September 7, 2009
5 Hidden Gems of Mac OS X Snow Leopard
Apple’s new operating system Mac OS X Snow Leopard brings many new features. However, most of these features are under the hood improvements to the operating system. Out of all the new improvements in Mac OS X Snow Leopard, five features will change the way you compute without you even knowing about them. These 5 hidden gems of Mac OS X Snow Leopard are:
Grand Central Dispatch (GCD): It is a set of technologies that makes it easier for developers to create programs for multicore processors. With increase in number of all the cores in a processor it is becoming increasingly difficult to efficiently use power of these cores in a processor. GDC makes Mac OS X multicore aware and optimizes it for allocating tasks across multiple cores and processors. Once developers start using GCD for their applications you will notice significant increase in performance on your multicore system.
OpenCL: OpenCL stands for Open Computing Language – a C based programming language that allows developers to use graphics processors for general computing purposes. Graphics processors are becoming more and more powerful, and by using OpenCL developers can make their applications perform complex operations using graphics processors. Apple says that by using OpenCL developers can make desktop accounting applications with sophisticated financial modeling techniques that required servers before or have more realistic physics simulations in games or design media applications that can handle larger video and graphics files.
64-bit: Previous version of Mac OS X (Leopard) was 64-bit capable in many ways, but Snow Leopard takes the next big step by rewriting nearly all system applications and kernel in 64-bit code. A 32-bit application can only address 4GB of RAM, whereas 64-bit application can theoretically address up to 16 billion gigabytes of memory. Also 64-bit can enable computers to processor twice the data per clock cycle, which will boost overall performance. The best part about Mac OS X Snow Leopard is that it can run both 64-bit and 32-bit applications simultaneously, so you don’t have to worry about whether the applications you use are 64-bit or not.
QuickTime X: Apple did introduce the new QuickTime Player in Snow Leopard, but we aren’t talking about the player. QuickTime X is the media technology that powers audio and video experience in Mac OS X. All the applications like iTunes, Safari or iPhoto use QuickTime to playback audio and video. The new QuickTime X offers optimized support for modern codecs like H.264 and AAC for smooth and stutter free playback of high definition content. It also support HTTP live streaming for Internet video streaming using HTTP protocol, which makes video streaming work reliably with common firewall and wireless router settings. Apple says QuickTime X is 2.4x faster than QuickTime 7 and it uses GPU acceleration for fluid video playback experience.
Automatic Printer Driver Update: Most of us don’t bother with updating printer drivers unless our printer stops working. However, updating drivers can add new functionalities, improve performance and rectify defects. Mac OS X Snow Leopard periodically checks for latest drivers and automatically downloads the newest version through software update. When you connect a new printer to your computer, Snow Leopard can download the most up-to-date driver over the Internet using the new feature.