Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

SoftRAID Updated to Fix Issue with macOS 10.13 High Sierra

As of Jan 12 2018, SoftRAID has been updated to version 5.6.4 to fix issues with macOS 10.13 High Sierra. It does not fix the install-reboot issue with the iMac Pro, but that is being worked on.

There is still a problem with the automatic update download feature; if this occurs download directly if it fails.

SoftRAID 5.6.4

SoftRAID 5.6.4 includes important bug fixes and changes that allow SoftRAID to be compatible with macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

High Sierra involves a completely new file system (APFS) as well as major changes to the kernel, security and third-party software requirements, and the SoftRAID team has worked hard to ensure that SoftRAID will work flawlessly with High Sierra, although it does not yet support APFS.

This means that currently, SoftRAID does not support creating, modifying or converting APFS volumes. However, SoftRAID’s certify, verify and monitoring features will work with APFS formatted disks. Full support for APFS will be included with SoftRAID version 6. See below for a full list of bugs fixed in SoftRAID 5.6.4.

Major Features introduced since SoftRAID 5.0:

  • SoftRAID Easy Setup application (SoftRAID 5.6). Creating RAID volumes is now quick and easy, for beginners or those with less technical expertise.
  • Support for SMART reporting on USB and FireWire disks (SoftRAID 5.6). With SMART over USB, SoftRAID now supports health monitoring and failure prediction for USB and FireWire connected disks.
  • Addition of simplified Chinese localization (SoftRAID 5.6) brings to 5 the number of languages supported by SoftRAID. Support for French, German and Spanish came in SoftRAID 5.5 and Japanese was added in SoftRAID 5.5.5.
  • Man page for SoftRAIDTool (command line tool) added in SoftRAID 5.5.5 • Ability to convert stripe (RAID 0) volumes to RAID 1+0, and some RAID 0 volumes to RAID 4 (SoftRAID 5.5).
  • Additional information shown for disks which are predicted to fail, making disk problems easier to investigate (SoftRAID 5.0.6).
  • Support for RAID 4, 5 and 1+0 volumes. Macs can use any SoftRAID volume as a startup volume (SoftRAID 5.0). •
  • Convert AppleRAID stripe (RAID 0) and mirror (RAID 1) volumes to SoftRAID (SoftRAID 5.0).
  • SoftRAID status indicator added to menu bar (SoftRAID 5.0).
  • Huge improvements to speed and performance throughout most releases.
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

macOS 10.13.2 and Disk Utility = Atrocious Bug-Ridden Disaster

Yesterday I needed to wipe the iMac Pro on loan from B&H Photo.

In all past machines and OS's, this has always been a quick and easy thing. Not any more with macOS 10.13.

To start, I first used the diglloydTools commands dgl wipe and then dlg wipeFree (twice since it’s an SSD) to wipe out all trace of my data—no problem there, works great (use 'sudo' if there are any protected files).

That was the easy part.

But I had partitioned the internal SSD and that presented a thorny problem: Disk Utility is 95% broken if you actually try to use it. Meaning that it can do a few basic things, but most everything else either fails 100% of the time, or most of the time.

Ultimately I failed to be be able to use Disk Utility at all to restore the system to a single volume. Total brick wall impossible. That Apple can ship this software manure to customers is appalling and shameful. People need to be fired somewhere.

  • Disk Utility repeatedly fails to erase volumes (any kind of volume). One often has to try 4 or 5 times before it works. The issue might be as simple as unmounting the volume, plus other things. But it also fails even if the volume is already unmounted. But this was not my issue since with patience it eventually finally succeeds. But volumes are not a drive, so that’s not a fix-it step for a partitioned drive.
  • The Disk Utility partition approach failed to be able to delete partitions of any kind—APFS or HFS. Every attempt (numerous) failed, and after trying rebooting was sometimes needed, with something hosed beyond recovery. All this booted off the recovery partition of course.
  • Disk Utility was unable to initialize the internal SSD (perhaps because I was booted off the recovery partition), but accordingly this makes it impossible to delete any volumes. There exists no feature to “delete all partitions except the recovery partition”. Well, actually there is, it is the partitioning tab, but that fails 100% of the time as per the 2nd previous point.
  • macOS goes ahead and tries to install on a RAID (LaCie Bolt), or any RAID, failing to recognize that this can never work, because macOS is broken for a bootable RAID, period. Then the install fails mid-way and hoses the unit, leaving it with a dead unusable and undeletable partition and broken to the extent that the RAID can no longer be deleted.

I could go on—Disk utility is software that isn’t even sub-alpha-quality—it is unspeakable garbage foisted on customers by the wealthiest company in existence—incompetent, atrocious, insulting and shameful all in one.

Exercise extreme caution with Disk Utility and go buy SoftRAID to have around—because you’re gonna need it at some point what with macOS getting worse every year.

How I finally recovered

After hours of trying, the ONLY thing that finally saved my bacon was SoftRAID 'certify'. The SoftRAID certify command overwrites drives at a low level. It is the one thing that ignores everything else... SoftRAID certify is basically “whack a disk”—wonderful feature that bypasses partitions and formatting, returning a disk to its original factory-uninitialized state, ready to be initialized as if new.

This is what I had to do, courtesy of Apple incompetence:

  1. Important: boot into recovery mode and using the Security Assistant thing to allow booting from an external drive (this is prohibited on an iMac Pro by default). Then reboot.
  2. Booted off the internal drive still, SoftRAID certify the LaCie Bolt (both PCIe blades) so that they are now uninitialized independent blades, each of which can be initialized separately (one need only let it run for 10 seconds or so). I did not use a USB3 SSD because of a 100% failure to boot an iMac Pro any of them (hang/fail part way)—a Thunderbolt drive works.
  3. Erase one of the blades of the LaCie Bolt to an APFS volume (macOS might fail to boot off macOS Extended on an external drive, though I have done so with an internal one).
  4. Clone macOS to the new APFS volume (on the LaCie Bolt).
  5. Boot from the new volume. This is impossible without first doing step #1.
  6. Erase the entire internal SSD with Disk Utility, thus wiping out all partitions. This works apparently because of being booted off the external drive. Attempting to partition away the extra partition fails, even booted off the external drive.
  7. Clone back to the internal volume (now freshly erased).
  8. Boot off the internal recovery volume (courtesy of the Carbon Copy Cloner clone). First use Disk Utility to erase the internal boot volume (this works), quit it, then reinstall macOS onto that.

It took me hours to get this all done.

