Hmmm… that new MacBook Pro smell

The UPS man delivered my new MacBook Pro and my weekend plans changed immediately.

The UPS man delivered my new MacBook Pro and my weekend plans changed immediately.

After hesitating to purchase a new Mac (or even PC) for so long, I have to first admit the new MacBook Pro does not disappoint. For those that are thinking of upgrading their Mac, I have one phrase, “I/O – Input/Output”. Improvements in I/O make the upgrade to a new Mac worth it.

Most people think of Mac/PC system performance as tied to the Intel CPU. That hasn’t been true for a long time. As you can see from the chart below, MacBook Pro CPU GHz has improved only 15% – 20% in 5 years, going from 2.4 GHz to 2.7 GHz. Yeah, I know all the marketing claims about multiple CPU cores, but consumer software is usually not optimized for multithreaded multiple CPU cores performance. Most of the time the CPU is waiting for the OS and program to load, the virtual machine to swap off the hard disk, and program data from slow I/O devices.

Comparing the user experience of a leading edge MacBook Pro 2007 vs. MacBook Pro 2012/13

Comparing the user experience of a leading edge MacBook Pro 2007 vs. MacBook Pro 2012/13

Of special note is that a top of the line MacBook Pro today has a SSD (solid state drive) made out of flash memory. I know SSDs are expensive, however, they provide such a significant and visible performance improvement over classical physical media hard disk drives. I have been surprised for years that the Wintel alliance did not promote SSDs for consumer PCs as a way to showcase CPU and OS performance, as well as drive new consumer PC sales. Instead, they left it to Apple to lead the way in system innovation. I would guesstimate that maybe 20% of the performance improvements I see in my new MacBook Pro are Intel CPU related. The other 80% of user visible performance improvements are from Apple’s system design improvements in I/O.

The key to a better user experience is optimizing system design and I/O, keeping the Intel CPU fed. In my humble opinion, as multi-threading and virtual machines become more and more common, improving and optimizing I/O gives far more bang for the buck than any improvements to the CPU. The new MacBook Pro delivers on improving and optimizing system I/O.

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