Noobie - Which platform?


    Nov 15 2005 | 3:36 am
    Hello from Austin -
    I am a new max/jitter owner, and for the life of me I can't find (in the archives) the answer to my question - for max/msp and jitter used in a live situ, which system config is optimal w.r.t OS (most importantly), CPU, display, drivers etc.
    I am currently running on a desktop 3Ghz P4, Geforce 6200, 2GB Ram, Audigy2, XP Pro.
    but am considering getting a laptop for the task.
    Tell me, which is more stable - the Macintosh version or the wintel version, for running Max/msp and Jitter? I'd love to get an Apple laptop I must admit.
    I am beginning to understand the '74 reference .. that was the last update, right?
    -Mark of Austin

    • Nov 15 2005 | 4:55 am
      this is a difficult question to answer without a bit more context.
      in general graphics hardware is faster on pcs. adam kendall will tell you that jitter works like a dream on wintel laptops. not sure which model he has.
      i consider the hassle of maintaining a personal windows machine to be a major deterrent for moving away from the macintosh platform, efficiency or no.
      lastly, you should take that crack about updates back. do you have any idea what you're talking about?
    • Nov 15 2005 | 5:28 am
      Thanks Joshua, yeah I guess that was a little bitter.. I'm at 4.5.5 PC (July 05). But I still get the feeling that cyc74 development has somehow shut down. All the "reference" web site are 404, etc etc.
      Maybe it's the poor forum support (get a real forum, thank you),,) Very hard to browse.
      I bit the bullet and got a G4 laptop 2GB, was this folly?
      -Mark o' Austin
    • Nov 15 2005 | 8:10 am
      > I bit the bullet and got a G4 laptop 2GB, was this folly?
      A new G4 with 2G of ram? I hope you got one of the new ones with the extra pixels. I was skeptical, but the screen really makes my jaw drop.
      That's way better than most jitter visual maestros have. You should be set for a while, I've had my 12'' 1ghz pbg4 for 2 years and still love it... of course I'm a code monkey and 12'' is plenty wide to see 80 characters in emacs. I run out of realestate pretty quick in Live or Logic.
      Jitter on a pbG4 with plenty of RAM and 10.4.2+ is pretty choice. Chances are, if your patch is slow you could probably do better with cutting some of the fat, or figuring out where your sucky algorithm is.
      > Thanks Joshua, yeah I guess that was a little bitter.. I'm at 4.5.5 PC > (July 05). But I still get the feeling that cyc74 development has > somehow shut down. All the "reference" web site are 404, etc etc.
      Cycling has by no means shut down development. Hell, apple releases an update every 3 or 4 months, that's considered pretty aggressive.
      Unless you've got a laundry list of bugs, chill out about the updates.
      > Maybe it's the poor forum support (get a real forum, thank you),,) > Very hard to browse.
      I belong to many mailing lists and help forums and I'd say this one is hands down the nicest, thanks to the community. This is just not a wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am style help forum.
      Thanks everybody for keeping this mail list a page turner.
      I just love grabbing some of these crazy patchers posted here, and remixes of crazy patchers... never thought to remix someone else's code before :)
      _Mark
    • Nov 15 2005 | 2:13 pm
      You're complaining about this user-support forum while coming here for help. Geez. It *is* hard to browse when searching, but you're a new person here and you're griping. Hang out for a while first.
      Development shut down? But they're already working on 4.5.6... They release incremental upgrades to indivisuals with specific problems...
      Cycling74 is a very responsive software company. The website is often out of date, but spend a few days on this list, you'll get the idea.
      Depending on what you want to do with Jitter, PC's *can* be substantially better. The processor clock is important, so a 3.xGhz XP laptop will likely perform better than a lower-clockrate Mac. Alot of RAM can help, but a good, upgradeable video card is important, as is a high-RPM disk.
      There are Jitter features missing in XP compared to Mac.
      In my experience, a 3.2Ghz P4 is about twice as powerful for Jitter than a 1.6Ghz G4; 1.6 times as powerful as a 2Ghz G4. Other people's results vary depending on how they work.
      It's becoming harder to find PC laptops with high clock rates. Without the high clock rates, I'm not sure XP is any better than Mac. I don't think Dell makes 3.x P4 laptops anymore. Maybe Alienware or Sager, I don't know.
      But, in my opinion -- Yes, your Mac purchase was a folly.
      Happy to help.
      Adam
    • Nov 15 2005 | 2:49 pm
      Mark Hill wrote: > I'd love to get an Apple laptop I must admit.
      Go for it, I always get headaches with PCs...
