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i whish something similar could be ported to BSD/Darwin, OSX. I have a MBP 6,2 (i5) with 4GB mem/5400 rpm disk and it's quite easy to hog it down, to almost unbearable sometimes.

What sort of tasks?

FWIW, I had a similar configuration to yours (just an older MBP) and installing an SSD helped immensely. I can hit 200% CPU load and not even realize it until the fans kick in…

I know the subject is pretty much Apple's and oranges but i'm currently running: - Terminal with 2 tabs - firefox with 2 tabs - chrome with about 9 - gaim and skype - iTunes streaming soma.fm - Netbeans with an opened project - jEdit - Colloquy - Postgres instance

and as soon as i booted Windows XP in VMware, well, took me a while to be able to reply to this post (after the vm settled).

I also that you might be saying "d'oh" but i've had Gentoo running on this metal and a "similar" environment AND compiling stuff with -j4 doesn't freeze away my UI.

My user experience with "OSX" is that it's, way more prone to unresponsiveness due to load, but hey, who cares :P clicks Time Machine

Your typical workload sounds almost exactly the same to mine - right down to VMware temporarily killing OS X performance.

Not that Anonymous Guy On HN is worth much, but get an SSD - it'll be the best upgrade you've ever purchased.

(Or maybe I just needed to sidegrade to Linux. :)

Do you have a suggestion on a good and large SSD? And what did you install it into?

The Intel SSDs are good; they top out at 160GB and they're not as fast as some of the newer drives - but their track record is nearly flawless. It's what I have, but I ordered one the minute it was posted on Newegg last year. Some of the newer Sandforce-based drives are supposed to be good, though you'll want to pick one from a reliable manufacturer and with a stable firmware. If you have a Mac, OWC[1] is a good choice, as I believe they have firmware that garbage-collects HFS+, which helps to keep the SSD as fast as possible. I also think OCZ is good, but check reviews to make sure people aren't having too many problems.

You can also get a brackets that replaces your optical drive, and allows you to fit a 2.5" HDD. I have one in my 17" non-unibody MBP, and it's really the best of both worlds - I keep OS X, my working files and apps on the SSD, along with my main Windows XP web testing VM. My iTunes library, media, and games stay on the HDD, along with a Boot Camped copy of Windows 7 (though it's a pain to get the installer to run without an internal optical drive). I keep a cheap Samsung bus-powered DVD burner in my bag, but in reality I rarely need it. I think OWC sells a bracket for Macs, but if you can figure out exactly which bracket you need, a site called newmodeus.com sells them for almost every laptop ever made for considerably less.

I really do believe my SSD is the best upgrade I've ever spent money on; no computer I use from now on will be without one. It's not so much that the computer is faster; it's more the feeling that the computer does not grind to a halt or slow down, no matter what's going on. (I may have compared my computer to the Terminator amongst friends once or twice… it just doesn't slow down.)

1: macsales.com

Chrome doesn't behave with limited cpu/ram. It likes to "burst". I generally close it when doing anything like gaming or VMing much.

What kind of application blocks on disk IO but nothing else for extended amounts of time? I'm having a hard time seeing how installing an SSD and maxing out your cores are terribly related otherwise.

SSDs do a lot to reduce loadtimes, and thus make your computer seem much faster, but they do little for making your programs run full-speed-ahead constantly. Most every application out there blocks on network connections, user input, or just plain old throttles itself.

For that matter, I can max out my cores just using a couple dozen instances of mplayer, playing several movies at once off of a usb removable harddrive...

"What kind of application blocks on disk IO but nothing else for extended amounts of time? I'm having a hard time seeing how installing an SSD and maxing out your cores are terribly related otherwise"

Virtual memory paging to/from disk. This is probably why the new MacBook Airs feel faster than the CPU+RAM specs suggest.

That'll improve your loadtimes, but I'm having a really hard time seeing that as the reason why most people aren't maxing out their CPUs all the time. Unless something has gone terribly wrong, you should never be hitting your disk that much.

During standard home computer operation, both the CPU and the disk are generally quite idle.

5400 rpm disk

Even with a perfect scheduler you're going to have to wait on I/O. Disk speeds are the limiting factor on most machines, and this goes double for laptops. I highly recommend getting an SSD.

But not anywhere near what we see: BeOS on my 1999-era system handily trumped Linux, Windows or Mac OS on 2010 hardware (non-SSD) when it came to interactive performance, solely because it had a better I/O scheduler. Back then, I could surf the web without being constantly reminded that I had Mozilla compiling & DV streaming off of a camera; today I'm regularly reminded that work is happening in the background.

This isn't to say that there aren't real limits or that BeOS was perfect (far from it) but simply that there's considerable room for improvement before we start hitting theoretical limits.

yes, i'd like that very much but the current prices are too high for me.

You can afford a MacBook Pro but you can't afford an SSD that costs 25% of that?

(A really fast expensive SSD is around $400.)

erhm yeah basically :) recently said "no more", quit my job, bought a MBP and struggling to get bootstrapping work. One wave short of a ship wreck? Yes. Free to be creative, free from LAMPish crappy apps, free to hack away Dojo/Django/Postgres apps, free from bosses who don't code? Fuck yeah

Bingo: if I used a MBP as my main computer, I'd take out the optical drive and put in something like this: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/internal_storage/Mercury_Extr... for $99. Or the 60GB version for $149.

Spending a thousand or two on a computer is a hell of a lot easier to justify than spending several hundred on a harddrive. Particularly when you can find less fancy harddrives for a fraction of that. SSDs are far more of a luxury item than laptops.

Agreed. My lizard brain tells me that too. When we buy a faster processor, we are valuing our time against the cost of the processor. I just have to convince the lizard inside to do the same with disk wait times.

For most desktop workloads the disk wait times exceed the processor wait times by orders of magnitude.

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