Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Computational Speed Bumps in (My) History

As the owner of a new Retina MacBook Pro, I've been happily surprised with its speed: The combination of Adobe Photoshop CS 6 and the new MacBook is over 100 times faster than CS 5 on 2008 era Mac Pro (tower)! CS 6 was a major speed improvement, as is the new MacBook Pro. The combination is breathtaking.

It made me think about other massive speed bumps I've seen in my career:

  • A Pixar image computer attached to a Symbolics Lisp machine (~1988): near immediate warping of 1K by 1K image -- this is back when doing a histogram of a 256x256 image took a noticeable amount of time.
  • A Mac Iici running MCL (Macintosh Common Lisp): 10 X faster (in floating point!) than a Symbolics 3670, at a 20th of price (~1992)!
  • A Sun Enterprise 4500 with 12 x 400 MHz SPARC processors (~1998), able to run 10 Tomcat instances and serve hundreds of users without slowing down, when our last server had trouble with one (admittedly massive) Perl/CGI script.
  • The last Mac G5 tower (2005?) which felt almost as fast as the above Sun 4500 (albeit with one user ( plus database, plus IDE)).
  •  And the one that prompted this post: Photoshop on the new Retina MacBook Pro (2012): lens blur of a 10 megapixel image going from over a minute to immediate!

 All of these involved software changes as well, and admittedly are task level benchmarks than processor or software benchmarks -- but tasks are what matter in the end. 

 Another point of note: both the first and last items on the list result from taking advantage of specialized graphics processors, that was a core change in movie from Photoshop CS 5 to Photoshop CS 6,  and of course the Pixar itself was a graphics processor.

Monday, June 18, 2012

iWork Pages/MacBook Pro Retina Display

UPDATE 02 August 2013:  Retina quality pages documents have the extension .pages-tef

I've seen a few mentioned of Pages being "aliased/blurry" on the new Retina Display MacBook Pros.
The solution is surprisingly simple: do a "get info" on the application and uncheck the "Open in Low Resolution" option.
Screen Shot 2012 06 15 at 10 15 09 PM
This option appears on all of the iWork applications.
I have no idea why Apple set the default to "Open in Low Resolution," I assume this is an artifact of migrating the application from an older machine, but still….

UPDATE: I had one document show up with "blank" pages after disabling Open in Low Resolution. However, if I switched back to "low resolution" mode the document displayed correctly. This is disconcerting