, and inexperienced with windows, I had to of course do a reinstall.:(

The OS is responsive, and applications do load quickly. One of the first things I noticed is how dominant many programs want to be on XP. Everything that you load, wants to live in the system tray, which slows the system down in start-up. Which is another thing I have come to learn about XP, unlike the MAC, it does not like to be left on for long periods of time. A reboot is necessary or highly recommended every three-four days in my opinion.

My point is, Intel definitly has a great mobile chip. I feel, like many have suggested, that Apple's switch may have been largely fueled by the lack of laptop chip development. This IBM gets several hours of use on a battery charge. Second, the chip does not run as hot as my PB did.
 

fryke

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Had to adjust the title, since otherwise it could be that mods move the thread to the Café...
 

fryke

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Staff member
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I think it's important that we see this that way: If you try a Centrino (Pentium M) notebook now, it's probably not the chip's fault if you don't like it. I've tried some. I wanted a subnotebook for writing my stories on. One I could take anywhere, had better battery power than what Apple offers etc. and is, most of all: Smaller. But I soon concluded that they were not for me. For the following reasons...

1.) Windows XP
They come preloaded with Windows. While for writing a couple of stories I wouldn't mind it that much (can do that in WordPad or even Notepad), I couldn't really live with having to keep its security 'features' up-to-date. Having to buy Antivirus software etc. - it's just too much stress. That's part of why I'm on the Mac, right...

2.) Linux
Sure, I could've just installed Linux on such a thing. But in my experience, getting Linux running on a Centrino notebook can be hard. And even if you might get it running, there's still issues with drivers for Centrino's WiFi/Bluetooth features. And I certainly would need those for communicating with my other computers and mobile phones (and the world). Also, I'd feel a bit strange to pay for the Windows license without the option of getting the money for that license back. (Yes, there _are_ linux notebooks, but they're usually not really subnotebooks and the choice is very limited.)

3.) The hardware
While I _like_ the promises of Centrino - and I don't think that intel fails to deliver here - I can't live with some things that PC notebooks usually get wrong. They put some keys in strange places. One can adapt to that, but I don't really want to. They have stickers all over the place that usually, if you take them off, leave ugly marks of glue back. They seem to implement an LED for any possible feature, and of course the OS _again_ has small icons for all the _same_ features. Distracts me from my work, I really don't dig that.

But after all: These three reasons will be solved once Apple releases a notebook with those chips (or rather: evolutions of that chip, even dual-core ones!). If you really expect Apple to suddenly create ugly notebooks with stickers and strange LEDs all over the place, just because they switch to a different CPU/mobo, I think you don't know Apple, really. (I got that impression a little bit in the past week on this board...)
 

fryke

Moderator
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Different people, different preferences, I guess... It took me some time, but I got a mouse to work fine on a PC once...
 

HomunQlus

Artifical Lifeform
fryke said:
2.) Linux
Sure, I could've just installed Linux on such a thing. But in my experience, getting Linux running on a Centrino notebook can be hard. And even if you might get it running, there's still issues with drivers for Centrino's WiFi/Bluetooth features. And I certainly would need those for communicating with my other computers and mobile phones (and the world). Also, I'd feel a bit strange to pay for the Windows license without the option of getting the money for that license back. (Yes, there _are_ linux notebooks, but they're usually not really subnotebooks and the choice is very limited.)
I'm not entirely sure but I've read something that recent kernels do support some of the features of the Centrino processors. It's 2.6.11 I think. But like I said, I'm not entirely sure.
 

kainjow

Registered
powermac said:
My point is, Intel definitly has a great mobile chip.
Not to be rude, but the point of the post was that Windows XP is an OK OS. Nothing about Intel processors. You can't really evaluate a processor via how the OS operates... You were pretty much evaluating features of the OS, not the processor (which would be more like benchmarks vs the competition, etc).
 

Qion

Uber Nothing
fryke said:
2.)
Linux
Sure, I could've just installed Linux on such a thing. But in my experience, getting Linux running on a Centrino notebook can be hard. And even if you might get it running, there's still issues with drivers for Centrino's WiFi/Bluetooth features. And I certainly would need those for communicating with my other computers and mobile phones (and the world). Also, I'd feel a bit strange to pay for the Windows license without the option of getting the money for that license back. (Yes, there _are_ linux notebooks, but they're usually not really subnotebooks and the choice is very limited.)
Not to change subject, but a distro that I've never had a problem with is Slax Linux. It can recognize and use just about any device you throw at it, automatically. And it comes with every writing, picture, internet, graphics app you need for free. Oh, and the KB edition comes with Wine, so you can run Windows apps too.
 

RGrphc2

...InSaNe...
fryke said:
2.) Linux
Sure, I could've just installed Linux on such a thing. But in my experience, getting Linux running on a Centrino notebook can be hard. And even if you might get it running, there's still issues with drivers for Centrino's WiFi/Bluetooth features. And I certainly would need those for communicating with my other computers and mobile phones (and the world). Also, I'd feel a bit strange to pay for the Windows license without the option of getting the money for that license back. (Yes, there _are_ linux notebooks, but they're usually not really subnotebooks and the choice is very limited.)
try Ubuntu Linux, the best linux out there, runs on all platforms, works well with WiFi/Bluetooth Features

http://www.ubuntulinux.org/

as for Anti-virus check out avast, free for home users, great for finding Spyware/Adware/etc.

http://www.avast.com/
 

fryke

Moderator
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Well, sometimes a reinstall is both cleaner and faster than a long, tedious troubleshooting. Are people overly aggressive lately? (Me included?)
 

