Mac Mini

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Posted by bender 03/27/2009 @ 16:15

Tags : mac mini, apple, personal computers, computers, technology

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Making the move from an Apple Mac Pro to a Mac mini - MacDailyNews
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Tech Test Drive: How to create three floors of digital-TV goodness - Pioneer Press
So, I've circumvented the issue by unplugging the antenna from the TV and connecting it to a supercompact Apple computer, the Mac Mini, which I am using as a media center. Unlike the HDTV, the Mini doesn't have a built-in digital tuner, so I have added...

Mac Mini

Mac mini Intel Core.jpg

The Mac Mini (officially capitalized Mac mini) is a desktop computer made by Apple Inc. Like earlier Mini-ITX PC designs, it is uncommonly small for a desktop computer: 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) square and 2 inches (5.1 cm) tall. It weighs 2.9 pounds (1.31 kg); its external power supply is roughly one third of the size of the computer itself.

The Mac mini was introduced at the Macworld Conference & Expo in January 2005, and has been updated with newer processors and other expansions several times since. It was announced at the same time as the iPod Shuffle, both scaled-down and less expensive alternatives to the company's main products in those lines. It was described by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the time as the "most affordable Mac ever".

On March 3, 2009, 19 months after the previous update, Apple updated the Mac mini, featuring new NVIDIA chipsets and the new Mini-Display Port that has become standard on all the current Macintosh computers. It also features new peripherals, but it still looks almost the same as its predecessor. The new Mac Mini features a nVidia GeForce 9400M, allowing for more graphically intensive applications to be run than before. Apple now ships the 2.0Ghz and expandable to 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, at the same price as earlier versions in the U.S. In the UK, the price has risen by £100 on the standard specification with the high specification at £649.00. The Mac mini still comes with 1GB RAM standard and 2GB in the higher specification, although it is now expandable to 4GB. The wireless networking has also been upgraded to 802.11n, there are 5 USB ports and the FireWire 400 port has been replaced with FireWire 800.

As of 2008, the Mac mini ships with Apple's Mac OS X Leopard operating system installed, and also includes software such as the Safari web browser and the iLife suite of Apple applications to create and manage videos, music, photos and DVDs. Trial versions of iWork and Microsoft Office are also included. The Intel-based Mac mini also comes with Front Row, an application which integrates the media management features, and the Apple Remote.

The Mac mini is the first Macintosh desktop not to include a keyboard or mouse. (The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh also shipped without a mouse, however it included a re-positionable touchpad). In addition there is no included display. The primary intended market for the Mac mini was for "switchers" who would already own a display, USB keyboard and mouse, and other customers could easily purchase these if needed.

At this time, the 1.42 GHz model stopped including the internal modem as standard equipment, however it could still be purchased as a build-to-order option.

The Mac mini was silently upgraded in October 2005 to 64 MB VRAM, and either a 1.33 GHz (up from 1.25 GHz) or 1.5 GHz G4 (up from 1.42 GHz) processor, with 512 MB of PC3200 RAM while underclocking it to PC2700. The 80 GB drive was a Seagate Momentus 5400.2 ST9808211A, which runs at 5400 rpm with a 8 MB cache. The SuperDrive is a MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-845, which supports DVD+R DL burning, and may also have unofficial support for DVD-RAM. Also, the internal mezzanine board was upgraded to accommodate the AirPort Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology onto one chip. In previous models, the Mac mini included an AirPort Extreme card taped to the mezzanine board and a separate Bluetooth module. This new Wi-Fi card also no longer uses an MCX-Female connector for the antenna (as the previous models did) but rather a proprietary Apple one. The serial number and specifications sticker on the underside of the machine itself do not carry the actual specs of the upgrade. For example, on a 1.5 GHz model, 1.42 GHz is listed. The product packaging also did not reflect the upgrade.

Apple did not revise the official specifications on their web site. This may be to avoid issues with discounting or discontinuing of old stock.

On September 6, 2006, Apple increased the speed of the US$599 model to a Core Duo T2300 1.66 GHz , and the US$799 model to a Core Duo (T2400) 1.83 GHz . With this change, all Macs now use multi-core processors.

The 2007 Mac mini did not offer 802.11n support, but the 2009 revision does. The Mac mini now has a 1066MHz front side bus and nVidia 9400M graphics, identical to the nVidia 9400M graphics chipset and 1066MHz front side bus found in all of the 'unibody' MacBooks that were introduced in October 2008.

Although it has been removed entirely from the Mac mini's design, an Apple modem is still available–only now it is external, USB-based, and costs US$49 (UK£35).

While the industrial design of the Mac mini is handled entirely by Apple's in-house designers, some of the hardware has been engineered by Sparkfactor Design.

The first generation G4-based Mac mini was originally to include a built-in iPod dock connector in the white plastic top. The feature was left out, but on the G4 Mac mini an additional FireWire port can be found unwired on the secondary board hardware attached to the optical drive.

Both Core Solo and Core Duo CPUs provide Intel VT (VT-x) even though Intel documentation has suggested VT-x was not to be a feature of the Core Solo.

Initially, the Intel-based Mac mini was shipped with a bug that caused difficulties with VT-x. Apple subsequently released a firmware update that fixes this bug.

The Mac mini integrates a 2.5 inch hard disk drive (ATA in the G4 models and SATA in the Intel models), CPUs and other components originally intended for mobile devices such as laptops, compared with regular desktop computers which generally use lower cost, but less compact and more power-demanding components. These mobile components help keep the power consumption down: according to data on the Apple web site, the first-generation PowerPC Mac mini consumes 32 to 85 Watts, while the later Intel Core machine consumes 23 to 110 Watts. By comparison, a contemporary Mac Pro with quad-core 2.66 GHz processors consumes 171 to 250 Watts.

The current 2009 Mac Mini has a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M sharing up to 128MB or 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM with main memory. The decision to use a less capable 'integrated' graphics chip, the GMA950 GPU, on earlier Intel-powered Mac minis was criticized by those wishing to play games and use other graphically heavy applications, who felt it was a step down from the still earlier G4 models. In Apple's early marketing of the G4-powered Mac mini, it touted the superiority of the use of a discrete ATI Radeon 9200 32 MB graphics card over the integrated graphics included in many budget PCs: The GeForce 9400M in the 2009 model is considered competitive with the graphics in other computers in its price class.

The Mac mini is also well suited for home theater applications. The small footprint, CD/DVD player, multi-format video output, digital audio output and remote control make it relatively easy to use the Mac mini as part of an entertainment system.

It can be classified as a HTPC (Home Theater PC) with some limitations. The Mac mini does not include a tuner card and cannot be upgraded to integrate one internally, instead, external devices like Elgato's HD HomeRun can encode and manage broadcast television from a cable or satellite receiver.

