I recently started running SETI@home again, first on my Pentium 4 3 GHz and then on my G4 800 MHz iMac. The SETI@ home website says that the the program uses about 16 MB of RAM while running and that above 64 MB will not affect how quickly data is processed. Since my iMac has 768 MB of RAM and my PC has 1024 MB of RAM memory, that isn’t an issue.
However, the SETI@home web site says that running the program in graphical mode can cause it to be slower. Here my PC clearly has the advantage, it has a ATI Radeon 9800 Pro video card with 128 MB of RAM. The iMac has a NVIDIA GeForce2 MX video card with 32 MB. However, Apple has always maintained that Macs and faster than PCs, even with the megahertz speed gap. But in the time it took my PC to process 10 data blocks from SETI, roughly 48 hours, the iMac had only processed 4 data blocks. So at least in terms of data processing power, a Pentium 4 beats a G4 no contest. I wonder how a Pentium 4 versus G5 SETI@home contest would go?
I’ll admit my test might have been a little unfair. But when Apple claims, “Even the single-processor 1.6GHz Power Mac G5 was 21% faster than the 3.2GHz Pentium 4-based system”, I would expect the systems to be a little more even.