Got it? Enjoy. This is what Apple has come to in making machines hard to use and inaccessible.

My advice at this point to most users is to never partition with Disk Utility. As for APFS, I observed major performance problems at the end of the 'dgl wipe' just as I have observed in other scenarios. And yet given all the issues with macOS, it’s a bit scary not to use APFS on the internal SSD.

More joy coming?

More hassles like this are surely coming with whatever disingenuous Mac Pro is coming—it surely will have the same garbage software and the same secure enclave hassles—there is nothing pro about that, it is not even ameteur grade.

John L writes:

I was having similar problems with DU in Sierra: kernel panic when I tried to erase disks. I had been communicating with Mark James at SoftRAID.

BTW, you don’t have to finish the SoftRAID Certify command: I found that just running it for 30seconds or so was enough to make the Disk unreadable and so could be initialized by DU, removing the partitions.

Oh, and the 8 TB HGST NAS drives are/can be a disaster in a 2010 Mac Pro when upgrading OS. I had created a 3 x 8 TB RAID-5 internally with SoftRAID while running OS 10.10.5. Worked fine. Multiple attempts upgrade the BootApps SSD from 10.10.5 to 10.12.6 in situ failed, probably because the HGST NAS drives won’t remount following a restart (known issue: restart required) screwing up the installation. Had to remove the 8 TB drives, put the old 3x3 TB Raid-0 set in and was finally able to successfully install Sierra on the internal Pro6G 480 Gb SSD. What a goat rope! (several other terms come to mind...).

I wasn’t trying to boot from the RAID. I was trying to update the OS on an OWC Pro 6G that I use for a Boot Apps volume. The RAID had only data partitions. I think it was the drives (or perhaps having a RAID5) as there was no issue with the old 3 TB Toshiba drives installed. But I’m no expert. Interestingly, MacSales changed their web page for the 8 TB HGST drives. It now lists NAS as the only use for the drives.

When I purchased them last summer, they included multiple other applications including desktop RAIDs, workstations, etc. Customer “Service” even said it would work fine in a 2010 Mac Pro. I’m running 10.12.6 on a used 2015 MBPro Retina I bought used from OWC through your site. The internal original 500gb SSD is partitioned into “BootApps” and “Data” partitions with DU as per your previous recommendations. So far, it still works. Somehow, I was able to keep it as HFS and not CoreStorage.

MPG: It is correct also that SoftRAID certify for even 10 seconds gets the job done in making a drive factory fresh initialized to Disk Utility.

There have been off/on problems with HGST firmware. My understanding is that OWC has tried to get HGST to fix the problems some time ago, but it sounds like HGST has not solved the issue.

(John not doing this but worth knowing): It is not possible to boot off a software RAID in macOS, not for a long time now.

Don H writes:

Perhaps you’ve already packed it up, but in reading about your trouble trying to configure the SSD in the iMac Pro, I wonder if you could have bypassed 10.13.2’s Disk Utility by instead starting up the iMac Pro in Target Disk Mode and then configured it from another machine with an earlier OS?

MPG: great idea! I hadn’t thought of that, but it should be possible to start it up in target disk mode and to have fixed it from my iMac 5K. But... in target disk mode can one completely erase the entire SSD? I am not sure. And, no earlier OS with Thunderbolt 3.

Cycling

Helicon Focus 7.0: Huge Improvement in Scalability for High Core Count Machines

I’ve updated my in-depth comparative review of the Apple iMac Pro (best on the internet for still photographers, I hope), with new results from the latest version of Helicon Focus 7.0.0, literally built earlier today and sent to me directly from the developer.

The prior version did not scale at all; this new version is awesome, scaling to 10 CPU cores as well as one can hope for with a real program, given the drop in clock speed of a 10-core CPU (Turbo Boost reduction) and the overhead of using all those cores.

This test is for the new improved “Method B” of the pre-beta 7.0.0, which the developer says is slower but much better with difficult stacks. It uses 28 16-bit 45-megapixel images from the Nikon D850. See Nikon D850 'Focus Shift shooting' feature for Easy Focus Stacking.

2017 iMac Pro vs others: Helicon Focus version 7.0.0 Jan 15 build
f9 @ 8.0 sec, ISO 31; 2017-10-23 18:20:34 [focus stack 28 frames]
NIKON D850 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
B&H Deal ZoneDeals by Brand/Category/Savings
Deals expire in 13 hours unless noted. Certain deals may last longer.
$2299 SAVE $500 = 17.0% Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR in Cameras: DSLR
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$1000 Off Apple iMac Pro at Micro Center

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

This looks like an in-store deal only, but WOW.

$1000 off Apple iMac Pro 32GB 1TB Vega 56

Don’t forget accessories—see Thunderbolt 3 items below.

Not shown below (no SKU yet): the OWC Thunderbay 4 Thunderbolt 3 4-bay enclosure.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

iMac Pro: Speed with Helicon Focus

Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.

Added to my review of the 2017 iMac Pro:

2017 iMac Pro: Helicon Focus

The 2017 iMac 5K beats out both the 2013 Mac Pro and the iMac 10-core, showing plainly that the value of more CPU cores depends heavily on the software.

2017 iMac Pro vs others: Helicon Focus
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc!

What Might a 2018 iMac 5K Include?

Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.

What might a 2018 iMac 5K look like? That’s assuming that Apple wants to produce a high-end iMac 5K—it’s possible that Apple will dumb-down the performance of an iMac 5K to avoid competing with the iMac Pro and thus avoid offering a 6-core iMac 5K.

The 8th Generation Intel® Core Desktop Processor Line lays out what is already available. It’s unclear why Apple has not made an iMac 5K revision already to incorporate this newer and faster set of processors—maybe a redesign of the internals is needed, ideally one along the lines of the iMac Pro, which has is a much more robust cooling design (I have yet to hear the iMac Pro fans, even under the heaviest loads).

In particular, the 6-core / 12 virtual core Intel Core i7-7800X processor or the Intel Core i7-8700K processor holds out terrific promise for speeds substantially faster than the 2017 iMac 5K, which would beat the iMac Pro (any model) decisively on the key things I do, and narrow the performance gap considerably, because 10/14/18 cores yield only incremental gains in most cases. Intel’s CPU lineup is quite a mess to understand, but surely there is a suitable CPU for a 2018 iMac 5K.