      I am Live on Apple since my first computer (Well, to be honest, it was only an Apple II compatible one, and I was basically using the built in Z-80 with Turbopascal)
      Though its claimed especially for Jitter that PCs are faster, but by the time you reach the limits of your Powerbook (In terms of time to build up very complex patches as a 'Noobie') There are new ones out which are probably faster than you can fill it with tasks to turn them down.
      Who ever starts now must be in heaven, compared to those Apple II times, when I started...
      Stefan
      --
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    • Nov 15 2005 | 3:00 pm
      I humbly disagree. I started Max/MSP/Jitter with a 1Ghz TiBook (OS9). Was the fastest Apple laptop at the time. It couldn't properly handle my first project, and the new Appple laptops can't handle my current projects. My PC drops below 15fps, but at least it's still in the realm of usable -- Apple laptops would be down to a couple of fps. One man's experience.
      Adam
    • Nov 15 2005 | 3:23 pm
      On Nov 15, 2005, at 6:49 AM, Stefan Tiedje wrote:
      > Mark Hill wrote: >> I'd love to get an Apple laptop I must admit. > > Go for it, I always get headaches with PCs... >
      my XPerience has been mostly lousy, comforted by the adage "you get what you pay for." Of course I never bought one of those super pricey apple lappers with the peeling paint or broken hinges. But, I digress. The XP, when it performs, is very nice, as it is my fastest computer. But its piecemeal construction has caused me headaches (not an inherent flaw of XP, obviously, but w/ apples, for better or worse, you are certainly protected from engaging in such a project). The constant wrangling of drivers is hell. The XP interface treats me like a child, and I resent it. Pardon my Urdu, but who the fuck wants to watch a fucking cartoon dog while you are searching for a document? Oh, and if you click it, it plays. Cute. Fuck. Ultimately, my mind was made up that I hate my XP box because I did a show w/ it, and it failed. I had a number of firewire webcams attached and working at home. I then broke down, went to a new zip code, and put everything back together, and those webcams no longer worked. Great. On OS X, i never had a problem working w/ the cameras, and I've never had such a dramatic example of things working one hour, then not working later.
      Ultimately, your great folly is making a move, then asking if it's the right one after the fact! :)
      Peter.
      +===+===+===+===+===+===+ The Pegu Club Cocktail 3 parts gin 1 part lime juice 1 part Cointreau 3 dashes Angostura bitters Shake with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass +===+===+===+===+===+===+
    • Nov 15 2005 | 10:12 pm
      Peter,
      I agree that, out of the box, XP is patronizing in unbelievable ways. I don't personally find XP that much more patronizing than OSX.
      You know you can turn off alot of the XP interface stuff, right? I don't have any specific articles, but they're around. Once you learn where all the options are, it takes maybe 5 or 10 minutes to get rid many of the annoying interface issues and make the OS feel more professional.
      My XP setup looks just like NT, which is a reasonably ok OS interface.
      I'm either lucky or have the right machine or have paid my dues with XP, but my hardware and driver issues are only marginally more problematic than my Apple experiences. I do have some crazy things happen in XP, but often it's because of third party software, or it's bad in one way while Apple is bad in another.
      I don't really care about platforms or machines as much as my emails make it sound. I defend XP so much because I feel strongly that machines are tools and people need to be objective about what works for them or not. I think many people assume one platform is better or worse without doing their homework.
      I understand that you're talking from XPerience.
      Adam
    • Nov 16 2005 | 12:11 am
      Thanks all for replying.
      Peter, I agree it was sorta out-of-order, buying a G4 then asking the question Which?...
      What got me started was an email from Cycling touting their beginner workshop in SF in January. Laptop, hmmm... Went to Dell's site, saw some goodies there, then to Apples' and wow, those Powerbooks really sizzle for me. So, since I've got multi wintel desktops, I decided to over-invest in something else.. ;-)
      Anyway, I'm going to give OSX a try and if that doesn't work out, perhaps I'll try it on XP.
      I imagine there will be lots of study/mistakes/questions along the way.
      Like one poster said, the list here is a good one. I am beginning to see that.
      -Mark.
    • Nov 16 2005 | 1:35 am
      Well, resale value on powerbooks is really good, so even if you change your mind you're not hosed.
      _Mark
    • Nov 16 2005 | 7:48 pm
      Well, I guess I didn't really know of which spoke. It does appear that updates do get released, so I retract the crack...
      -Mark.
    • Nov 17 2005 | 3:15 pm
      Adam Kendall wrote: > Once you learn where all > the options are, it takes maybe 5 or 10 minutes to get rid many of the > annoying interface issues and make the OS feel more professional.
      The complete time of course is learning + changing. Changing the stuff certainly is fast, though if you know where to change and still need 5 - 10 minutes... How long did it take you for learning it? Just curious.
