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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary
by Keith Benicek, Editor

UK Bans Apple’s ‘Fastest Computer’ TV Ads
November 10th, 2003

British press is reporting that Apple’s controversial big boast TV commercial touting the new Macintosh G5 PowerMac as being “…the World’s Fastest, most Powerful personal computer” has been banned by the UK’s ITC.

The Independent Television Commission, an advertising watchdog agency, has branded the advert “misleading” and banned it from being broadcast anywhere in the UK.

The “PA” News reported, eight (8) viewers contacted the ITC to complain that the claim was based on the results of limited tests in which the specification of the computers used was configured to give Apple the best results. Apple said the tests, carried out by an independent third party, were “fair and even”.

But the ITC found that the claim was not supported by independent reviews and that, at best, the G5 was only “generally as fast” as its competitors.

In its advertising complaints report, it ruled: “The ITC considered that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim ‘world’s fastest, most powerful personal computer’.

“Furthermore, it shared one viewer’s doubt that the claim could be substantiated at all because, as evidence for and against the claim had shown, computers were constantly being updated and had many different applications and benchmarks.”

It concluded that “the advertising was misleading and ... should not be re-shown in its current form”.

Here in North America, the furor ragged over the biased testing between an off-the-shelf Dell Precision 650 - two 3.06 GHz Pentium 4 Xeon processors 32-bit Intel 4 based system and a hand built 64-bit Apple Macintosh G5 2.0 GHz Dual Processor system. Apple’s hired “independent testing house” Veritest used a modified SPEC benchmark compiler application set, which had been optimized for the Macintosh G5 PowerMac, but had it’s capability to properly use the Intel P-4’s Hyperthreading (a dual channel processor function) turned off.

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Linux OS was used as well on the Dell PC, instead of the more optimized for the Intel Technology Windows XP OS.

"It wasn't really a fair test," said Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds, who said that the Dell machines are capable of producing scores 30 percent to 40 percent higher than those produced under Apple's methodology. "The reason this happened is Apple had a third party go out and test a Dell under less than optimal conditions."

Peter Glaskowsky, editor-in-chief of Microprocessor Report, said a company could get better benchmark results using a Dell machine with Intel and Microsoft compilers than with a Linux machine and GCC compiler. However, he also noted that Intel's chips perform disproportionately well on SPEC's tests because Intel has optimized its compiler for such tests.

Basically, Apple cheated and a large number of industry expert agreed by voicing their opinion to that effect. PC Magazine detailed the disparity in one of its issues to great detail. Clemson University’s professor Mark Smothersman even made the disparity of the testing a research project in their Computer Sciences curriculum.

In our own Tech Lab testing, using SPEC-Perf Benchmarks, we got the following results:

(2x=dual CPU, 1x=one CPU) Highest numbers equate to faster (higher) performance.

1x Apple Mac G5 1.8GHz = 11.56
2x Apple Mac G5 2GHz = 15.7

2x AMD a4800 Opteron 246 2GHz = 28.1
2x AMD MP2600+ = 10.4
1x AMD XP2800+ = 9.07
1x AMD XP3000+ = 13.14
1x AMD XP3200+ = 16.5
1x Dell, P4 3.0 = 12.7
1x Intel, P4 3.0 = 13.6
2x Dell, 3.06 Xeon = 18.0
2x HP rx5670, Itanium2 1.5 = 42.6
2x HP rx5670, Itanium2 1000 = 24.2

I think we believe our testing more.



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