Then there is the Intel Core i9 series, with up to 18 CPU cores. While Apple has never gone in for these high-end “gamer” CPUs for its iMacs, but the 12-core Intel Core i9-7920X looks highly appealing. Product segmentation between the iMac Pro and iMac 5K will likely mean we won’t see the best possible CPUs in an iMac 5K.

For most users, holding off purchasing an iMac Pro or iMac 5K until June makes sense, because a 2018 iMac 5K should emerge by then and it might well prove a better choice for many than an iMac Pro.

Another assumption is that the engineering done for the iMac Pro should make it into the iMac 5K, offering at least the possibility of much better cooling and less noisy fans.

8th Generation Intel® Core Desktop Processor Line
SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

2018 Is the Year for Thunderbolt 3 To Flower

Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.

2018 is the year in which Thunderbolt 3 /USB-C products will be released fast and furiously by many vendors.

You’ll need a 2017 iMac 5K, 2017 iMac Pro, or 2016/2017 MacBook Pro for Thunderbolt 3.

Just OWC alone now has these Thunderbolt 3 products shipping (or soon to ship):

Below, Thunderbay 4 not shown as this was written as no SKU is yet available.

OWC ThunderBay 4 20TB RAID-4/5
4TB to 40TB, configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10.
Now up to a whopping 40 Terabytes! TOP PICK

OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 SSD

OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3

Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.

The about $1698 OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 2TB SSD is a bus-powered travel friendly SSD with very high performance.

Key differentiating factors from its OWC Thunderblade 4 SSD sibling:

  • The OWC Envoy Pro EX operates on bus power—no need to plug in a “wall wart”. This has the downside that must be the last device in a Thunderbolt chain, but it’s a much friendlier approach for travel with a laptop.
  • The OWC Envoy Pro EX is very fast, but it is not the no-holds-barred performer that its OWC Thunderblade 4 sibling is, particularly for writes.
  • Substantially smaller and lighter than its OWC Thunderblade 4 sibling; can fit into large pocket, though it is not svelte as with its Envoy Pro EX cousin.
  • Claimed speed of 2600 MB/sec reads, 1600 MB/sec writes.

Most users will find the three above factors compelling if any sort of travel is involved.

OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 2.0TB External Solid-state Drive

Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 is the extreme performance portable SSD that works as fast as you do.

Super fast, portable, bus-powered and bootable, all at the phenomenal speed of Thunderbolt 3 — up to 40 Gbps. Rugged, stylish, and compact, Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 delivers professional-grade portable SSD performance, wherever you are. And with an integrated cable, it's the perfect package to match your Thunderbolt 3 workflow on site, on set, or in the wilderness.

Faster than anything before

The phenomenal new Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 is fast, capable of a total bandwidth of 40Gb/s and a sustained data rate up to 2600MB/s. The secret is the perfect combination of phenomenal bandwidth offered by the Thunderbolt 3 interface and ultra high-performance single-blade M.2 SSD, wrapped up in the rugged, stylish Envoy Pro EX enclosure. Now you can work in real-time with the most I/O heavy transfer tasks like working directly with multistream video.

Tough enough to keep up

A portable drive isn't much good if it can't handle what you throw at it. Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 excels at keeping on keeping on. Fully bus powered, and with no moving parts, it's already light years ahead of the competition. Add into the equation MIL-STD-810G drop test compliance, and you've got a true portable powerhouse that won't let you down on the road.

It's the drive you need

Whether you need a high-performance project drive to edit dailies on set, or a perfect, portable boot drive, Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 has you covered, doing double duty as both. Designed for details, it always runs cool and quiet, and looks great in matte black. And with the integrated Thunderbolt 3 cable, you're always ready to go. Available in multiple capacities, there's an Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 designed to suit your portable Thunderbolt 3 workflow.

OWC's extreme performance ThunderBlade V4 might just be the ultimate working drive for media professionals. In terms of pure transfer speed, ThunderBlade V4 is the fastest external drive we've ever made.

OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3
OWC Envoy Pro Thunderbolt 3, cable end
SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Shipping Soon: OWC Thunderbay 4 with Thunderbolt 3, Up to 48TB Capacity

Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.

The OWC Thunderbay 4 has been a mainstay rock-solid storage solution for me for years now—I have five of them.

The new Thunderbay 4 with Thunderbolt 3 ships in soon and is availble in OWC Thunderbay 4 regular edition and OWC Thunderby 4 RAID-5 edition. The units are physically identical but the RAID edition includes SoftRAID for support of RAID 0, 1, 4, 5 and 1+0.

The non-RAID version can be turned into a RAID version by purchasing SoftRAID separately.

RAID edition specs

The Speed You Need

  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • DisplayPort 1.2
  • Maximize the potential of four 3.5" drives or four 2.5" drives – no adapter needed
  • User configurable in RAID 0, 1 , 4, 5 & 1+0
  • Ultra quiet, heat dissipating aluminum chassis
  • Rigorously pre-tested with multi-hour burn-inIntelligent drive monitoring with desktop and email notifications

ThunderBay 4 is the four-bay production drive powerful enough to create workflows without limitations. With support for RAID 0, 1, 4, 5 and 1+0, you'll transform progress bars into progress. Enjoy the capacity to meet any project demand, including yours. And with the reliability of rigorous 7x stress-testing, and multi-hour drive burn-in before it reaches you, your only concern will be finding enough hours in the workday.

...

OWC Thunderbay 4 Thunderbolt 3 4-drive solution
OWC Thunderbay 4 Thunderbolt 3 4-drive solution
OWC Thunderbay 4 Thunderbolt 3 4-drive solution, rear view

Russell L writes:

Perhaps a note in your advertisement for the Thunderbay IV Raid edition. Tell readers that if the Thunderbay Raid edition is purchased it can and only will work with the Thunderbay IV. For it to work with other devices they would have to purchase the “full” version. I have a full license for SR and a version for the TB-IV. I often do a certify on a OWC drive dock while using the TB-IV, but I can only do this with the full version.

MPG: good point.Buy the full version of SoftRAID at SoftRAID.com or at MacSales.com. There are also 30-day demo versions.

There is also the about $37.50 SoftRAID Lite, which is a fraction of the price. I haven’t followed the feature differences much since I have the full version, but the specs say that SoftRAID Lite does include the Certify command.

The word from OWC is that the bundled SoftRAID on RAID-5 edition units supports all functionality on most OWC hardware going back 5 years or so. To use SoftRAID with non-OWC hardware, SoftRAID must be upgraded to the full any/all-brand version .

Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

Shipping Soon: OWC Thunderblade 4 Thunderbolt 3 SSD with Blazing-Fast Performance in 1/2/4/8TB capacities.

Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.

The OWC Thunderblade 4 ships in about 11 days, according to the OWC / MacSales.com web site.

Pricing: $1199.99 for 1TB, $1799.99 for 2TB, $2799.99 for 4TB, $4999.99 for 8TB.

From the cutaway view below, it seems that the Thunderblade "4" is aptly named for its 4-blade internal 4-way striped RAID. This is how it maxes-out the Thunderbolt 3 bus for reads, and mostly saturates the TB3 bus for writes.

MPG hopes to test a pair of ThunderBlade 4 units attached to the dual Thunderbolt 3 busses on the iMac Pro, assuming they can be had before the loaner iMac Pro has to be returned.

The Fastest. Period.

  • Data transfer speed up to 2800MB/s
  • Capacities up to 8TB
  • Daisy chain up to 6 Thunderbolt 3 devices
  • Rugged portability in a sleek design.
  • Includes a custom-fit ballistic hard-shell case
  • Thunderbolt 3 Cable Included
  • OWC 3 Year Limited Warranty

OWC's extreme performance ThunderBlade V4 might just be the ultimate working drive for media professionals. In terms of pure transfer speed, ThunderBlade V4 is the fastest external drive we've ever made.

OWC Thunderblade 4 Thunderbolt 3 SSD
OWC Thunderblade 4 SSD Thunderbolt 3 SSD, rear view with Thunderbolt 3 ports and DC-IN
OWC Thunderblade 4 Thunderbolt 3 SSD
SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Apple and Privacy: are there Bedrock Principles or Pragmatic State of the Moment “whatever works” Policies at Play?

Apple has generally done a good job on privacy for which I aplaud them.

But here in the USA, Apple has thwarted the FBI (a policy I don’t take a position on at this time), Tim Cook himself has harshly criticized our own President (here I invoke Tim Cook’s own words as relevant e.g., “regardless of your political views”) all while failing to criticize a far more serious violator of human rights—all for the sake of money.

I refere to the fact that Apple just turned iCloud in China over to the Chinese government, justified with the insipid bromide of respecting national laws of a repressive communist nation building the most Orwellian society ever seen on earth—breathtaking in scope—read up on it. A country that jails or kills people that get in the way.

How does one reconcile insipid bromides versus major corporate actions, and what does this tell us about integrity and principles versus corporate profit? I cannot reconcile this action with the claimed principles of Apple.

The foregoing is jawdropping in the context of Apple’s outspoken social and political postures in the USA. Whatever one may think of the current federal policies, few if any of them can rival the coercive anti-individual-rights policies of the Chinese government. The Chinese people deserve better and while it’s not Apple’s role to fix the problem, it is also not its role to enable evil. And it certainly has a mandate to speak out against Chinese policies, or shut up here in the USA on social issues. Or issue a press release stating that corporate profit is the #1 priority, and everything else takes a back seat—that at least would show integrity and honesty. But to silently turn over iCloud to the Chinese government (well, a firm that is a proxy for it)—that is a major corporate action that deserves intense scrutiny.

I quote Tim Cook (emphasis added):

Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point — that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect.

I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that.

Taking this statement at face value, it seems that Apple’s new policy will be to support every killer regime in the world by accepting their policies, e.g. things like turning over iCloud over to any country regardless of whether individual rights are protected or ignored. The hypocrisy speaks volumes.

SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Apple Quality Control: Enough is Enough

See yesterday’s new security bug along with all the recent extremely serious problems Apple has rushed out to customers.

Six years ago MPG started writing about Apple Core Rot, and Apple Core Rot has gotten so much worse and is now manifesting as serious security bugs.

Apple Quality Control: Enough is Enough

Apple is working on a self-driving car, which ought to make anyone nervous given the increasingly severe software quality problems including severe worst-ever security problems. These bugs are not accidents—they stem from years of increasing sloppy software development and software quality assurance.

While I’ve been writing about the issues for five years as Apple Core Rot, Apple has never once contacted me. Worse, any bug I submit goes unread for weeks, so I gave up on submitting bugs. Clearly the quality control team is severely understaffed. That and recent events make it quite plain that Apple is not serious about security or software quality (the two go hand in hand), Mr Cook’s tired bromides aside.

The new secure enclave in the iMac Pro is causing several usability headaches (for me at least) as well as breaking critical software without so much as a “heads up”. What’s the point of a secure enclave (which few people want, methinks) when Apple regularly deploys made-to-order security bugs and even root kit bugs as standard parts of macOS? And the issues fixes for fixes and supplemental updates? It’s all quite ridiculous.

Data loss file copying and hundreds of other problems including simple but scary ones like zero-byte files that are not empty at all demonstrate a nonchalant attitude about customer property, e.g., data. The only mitigating factor is rapid fixes, for which Apple deserves credit. But so many offenses of all kinds that never get fixed along with worst-ever security bugs and ones that should never happen mean that Apple has deeply overdrawn its bank account of trust. Apple no longer deserves any benefit of the doubt by having violated that trust over and over again.

The problems at Apple are glaringly obvious to anyone who opens their eyes—except apparently Apple. Unless Apple course-corrects, is only a matter of time before some major breach screws millions of users: all it takes is one security bug vector reachable via the internet and game over. Which just about happened in November. So it’s not even a “what if” but an “OMG it’s good they caught it in time”.

Hackers and organized crime must be wetting themselves, and putting new resources onto macOS exploit-finding.

Not a passing fad

Apples flubs are not ordinary mistakes! The reason we keep seeing “supplemental releases” is that Apple rushes software out the door with minimal (and maybe zero?) testing—all to make a calendar release schedule. Apple has become an irresponsible calendar-driven company—why can’t Apple see that? This is both negligence and incompetence and in MPG’s view, an ample basis for class action lawsuits going forward.

Apple, how about taking $10B of the $800B cash hoard for applying AI to software quality assurance, along with hiring 500 new software quality engineers?

When hundreds of millions of users are put at potential risk, why is software quality control not the #1 issue at Apple, or even the #10 issue?

Enough is enough

Enough is enough— the buck stops with CEO Tim Cook. Mr Cook, get on the ball with the serious software control problems at Apple, hiring and firing as needed, or hang up your jockstrap—you are putting people at risk—recent events are unacceptable to the point of being become offensive. Public relations bromides about about taking security seriously don’t make users secure. Quality software engineering does that.

