No AES-NI Support in OS X?

One of the features of Arrandale (and all other Westmere derived architectures) is support for AES-NI. The six instructions that fall under the AES-NI umbrella can accelerate encryption and decryption operations.

Microsoft's full disk encryption feature in Windows 7, BitLocker, is AES-NI accelerated. Simply upgrading to a supported Core i5 or i7 processor gives you better disk performance with BitLocker turned on.

While I'm still waiting for Apple to get back to me on a number of questions, I decided to see if FileVault, OS X's encryption system was AES-NI accelerated as well.

I ran XBench's disk tests on an encrypted home directory and then again on a completely unencrypted portion of the drive. If Apple takes advantage of the Core i5's AES-NI I should see a smaller drop in performance on the new MacBook Pro compared to the old one:

FileVault Disk Performance Comparison
  Sequential Read (256KB) Sequential Write (256KB) Random Read (4KB) Random Write (4KB)
Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro - FV Off 172.5 MB/s 127.1 MB/s 10.9 MB/s 134.1 MB/s
Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro - FV On 79.5 MB/s 61.9 MB/s 6.8 MB/s 67.8 MB/s
Core i5 MacBook Pro - FV Off 175.1 MB/s 160.0 MB/s 21.5 MB/s 112.7 MB/s
Core i5 MacBook Pro - FV On 80.5 MB/s 66.6 MB/s 13.2 MB/s 61.0 MB/s

And it looks like we have no AES-NI support in FileVault at least. It's not terribly surprising. Apple usually takes a while to implement new features enabled by hardware changes. Remember how long it took Apple to get GPU accelerated video decoding?

These numbers do tell us something else entirely though: the new MacBook Pro appears to offer better SATA performance.

Not too long ago I published a quick look at 6Gbps SATA controller performance and concluded, among other things, that Intel's SATA controllers are quite good. The numbers above support that theory as disk performance has gone up considerably compared to last year's NVIDIA based MacBook Pro. While random write speed dropped a bit, random read and sequential write performance jumped up significantly.

This is quite noticeable with a SSD but less of a problem with a hard drive. Needless to say Apple's return to Intel is a good thing, especially because we didn't have to give up NVIDIA's graphics.

They’re Actually Faster Apple's GPU Switching Technology
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  • oldbriones - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    I am disappointed, once again, that apple slapped on crappy TN panels to their MacBook Pro.
    Use of IPS panels in iPad, new iMacs, and new Cinema Displays were welcome changes for the better
    (far superior viewing angle, color integrity). Why not in the Pro line of MacBook ?!
    Reply
  • beginner99 - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    to increase margins. fanboys will buy it anyway (no sane person would for this price...)
    It's like 800$ extra compared to similar dell, hp,... models.
    Reply
  • that_guy_mike - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    by that logic no one would drive a mercedes or bmw either since you can get a honda for way less, and they're clearly the same since they are all just cars. Reply
  • The0ne - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    That's retarded. When referring to laptop the margins/difference in hardware and much less than comparing vehicles. It's the same hard drive, same memory, etc. A car may be a car but the process of getting there is absolutely different, less being the same part.

    Now if you were to say, why not buy a car with almost the same parts and materials, slap on a Mercedes logo, and charge a premium for it then that would make more sense.
    Reply
  • mikesmithson - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    You mean how like the difference between a Honda Accord and an Accura TL? Like how they use a lot of the same parts... Accord starts at $21,000; TL at $35,000... Reply
  • maler23 - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Prolly the odd man out, but I'm waiting for a review of the 13 inch model. I was already pretty much decided on the MBP 13in anyways, so any upgrades for the same price is a perk.

    The lack of Arrandale kinda hurts though; I'm also wondering if the nVidia 320M makes things run any hotter. I'd love to hear a good reason why Apple skipped the Core i3 and stuck with the Core Duo. I'm assuming it was a space concern due to the whole Intel/NVidia chip kerfuffle and they wanted to keep the same sized chassis?

    Anand, any bets on an Arrandale update for the Fall for the MBP 13?

    cheers!

    -J
    Reply
  • solofest - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    I second the request for a 13" review. I'd like to see how the 320M stacks up, as well as some real world battery tests. Re: an Arrandale update for the 13" in the fall, sounds like Apple may as well wait until Sandy Bridge? Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Ditto.

    The tests of Core-i3 and having to use Intel HD over a speed bump in C2D and Nvidia 320M tell me that Apple made the right choice. I can't see the 13" MBP maintaining the same price point or increasing the battery duration with a discrete GPU.

    I think Anand is correct in that the a Fall release is inevitable. While this is is a decent update I think it is meant to be a stopgap for more radical changes. What should have come about 7-8 months later may jut 4-6 months later due to the Arrandale supply issue.

    For the next release, the 13" MBP may have to drop the ODD to make room for the component and cooling, and to lessen the blow of the GPU cost. Apple obviously isn't going to offer Blu-ray so I'd say they are just holding onto the internal ODD until offering Mac OS X Restore Discs on a 16GB SD Card is more viable. I don't think they added SD to the 13" and 15" so many years after it was standard, just to say "me too". I think it'll be the new way to restore the disc. It's how I've been doing it for a couple years.

    PS: I wish Anand would have mentioned the other aspects of this revision: audio over DisplayPort or HDMI, and force accelerated scrolling.

    PPS: I don't recall seeing any mention of how Nvidia Optimus doesn't power down the IGP when the GPU is active. I'd like to see the power usage differences between Windows and Mac OS X on these machines now that Apple has graphics switching in place. It's too bad Optimus won't work under BootCamp.
    Reply
  • DLeRium - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    How easy is it to replace HDs in the new unibody MBPs? I have a 2008 MBP (15") and it takes a great amount of work to disassemble just to change out a hard drive. With HD prices so cheap, it's not too hard to buy a 500gb 7200 RPM drive and stuff it in. However, I'm often discouraged when it takes a lot of tampering. I've disassembled my Wii to mod chip it. I've disassembled camera lenses to blow out dust behind the front element, but I'm not the most hands on guy and I hate repacking things together. I often mess up there. Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    It's pretty simple. Check iFixit for the 2009 MBPs. You basically take the entire bottom off, about 10 screws, and then a 1-3 screws for the HDD. It'll takes you an extra 2 minutes over the previous models with the latch and door exposing the HDD and battery. Reply

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