Under The Microscope

Formula 1 Compiling

Whenever any of us gets a new Mac, we have a standard benchmark we run on it: How fast can it do a complete build of Audio Hijack Pro.

It’s a handy benchmark as it stresses just about everything: CPU, Memory and Disk speed. As of now, a complete build of Audio Hijack Pro entails building 13 different projects, having to compile 613 different source and header files, and finally copying around 700 different resource files.

With the arrival of our first Mac Pros, I’ve decided to be a bit more scientific about the benchmark, and create a little chart comparing the speed of various machines.

The results (all times are in seconds, smaller times are better):


The testing procedure worked as follows:
  1. Prepare with an un-timed build to ensure all pre-compiled headers are up to date, followed by a Double Broom clean and a system restart.
  2. First Build made and timed
  3. Double Broom cleaning
  4. Second Build made and timed
  5. Then do it all again and average all the results

The Mac Pro sets the all time record for a complete AHP build, but fails to be twice as fast as the Core Duos as one would hope. It appears that it is disk-bound, and can’t get data off of the hard drive to it’s many CPUs fast enough.

The Core Duos performed identically as expected, and very well overall when compared to the Mac Pro on a cost/benefit basis. The MacBooks 2 GHz gave it a First Build edge over the iMac, while the iMac’s 1.25 GB gave it a Second Build edge over the MacBook. When purchasing them however, the extra RAM was far cheaper than the faster CPU.

And although the trusty MDD G4 has served me well for three years, even with two CPUs, it is well out of the competition.

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