When Mr Cook states that he “takes security issues very seriously”, what does that mean, exactly? Perhaps it means it is a serious public relations issue. Because rushing out macOS 10.13 with major flaws is proof enough that security is NOT taken seriously. And without overall software quality, security can only decrease.

The day Mr Cook announces that there will be no macOS 10.14 for at least two years, so that macOS can become the most robust and secure consumer OS ever released—that’s the day his he earns back some credibility. And upon delivery, he will regain the right to use the word “seriously” to describe his intent about security.

Arne K writes from Europe:

To the iMac pro: In German, we have a joke word for that nonsense, to tell you make something much better (Verbessern -> to improve), but actually you’ve worsen everything (Verschlimmern -> to worsen). So, from Verbessern + Verschlimmern, we created the word „Verschlimmbessern“, hehe… maybe something like „improworsen“ in English ;-) This is the feeling of almost every pro guys I know about the last 5 years with Apple products and software.

I use an Mac Pro from 2012, 6 core with 24GB RAM and Yosemite. I just NEED my machine and I could not risk to be held as something like a “test rabbit” from an Apple laboratory.

A “Pro” line should be able to held a full length extension card and also (at least) 4 in-house storage disks or the ability to add an RAID card or so. No external “power supply chaos” and “cable sauerkraut” as with the actual Mac Pros.

Also to the new MacBook Pro, keyboard is worse and it lacks the needed slots and attachment possibilities. And now the “iMac Pro”. All failure by design.

They forgot that “form follows function” and THEN, after this is achieved, the genius is in giving it a great design – that’s what Apple was hailed for in the past. You got everything you need + a great design.

nd the actual operating system is more and more a no-go. Right now, with IBM(!) on their side + the big security concerns with Windows10 and Server 2016 + Office365 – the have the big change to create a secure, reliable, performant + cool IT environment, all with Pads’, Notebooks, mobile phones, storage, backup, work stations and servers – all working hand-in-hand and easy to maintain and to set up. Almost a “no brainer”.

They just stare on their 800 billion dollar amount-mountain of cash.

My best friend is working in Paris for the BIG TV station “ARTE” and it once was an Apple castle – they almost completely lost them, because of the change of the Mac Pro and the Final Cut pro-x nightmare (you may remember). They had thousands of Macs… once.

I sit and wait for the new Mac pro, praying it will be a manly machine, a true work horse again – and that Apple will release a stable OS X the next time.

Thank you so much for your good work Lloyd, you’re one of the few with expertise and style + a profound critical view from the pro-side on the whole thing. I really don’t get it, why they do not hire you and the guys from OWC (and others) as at least consultants.

MPG reiterates its position that Apple is near it peak due to these and many other failures, and will begin a rapid decline at some juncture, no more than 10 years out.

Martin D writes:

For the fourth or fifth time in the last couple years, my 2016 MacBook Pro (Retina, the previous design, not the current one) has utterly locked up.

It has been sitting here for hours as I slowly run the battery down. A couple of the previous lockup, it has “snapped out of it” after a while, but this is the third time that (so far) it never did.

There is simply no way to power it off. Holding the power button down does nothing. Closing the lid does nothing. Obviously, you can’t just pop the battery out since there’s no removable battery.

I am losing many hours of productivity. All because of no actual power switch. This sucks.

[4 hours later]... Damn thing is STILL GOING since 11:29am. I’ve even got a USB hard drive (not SSD) hanging off it. 😫

MPG: hardware core rot? With no real on/off key, Martin’s 2015 MacBook Pro and newer models (and others) have no recourse when they haywire.

Arne K writes:

Your own comment on Apple „enough is enough” is so very true. Sad and true. Reminds me on what you’ve posted about Craig Federigi telling the world “that Apple software quality has improved over the last years”, hahaha!!!

It’s more an more like “Bushism”, those sentences… (“they overunderestimate me” or “misunderestimate me”) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO46ii3W07U

omething else: Did even ONE PC mag ask you if your statement could be re-printed by them? I guess, no.

MPG: no PC or Mac Magazine has ever asked me about reprinting anything on this site.

Aedrian S writes:

Thank you for the Apple Core Rot compilation. I’m glad I’ve found a poweruser who says what I’ve been saying since Lion, which is where I became very irritated with Apple. Sitting on the desk I spend much of the day at is a Power Mac G5, a machine that I use almost daily. I have newer Macs, but getting around the problems of the operating systems I’m forced to use make the old machine the choice; even major work--heavy audio work and photograph editing—is carried out with actual joy instead of a string of profanity as I try to navigate the byzantine mess that is High Sierra. I’ve been a regular Apple user since the // era, and have introduced and provided support for Macintosh to many people. I sometimes want to apologise to those I’d converted to Macintosh, and it becomes tiresome to continue using the phrase, “It wasn’t like this when…”

Ah, I can continue onto a litany of complaints, but I’m sure you already know what I want to say. Thank you, though, for the MPG site as a whole. I’ve already send a link to Core Rot to a fellow Mac user and security expert. We really must get Apple to stand at attention.

MPG: the best way to get a company’s attention is via money—declining sales. But Apple Mac sales seem to be booming.

Detecting and Preventing Credit Card and Similar Financial Fraud via Text Notifications

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Just yesterday (14 hours ago!) I was explaining to my father the importance of using fraud detection measures that notify every time a financial transaction is made. So this is remarkably apropos.

See also Equifax: It Just Keeps Getting Better, for Hackers as well as all security related posts.

Preventing Financial Fraud via Text Notifications

For some years I’ve used an excellent feature provided by my Chase credit card: every time a charge is made, I get a text message.

For example, I fill my fuel tank, and seconds later my phone dings confirming the charge.

The idea is that when a charge is made that is fraudulent, I’ll notice it instantly. Today, my card was used fraudulently. After checking with my wife (same card number), I confirmed that it was fraudulent. The card was canceled within 30 minutes of the charge (which was denied), and a replacement credit card arrives tomorrow.

In this day and age of nothing being secure, such measures are mandatory—it’s only a matter of time before your accounts of any and all kinds are compromised—not if, but when.

Two-factor authentication is also a very good idea.

Check with your bank/brokerage about getting text alerts and emails for account activity. It might save you a headache—or your life savings.

BTW, do NOT call the phone number in a text message—look it up or dial it from a previous contact—it could be a faked text message.

We don’t shop at Kohl’s, so this one was an immediate red flag.

Set up financial accounts for messages of transactions to notice fraud
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc!

How Fast is the Apple iMac Pro for RAW File Conversion?