The video connector on older Mac Mini was compatible with DVI, HDMI (video only), SVGA, S-Video, composite video and component video with the appropriate adapter. Sound is provided by a combination jack that uses both Mini-RCA (analog) and optical fiber cables (digital).

The Mac mini competes with the Apple TV: it has both iTunes for media rental, purchase, and management, and a similar front-end interface with Front Row. The Apple TV is limited to video in the mp4 format, whereas Mac mini users employing the appropriate QuickTime codecs can watch other video formats like Divx, Xvid, and Mkv without resorting to hacks. The faster of Mac mini models can display video at a maximum resolution of 1080p, compared to the AppleTV's 720p. The Mac mini can also incorporate third-party front-end applications like XBMC Media Center, Plex, and Boxee. Unlike the Apple TV, the Mac mini is backward compatible with televisions that have only composite or S-Video inputs.

With the release of the March 2009 revision of the Mac mini, the computer now supports the 9400M GPU and Mini Display Port technology to more easily run high resolution media. It is also no longer compatible with composite or S-Video.

Some Mac mini owners have managed to use a putty knife or a pizza cutter to pry open the computer's case, thereby gaining access to the interior to install cheaper 3rd-party memory upgrades. In fact, the official Apple Service Source manual for Mac mini describes this procedure in detail, even including an official Apple part number for a "modified putty knife". It's also possible to use wires to pull the white plastic bottom case out of the metal top case. While opening the case does not actually void the Mac mini warranty, anything broken while the case is open is not covered. Other modifications include overclocking the processor and upgrading the wireless networking to 802.11n. The 2009 model can have its SuperDrive replaced with a 2nd SATA hard drive.

With the switch to the Intel Core Solo and Duo line, Apple uses a socketed CPU in the Mac mini which allows the processor to be replaced. With the 2009 model they switched to a new glue process which does not allow for an easy upgrade.

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Apple Remote

Image:Apple Remote.jpg

The Apple Remote is a remote control made for use with Apple products with infrared capabilities released after October 2005. The device was announced by Steve Jobs on October 12, 2005. The remote is largely based on the interface of the first generation iPod Shuffle and has only six buttons. The six buttons on the remote are for Menu, Play/Pause, Volume Up/Down, Previous/Rewind, and Next/Fast-forward. The remote was originally designed to interact with Front Row in the iMac G5 and is also compatible with the MacBook. The Mac Mini with Apple Remote support was announced on February 26, 2006. The Apple TV also ships with and utilizes the Apple Remote. There is no Apple Remote support on the Mac Pro.

The remote was designed to attach magnetically to the side of the late G5 and early Intel iMacs. These models integrated several hidden magnets in the bottom right corner which attract the remote's battery. This is also possible with the frame of MacBook screens. As of February 2008, the MacBook and MacBook Pro no longer include an Apple Remote in the package, though it remains compatible and available as an option. As of March 2009, the iMac and Mac Mini also no longer ship with an Apple Remote in the package.

The Front Row application allows users to browse and play music, view videos (DVDs and downloaded files) and browse photos. The Apple Remote is also compatible with the iPod Hi-Fi and the Universal Dock. The functions for the iPod Universal Dock allow for music and media control, though the remote is not able to control the menus within the iPod. The battery is accessed by pushing a small, blunt object, such as a paper clip or a 3.5 mm headphone plug, into a tiny indent at the bottom right edge of the remote, revealing the compartment which houses the CR2032 lithium 3.0 V button cell.

A device can be configured to respond only to a certain remote. This can be achieved by holding the Apple Remote close enough to the device with which it is to be paired, and then pressing and holding the "Menu" and "Next" (or "Play") buttons for five seconds. Pairing can be removed by deactivating it under the Mac OS X "Security" System Preference pane. Only users with administrative privileges are allowed to pair their remote; in a non-administrator account, pressing the buttons will have no effect and nothing will be displayed. Pairing can be very useful because some users who have both an iMac and Apple TV nearby experience issues with remotes working with both devices.

Users can put iMacs, MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, MacBooks, Intel Mac Minis, Apple TVs, or docked iPods into sleep mode by holding down the Play/Pause button on the Apple Remote. Devices can also be awakened by pressing any button on the remote.

Holding down the Menu button on the remote while starting up an Intel Macintosh enters the Startup Manager (same as holding the Option key at startup). The remote can then be used to cycle through all bootable partitions and can then confirm them by pressing the Play/Pause button. This can be especially useful for Boot Camp users who might frequently use this feature to boot into Windows partitions on the Intel Macs. The remote can also eject CDs or DVDs in this menu by selecting the disc and then pressing the + (Volume Up) button on the remote.

The remote can be used to control presentations in Apple Keynote (on both Intel Macs & PPC Macs), OpenOffice.org Impress presentations (see Apple Remote and Impress), or presentations in Microsoft Powerpoint 2008, picture slide shows in iPhoto and Aperture ,QuickTime, DVD Player, and audio in iTunes. iRed Lite can be used to set up control of other applications and further customize the Apple Remote integration with Mac software. A number of commercial tools have also been released that allow custom configuration of the Apple Remote buttons. Programs such as Remote Buddy, Sofa Control and mira allow control over any application by providing users with the ability to assign simulated keystrokes and applescripts to each individual button. iAlertU uses the remote to activate security features allowing alarms/isight photos when people come near or move your MacBook.

In response to the new Intel processors, a small piece of software called the Apple Remote Helper has surfaced to allow remote use in the popular VLC media player. Play, pause, volume, and skip buttons all work normally. It should be noted, however, that the volume buttons change VLC's volume, and not the system volume. Starting with release 0.8.6-test1 VLC itself supports the Apple Remote.

Using the third-party remote software mira (from Twisted Melon) or Remote Buddy (from IOSPIRIT GmbH) users of older Macs can use the Apple Remote with a USB-based IR receiver. Most new Mac models come equipped with a built-in infrared receiver, but previous generation products lack any such IR device. Even the Mac Pro desktops released in the summer of 2006 lack built-in IR. Using Remote Buddy or mira, it is possible to connect an external USB receiver such as the Windows Media Center Edition eHome receiver, and use the Apple Remote on older machines with full support for sleep, pairing, low battery detection, and Front Row. In addition, Remote Buddy is able to emulate events of an Apple Remote on these systems, enabling users to use software written for the Apple Remote in exactly the same way as with newer Macs.

The remote only works with the iPods with dock connectors and only when the iPods are docked. The remote cannot control an un-docked iPod. The remote's menu functionality does not work on the iPod, docked or not.

The Apple Remote can also be used to control the iPod Hi-Fi.

The Apple Remote can be rested on the magnetic frame on the MacBook's screen when not in use. The three places on the MacBook that will hold the remote are the top left and the top right of the frame, as well as the middle right of the frame.