      > I don't really care about platforms or machines as much as my emails make it > sound. I defend XP so much because I feel strongly that machines are tools > and people need to be objective about what works for them or not. I think > many people assume one platform is better or worse without doing their > homework.
      I completely agree. Homework will only be done if there is a strong need for. If you know one OS, there is rarly enough need to learn another to the same level of depth. Same is true for any software. Why learn Word if you know Lyx, though I believe anybody who knows Word wouldn't believe how much easier life could be with Lyx... (And how much better the results look like)
      Stefan
      --
      [][] [][][] [][] [][][] [][] [][][] [][] [][][] [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
      Stefan Tiedje Klanggestalter Electronic Composition & Improvisation
      /~~~~~ \ /|() ()| ))))) )| | |( \ /// _/)/ ))))) ___/ ///
      -------------------------x--- --_____-----------|---------- --(_|_ ----|-----|-----()--- -- _|_)----|-----()---------- ----------()------------x----
      14, Av. Pr. Franklin Roosevelt, 94320 Thiais, France Phone at CCMIX +33-1-49 77 51 72
    • Nov 17 2005 | 3:48 pm
      Hi there. My name is Francisco and I am a composer and Max-MSP addict from Argentina.
      This is my question: You are talking about OS (Mac versus PC) . I'll buy a new Imac G5 1.9 Ghz , 1.5 Gb of RAM. Anybody has any experience whit this machine and Max-MSP-Jitter ?
      Thanks
      Francisco Colasanto
    • Nov 17 2005 | 8:11 pm
    • Nov 17 2005 | 9:36 pm
      It's worth mentioning that although Apple doesn't specify, their total FSB speed is approx 333mhz, because total FSB-speeds are dependant on the number of individual buses. In the case of the G4 this is 2... but, they don't give that much info out in their documentation (not that Intel does...).
      jl
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    • Nov 17 2005 | 10:46 pm
      Right, none of the manufacturers give you the cycles per instruction (CPI) for the hardware, which is a major variable in the well-known equation:
      speed = CPS/CPI
      or speed = (cycles / second) / (cycles / instruction) = instructions per second.
      pentiums used to have an average of 10 - 16 CPI, powermacs are between 4 and 10.
      don't forget about processor cache too!!! that stuff can give you a 5-10x increase in performance if you have enough and it's properly used.
      _Mark
    • Nov 17 2005 | 11:08 pm
      I've been posting for 1.5 years now that for Max/MSP/Jitter a higher clock-rate is king, regardless of the chip's power. i.e., a 3.xGhz P4 will perform better than a 2.xGhz G5; a 2.xGhz G4 will perform better than a 1.xGhz Pentium M; etc.
      I understand there are other issues and it depends on how someone works.
      Ali Momeni's test seemed to prove this.
      The only response from Cycling74 on this forum was one of them (I forget who) essentially agreeing with me but with some exceptions.
      Cycling74, can you jump in and give a definitive answer? All else being equal, is any level chip with a higher clock-rate going to beat any other level chip with a lower clock-rate?
      Adam
    • Nov 17 2005 | 11:15 pm
      I don't know. I'm a programmer and spend alot of my life in front of Windows, so it's all stuff I've picked-up over the years. But I've found articles covering almost everything I've learned on my own -- I assume someone can learn alot quickly.
      Some of the tweaks are for performance, but alot more are to get rid of the annoying, visually fatiguing and condescending gimmicks. Also to get control back over some things I want to be in congrol of. Just an added bonus that the changes sometimes (incrementally) help performance.
      Adam
    • Nov 17 2005 | 11:32 pm
      > Right, none of the manufacturers give you the cycles per instruction > (CPI) for the hardware, which is a major variable in the well-known > equation: > > speed = CPS/CPI > > or speed = (cycles / second) / (cycles / instruction) = instructions > per second. > > pentiums used to have an average of 10 - 16 CPI, powermacs are between > 4 and 10.
      I just want to note that this speed equation is a major major simplification, and that many of the DSP algorithms that make Max users salivate for a faster machine achieve a much greater efficiency than the given formula.
      A good analogy is an assembly line, maybe one that is producing cars. Would the guy at the front of the line who welds together the frame wait for the guy at the end of the line to finish painting the body before he starts welding the next frame? Of course not, and in the CPU, where there's an assembly line to execute instructions, the steps at the beginning can start executing instruction n before instruction n-1 has finished executing. It may take 16 steps to execute the instruction, but in the best case scenario 16 different instructions can be executing at the same time.
      The only reason the CPU has to wait is if instruction n depends on the result of n-1. An example of this is in recursive IIR filtering (biquad~). However even in this case there's lots the CPU can start on while it's waiting for the result of the last sample to calculate. At the other end of the spectrum, the FIR filter is not recursive, so the CPU assembly line can be completely full during the whole operation, meaning that one instruction executes every cycle.