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

I’ve switched my everyday work machine to the iMac Pro 10-core 3.0 GHz 64GB 2TB Vega 56 (as in this specific iMac Pro) for a week or so of usage for daily work—the iMac Pro is on loan from B&H Photo. So far I don’t notice any day-today benefit over the 2017 iMac 5K.

Thing is, the 2017 iMac 5K looks to be the best computing value ever produced by Apple. Nearly all of the readers of this site shoot raw, and so should wonder how fast raw conversion is on the iMac Pro vs the 2017 iMac 5K—assumptions are a very bad idea in general—get proof.

2017 iMac Pro: RAW to JPEG

Raw conversion speed for the Sony A7R III, Hasselblad X1D, Fujifilm GFX and Nikon D850 is shown.

See also my buying guide and recommendations.

Nasty macOS High Sierra Bug: Unlock AppStore Preferences with *any* Password

I checked this out (below) after reading it on MacRumors.com (thanks to Martin D for forwarding the link). OMG:

I was able to unlock the AppStore preferences using passwords “foobar” and “AppleQualityControl_IsAnOxymoron”. Anything works.

This follows on the heels of the logging in as root without any password, the kernel zero day exploit and with KeyChain proxy crashing and of course pocket dialing (and don’t even mention Siri, which is happy to dial a random number in Pakistan for me).

Botched releases and botched fixes for bugs that have to be re-fixed. It would be funny if it were not. Who knows how many other severe security bugs have been introduced in High Sierra?

Severe security bugs will probably keep popping up like mushrooms in a forest after a heavy autumn rain. Which is why back in September MPG advised waiting 6 months to install macOS High Sierra. Of course Apple makes going back to macOS Sierra very difficult, by mangling user data like Mail and Calendar—no easy going back without data loss—an unacceptable violation of customer data in my view.

Unlock the Apple AppStore preferences with *any* pasword

Makes one wonder about wunderland California as to whether the new pot laws are part of the workplace. The name is apt, but 'macOS Santa Cruz' would have been better.

Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

2TB LaCie Bolt: Maxes Out Thunderbolt 3 Bus for Reads, Very Fast Writes, Beats iMac Pro SSD for Reads 1MB and Smaller

Not sure which Mac or storage system you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Just arrived late today, the about $1999 LaCie Bolt 2TB SSD is a heavy serious feeling brick of an SSD. It is not something you cn fit into a pocket but works great on a desktop and could be easily transported.

With two Thunderbolt 3 ports (and an external power brick), it has the necessary power to be daisy-chained into a Thunderbolt 3 system.

Read speed averages 2670 MiB/sec = 2809 MB/sec, which is about the limit of the Thunderbolt 3 bus.

Write speed averages 1333 MiB/sec = 1398 MB/sec which trounces the SSD in my 2013 Mac Pro.

2TB LaCie Bolt: sustained speed across drive capacity, Thunderbolt 3 on iMac Pro 10-core 3.0 GHz

The Apple iMac Pro 2TB SSD is at last 2X faster on writes than the LaCie Bolt,

However, the LaCie bolt is faster than the iMac Pro for reads all the way through 1MiB reads! Reads tend to be much more important than writes in most all types of computer usage because data is read far more often than it is written (booting up, launching an app searching, all sorts of things like thgat are all about read speed).

Speed vs transfer size from 32K to 512 GiB, LaCie Bolt 2TB vs Apple iMac Pro 2TB
SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Perspective on Just What a Deal an iMac 5K or iMac Pro is Versus Historical Cost

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Nothing beats feeling good about a $4999 iMac Pro more than seeing an 1990 receipt for an antique system like this, which in today’s dollars is probably around $10000 and about one millionth of the speed with a CRT with postage stamp size resolution.

Oh, and that $450 upcharge for 4MB of RAM (that’s megabytes, not gigabytes!) and the $700 printer too!

Kevin S writes:

I found this receipt from 1990 while going through old records. Thought that you might enjoy seeing it as you are comparing the latest Macs.

MPG: what a turd! And I owned one.

Christopher C writes:

If you use this Bureau of Labor Statistics website, $6,784 in March of 1990 is equivalent to $13,002 in November 2017. See: https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

MPG: the steady embezzlement of money by the government aka “inflation”. Which (inflation) is correctly defined as an expansion of the money supply usually but not always accompanied by higher prices, a fact lost on 99% of financial writers. This is the way you are taxed without taxes, a perfect scheme for stealing money.

At any rate, that makes the 1990 Mac IIcx system equivalent to a maxed-out 18-core iMac Pro in cost!

Cost of Mac IIcx in March of 1990

 

Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

Apple’s Mitigations for the Meltdown and Spectre CPU Architecture Bugs: Long-Running Update Doesn’t Jive With Description

A few days ago I wrote about the CPU bug issues in Meltdown and Spectre CPU Architecture Bugs: Apple Has Partially Addressed with No Performance Impact?.

Yesterday, Apple issued security patches that on the face of it are small changes. But it appears that Apple is not telling the whole truth (yet again). I say that because a simple patch should not take 25 minutes to install with triple-hiccup reboots that surely are a firmware update as well—on an iMac Pro, 2017 iMac 5K, and 2013 Mac Pro.

There appears to be something much more involved going on here than Apple is documenting.

About the security content of macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 Supplemental Update

macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 Supplemental Update

Released January 8, 2018

Available for: macOS High Sierra 10.13.2

Description: macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 Supplemental Update includes security improvements to Safari and WebKit to mitigate the effects of Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715).

Seriously? 25 minutes to install a patch to Safari and WebKit? It’s just not a credible story. It doesn’t take 25 minutes, 3 reboots and what appears to be a firmware update and a 400+ MB download to patch Safari and WebKit. Or maybe it does, who can say but Apple. The description versus the reality make me trust Apple less.

More on Spectre and Meltdown

The Register broke the news in early January, and now we see that Apple has already been hard at work to deal with the issue.

Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

SoftRAID Issue on the iMac Pro: Keeps Reintalling Driver and Rebooting

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Update 17 Jan 2018: SoftRAID is now updated to work fully with macOS 10.13.2 High Sierra.

...

SoftRAID has an issue with the iMac Pro in that it keeps reinstalling the driver in an infinite loop. To work around the problem:

  1. Let it install the driver once (or twice, doesn't matter).
  2. Reboot, but before the machine can start booting, turn off all SoftRAID devices.
  3. Turn on SoftRAID devices.
  4. Go into Preferences => Security and allow the SoftRAID driver to load.