Lycander

Registered
No aggression intended. Call it my inate snobbiness as a geek. Apologies :)

I reacted the way I did because an OS reinstall for the problem he described, is like killing a fly with a howizter.
 

Cat

Registered
Topic - Intel Pentium M and Win XP
Comments - What linux distro to use with the centrino architecture

Interesting ...

So anyway, one of the common misconceptions about wintel laptops seems to have beeen taken away: battery life is good. Moreover it seems to run cooler than current G4 PowerBooks, but that may depend on platic vs. metal enclosure.

It would be nice to get more opinions by Pentium M users, either on windows or linux. For instance, what are the processor options and sleep options when on battery or in socket (like reduced or full-speed)? How is sleep/wake on close/open? As fast as a PowerBook? Can you use it with lid closed?

As the next PowerBooks will use a future Pentium M derivative it would be nice to know what the current capabilities are.
 

fryke

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I think the lid close/open quickness of Mac OS X is actually a part of Mac OS X (it "cheats", actually, although in a good way...) and that'll be brought over to intel. Lid closed, I hear, is no problem with PC notebooks. (It's Apple that actively prevents that in iBooks, a small open firmware change solves that.)
 

fjdouse

UNIX - Live Free or Die
fryke said:
Are people overly aggressive lately? (Me included?)
I've actually been on these boards longer than my profile states, I used to have a different username and lurked even before that. The answer to the first part of your question is yes - maybe the Intel thing has caused it and.. irritatingly, yes.. to the second part.
 

fjdouse

UNIX - Live Free or Die
Lycander said:
I reacted the way I did because an OS reinstall for the problem he described, is like killing a fly with a howizter.
I would only spend so much time diagnosing faults, eventually, especially if you have a lot of work on and running a busy department, it's sometimes a necessary evil to just backup the data and reinstall it. Of course, if you get the same problem again, you've really got a problem.

I've only the experience in the last few weeks of my sister's Centrino based laptop to go by. To be honest, I consigned laptops to history a long time ago once I was able to get PDAs good enough to replace them for my own uses. But I was not impressed by it at all, I was constantly charging it, it was hot, there was a damned exhaust vent blowing hot air, I won't even mention the crash-a-minute OS, but the machine itself was not impressive. Now if people think that PowerBooks are worse, then I'm glad we haven't wasted our money, I was attracted to the idea of having something like my mini to take on trips, but...
 

texanpenguin

Registered Penguin
The reason that the Apple books are able to wake so easily from sleep is because it doesn't power-down the RAM, which Windows does.

The confusing thing is the differences between sleep (what Apple laptops do - disk access is stopped, RAM is left powered. Uses battery, but instantly awakens), standby (what many PC laptops do by default - saves RAM to disk, but does not shut down the computer. Means it can power-off the RAM, saving battery, but is still adequately fast to wake) and hibernate (save the RAM and VRAM to disk, then shut down the computer with a flag telling start-up to load the saved state from the disk - just like saving and loading state in VirtualPC. Slow to do, but uses zero battery while hibernating).

My explanations are all from memory, but they're more or less right.

I think XP is more than an adequate OS; it's just not as attractive, intuitive, or secure as OS X is (though it's improving). The main draw for me to Macs has always been the design of the actual machines.

The PowerBooks being aluminium, for instance, and acting like a gigantic heat sink. That's CLEVER.

I've always despised how PC laptops are never even on the bottom. Always have ins and outs, bumps, grooves. It's very uncomfortable on a lap. Really, the Apple laptops are only really contested by the VAIOs, and even THEY are too uneven. Jonathan Ives knows what he's doing. Things like the side-ports are simple strokes of genius. The charging LED being on the cable instead of the computer, leaving no unnecessary lights (which only relate to the diagnostics in the OS anyway). It's all just very *thought out*.

Which is why Macs will still be my choice, Intel or not.
 

Viro

Registered
Cat said:
It would be nice to get more opinions by Pentium M users, either on windows or linux. For instance, what are the processor options and sleep options when on battery or in socket (like reduced or full-speed)? How is sleep/wake on close/open? As fast as a PowerBook? Can you use it with lid closed?
Performance wise, the Centrinos are much much faster than the equivalently clocked G4. I've seen some MATLAB benchmarks with the where a 1.5 GHz Pentium M turns in numbers that are nearly double my 1.33 GHz G4. A big part of this speed is due to the fast FSB on the Centrino (533 MHz) as opposed to the G4 which is maxed out at 167 MHz. Cache plays an important role too. The G4 has 512 KB while the Centrino has a whopping 2 MB!! I'm not so worried about the performance of the Pentium M. They're good.

Power saving wise, they're miles ahead of the current G4 processors. The current crop of G4's have only two speed settings: Full speed or half speed. The Centrinos are far far better, with their Speedstep(tm ::ha:: ) power management scheme. IIRC, they've got something like 6 possible speeds to run at. All the way from 600 MHz up to whatever the max clockspeed of the current processor is. This helps to explain why you get such good battery life. The processor runs as fast as it needs to.

The only downside of the Intel line of processors is that it's x86 and there is no good vector unit. While there are some Altivec instructions have their equivalent SSE instructions, there are many that do not. Altivec is also able to handle more instructions per clock than SSE. Thus in applications which make use of Altivec, you will be taking a performance hit when moving to the Intel architecture. That's a shame. Too bad that PowerPC is no longer going to be used by Apple. I was really hoping that there would be more investments into PowerPC compilers to churn out better optimized code. Oh well ....
 

powermac

iMac Dual 2.0 17'
Even though there are many things to like about my short experience with a windows laptop, I agree, the PowerBooks are much better designed. Actually can't wait to return to a Mac laptop.
 
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