Intel-based Macs: Rosetta: Initial impressions of speed, compatibility

Intel-based Macs: Rosetta: Initial impressions of speed, compatibility

We're beginning to receive initial reports about the speed and compatibility range of Rosetta (the transparent PowerPC emulation layer used by Intel-based Macs), as well as a few questions about the translation process.

MacFixIt reader Navarro Parker asks:

"I have read that some people are confident that however slow Rosetta is, the fact that the new Intel Macs are dual core will make up for the difference.

"I'm not so sure. Is Rosetta advanced enough to take a single-threaded PowerPC application and convert it on the fly to a multi-threaded Intel instruction? It seems like it would only be able to convert a single-thread into another single-threaded operation. So, in fact, only one Intel core could work on one application at a time.

"For example, popular Mac game emulators (like RockNES, Generator, or Boycott Advance) are all single threaded. I don't think Rosetta can suddenly make then multi-threaded on Intel processors. A dual core 2GHz Intel chip does not equal an emulated 4GHz PowerPC, right?"

Early information indicates that Rosetta actually can make use of both processor cores on the Core Duo to a limited extent -- it can perform emulation procedures on one core while executing the resulting code on the other core.

A poster to Apple's Discussion boards offers some basic benchmarks of Rosetta. Migo writes:

"Rosetta is pretty slow, judging by some BOINC/@home benchmarks (running under rosetta). On my 1.25GHz powerbook, it gives me 625million floating point ops /sec, and 1875 integer ops per sec. My (brother's) new iMac is 547 (per processor) and 786 (per processor), floating point and integer, respectively."

USB Overdrive incompatible The popular utility for customizing USB input devices does not work with Rosetta.

El Gato's Eye TV incompatible Users also note that El Gato's EyeTV currently is incompatible with Rosetta.

Game performance Another poster to Apple's Discussion boards, Brock Brinkerhoff, reports on game performance:

"On the upside, I decided to pop in my copy of Call Of Duty just to see what would happen. Being that it?s obviously a PowerPC game, I didn?t know what to expect from Rosetta. I thought I might get a game menu, but I didn?t really expect it to run. Much to my shock, not only did it run, but it made my G5 look absolutely antique! I manually changed the config.cfg file to the proper widescreen settings (1680x1050), and the game ran fantastically. What an absolute surprise!

"I then tried Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo. It proved to be unplayable even at the lowest settings."


  • Migo
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