Rebooting should be OK now too. But one problem I ran into with no apparent solution is that the SoftRAID app is unusable, since it not only immediately insists on reinstalling the driver, but it hung for me, forcing me to kill it.

The SoftRAID team is working on the issue, so MPG is told.

SoftRAID reinstalling the driver

Thoroughly TESTED: Apple iMac Pro vs 2017 iMac 5K and Others

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

I’ve now posted detailed test results spanning a large number of areas including even things like power consumption.

I think any Mac user is sure to find plenty to think about in these findings on the Apple 2017 iMac Pro, and how it compares to the much less expensive 2017 iMac 5K (and to the 2013 Mac Pro and 2010 Mac Pro).

I hope it saves some people thousands of dollars, and also pleases others (if emptying their wallets) for real versus assumed gains. Thanks for subscribing, which makes work like this possible.

MacPerformanceGuide.com in-depth review of Apple iMac Pro

See my buying guide and recommendations.

James A writes:

I am reading through your magnum opus on the iMac Pro. It represents a staggering amount of testing, documentation and thought.

There is no better assessment on the internet. Excellent job.

DIGLLOYD: a ton of work with many hurdles encountered along the way.

2017 iMac Pro vs others: Lightroom import 552 raw files and generate 1:1 previews, then export as max-quality JPEG
SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Apple iMac Pro: First Look at Performance

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

These first two pages establish certain baseline behaviors of the 2017 iMac Pro.

2017 iMac Pro: CPU Cores, Clock Speed, Turbo Boost

2017 iMac Pro: Scalability with CPU-Intensive, Memory-Intensive and Mixed Workload

2017 iMac Pro: Power Usage (Watts)

Much more is coming tonight and tomorrow including comparative real-world tests that might save you thousands of dollars, or thrill you with performance but empty your wallet.

Thank you for buying from OWC / MacSales.com which hosted me at OWC labs and made machines available for testing, and buying iMac Pro from B&H Photo, which loaned me an iMac Pro which is sitting on my desk for a few weeks. This project was a huge amount of work and is provided for all comers to read, so subscribing to my publications is much appreciated.

Relative performance for CPU-intensive moderate memory access workload on 2017 iMac Pro

macOS Compatibility Problems with iMac Pro with both High Sierra 10.13.2 (17C88) and Sierra 10.12.6 (16G1114)

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Problematic macOS 10.12.6 (16G1114) on iMac Pro
(compatibilitiy issues)

I flew to OWC labs in Woodstock, IL for extensive testing of the new iMac Pro against the 2017 iMac 5K and 2013 Mac Pro and 2010 Mac from Jan 2-5.

The iMac Pro requires macOS 10.13.2 (17C120) and will not boot from any previous version of 10.13.2. Along with the difficulties of booting externall and APFS vs HFS, this cost me half a day of setup time to rearrange my bootable system image for testing.

If a fast new Mac cannot run the software needed for one’s own workflow, it is useless.

Software incompatibility, at least for now, makes the iMac Pro a non-starter for my photographic work. Therefore, MPG strongly advises against committing to the iMac Pro until thorough testing with your own workflow shows it to be (a) compatible, and (b) faster for what you actually do.

It appears that recent security update releases in both 10.13.2 and 10.12.6 have caused compatibility issues on some machines (iMac Pro and 2013 Mac Pro), but not others (2017 iMac 5K, 2010 Mac Pro). Details follow.

Problematic macOS 10.12.6 (16G1114) on 2013 Mac Pro

Zerene Stacker

ZereneStacker, using Java 8 including the latest beta versions.

macOS 10.13.2 (17C120)  on iMac Pro (3 models)= FAIL
macOS 10.13.2 (17C88)   on 2017 iMac 5K = OK
macOS 10.13.2 (17C88)   on 2013 Mac Pro = FAIL
macOS 10.12.6 (16G1114) on 2013 Mac Pro = FAIL

Using a special 2017-01-03 build incorporating Java 9:

macOS 10.13.2 (17C120)  on iMac Pro (3 models)= FAIL
macOS 10.13.2 (17C88)   on 2017 iMac 5K = OK
macOS 10.13.2 (17C88)   on 2013 Mac Pro = FAIL
macOS 10.12.6 (16G1114) on 2013 Mac Pro = OK (maybe, could be sporadic)

Problem: stacking with Zerene Stacker invariably results in an endless series of exceptions part way through the stacking process (sometimes after minutes of processing, but always failing). I stacked hundreds of images through late November 2017 with Zerene Stacker including some very complex ones, but on the iMac 5K—with no failures. I cannot be sure how far back this issue goes, but I think it is due to the most recent macOS update on both 10.13.2 and 10.12.6; it involves the GUI code in Java.

Update: after repeated testing, I am seeing success at times, including a string of successes using Zerene Stacker special build with Java 9. The problem therefore is sporadic and probably a threading bug somewhere.

Zerene Stacker is critical to my work as a photographer for focus stacking. At present, this means that both the 2013 Mac Pro with the most recent 10.12.6 and 10.13.2 is unusable, as is the iMac Pro. Thus I cannot use anything but my 2017 iMac 5K for my work.

Zerene Stacker could not complete the test on any of 3 iMac Pro models or on the 2013 Mac Pro, so I cannot show any test results for it in my iMac Pro shootout.

Iridient Developer

Iridient Developer 3.2.1 (latest).

macOS 10.13.2 (17C120)  on iMac Pro (3 models) = FAIL
macOS 10.13.2 (17C88)   on 2017 iMac 5K = OK
macOS 10.13.2 (17C88)   on 2013 Mac Pro = FAIL
macOS 10.12.6 (16G1114) on 2013 Mac Pro = FAIL

Problem: Iridient Developer fails 100% of the time when running a large batch job, always failing before finishing with hundreds of -1 errors on hundreds of files. It is also extremely slow, odd since it has been one of the fastest raw converters available.

Iridient Developer could not complete the test on any of 3 iMac Pro models or on the 2013 Mac Pro, so I cannot show any test results for it in my iMac Pro shootout.

More worrisome, Iridient Developer has the same problem on a 2013 Mac Pro running macOS 10.12.6 (17C120) or macOS 10.13.2 (17C88), as shown below.

