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The Rough Story Of Intel Sandy Bridge Graphics For Mac OS X

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  • The Rough Story Of Intel Sandy Bridge Graphics For Mac OS X

    Phoronix: The Rough Story Of Intel Sandy Bridge Graphics For Mac OS X

    When Apple released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion last week Wednesday, they not only put out their new operating system, but they also released new Mac Mini and MacBook Air hardware. The primary changes for both the Mac Mini and MacBook Air refresh is that both form factors are now shipping with Intel's latest "Sandy Bridge" processors, there is the new Thunderbolt I/O, and of course, they are shipping with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. This hardware update led me to immediately order the new Mac Mini as the latest piece of Apple hardware at Phoronix. Not because Phoronix is part of the Apple cult (since, after all, Phoronix is the leading Linux hardware site), but an immense curiosity about the Intel Sandy Bridge Mac OS X graphics driver. In particular, to see how Apple's Sandy Bridge driver compares to the Linux and Windows driver. Well, that was the plan at least, prior to the untimely demise of the new Apple hardware.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=16256

  • #2
    I don't know about the Intel hardware specifically, but OS X 10.7 supports OpenGL 3.2, and the checks Michael performed are incorrect for testing the supported version of OpenGL. The glxinfo command will "lie" to you, because Apple did the awesome and made the OGL 3.x implementation Core Profile only. The glxinfo command is showing you the compatibili ty profile, which is limited to 2.1. Unfortunately, I don't know of any command line tools to print out Core Profile information (there's no glxinfo3 or anything like that), which was something lame that Apple overlooked.

    If you get the OpenGL Extensions Viewer 4.0 (free in the App Store), it can show you both the Compatibility Profile and Core Profile information. Note that it defaults to the Compatibility, so when you first run it the version is shows is 2.1. In the middle drop-down on the main window of the Extensions Viewer, select the Core option. Then it'll show you 3.2, at least on the $799 Mac Mini (with the AMD GPU).

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    • #3
      Actually, it kinda makes sense not to have a glxinfo3 command, since Apple doesn't use GLX. That's only if you're using the X11.app server (GLX is for X11, AGL is for Cocoa). I tried to find a Cocoa-based command similar to glxinfo, but can't find one. OpenGL Extensions Viewer can display a similar output without X11 in its GUI, though.

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      • #4
        UEFI

        This though is not related to the Sandy Bridge graphics itself, so this huge debacle will be saved for another article dedicated to that problem.
        All new Apple machines use UEFI. There are known issues with UEFI and Linux.
        I'm guessing it's that.

        Also, you could have got a non-mac laptop of a better spec for the same money. After all, that mac mini is just a laptop without a screen. It uses the cheapest i5 laptop processor Intel ship and has half the industry recommended RAM which should be applied to an i5.
        Also, Intel HD 3000 is pretty lame without 3 or 4 GB of system memory. Due to the fact it can use up to 1.5 GB of it. So 2 GB isn't enough.
        Usual overpriced apple mac garbage.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Hey! Dojo View Post
          All new Apple machines use UEFI. There are known issues with UEFI and Linux.
          I'm guessing it's that.

          Also, you could have got a non-mac laptop of a better spec for the same money. After all, that mac mini is just a laptop without a screen. It uses the cheapest i5 laptop processor Intel ship and has half the industry recommended RAM which should be applied to an i5.
          Also, Intel HD 3000 is pretty lame without 3 or 4 GB of system memory. Due to the fact it can use up to 1.5 GB of it. So 2 GB isn't enough.
          Usual overpriced apple mac garbage.
          We all realize that, but I think he got it so he could do a comparison including Mac OS. He gets money by people visiting his website and seeing the ads, therefore he wants interesting stories. If there is indeed a problem with Linux and UEFI, and that is the case, it makes for an interesting story as well, even if he can't run the proper benchmarks. As for the Intel HD 3000 graphics, you really don't seem to know what you are talking about. Most high end video cards barely use that much memory. In all reality, the size of the textures for most Linux games wouldn't even fill 512 MB of graphics memory. Not only that, but the Intel HD 3000 graphics are a hell of an improvement over all generations of Intel graphics period. They are competitive with low-end discreet solutions by nVidia and AMD.