The remote can also be rested on a magnetic pad located beneath the SuperDrive of an early 2006 - mid 2007 iMac when not in use. In addition, the Apple Remote can be magnetically stuck onto an iMac's sideframes. This feature does not work on the newer aluminum iMac, only on the previous white iMacs.

As of Boot Camp 1.2, the remote has been given some compatibility when a user is running Windows. If the user has iTunes installed on the Windows partition, pressing the Menu button on the remote will load the program. As well as this, the remote has the ability to control both Windows Media Player and iTunes, as well as system Volume Control. Additionally, the remote also has the ability to control the audio program, foobar2000, and the freeware media program Media Player Classic. Programs must have focus for the remote to control them. Skipping tracks and pausing/playing functionality are available under the programs.

Because many electrical appliances use infrared remote (IR) controls, concurrent use of the Apple Remote with other IR remotes may scramble communications and generate interference, preventing stable use. Remotes should be used individually to circumvent the problem.

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Macintosh

The Macintosh Portable was Apple's first portable Macintosh. It was available from 1989 to 1991 and could run System 6 and System 7.

Macintosh, commonly shortened to Mac, is a brand name which covers several lines of personal computers designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc. The Macintosh was introduced on January 24, 1984; it was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface rather than a command-line interface.

Through the second half of the 1980s, the company built market share only to see it dissipate in the 1990s as the personal computer market shifted towards IBM PC compatible machines running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows. Apple consolidated multiple consumer-level desktop models into the 1998 iMac all-in-one, which was a sales success and saw the Macintosh brand revitalized. Current Mac systems are mainly targeted at the home, education, and creative professional markets. They are: the aforementioned (though upgraded) iMac and the entry-level Mac Mini desktop models, the workstation-level Mac Pro tower, the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, and the Xserve server.

Production of the Mac is based on a vertical integration model in that Apple facilitates all aspects of its hardware and creates its own operating system that is pre-installed on all Macs. This is in contrast to most IBM PC compatibles, where multiple sellers create hardware intended to run another company's software. Apple exclusively produces Mac hardware, choosing internal systems, designs, and prices. Apple does use third party components, however; current Macintosh CPUs use Intel's x86 architecture. Previous models used the AIM alliance's PowerPC and early models used Motorola's 68k. Apple also develops the operating system for Macs, currently Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard". The modern Mac, like other personal computers, is capable of running alternative operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, and Microsoft Windows, though other computers cannot normally run Mac OS X.

The Macintosh project started in the late 1970s with Jef Raskin, an Apple employee, who envisioned an easy-to-use, low-cost computer for the average consumer. He wanted to name the computer after his favorite type of apple, the McIntosh, but the name had to be changed for legal reasons. In September 1979, Raskin was authorized to start hiring for the project, and he began to look for an engineer who could put together a prototype. Bill Atkinson, a member of Apple's Lisa team (which was developing a similar but higher-end computer), introduced him to Burrell Smith, a service technician who had been hired earlier that year. Over the years, Raskin assembled a large development team that designed and built the original Macintosh hardware and software; besides Raskin, Atkinson and Smith, the team included Chris Espinosa, Joanna Hoffman, George Crow, Bruce Horn, Jerry Manock, Susan Kare, Andy Hertzfeld, and Daniel Kottke.

Smith’s first Macintosh board was built to Raskin’s design specifications: it had 64 kilobytes (KB) of RAM, used the Motorola 6809E microprocessor, and was capable of supporting a 256×256 pixel black-and-white bitmap display. Bud Tribble, a Macintosh programmer, was interested in running the Lisa’s graphical programs on the Macintosh, and asked Smith whether he could incorporate the Lisa’s Motorola 68000 microprocessor into the Mac while still keeping the production cost down. By December 1980, Smith had succeeded in designing a board that not only used the 68000, but bumped its speed from 5 to 8 megahertz (MHz); this board also had the capacity to support a 384×256 pixel display. Smith’s design used fewer RAM chips than the Lisa, which made production of the board significantly more cost-efficient. The final Mac design was self-contained and had the complete QuickDraw picture language and interpreter in 64 Kb of ROM - far more than most other computers; it had 128 KB of RAM, in the form of sixteen 64 kilobit (Kb) RAM chips soldered to the logicboard. Though there were no memory slots, its RAM was expandable to 512 KB by means of soldering sixteen chip sockets to accept 256 Kb RAM chips in place of the factory-installed chips. The final product's screen was a 9-inch, 512x342 pixel monochrome display, exceeding the prototypes.

The design caught the attention of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. Realizing that the Macintosh was more marketable than the Lisa, he began to focus his attention on the project. Raskin finally left the Macintosh project in 1981 over a personality conflict with Jobs, and the final Macintosh design is said to be closer to Jobs’ ideas than Raskin’s. After hearing of the pioneering GUI technology being developed at Xerox PARC, Jobs had negotiated a visit to see the Xerox Alto computer and Smalltalk development tools in exchange for Apple stock options. The Lisa and Macintosh user interfaces were partially influenced by technology seen at Xerox PARC and were combined with the Macintosh group's own ideas. Jobs also commissioned industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger to work on the Macintosh line, resulting in the "Snow White" design language; although it came too late for the earliest Macs, it was implemented in most other mid- to late-1980s Apple computers. However, Jobs’ leadership at the Macintosh project was short-lived; after an internal power struggle with new CEO John Sculley, Jobs angrily resigned from Apple in 1985, went on to found NeXT, another computer company, and did not return until 1997.

Two days after the 1984 ad aired, the Macintosh went on sale. It came bundled with two applications designed to show off its interface: MacWrite and MacPaint. When it was first demonstrated by Steve Jobs in the first of his famous Mac Keynote speeches the computer drew the phrase "Macintosh, insanely great!" and told a joke using text-to-speech. Although the Mac garnered an immediate, enthusiastic following, it was too radical for some, who labeled it a mere "toy." Because the machine was entirely designed around the GUI, existing text-mode and command-driven applications had to be redesigned and the programming code rewritten; this was a challenging undertaking that many software developers shied away from, and resulted in an initial lack of software for the new system. In April 1984 Microsoft's MultiPlan migrated over from MS-DOS, followed by Microsoft Word in January 1985. In 1985, Lotus Software introduced Lotus Jazz after the success of Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM PC, although it was largely a flop. Apple introduced Macintosh Office the same year with the lemmings ad. Infamous for insulting its own potential customers, it was not successful.

For a special post-election edition of Newsweek in November 1984, Apple spent more than US$2.5 million to buy all 39 of the advertising pages in the issue. Apple also ran a “Test Drive a Macintosh” promotion, in which potential buyers with a credit card could take home a Macintosh for 24 hours and return it to a dealer afterwards. While 200,000 people participated, dealers disliked the promotion, the supply of computers was insufficient for demand, and many were returned in such a bad shape that they could no longer be sold. This marketing campaign caused CEO John Sculley to raise the price from US$1,995 to US$2,495 (adjusting for inflation, about $5,000 in 2007).

