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Testing MacBook compile times for Flash and FlashDevelop

28 May 2006 at 7:39 pm

The test results are in. I’ve tested my new 17” MacBook Pro (2,16Ghz CPU,2Gb RAM) using both BootCamp and Parallels against my Toshiba P20 (3Ghz P4 CPU, 1Gb RAM). The results are stunning.

I’ve tested three different projects, one of them was tested in both Flash 8 and FlashDevelop on all platforms for better comparison. The “Slideshow” app (tested in both FD and Flash) is a Slideshow Builder application made for a large Norwegian cultural institution. It’s made up of 12 classes and 4 components. The CMS project is a full CMS done in Flash (22 classes, 17 components) and the 3D Graph is a small FD project based on the code in this tutorial (great read!). Here are the compile times:

(All numbers are seconds)

The main difference in the test machines apart from RAM and CPU is that the MacBook has a newer and much faster memory arcitechture. Much of the speed is probably related to this since it can move data to and from the processor much faster.

It’s facinating to see that even using Parallels for emulation, the MacBook is much faster than the PC. I didn’t expect that. The compile times for FlashDevelop speak for themselves. They are the reason I hardly use the Flash IDE anymore (5-10 times the speed of compiling in the Flash IDE). I’m sure Flex will get me back in, but there’s no Mac version of Flex on Adobe Labs at the moment. I guess I’ll use BootCamp or Parallels for that as well.

Updated: I’ve added figures for the non-universal version of Flash 8 running on OSX since several wanted that. The numbers for that looks good for the Slideshow, but for some reason it slows down when compiling all the components in the CMS app? The reason I didn’t test this initially is that all my licenses are on PC, so I won’t be able to switch them over until next upgrade. Hopefully, that’s when the Universal Binaries arrive.

The Toshiba was well spec’ed when I got it and it’s still a good PC. The reason I’m getting a new machine is that I’ve worn it out. The mousepad is dead, the screen goes partially black and the battery time is less than 10 minutes so it’s now more of a stationary than a portable.

How I tested

Every project was opened and compiled once. I then compiled it three times in a row and wrote up the average. The complie time is the time from I click the Test Movie option until the finished SWF shows up on screen. FlashDevelop had Verbose output turned on so that I could see the precise time used. Flash 8 was timed using a stopwatch since there’s no similar option. With an average of three compile times, it will still be correct enough for comparision.

Some observations

Running BootCamp on a MacBook is just like using any other PC. BootCamp is in beta and there are some small snags such as keyboard mapping not being entirely correct. You’ll hunt a bit until you figure out that it’s mapped as if the Mac keyboard was a PC keyboard. This means that you’ll find the @ sign at the key “2” and not on the @-key as it is on the Mac keyboard (yeah, the Mac has it’s own @-key so there’s no need to fiddle with AltGr+2). Not a big thing, but it’ll be annoying over time so I hope they fix it for the next release. My initial report about C&C Generals playing fine wasn’t quite correct. I had a spectacuar crash yesterday while playing. Had to do a full reset (Fun to play the old singleplayer missions again at even greater resolutions!)

Paralells is great! You can even install Windows 95, 98 and Linux there for testing. I’m definetly paying $40 for that possibility. It’s also available for PC (without OSX support) so non-switchers can enjoy this treat as well. Only thing I have against it is the response time on the mouse. It’s really laggy - enough to irritate you since it’s not precise. I guess I’ll just develop a habit of using the keyboard more often, but it would be great if the fixed this in the final version.