      The worst scenario is a branch in the code (ie, if (condition1) do this, if (condition2) do that), but a lot of effort has been put into "branch prediction" units that use strong voodoo to speed up these stalls.
      > don't forget about processor cache too!!! that stuff can give you a > 5-10x increase in performance if you have enough and it's properly used.
      If it's waiting for data to arrive from memory, ain't nothing the CPU can do! My experience has been that cache is the most important determinant of a CPU's speed with MSP and Jitter.
      As far the platform war, Max is excellent on both contenders. Myself, I have slowly been morphing into a Windows user, largely for the better graphics card support and (what I perceive as) a more zippy environment for Java, but I'm really looking forward to Apple's intel laptops.
      Ben
    • Nov 17 2005 | 11:35 pm
      On Nov 17, 2005, at 3:08 PM, Adam Kendall wrote:
      > I've been posting for 1.5 years now that for Max/MSP/Jitter a higher > clock-rate is king, regardless of the chip's power. i.e., a 3.xGhz > P4 will > perform better than a 2.xGhz G5; a 2.xGhz G4 will perform better > than a > 1.xGhz Pentium M; etc. > > Cycling74, can you jump in and give a definitive answer?
      Nope.
      Performance is highly machine and application specific. There are too many considerations to make blanket statements about comparing the performance of differing chip architectures. There are also a broad range of Max/MSP/Jitter applications, some of which are CPU bound, some of which are memory bound, some of which are disk bound, some of which are bound by the graphics hardware, some of which are adversely affected by pipeline length or other aspects of the chip architecture, some of which support parallel processing, etc. There is *no* universal measure that shows that higher clock speeds guarantee higher performance. Sure if you have the exact same architecture chip (which we don't have even comparing different pentium variants with one another), and otherwise the exact same memory bus, graphics card, disk controller, etc. then a higher clock speed always has the *potential* to be faster. Though if the CPU clock speed is not the bottle neck, any performance gains may be negligible. In general, I would rely on empirical tests of specific functions of actual applications on specific machines, rather than theoretical or synthesized benchmarks to determine what machine will be best for your needs.
      For realtime video mixing in Jitter, at the time of writing this message the new Apple G5s will typically be the fastest option, if one uses UYVY support, and performs mixing on the GPU with jit.gl.slab. This permits mixing of multiple HD sources in realtime at 30 fps or so. Currently we have some performance issues to resolve on PC in order to bring video transfer to the GPU up to performance parity with what's in place on Macintosh. Hopefully we'll address this soon. For most other things, though, the latest, greatest Intel and AMD HW may out perform the new G5 machines, though your mileage may vary. If I personally had to pick a machine to use for live performance with Max/MSP/Jitter, it would be the new quad-core G5s with an NVidia 7800. Though if I had to choose a laptop (given current models), it would definitely be a fast PC with a decent mobile graphics card.
      -Joshua
    • Nov 17 2005 | 11:41 pm
      > Cycling74, can you jump in and give a definitive answer? All else being > equal, is any level chip with a higher clock-rate going to beat any other > level chip with a lower clock-rate?
      There is no definitive answer because there is no definitive patch. Different algorithms will run differently on different chip architectures.
      Ben
    • Nov 18 2005 | 12:26 am
      I was the original poster of this thread and my question was, which is the _preferred_ OS/processor. Of course a faster CPU will yield better results, but I was thinking about stability and stuff like that as well.
      I know in the Native Instruments world, Reaktor 5 seems to run much better on the wintel platform, but I get the feeling that C74 does their main development on Macs, and hence, might be the preferred setup.
      -Mark.
    • Nov 18 2005 | 10:54 am
      Mark Hill wrote: > I was the original poster of this thread and my question was, which is > the _preferred_ OS/processor. Of course a faster CPU will yield better > results, but I was thinking about stability and stuff like that as > well. > > I know in the Native Instruments world, Reaktor 5 seems to run much > better on the wintel platform, but I get the feeling that C74 does > their main development on Macs, and hence, might be the preferred > setup.
      Don't worry about that. Cycling does a good job on both platforms (I have used both, but I'm on Windows for the moment). And they release the new updates for the different platforms at the same time too.
      So you should be fine whatever you choose.
      Anders.
    • Nov 21 2005 | 3:19 pm
      re: different processors being good at different things, I just wanted to note that Tom's Hardware has published the "Mother of all CPU Charts" for 2005. Doesn't include any of the current Apple chips, unfortunately, but gives a good comparison of Windows chips running different types of algorithms.
      Ben