In 1985, the combination of the Mac, Apple’s LaserWriter printer, and Mac-specific software like Boston Software’s MacPublisher and Aldus PageMaker enabled users to design, preview, and print page layouts complete with text and graphics—an activity to become known as desktop publishing. Initially, desktop publishing was unique to the Macintosh, but eventually became available for IBM PC users as well. Later, applications such as Macromedia FreeHand, QuarkXPress, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator strengthened the Mac’s position as a graphics computer and helped to expand the emerging desktop publishing market.

The limitations of the first Mac soon became clear: it had very little memory, even compared with other personal computers in 1984, and could not be expanded easily; and it lacked a hard disk drive or the means to attach one easily. In October 1985, Apple increased the Mac’s memory to 512 KB, but it was inconvenient and difficult to expand the memory of a 128 KB Mac. In an attempt to improve connectivity, Apple released the Macintosh Plus on January 10, 1986 for US$2,600. It offered one megabyte of RAM, expandable to four, and a then-revolutionary SCSI parallel interface, allowing up to seven peripherals—such as hard drives and scanners—to be attached to the machine. Its floppy drive was increased to an 800 KB capacity. The Mac Plus was an immediate success and remained in production until October 15, 1990; on sale for just over four years and ten months, it was the longest-lived Macintosh in Apple's history.

Other issues remained, particularly the low processor speed and limited graphics ability, which had hobbled the Mac’s ability to make inroads into the business computing market. Updated Motorola CPUs made a faster machine possible, and in 1987 Apple took advantage of the new Motorola technology and introduced the Macintosh II, which used a 16 MHz Motorola 68020 processor. The primary improvement in the Macintosh II was Color QuickDraw in ROM, a color version of the graphics language which was the heart of the machine. Among the many innovations in Color QuickDraw were an ability to handle any display size, any color depth, and multiple monitors.

The Macintosh II marked the start of a new direction for the Macintosh, as now, for the first time, it had an open architecture, with several expansion slots, support for color graphics, and a modular break-out design similar to that of the IBM PC and inspired by Apple’s other line, the expandable Apple II series. It had an internal hard drive and a power supply with a fan, which was initially fairly loud. One third-party developer sold a device to regulate fan speed based on a heat sensor, but it voided the warranty. Later Macintosh computers had quieter power supplies and hard drives.

In September 1986 Apple introduced the Macintosh Programmer's Workshop, or MPW that allowed software developers to create software for Macintosh on Macintosh, rather than cross-developing from a Lisa. In August 1987 Apple unveiled HyperCard, and introduced MultiFinder, which added cooperative multitasking to the Macintosh. In the Fall Apple bundled both with every Macintosh.

Alongside the Macintosh II, the Macintosh SE was released, the first compact Mac with a 20 MB internal hard drive and one expansion slot. The SE also updated Jerry Manock and Terry Oyama's original design and shared the Macintosh II's Snow White design language, as well as the new Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) mouse and keyboard that had first appeared on the Apple IIGS some months earlier.

In 1987, Apple spun off its software business as Claris. It was given the code and rights to several applications that had been written within Apple, notably MacWrite, MacPaint, and MacProject. In the late 1980s, Claris released a number of revamped software titles; the result was the “Pro” series, including MacPaint Pro, MacDraw Pro, MacWrite Pro, and FileMaker Pro. To provide a complete office suite, Claris purchased the rights to the Informix Wingz spreadsheet on the Mac, renaming it Claris Resolve, and added the new presentation software Claris Impact. By the early 1990s, Claris applications were shipping with the majority of consumer-level Macintoshes and were extremely popular. In 1991, Claris released ClarisWorks, which soon became their second best-selling application. When Claris was reincorporated back into Apple in 1998, ClarisWorks was renamed AppleWorks beginning with version 5.0.

In 1988, Apple sued Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard on the grounds that they infringed Apple’s copyrighted GUI, citing (among other things) the use of rectangular, overlapping, and resizable windows. After four years, the case was decided against Apple, as were later appeals. Apple’s actions were criticized by some in the software community, including the Free Software Foundation (FSF), who felt Apple was trying to monopolize on GUIs in general, and boycotted GNU software for the Macintosh platform for seven years.

With the new Motorola 68030 processor came the Macintosh IIx in 1988, which had benefited from internal improvements, including an on-board MMU. It was followed in 1989 by a more compact version with fewer slots (the Macintosh IIcx) and a version of the Mac SE powered by the 16 MHz 68030 (the Macintosh SE/30, breaking the existing naming convention to avoid the name "SEx"). Later that year, the Macintosh IIci, running at 25 MHz, was the first Mac to be “32-bit clean,” allowing it to natively support more than 8 MB of RAM, unlike its predecessors, which had “32-bit dirty” ROMs (8 of the 32 bits available for addressing were used for OS-level flags). System 7 was the first Macintosh operating system to support 32-bit addressing. Apple also introduced the Macintosh Portable, a 16 MHz 68000 machine with an active matrix flat panel display that was backlit on some models. The following year the Macintosh IIfx, starting at US$9,900, was unveiled. Apart from its fast 40 MHz 68030 processor, it had significant internal architectural improvements, including faster memory and two Apple II-era CPUs dedicated to I/O processing.

Microsoft Windows 3.0, which began to approach the Macintosh operating system in both performance and feature set, was released in May 1990 and was a usable, less expensive alternative to the Macintosh platform. Apple's response was to introduce a range of relatively inexpensive Macs in October 1990. The Macintosh Classic, essentially a less expensive version of the Macintosh Plus, sold for US$999, making it the least expensive Mac until early 2001. The 68020-powered Macintosh LC, in its distinctive “pizza box” case, was available for US$1800; it offered color graphics and was accompanied by a new, low-cost 512 × 384 pixel monitor. The Macintosh IIsi, essentially a 20 MHz IIci with only one expansion slot, cost US$2500. All three machines sold well, although Apple’s profit margin was considerably lower than on earlier machines.

The year 1991 saw the much-anticipated release of System 7, a 32-bit rewrite of the Macintosh operating system that improved its handling of color graphics, memory addressing, networking, and co-operative multitasking, and introduced virtual memory. Later that year, Apple introduced the Macintosh Quadra 700 and 900, the first Macs to employ the faster Motorola 68040 processor. They were joined by improved versions of the previous year’s top sellers, the Macintosh Classic II and Macintosh LC II, which used a 16 MHz 68030 CPU. Also during this time, the Macintosh began to shed the "Snow White" design language, along with the expensive consulting fees they were paying to Frogdesign, in favor of bringing the work in-house by establishing the Apple Industrial Design Group to establish a new fresh look to go with the new operating system.

