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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006  

Accordance on Intel Macs

[Ed.: Today's guest blogger is Greg Ward, who was been with OakTree Software for more than a decade. Greg reports on his experience running Accordance on a new Intel MacBook.]

Last week I became the proud owner of a shiny new white MacBook, and one of the first things I wanted to do was a little informal benchmarking of Accordance to see how well the program really runs under Rosetta. The results were rather interesting and not exactly what I expected. I expected to find that one of the two computers was faster than the other. In reality it depended on what I was doing.

The Hardware:

So, let's begin by explaining what I did. I compared two computers. My old one, and my new one. By default they had similar software setups, because I used the Apple migration assistant to bring my old applications onto my new computer. Both computers were running OS 10.4.6, but obviously the Intel version differs from the PowerPC. Both computers were set to "Normal" in the power manager.

The Old Computer:

Powerbook G4 15.2 inch, 1.25 Ghz, 80 Gb HD, 1.25 Gb Ram, ATI Radeon 9600 mobility w/64 Mb dedicated vram.

The New Computer:

MacBook 13.3, Core Duo, 2 Ghz, 60 Gb HD, 512 Mb–2 Gb Ram, Intel GMA 950 w/ 64 Mb of shared memory.

Note: The Macbook shipped with the standard 512 Mb Ram, but I subsequently upgraded to 2 Gb Ram. Tests were run in both configurations to see if this made a difference.

The Tests:

First, let me make a few caveats. These tests were not "scientific," nor were they detailed or repetitious enough to be "statistically accurate" (whatever that means). In fact, as you will see, I didn't even do the same tests in all situations (gasp!). My objective here was some "real world" bench marking, and I think the results say enough to tell us a little bit about how Accordance functions on the new Intel systems. Obviously your mileage may vary, but I think these tests were conducted under "normal" circumstances. The timing mechanism was the incredibly precise use of the stopwatch on my cell phone operated by my thumbs. Don't you dare question the precision of my thumbs!

For the tests I used the following programs: Accordance 7.0.1, Microsoft Word X, Mail, Safari, and iCal. I tested both with all of these programs running (a rather normal collection of apps for most users) and with only Accordance running.

The tests themselves were probably not what you would do on an every day basis. I chose some rather long tests that would be easier for me to time.

I began each test with a search for every word in the BHS-W4, that's Hebrew to you and me. (This is performed by selecting a "word" search and entering an asterisk "*" in the search window.

Next I clicked the "Details" button on the search window. I had this configured in two different ways.

  1. The first way was to have every possible Detail report checked in the preferences, including the Concordance, which is particularly time consuming. (This first set was run with Accordance, Word, Mail, Safari, and iCal running.)
  2. The second way was to have just the "ordinary" Graph, Analysis, and Table set to run. Subsequently I ran the Concordance on it's own. (This second set was run only with just Accordance running.)

Finally, in an effort to see how graphics functioning worked, I did an Atlas test. I selected the entire area of the Atlas Map, and then generated a 3D rendering at 16 X. This test was not especially revealing though, because both machines responded very quickly. The G4 was a little quicker, probably around 1 second. The Core Duo was just over 1 second. Both machines were very responsive in manipulating the image, zooming in, flying around and so on. So, there was a slight subjective edge to the G4 here, but nothing I could measure quantitatively.

The Results

First, the MacBook with 512 Mb Ram (I wanted to play with it first!)