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          • #6
            Power management options

            I have had similar issues installing recent builds of linux on an HP Elite laptop, it also has UEFI support.

            Fedora 15 actually has something written up about issues installing the 64 bit OS on UEFI, and says not to, but the x86 source would work fine.

            Myself, I tried to install Natty on it with a clean hard drive, and I ran into write problems after a bit. Looking into the problem it seems to be Power management on the kernel, when it tries to turn on power saving options on the USB/FLASH, I would see the system stop responding, and /var/log/syslog was filling up with hard drive access errors.

            You might want to make sure that you install without the pcie_aspm=force option on the kernel (or maybe add ACPI=off) and additionally, boot into the liveCD first, and disable all the power management options before running the installer.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Hey! Dojo View Post
              All new Apple machines use UEFI. There are known issues with UEFI and Linux.

              I was under the impression that All Apple machines use EFI 1.10 and that UEFI, while being an evolution of that spec, is not the same thing.

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              • #8
                I had close to the same issue when I installed ubuntu 11.04 to my new macbook pro (early 2011). The Apple bootloader is completely blacked out and I have to blindly make choices from the boot options menu. :-/ Haven't found a fix yet.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Hey! Dojo View Post
                  Usual overpriced apple mac garbage.
                  As opposed to the plastic PC hardware garbage that people install Linux on and complain about?

                  All the "overpriced apple mac garbage" is of better quality that any piece of hardware I have owned from IBM, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Toshiba or Gateway. Sony comes closer in terms of quality, but then the price goes up to match.

                  Generalizations like this are both useless, untrue, and display a high level of ignorance.

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                  • #10
                    All new Apple machines use UEFI. There are known issues with UEFI and Linux.
                    Apple intended for their machines to boot OS X via efi and other operating systems via a grub compatibility mode.

                    At the moment the 32 bit version of Ubuntu Natty will boot via the grub compatibility mode, but the 64 bit version will try to boot via efi first and then fall back to the grub compatibility mode.

                    For some reason (which I don't understand) horrible things happen on a large range of Apple machines if you try and boot the latest version of Ubuntu via efi.

                    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...9?comments=all

                    The safest thing to do is to use the 32 bit version of Ubuntu (which I'm pretty sure is safe). Another option is to use the refit boot loader, which will allow you to choose between booting Ubuntu via the grub compatibility mode or via efi.

                    As to how to fix the machine once it's already broken, I'm not really sure. But one solution offered on launchpad is to use "a firmware recovery CD". Unfortunately these aren't available for a number of recent machines.

                    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2213

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kgonzales View Post
                      As opposed to the plastic PC hardware garbage that people install Linux on and complain about?

                      All the "overpriced apple mac garbage" is of better quality that any piece of hardware I have owned from IBM, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Toshiba or Gateway. Sony comes closer in terms of quality, but then the price goes up to match.

                      Generalizations like this are both useless, untrue, and display a high level of ignorance.
                      ALL OEMs are garbage period. It really is a pity that we do not have the capability to build laptops from the ground up Then we might actually have stuff with real quality on the market Instead of a bunch of mediocre and a bunch of garbage. As for your so quote "Apple Build Quality" you do realize that they contract out to Foxconn for their boards don't you?

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                      • #12
                        If you are unable to debrick your Mac Mini, here is a mod to use the case as toilet paper dispenser:

                        Source (in French): http://www.w3sh.com/2005/05/25/enfin...r-le-mac-mini/

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by _txf_ View Post
                          I was under the impression that All Apple machines use EFI 1.10 and that UEFI, while being an evolution of that spec, is not the same thing.
                          The new machines that were just released are EFI 2.0. (and various models use different EFI versions BTW, depends on the model of mac).

                          http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1237

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Luke_Wolf View Post
                            As for your so quote "Apple Build Quality" you do realize that they contract out to Foxconn for their boards don't you?
                            Your point?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by deanjo View Post
                              Your point?
                              On top of the ethical issues Foxconns are THE bottom of the barrel, people who go with them go with them because they are cheap, not because they are a quality brand which they are not, if you're really concerned about the quality of your build you're going to go with a company such as Gigabyte or ASUS, but not Foxconn.

                              Edit: MSI might actually be more appropriate for laptop usage since they have the best power efficiency
                              Last edited by Luke_Wolf; 07-25-2011, 09:15 PM.

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