In October 1991, the Macintosh Portable was replaced by the first three models in Apple’s enduring PowerBook range—the PowerBook 100, a miniaturized Portable; the 16 MHz 68030 PowerBook 140; and the 25 MHz 68030 PowerBook 170. They were the first portable computers with the keyboard behind a palm rest, and with a built-in pointing device (a trackball) in front of the keyboard.

In 1992, Apple started to sell a low-end Mac, the Performa, through nontraditional dealers. At Apple dealers, a mid-range version of the Quadra series called the Macintosh Centris was offered, only to be quickly renamed Quadra when buyers became confused by the range of Classics, LCs, IIs, Quadras, Performas, and Centrises. Apple also unveiled the miniaturized PowerBook Duo range. It was intended to be docked to a base station for desktop-like functionality in the workplace, and was sold until early 1997. In May 1994, Apple released the second-generation PowerBook models, the PowerBook 500 series, which introduced the novel trackpad.

Also in 1994, Apple abandoned Motorola CPUs for the RISC PowerPC architecture developed by the AIM alliance of Apple Computer, IBM, and Motorola. The Power Macintosh line, the first to use the new chips, proved to be highly successful, with over a million PowerPC units sold in nine months.

Despite these technical and commercial successes, Microsoft and Intel began to rapidly lower Apple's market share with the Windows 95 operating system and Pentium processors respectively. These significantly enhanced the multimedia capability and performance of IBM PC compatible computers, and brought Windows still closer to the Mac GUI. In response, Apple started the Macintosh clone program, by which third-parties manufactured hardware to run Apple's System 7. This succeeded in increasing the Macintosh's market share somewhat and provided cheaper hardware for consumers, but hurt Apple financially. As a result, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he ordered that the OS that had been previewed as version 7.7 be branded Mac OS 8. Since Apple had licensed only System 7 to third-parties, this move effectively ended the clone line. The decision caused significant financial losses for companies like Motorola and Power Computing Corporation, which had invested substantial resources in creating their own Mac-compatible hardware.

In 1998, a year after Steve Jobs had returned to the company, Apple introduced an all-in-one Macintosh called the iMac. Its translucent plastic case, originally Bondi blue and later many other colors, is considered an industrial design hallmark of the late 1990s. The iMac did away with most of Apple's standard (and usually proprietary) connections, such as SCSI and ADB, in favor of two USB ports. It also had no internal floppy disk drive and instead used compact disks for removable storage. It proved to be phenomenally successful, with 800,000 units sold in 139 days, making the company an annual profit of US$309 million—Apple's first profitable year since Michael Spindler took over as CEO in 1995. The "blue and white" aesthetic was applied to the Power Macintosh, and then to a new product: the iBook. Introduced in July 1999, the iBook was Apple's first consumer-level laptop computer. More than 140,000 pre-orders were placed before it started shipping in September, and by October it was as much a sales hit as the iMac. Apple continued to add new products to their lineup, such as the Cube, the eMac for the education market and PowerBook G4 laptop for professionals. The original iMac used a G3 processor, but the upgrades to G4 and then to G5 chips were accompanied by a new design, dropping the array of colors in favor of white plastic. Current iMacs use aluminum enclosures. On January 11, 2005, Apple announced the release of the Mac Mini priced at US$499, the least expensive Mac to date.

Mac OS continued to evolve up to version 9.2.2, but its dated architecture—though retrofitted a few times (for example, as part of the PowerPC port, a nanokernel was added and Mac OS 8.6 was modified to support Multiprocessing Services 2.0 in Mac OS 8.6)—made a replacement necessary. As such, Apple introduced Mac OS X, a fully overhauled Unix-based successor to Mac OS 9, using Darwin, XNU, and Mach as foundations, and based on NEXTSTEP. Mac OS X was not released to the public until September 2000, as the Mac OS X Public Beta, with an Aqua interface. At US$29.99, it allowed adventurous Mac users to sample Apple’s new operating system and provide feedback for the actual release. The initial release of Mac OS X, 10.0 (nicknamed Cheetah), was released on March 24, 2001. Older Mac OS applications could still run under early Mac OS X versions, using an environment called Classic (though Apple has since removed Classic from Mac OS X in version 10.5, "Leopard"). Subsequent releases of Mac OS X were 10.1 "Puma", (September 25, 2001), 10.2 "Jaguar", (August 24, 2002), 10.3 "Panther", (October 24, 2003), 10.4 "Tiger", (April 29, 2005) and 10.5 "Leopard" (October 26, 2007). The Intel version of Leopard received certification as a Unix implementation by The Open Group.

Partially because of a failure to produce laptop-ready G5 chips, Apple discontinued the use of PowerPC microprocessors in 2006. At WWDC 2005, Steve Jobs revealed this transition and also noted that Mac OS X was in development to run both on Intel and PowerPC architecture from the very beginning. All new Macs now use x86 processors made by Intel, and some Macs were given new names to signify the switch. Intel-based Macs can run pre-existing PowerPC-based software using an emulator called Rosetta, although at noticeably slower speeds than native programs, but the Classic environment is unavailable. With the release of Intel-based Mac computers, the potential to natively run Windows-based operating systems on Apple hardware without the need for emulation software such as Virtual PC was introduced. In March 2006, a group of hackers announced that they were able to run Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac. The group has released their software as open source and has posted it for download on their website. On April 5, 2006 Apple announced the public beta availability of their own Boot Camp software which will allow owners of Intel-based Macs to install Windows XP on their machines; later versions added support for Windows Vista. Starting with Mac OS X 10.5, Boot Camp is now a standard feature.

In recent years, Apple has seen a significant boost in sales of Macs. Many claim that this is due, in part, to the success of the iPod, a halo effect whereby satisfied iPod owners purchase more Apple equipment. The inclusion of the Intel chips is also a factor. The iPod digital audio players have recaptured a brand awareness of the Mac line that had not been seen since its original release in 1984. From 2001 to 2007, Mac sales increased continuously on an annual basis. On October 22, 2007, Apple released its fourth quarter results, reporting shipment of 2,164,000 Macs—exceeding the previous company record for quarterly Macintosh shipments by over 400,000.

Apple directly sub-contracts hardware production to Asian manufacturers, maintaining a high degree of control over the end product. By contrast, most other companies (including Microsoft) create software that can be run on a variety of third-party hardware. The current Mac product family uses Intel x86-64 processors. All Mac models ship with at least 1 GB RAM as standard. Current Mac computers use ATI Radeon or nVidia GeForce graphics cards. All current Macs ship with an optical media drive that includes a dual-function DVD and CD burner, called the SuperDrive. Macs include two standard data transfer ports: USB and FireWire. USB was introduced in the 1998 iMac G3 and is ubiquitous today; FireWire is mainly reserved for high-performance devices such as hard drives or video cameras. Starting with a new iMac G5 released in October 2005, Apple started to include built-in iSight cameras to appropriate models, and a media center interface called Front Row that can be operated by remote control for accessing media stored on the computer.