Accordance only(3 tests, time in seconds)
search all words BHS-W46.6, 5.0, 5.5
details (hits, analysis, table)13.8, 13.6, 13.5
concordance13.4, 10.8, 10.8

Accordance, Word X, Mail, Safari, iCal(3 tests, time in seconds)
search all words BHS-W48.5, 5.2, 5.7
details (everything)38.8, 34.2, 34.8

Second, the MacBook with 2 Gb Ram

Accordance only(3 tests, time in seconds)
search all words BHS-W44.8, 5.1, 4.9
details (hits, analysis, table)13.6, 13.7, 13.6
concordance11.0, 10.9, 11.0

Accordance, Word X, Mail, Safari, iCal(3 tests, time in seconds)
search all words BHS-W46.9, 5.0, 4.9
details (everything)37.0, 33.5, 33.3

Third, the PowerBook G4

Accordance only(3 tests, time in seconds)
search all words BHS-W415.6, 15.8, 15.1
details (hits, analysis, table)10.0, 9.6, 9.9
concordance13.8, 9.9, 9.8

Accordance, Word X, Mail, Safari, iCal(3 tests, time in seconds)
search all words BHS-W416.7, 15.7, 15.2
details (everything)28.8, 29.6, 30.2

Points to Ponder

So, what, if anything, did we learn from this? Well, the most striking thing to me in conducting these tests was the significant difference in the speed of the basic searches. Even though Accordance is running in Rosetta on the MacBook, the search was considerably faster on the MacBook than the G4. Wow, that is not what I expected! While the MacBook was typically in the 5 second range for this search the G4 was around 15+ seconds! The only subjective observation I can offer here is that the G4 started out fast and seemed to bog down as the search wore on. (Perhaps this has something to do with on-chip cache?)

When I first observed this phenomenon, I thought it was just a compliment to the power of the Core Duo, which in some ways it is, but the rest of the times for the "Details" tests either give an advantage to the G4, or are roughly comparable. So, it is not as if the Core Duo won every contest. So, my completely speculative hypothesis is that the Search algorithm in Accordance must hit a sweet spot in the Rosetta optimization.

On the details routines the G4 was typically a little faster. It was about 4 seconds faster on the "everything" test. On the "hits, analysis, & table test," it was about 3 seconds faster. The "Concordance" test was roughly a push.

Another observation is that the change in the amount of memory in the MacBook made only a small difference in the speed of Accordance under one condition: when several other programs were running. That said, the additional memory made the whole computer feel faster, particularly switching between applications. The MacBook felt kind of ordinary, and at times completely bogged down before the Ram upgrade. After the Ram upgrade, this thing screams. This difference was particularly noticeable in universal apps like Safari and Mail. If you are planning on buying one of these machines, definitely plan on upgrading the Ram. It may not make much difference in how one application runs, but it will make a huge difference in your general computing experience.


Overall, I'd say based on my testing that Accordance runs very admirably under Rosetta on my new MacBook, and was surprisingly quick in basic searching. I doubt you will notice much difference at all using Accordance on a daily basis with a new Core Duo machine, versus whatever you were using before. It should feel very much the same.

—Greg Ward

I agree, having done some informal tests of my own comparing a MacBook, G4, and G5 a couple weeks ago. Extra RAM is key!

Greg, Thanks for your results. I recieved the Macbook (1g ram) a few days ago, and love it. I still need to purchase Accordance.

David, your feed link on your blog is not working. Would you happen to have the feed so I can throw it in my reader? Thanks, Alan


I believe it's feed://www.accordancebible.com/blog/atom.xml.


I find that 1 gb is not really enough to run Accordance with a moderate amount of other programs. You ought to specify that it requires 2gb for intel, so people know. The speed of searches is fine, but where I see the slowness is in startup, interface and interaction with other applications and the system. Those things that are harder to quantify. Closing, opening windows, that kind of thing. When in the background, it sometimes does odd display things to the windows of other applications that are in front of it, like lines when scrolling. This is on a macbook, and maybe it has to do with the shared video ram. Basically, I only open Accordance when I need to, and unfortunately, because the startup takes so long, I end up not using it as much as I could if it were intel native.

Accordance launches very, very slowly on my black Intel MacBook. I have 2GB of RAM. I think this is a deterrent from opening/using it more frequently.

I do have an Apple Cinema Display hooked up to the MacBook. Possibly that's a factor.

Nevertheless, Accordance is great.

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