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Snow Leopard arriving early

GPU speed boost on the cards
Thu Dec 18 2008, 13:52

EVEN WITHOUT Steve Jobs at the helm, it looks like next month's Macworld keynote could announce good news for Macolytes, if the current round of rumours is to be believed.

According to the Grauniad, Apple insiders and third party developers have been dropping hints that the next iteration of OSX, currently codenamed Snow Leopard, will be released into the wild at the eagerly-anticipated annual shindig.

And apart from the widely-predicted slimming down of the OS, pundits are predicting two major changes to the way the operating system crunches numbers.

Grand Central is a new technology designed to better use the Intel processors inside all modern Macs. But OpenCL promises to make even the lowliest Mac into a speed demon by passing chunks of complex calculations onto unused graphics card processing power.

Low-end Macbooks currently have 16 processors sitting idle on the graphics card most of the time. Using this additional number-crunching facility can speed up some operations tenfold. Top-end Mac Pros have up to 64 GPU cores sitting around doing not a lot most of the time and so may benefit from GPU offloading even more.

Apple originally said that the new OS would be ready for a June release, but it looks like Macaddicts' intense excitement over OpenCL has accelerated the process somewhat. And with Windows 7 looming on the horizon, Apple's got good reason to want to get Snow Leopard out the door sooner rather than later. µ



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