Until 2005, Mac computers have shipped with a single-button mouse. Apple released the four-button Mighty Mouse in August 2005, and a wireless version in July 2006, and began to ship it with new desktop Macs.

The original Macintosh was the first successful computer to use a graphical user interface devoid of a command line. It used a desktop metaphor, depicting real-world objects like documents and a trashcan as icons onscreen. The System software introduced in 1984 with the first Macintosh and renamed Mac OS in 1997, continued to evolve until version 9.2.2. In 2001, Apple introduced Mac OS X, based on Darwin and NEXTSTEP; its new features included the Dock and the Aqua user interface. The most recent version is Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard." In addition to Leopard, all new Macs are bundled with assorted Apple-produced applications, including iLife, the Safari web browser and the iTunes media player.

Mac OS X enjoys a near-absence of the types of malware and spyware that affect Microsoft Windows users. Worms as well as potential vulnerabilities were noted in February 2006, which led some industry analysts and anti-virus companies to issue warnings that Apple's Mac OS X is not immune to malware However, there has not yet been a major outbreak of Mac malware, and Apple routinely issues security updates for its software.

Following the release of the Intel-based Mac, third-party virtualization software such as Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, Crossover Mac, and VirtualBox began to emerge. these programs allow users to run Microsoft Windows or previously Windows-only software on Macs at near native speed. A BIOS compatibility module for Intel-based Macs allows users to run Windows natively. Apple also released Boot Camp and Mac-specific Windows drivers, which help users to install Windows XP or Vista and dual boot between Mac OS X and Windows. Because Mac OS X is a *nix system, and barrows heavily from FreeBSD, many applications written for GPL operating systems or BSD run on Macs, often using X11. Also, many popular applications such as OpenOffice.org are cross-platform and run natively.

Macintosh advertisements have usually attacked the established market leader, directly or indirectly. They tend to portray the Mac as an alternative to overly complex or unreliable PCs. Apple hyped the introduction of the original Mac with the now-famous 1984 commercial, which aired during the Super Bowl. It was supplemented by a number of printed pamphlets and other TV ads demonstrating the new interface and emphasizing the mouse. Many more brochures for new models like the Macintosh Plus and the Performa followed. In the 1990s Apple started the “What's on your PowerBook?” campaign, with print ads and television commercials featuring celebrities describing how the PowerBook helps them in their businesses and everyday lives. In 1995, Apple responded to the introduction of Windows 95 with several print ads and a television commercial demonstrating its disadvantages and lack of innovation. In 1997 the Think Different campaign introduced Apple’s new slogan, and in 2002 the Switch campaign followed. The most recent advertising strategy by Apple is the Get a Mac campaign, with North American, UK and Japanese variants.

Today, Apple focuses much of its advertising efforts around “special events,” and keynotes at conferences like the MacWorld Expo and the Apple Expo. The events typically draw a large gathering of media representatives and spectators. In the past, special events have been used to unveil its desktop and notebook computers such as the iMac and MacBook, and other consumer electronic devices like the iPod, Apple TV, and iPhone.

Since the introduction of the Macintosh, Apple has struggled to gain a significant share of the personal computer market. At first, the Macintosh 128K suffered from a dearth of available software compared to IBM's PC, resulting in disappointing sales in 1984 and 1985. It took 74 days for 50,000 units to sell.

By 1997, there were more than 20 million Mac users, compared to an installed base of around 340 million Windows PCs. Statistics from late 2003 indicate that Apple had 2.06 percent of the desktop share in the United States, which had increased to 2.88 percent by Q4 2004. As of October 2006, research firms IDC and Gartner reported that Apple's market share in the U.S. had increased to about 6 percent. Figures from December 2006, showing a market share around 6 percent (IDC) and 6.1 percent (Gartner) are based on a more than 30 percent increase in unit sale from 2005 to 2006. The installed base of Mac computers is hard to determine, with numbers ranging from 3 percent (estimated in 2004) to 16 percent (estimated in 2005).

Three ways of measuring market share are: i) by browser hits, ii) by sales, and iii) by installed base. If using the browser metric, Mac market share has increased substantially in 2007. However, results for market share measured as a percentage of current sales provides different results than when market share is measured by installed base.

Whether the size of the Mac’s market share and installed base is actually relevant, and to whom, is a hotly debated issue. Industry pundits have often called attention to the Mac’s relatively small market share to predict Apple's impending doom, particularly in the early and mid 1990s when the company’s future seemed bleakest. Others argue that market share is the wrong way to judge the Mac’s success. Apple has positioned the Mac as a higher-end personal computer, and so it may be misleading to compare it to a low-budget PC. Because the overall market for personal computers has grown rapidly, the Mac’s increasing sales numbers are effectively swallowed by the industry’s numbers as a whole. Apple’s small market share, then, gives the false impression that fewer people are using Macs than did (for example) ten years ago. Others try to de-emphasize market share, citing that it's rarely brought up in other industries. Regardless of the Mac’s market share, Apple has remained profitable since Steve Jobs’ return and the company’s subsequent reorganization. Notably, in a report published in the first quarter of 2008, it was found that the Apple Macintosh computers made up a total of 66% of all computers sold that were above $1,000, and 14% of all computers sold.

Market research indicates that Apple draws its customer base from a higher-income demographic than the mainstream PC market. Steve Jobs speculates that “maybe a little less” than half of Apple’s customers are Republicans, “maybe more Dell than ours.” This perception may or may not be accurate—several prominent conservatives including Rush Limbaugh are Mac users—but it can only be reinforced by the company's pattern of political donations, by Al Gore’s membership on its board, and surely not least by Jobs’ own personal history.

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Intel GMA

GMA X3000 on Intel DG965WHMKR motherboard

The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator, or GMA, is Intel's current line of graphics processors (GPUs) built into various motherboard chipsets.

These integrated graphics products allow a computer to be built without a separate graphics card, which can reduce cost, power consumption and noise. They are commonly found on low-priced notebook and desktop computers as well as business computers, which do not need high levels of graphics capability. 90% of all PCs sold have integrated graphics. They rely on the computer's main memory for storage, which imposes a performance penalty as both the CPU and GPU have to access memory over the same bus.

The GMA line of GPUs replaces the earlier “Extreme Graphics”, Intel’s first series of integrated graphics chips, and Intel740 line, which were discrete units in the form of AGP cards.

