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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  • The0ne - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Wait, huh? I run Win7 and have XP and redhat and ubuntu running. Why can't he do the same? I'm totally confused. So it's meant to be MacOS only? Reply
  • jasperjones - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    I said primary OS, not "only" or "exclusive" OS. It's well-known, for example, that MBPs has some issues on Windows that they don't have on OS X. My point is if you don't plan on running OS X most of the time, get something different.

    Anand wrote:
    "You're paying for the design, build quality and ultimately the right to use OS X. If those things don't matter to you (particularly the OS X item) then you'd be much better off with an ASUS or Dell."

    I would assume he made that comment in similar spirit.
    Reply
  • mikeev - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    What's wrong with at least him testing Win7 battery life and letting us know? Is it some sort of secret? We know it's going to be bad- we just want to know how bad.

    I swear, fanboys sometimes... *facepalm*
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    If I get the time to I'll run some Windows 7 numbers on it for you guys :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • mikeev - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    Thanks Anand!! Reply
  • Jimbo - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Why not just get your own Intel 80GB SSD and call it a day?
    I think that 15" I5 with an SSD would would be about as much speed as anyone could reasonably want from a notebook these days.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Has Anand every reviewed or posted about the HP Envy? Just asking as I'd hate this all to be about apple Reply
  • Phynaz - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    You would hate a Mac article to be just about Apple?

    Yeah, that makes sense.
    Reply
  • sportherz - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Thanks alot for the great update! However, I was wondering if you have any information on the new 13inch MacBookPro. I was looking to upgrade from an older ThinkPad T61p to the new 13 inch MacBookPro, mainly because I hate the time it takes my ThinkPad to wake (running it in Windows 7, using a Vertex SSD) and more importantly the battery life. Due to having to fly often I was also not happy with a 15inch notebook and thus I was eyeballing the 13inch. It would be great if you could post some benchmarking on the 13inch graphics card. It seems that from general performance alone there is really no need to go to the arandale (4% increase in speed seems marginal), is that true? Thus would you second Steve Job's saying that the more important upgrade was the graphic chip?

    Any additional info would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks for doing such an excellent job!
    Reply
  • fsardis - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    do the edges still cut through your wrists as you type?
    does it still get too hot to touch when doing any sort of intensive task?
    does the screen still tip over the moment you tilt the laptop forward in your lap?

    i wonder why i never see these obvious design flaws mentioned.
    Reply

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