Iridient Developer 3.2.1 processing failures on
either macOS 10.12.6 (17C2120) or macOS 10.13.2

Testing the 2017 iMac Pro against the 2017 iMac 5K and 2013 Mac Pro and 2010 Mac Pro

Thank you for buying your 2017 iMac 5K and/or iMac Pro at B&H Photo, and for upgrading it at OWC MacSales.com. Both vendors made and make my extensive tests of the Apple iMac Pro and other Macs and gear possible.

Not sure which Mac you need, or how to configure it, plan for backup, etc? Consult with Lloyd.

Over Jan 2 - Jan 5, I flew to OWC labs in Woodstock, IL for extensive testing of the new iMac Pro against the 2017 iMac 5K and 2013 Mac Pro and 2010 Mac. At OWC I tested:

  • 2010 Mac Pro 3.46 GHz 12-core 4TB Accelsior ProQ RAID-0 64GB Sapphire
  • 2013 Mac Pro 3.5 GHz 6-core 512GB 64GB D500
  • 2017 iMac Pro 3.0 GHz 8-core 1TB 64GB/32GB Vega 56
  • 2017 iMac Pro 3.0 GHz 10-core 1TB 64GB Vega 64

I am now home to finish up and publish my results, starting today. At home, I have the following machines for comparison for another 2 weeks for so:

  • 2013 Mac Pro 3.3 GHz 8-core 1TB 64GB D700
  • 2017 iMac 5K 4.2 GHz 4-core 2TB 64GB Radeon Pro 580
  • 2017 iMac Pro 3.0 GHz 10-core 2TB 64GB Vega 56

Wide-ranging tests will start appearing shortly, where I might save readers thousands of dollars by showing the value proposition of the iMac Pro versus the 2017 iMac 5K. However, Adobe Lightroom users will find some joy.

Detailed test results for everything I do as a photographer mostly argue against the iMac Pro for my work, though there are plusses if the show-stopper incompatibility problems are resolved.

That is, before any gains can be had, compatibility is a prerequisite: if software fails to run, then it’s a non-starter loss that rules out the iMac Pro completely. That makes the iMac Pro a non-starter for me at this time.

2017 Apple iMac Pro ships with macOS 10.13.2 (17C2120)
Other versions of macOS 10.13.2 will not boot the iMac Pro
4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

Meltdown and Spectre CPU Architecture Bugs: Apple Has Partially Addressed with No Performance Impact?

It is my working theory that recent security updates have broken performance on some Macs, both 10.12.6 and 10.13.2. By recent, I mean over the past 8 weeks or so. It is also suspicious that compatibility is broken with some applications, but perhaps that is just the usual Apple Core Rot.

Weird compatibility and performance bugs that I only noticed in the past few weeks to me suggest strongly that the Apple mitigations for Meltdown and Spectre CPU architectural bugs have degraded some software—including my own—more on that below.

Specifically, macOS 10.13.2 and macOS 10.12.6 (16G1114) have compatibility and performance issues that I cannot recall ever observing before. This has been nagging at me for some weeks and why I released performance updates for diglloydTools IntegrityChecker.

As it turns out, I have discovered that the IntegrityChecker performance improvements are now highly machine specific and may be worse on some machines with my updates. Stranger still, the Java version of IntegrityChecker can now (sometimes) outperform the native version by up to 3X at times—bizarre at best—and yet my C++ source code and Java code have not changed. Both are now highly sensitive to thread count and buffer count, and this was never the case before. Buffers for I/O have to be mapped into real memory and that is precisely a situation where kernel vs application address space come into play.

Never before have I been at a total loss as to how to optimize either my C++ or Java code—I’m working on quicksand now. Yet this issue only emerged in recent weeks, right after the updates to 10.13 and 10.12.6. Ten years of solid performance for IntegrityChecker, then a sudden change up to 3X slower? This cannot be random chance.

Meltdown and Spectre

The Meltdown and Spectre CPU bug fixes almost certainly prompted Apple to work overtime over the past few month, and Apple has stated that macOS is already partially secure. As quoted below, it is a misleading statement to claim no performance reductions based on benchmarks, since standardized benchmarks invariably fail to accurately predict real world performance for any particular program or workflow (as my years of testing show without fail).

Benchmarks correlate with real-world performance but only ignorance can excuse anyone claiming they do more than correlate with any particular workflow performance. Since I do not think Apple is ignorant, that necessarily leads me to say that Apple is avoiding discussing the issue and not telling the whole truth.

From About speculative execution vulnerabilities in ARM-based and Intel CPUs, emphasis added:

Meltdown is a name given to an exploitation technique known as CVE-2017-5754 or "rogue data cache load." The Meltdown technique can enable a user process to read kernel memory. Our analysis suggests that it has the most potential to be exploited.

Apple released mitigations for Meltdown in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. watchOS did not require mitigation.

Our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark, or in common Web browsing benchmarks such as Speedometer, JetStream, and ARES-6.

Apple necessarily would not have even mentioned changes in the release notes prior to early January 2018, for security reasons. It is after most recent updates when I started seeing odd behaviors across machines.

MPG’s view is that the “average user” doesn’t read this blog, but that professionals do and that high performance computing might well be strongly affected. As per Intel Issues Updates to Protect Systems from Security Exploits, emphasis added:

Intel (INTC) said that "for the average user," the performance impact on products using the processors from the last five years "should not be significant and will be mitigated over time."

More on Spectre and Meltdown

But The Register broke the news in early January, and now we see that Apple has already been hard at work to deal with the issue.

Upgrade Your Mac Memory
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.

New Year’s Resolution for Apple: Can We Please Have macOS 'Sobered Up' in 2018? Keychain Crash and Others—macOS Increasingly Unstable = Unacceptable

I was up till 2 AM last night due to Apple bugs in Script Editor that kept crashing it on launch 100% of the time. I finally figured out a workaround. Then I got 3 hours sleep until waking at 5:30 to head to the airport to OWC’s facility in Woodstock, IL for iMac Pro testing.

Due to the Apple Script Editor crashes (3 different machines, all of 'em,both 10.13.2 and 10.12.6), I could not preflight a bunch of tests on the 2017 iMac 5K and none for the 2013 Mac Pro. But I found a workaround, and I got enough tests done (finally) to get a good idea of relative performance of the iMac Pro when I test it starting late today.

Please Apple, can we have a bug-fix oriented macOS release this year?

As one of so many Apple Core Rot issues, here this morning iCloud settings demanded that I login again or “certain services might be unavailable”. Below is the result: a crash with EXEC_BAD_ACCESS which means poorly tested code.

Crash with EXEC_BAD_ACCESS in macOS KeyChainSyncingOverIDSProxy
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