The original architecture of GMA systems supported only a few functions in hardware, and relied on the host CPU to handle at least some of the graphics pipeline, further decreasing performance. However, with the introduction of Intel’s 4th generation of GMA architecture (GMA X3000) in 2006, many of the functions are now built into the hardware, providing an increase in performance. The 4th generation of GMA combines fixed function capabilities with a threaded array of programmable executions units, providing advantages to both graphics and video performance. Many of the advantages of the new GMA architecture come from the ability to flexibly switch as needed between executing graphics-related tasks or video-related tasks. While GMA performance has been widely criticized in the past as being too slow for computer games, the latest GMA generation should ease many of those concerns for the casual gamer.

Despite similarities, Intel's main series of GMA IGPs is not based on the PowerVR technology Intel licensed from Imagination Technologies. Intel used the low-power PowerVR MBX designs in chipsets supporting their XScale platform, and since the sale of XScale in 2006 has licensed the PowerVR SGX and used it in the GMA 500 IGP for use with their Atom platform.

Intel has begun working on a new series of discrete (non-integrated) graphics hardware products, under the codename Larrabee.

The GMA 900 was the first graphics core produced under Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator product name, and was incorporated in the Intel 910G, 915G, and 915Gx chipsets.

The 3D architecture of the GMA 900 was a significant upgrade from the previous Extreme 3D graphics processors. It is a 4 pixel per clock cycle design supporting DirectX 9 pixel shader model 2.0. It operates at a clock rate ranging from 160 to 333 MHz, depending on the particular chipset. At 333 MHz, it has a peak pixel fill-rate of 1332 megapixels per second. However, the architecture still lacks support for hardware transform and lighting and the similar vertex shader technologies.

Like previous Intel integrated graphics parts, the GMA 900 has hardware support for MPEG-2 motion compensation, color-space conversion and DirectDraw overlay.

The processor uses different separate clock generators for display and render cores. The display unit includes a 400MHz RAMDAC, 2 25-200Mpixel/s serial DVO ports, and 2 display controllers. In mobile chipsets, up to 2 18-bit 25-112MHz LVDS transmitters are included.

The GMA 950 is Intel's second-generation Graphics Media Accelerator graphics core, which was also referred by Intel as 'Gen 3.5 Integrated Graphics Engine' in datasheets. It is used in the Intel 940GML, 945G, 945GU and 945GT system chipsets. The amount of video-decoding hardware has increased; VLD, iDCT, and dual video overlay windows are now handled in hardware . The maximum core clock is up to 400 MHz (on Intel 945G, 945GC, 945GZ, 945GSE), boosting pixel fill-rate to a theoretical 1600 megapixels/s.

The GMA 950 shares the same architectural weakness as the GMA 900: no hardware geometry processing. Neither basic (DX7) hardware transform and lighting, nor more advanced vertex shaders (DX8 and later) are handled in the GMA hardware.

The 946GZ, Q965 and Q963 chipsets use GMA 3000. The GMA 3000 3D core is very different from the X3000, despite similar names. It is based more directly on the previous generation GMA 900 and GMA 950 graphics, and belonging to the same "i915" family with them. It has pixel and vertex shaders which only supports shader model 2.0 features, and the vertex shaders are still only software provided. In addition, hardware video acceleration such as hardware-based iDCT computation, ProcAmp (video stream independent color correction), VC-1 decoding are not implemented in hardware. Of the GMA 3000-equipped chipsets, only Q965 retains dual independent display support. The core speed is rated 400 MHz with 1.6 Gpixel/s fill rate in datasheets, but was listed as 667MHz core in white paper.

Memory controller can now address maximum 256MB memory.

The integrated serial DVO ports has increased top speed to 270Mpixel/s.

The G31, G33, Q33 and Q35 chipsets use the GMA 3100, which is DX9 capable. The 3D core is very similar to the older GMA 3000, including the lack of hardware accelerated vertex shaders. However, the RAMDAC is reduced to 350MHz, and the DVO ports were reduced to 225Mpixel/s.

The GMA X3000 for desktop was "substantially redesigned" when compared to previous GMA iterations and it is used in the Intel G965 north bridge controller. The GMA X3000 was launched in July 2006. X3000's underlying 3D rendering hardware is organized as a unified shader processor consisting of 8 scalar execution units. Each pipeline can process video, vertex, or texture operations. A central scheduler dynamically dispatches threads to pipeline resources, to maximize rendering throughput (and decrease the impact of individual pipeline stalls.) However, due to the scalar nature of the execution units, they can only process data on a single pixel component at a time. The GMA X3000 supports DirectX 9.0 with vertex and pixel Shader Model 3.0 features.

The processor consists of different clock domains, meaning that the entire chip does not operate the same clock speed. This causes some difficulty when measuring peak throughput of its various functions. Further adding to the confusion, it is listed as 667MHz in Intel G965 white paper, but listed as 400MHz in Intel G965 datasheet. There are various rules that define the IGP's processing capabilities.

Memory controller can now address maximum 384MB memory according to white paper, but only 256MB in datasheet.

The GMA X3100 is the mobile version of the GMA X3000 used in the Intel GL960 and GM965 chipsets. The X3100 supports hardware transform and lighting, up to 128 programmable shader units, and up to 384 MB memory. Its display cores can run up to 333 MHz on GM965 and 320 MHz on GL960. Its render cores can run up to 500 MHz on GM965 and 400 MHz on GL960. The X3100 display unit includes a 300 MHz RAMDAC, two 25-112 MHz LVDS transmitters, 2 DVO encoders, and a TV encoder. In addition, along with the latest drivers, the product supports DirectX 10.0 used in macbooks, Shader Model 4.0 and OpenGL 2.0.

GMA X3500 is an upgrade of the GMA X3000 and used in the desktop G35. The shaders support shader model 4.0 features. Architecturally, the GMA X3500 is very similar to the GMA X3000, with both GMAs running at 667MHz. The major difference between them is that the GMA X3500 supports Shader Model 4.0 and DirectX 10, whereas the earlier X3000 supports Shader Model 3.0 and DirectX 9. The X3500 also adds hardware-assistance for playback of VC-1 video.

The GMA X4500 and the GMA X4500HD for desktop were launched in June 2008. The GMA X4500 is used in the G43 chipset and the GMA X4500HD is used in the G45 chipset. The GMA X4500 will also be used in the G41 chipset, which was to be released in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The difference between the GMA X4500 and the GMA X4500HD is that the GMA X4500HD is capable of "full 1080p high-definition video playback, including Blu-ray disc movies", the GMA X4500 however does not have that capability. The G43 and the G45 chipsets are manufactured with 65nm technology.

Like the X3500, X4500 supports DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0 features. Intel designed the GMA X4500 to be 200% faster than the GMA 3100 (G33 chipset) in 3DMark06 performance and 70% faster than the GMA X3500 (G35 chipset).

