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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  • yodasz - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    I wonder if the SSD performance and compatibility issues have been addressed in this revision? Does anybody have an update on that? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    3Gbps works out of the box (confirmed on Corsair's Force 100GB drive). The system seems to work fine with the SandForce controller, but the same is true for the previous gen. I haven't tried Indilinx yet. Intel also appears to work fine.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    That is the most important information from this release. Sadly, you are likely the only one to report on it.

    How does the use of SATA II over SATA III affect the performance of SSDs?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    The only SSD that can benefit from 6Gbps SATA is the Crucial/Micron RealSSD C300, which I've briefly talked about here:

    http://anandtech.com/show/2944

    The problem today is some 6Gbps SATA controllers are actually slower than Intel's 3Gbps SATA controller:

    http://anandtech.com/show/2973/6gbps-sata-performa...

    Realistically I don't expect 6Gbps SATA to be that important to SSD performance until next year.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Pat69 - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    Do you know which kind of SSD Apple is providing through the 3 options (128, 256, 512)? Are these SSD good ones? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, April 16, 2010 - link

    Apple doesn't like confirming this kind of stuff, but I'm guessing they are supplied by Toshiba and/or Samsung. If so, the drives are ok but not particularly great. I'd save the upgrade cost and do it yourself aftermarket.

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

    I take it then that your recommendation would be to that same $500 that Apple wants for their 256G SSD and put it toward a 160G x25-M gen 2? Reply
  • bradpowers - Monday, April 19, 2010 - link

    Could we get benchmarks on the MBP with the Corsair F100? I'm very interested in that combination. Reply
  • stimudent - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Still measuring in inches and feet... Reply
  • Squuiid - Thursday, April 15, 2010 - link

    Aynbody know what model the 256GB SSD is? Reply

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