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I just got to this question due to a game (which happens to be Diablo 2), but the matter of fact is: why is my brand new mac book pro, made in 2009 with latest technology (tho it's the cheapest one) can't rival my computer which used to run this much faster back in 2000? Really, it was much faster on my AMD K6 450 back in those days, and I could even run two clients at same time with no slow down.

I've always had the feeling this machine was slow, but this is a very odd way to attest it.

Granted, the machine is smaller, runs on wifi and "boots" way faster thanks to sleep mode. But other than that, what have we evolved after all?! I'm pretty sure this shouldn't be graphical card's fault.

Sure if I buy latest technology it will run fast, and probably most people here can confirm this and won't even understand my question. But the thing is, all the hardware is supposedly much faster and better than the stuff from 10 years ago. The software and operating system became more complex, but also more well refined. Now I'm trying a piece of software that is actually 10 years old and it's not getting any better results! Why?

edit: I've just noted out of "All Processes" listed in Activity Monitor, Diablo 2 is the only one of the kind "Power PC". All others are either "Intel" or "Intel (64 bit)". Maybe that's why.

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Mac != PC is the short answer. You're playing it via some form of emulation as the original version was released for classic Mac OS on PowerPC, and Win95/98 on x86, not for OS X on x86. – mctylr Mar 22 '10 at 20:30
@mctylr: Actually Blizzard released to different copies of this, one for Windows and one for Mac (PPC). – Josh K Mar 22 '10 at 20:32
@Josh K, the Mac PowerPC version needs processor emulation to run on an Intel Core 2 Duo based Mac Book Pro, while the Windows version needs OS emulation (i.e. Parallels) to run under OS X. – mctylr Mar 22 '10 at 21:01
@mctylr: Yes, but you're still comparing a 450MHz processor to a 2.23GHz one. Don't you think it's within the realm of it's ability to emulate a PPC platform without slowing down? ;) – Josh K Mar 22 '10 at 21:36
@mctylr even if it's emulation, it's 10 years old! Machines double capacity every 18 months, don't they? – cregox Mar 22 '10 at 21:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most of the time, games are programmed so that they can specify how fast something runs. This is why if we loaded up Doom classic on a core i7, we don't see monsters moving at light speed and killing us before we can react.

Diablo II is probably done the same way. It was programmed to run at a certain speed according to time not processor's speed. You might be able to speed it up using emulation technology, but I'm not too sure how to go about doing that.

Edit: Sorry! What I meant by the first line is that they are programmed to specify whether or not they use the processor cycle or the clock cycle.

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Maybe it's all just this software's fault, but that's what I want to know for sure. How could I know? And there's a chance it isn't... Then, maybe the problem is on the hardware publicity - it wouldn't be all that faster now than it was years ago! – cregox Mar 22 '10 at 22:00
That is true. I guess you could always benchmark the two systems. SISandra has a great tool for doing that. – Sakamoto Kazuma Mar 22 '10 at 23:45

The software itself was probably optimized to run on that hardware / operating system.

You're comparing a 450MHz chip with a 2.26GHz dual core chip. Why do you think that the former is faster?

There's also the possibility that you remember it being faster then it actually was

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True, I'd love to be able to get an old AMD, test it and report back. But look, I clearly remember this: it was flawless and I had no complains, unless I tried to run more than 2 clients. In here, it's slow eventually. Then I remembered I often get a lot of slow downs. And the question was a bet I'm not the only one noticing this. – cregox Mar 22 '10 at 21:31

Let's start with the question title and description being very misleading. You do not clearly state that you are using some form of emulation to run Diablo II (released in 2000 for Mac OS on PowerPC, and Windows on x86) on your Mac Book Pro, which I presume is running its native OS X, since you do not include anything to suggest otherwise.

one method is to use a processor emulator (such as qemu*, bochs, spim, PearPC) to emulate one processor on another system is a complex task.

Another method is using a platform virtualizer (such as Xen, VMware, Parallels) that runs a isolated virtual computer system including simulating or mapping hardware features (I/O).

These tasks are complex, with on-the-fly translation of native instruction sets for emulators, to JIT or dynamic translation of memory and processor mapping to simulate a virtual computer that is isolated or different from the "host" system, including Operating System and its kernel. For example an app running via PearPC is quoted as running 40 times slower than a native running application.

While Moore's Law is typically seen to collate the doubling of transistors to a doubling of CPU computation or processing power, this doesn't scale to the entire system, not even to hardware performance (RAM size and speed, Hard drives).

I'm surprised to have to mention the Megahertz (Clock Rate) Myth to a Mac user. Short form: You cannot use CPU clock rates as a comparative guide to CPU / system performance.

Video games are a particularly poor performers on emulation or virtualization due to the 2D and 3D video performance, which is an area often lacking in speed-ups of various competing VM or emulation solutions. In many cases the 3D graphics are rendered in software, and are not as heavily optimized as processor and OS emulation / virutalization portions. This is slowly changing, VMware has improved their graphics acceleration in certain cases.

So I don't think you should be surprised that playing an older video game via emulation or virtualization is still slow on your faster CPU. Unfortunately, the situation was not clear from your question.

*) qemu and several others are both a processor emulator, and a machine virtualizer depending on circumstance (i.e. host environment).

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Why are you bashing me? I never said anything about MHZ, Moore being precise maths or emulating issues. Anything is always assumed to be default unless stated otherwise, I'm no fan of giving every little detail explicitly. But it should be pretty evident that I'm using no emulation. – cregox Mar 23 '10 at 20:54
Since Diablo II was released before Mac OS was available on x86 platform (such as our your MacBook Pro running OS X), how are you running a game was only available for Windows/DOS for the x86 processor without emulation or virtualization? – mctylr Mar 24 '10 at 4:13
I said I was surprised, I didn't intend to bash you or anyone else. – mctylr Mar 24 '10 at 4:18
I just went to Blizz website and downloaded a copy with my cd-key. I don't even have the disks anymore, just saved the keys. I don't know how it's done, but I sure didn't started it out of any emulator, and it doesn't take (too much) time to load, it just runs slow when things get heavy. – cregox Mar 24 '10 at 13:32

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