The Intel System Controller Hub US15W for the Atom processor Z5xx series features a GMA 500 graphic system. Rather than being developed in-house, this core is a PowerVR SGX core licensed from Imagination Technologies.

Mac OS X 10.4 supports the GMA 950, since it was used in previous revisions of the MacBook (but not MacBook Pro) and even some 17-inch iMacs. It has been used in all Intel-based Mac minis (until Mac Mini released on March 03, 2009). Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard contains drivers for the GMA X3100, which were used in a recent revision of the MacBook range.

Late-release versions of Mac OS X 10.4 also support the GMA 900 due to its use in the Apple Developer Transition Kit, which was used in the PowerPC-to-Intel transition. However, special modifications to the kext file must be made to enable Core Image and Quartz Extreme.

Although the new MacBook line no longer uses the X3100, Mac OS X 10.5 ships with drivers supporting it that require no modifications to the kext file.

FreeBSD 7.1 supports the following Intel graphic chipsets: G945/GME945/Q965/GM965/GME965/G33/Q33/Q35/G35/G45/Q45.

In August 2006, Intel added support to the open-source X.Org/XFree86 drivers for the latest 965 series that include the GMA (X)3000 core. These drivers were developed for Intel by Tungsten Graphics.

In May 2007, version 2.0 of the driver (xorg-video-intel) was released, which added support for the 965GM chipset. In addition, the 2.0 driver added native video mode programming support for all chipsets from i830 forward. This version added support for automatic video mode detection and selection, monitor hot plug, dynamic extended and merged desktops and per-monitor screen rotation. These features are built in to the X.Org 7.3 X server release and will eventually be supported across most of the open source X.Org video drivers. Version 2.1, released in July 2007, added support for the G33, Q33 and Q35 chipsets. G35 is also supported by the Linux driver.

As is common for X.Org drivers on Linux, the license is a combination of GPL (for the Linux kernel parts) and MIT (for all other parts).

The drivers were mainly developed by Intel and Tungsten Graphics (under contract) since the chipsets documentations were not publicly available for a long time. In January 2008, Intel released the complete developer documentation for their latest chipsets (965 and G35), allowing for further external developers’ involvement.

The driver source contains references to a currently-unavailable binary named "intel_hal.so". It is entirely optional, and the advantages are not clear; ostensibly they are increased performance and/or additional features. References in the open source code indicate that it contains or contained (at least) Macrovision support and some minor, optional 3D optimization routines. Calls to the Macrovision code inside the binary were later removed from the 2D driver.

There is no sufficient driver support for the GMA 500. The driver wasn't developed in-house and will not work with kernels newer than 2.6.24. Newer distributions like Ubuntu 8.10 with a newer kernel will not work properly.

This IGP is theoretically capable of running Windows Vista’s Aero interface and is certified as DirectX 9 compliant. However, no WHQL certified WDDM driver has been made available. Presumably this is due to the lack of a "hardware scheduler" in the GPU.

Many owners of GMA900 hardware believed they would be able to run Aero on their systems as early release candidates of Vista permitted XDDM drivers to run Aero. Intel, however, contends that Microsoft's final specs for Aero/WDDM certification did not permit releasing a WDDM driver for GMA900 (due to issues with the hardware scheduler, as mentioned above), so when the final version of Vista was released, no WDDM driver was released. The last minute pulling of OpenGL capabilities from the GMA drivers for Windows Vista left a large number of GMA based workstations unable to perform basic 3D hardware acceleration with OpenGL and unable to run many Vista Premium applications such as Windows DVD Maker.

This IGP is capable of displaying the Aero interface for Windows Vista. Drivers have shipped with Windows Vista since beta versions were made available in mid-2006. It is integrated in many subnotebooks nowadays, such as the Acer Aspire One, including Atom processor and is able to display a resolution up to 2048x1536 at 75 Hz and up to 224MB of video memory.

T&L and Vertex Shaders 3.0 are supported by Intel's newest 15.6 drivers for Windows Vista as of September 2, 2007. XP support for VS3 and T&L was introduced on August 10, 2007. Intel announced in March 2007 that beta drivers would be available in June 2007. On June 1, 2007 "pre-beta" (or Early Beta) drivers were released for Windows XP (but not for Vista). Beta drivers for Vista and XP were released on June 19. Since hardware T&L and vertex shading has been enabled in drivers individual applications can be forced to fall back to software rendering, which raises performance and compatibility in certain cases. Selection is based on testing by Intel and preselected in the driver .inf file.

Intel has released production version drivers for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Vista that enable the Aero graphics. Intel introduced Direct X 10 for the X3100 and X3500 GPUs in the Vista 15.9 drivers, though any release of DX10 drivers for the X3000 is uncertain.

OpenGL 2.0 support is available since Vista 15.11 drivers and XP 14.36 drivers. Note that Windows and Linux drivers currently have no GLSL support.

The Intel GMA products are designed to allow Intel to offer a full system platform that includes graphics hardware. However, due to the GMA's nature as a highly cost-sensitive product, performance and functionality are limited relative to more expensive discrete graphics components. Some games and 3D applications will not recognize support for some hardware functionality because of the simplification of parts of these graphics accelerators. The GMA X3x00's unified shader design allows for more complete hardware functionality, but the line still has issues with some games and has significantly limited performance.

Intel has put up a page with 'Known Issues & Solutions' for each version. For Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Software Development concerns, there is the Integrated Graphics Software Development Forum.

As with recent driver updates, more games have become playable on this hardware, albeit most newer games (2002 or so onwards) perform less than satisfactorily.

A review conducted in April 2007 by The Tech Report determined that the GMA X3000 had performance comparable to the Nvidia GeForce 6150. During that review the GMA X3000 was unable to run the PC games Battlefield 2 and Oblivion. However, the ExtremeTech review found that games which aren't as graphically demanding, such as Sims 2 and Civilization 4, "look good" when the GMA X3000 is used to run them.

Reviews performed by The Tech Report, by ExtremeTech and by Anandtech all concluded that the AMD's Radeon X1250 integrated graphics solutions based on the AMD 690G chipset was a better choice than the GMA X3000 based on the G965 chipset, especially when considering 3D gaming performance and price.

In a review performed by Register Hardware in December 2007, author Leo Waldock argued that because the GMA X3500 is not capable of running any PC game that requires DirectX 10, the addition of DirectX 10 support to the GMA X3500 was "irrelevant". During that same review, the GMA X3500 was used to run the PC games Crysis and FEAR Extraction Point, where it was able to render only 4 and 14 frames per second respectively for each game. In the end the review concluded that overall the X3500 made "minimal advances" over the GMA X3000.

In a review published in May 2008, the GMA X4500 showed a superior game performance to the lowest end 1-year-older GeForce 8400M G dedicated graphics card, while losing to the still low-end GeForce 8400M GS with a slower CPU.

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Source : Wikipedia