new macbook air?

Not sure this is the right forum for this, but I considering purchasing one of the new Macbook Air laptops introduced by Apple last week.

I am wondering what kind of performance I could expect from DTPO. My main database is about 3 GB in size, with 20,000,000 words and 250 groups. I use OCR occasionally.

DTPO runs like a champ on my Core i5 iMac with 4GB RAM. On my old Core Duo 2.0GHz Macbook (2006) with 2GB RAM, it sometimes slows to a trickle.

Is the performance of DTPO (given my DB) primarily determined by processor speed or RAM? What could I expect with one the new Macbook Airs?

Any advice would be appreciated.

The amount of free RAM is much more important than CPU speed, and the total word content of an open database is much more important than the file size required to store the database.

So you should expect responsiveness of your database on a MacBook Air with 2 GB RAM to be comparable to your old MacBook, and a MacBook Air with 4 GB RAM to be comparable to your iMac with 4 GB RAM.

Note that the MacBook Air uses solid state storage instead of a rotating hard drive, so should be significantly faster on disk-intensive operations than your other two Macs.

At my advanced age, I’ve come to place a premium on minimum weight when I’m on travel. The previous models of the Air didn’t have enough horsepower to suit me, but FedEx will deliver a 13-inch MacBook Air with 256 GB storage and 4 GB RAM to my cabin in a couple of days. :slight_smile:

I was wondering the same, especially since the 11.6" seems like the perfect writing/note-taking machine. I’m worried though about the ability of DTPO to be able to search and “see also” in large collections, both in regards to RAM (4gb seems limited for big collections; I have 8gb in my current MBP and I do often cross the 4gb-line just with DTP and my writing programme open) as well as processor speed (1.4 or 1.6ghz for the 1.6"). Are we sure that processor speed is not important for big collections, searching, OCR’ing, and the other strengths of DTPO?

Yes, there are some processor-intensive tasks – most notably, OCR – in which one would see a significant performance gap between the lowest speed 1.4 GHz processor for the 11-inch MacBook Air, and the highest speed 2.13 GHz processor for the 13-inch MacBook Air. And there are other speed improvements for the newer i5 and i7 CPUs in current Macs compared to the older Core 2 Duo chips in the MacBook Airs.

But most of the operations one conducts with a DT Pro/Office database would be reasonably responsive on an 11-inch MacBook Air, so long as there is free RAM available for processing and Virtual Memory isn’t being heavily used. Apple’s Virtual Memory allows your Mac to continue memory-intensive procedures to completion even after the free physical RAM has been used up. This is done by swapping data back and forth between RAM and disk as the data is called for by the procedure. But read/write operations in RAM are orders of magnitude faster than read/write operations on a hard drive, so processing slows down, and the dreaded spinning ball will likely pop up. (The penalty is mitigated to a degree on the MacBook Air, because its solid state drive has faster read/write speeds than a typical hard drive.)

I’m a nut about demanding quick responsiveness from my DT Pro/Office databases. From 2005 to 2008 I ran them on a Mac with 2 GB RAM. From 2008 onwards the minimum RAM in my Macs has been 4 GB, and my iMac with i7 CPU has 8 GB RAM.

The approach I’ve used is to create topically designed databases that fit comfortably within the available free physical RAM, so that Virtual Memory rarely comes into play when I’m running them. My main database that I use for research and writing contains about 25,000 reference documents and about 5,000 of my notes and annotations about them, and is approaching 40 million total words. I’ve got a number of other databases for other topics, such as my financial information. I can open and close databases when I need to search across them or to work with a specific one. Obviously, I can have more databases open on my iMac with 8 GB RAM than on my laptop with 4 GB RAM, but any one of them will run very responsively on my laptop.

That’s why I expect to get quite reasonable performance with the new MacBook Air, which is to be delivered today with the 2.13 GHz CPU and 4 GB RAM.

Note that memory management on Macs, while good, isn’t completely efficient, so that data stored in RAM that is no longer needed will not be completely cleared, and will accumulate over time, reducing the amount of free physical RAM available for new tasks. So I monitor the amount of free RAM (Activity Monitor can do that). When I see that it’s getting low, perhaps after several days of intensively pounding my databases, I’ll quit and relaunch DT Pro Office, and eventually will restart the computer to clear everything out. If I see page outs starting to accumulate in Activity Monitor, I know that it’s time to do a restart.

So that’s how I keep my databases running at the maximum speed of which my Macs are capable. Cluster related data into databases that will fit in my available RAM, occasionally monitor the remaining free RAM, and restart when memory starts to get cluttered by remnants of unnecessary data in RAM.

I went for the 13-inch MacBook Air primarily because it offers more storage space than the smaller one. I’ve got a LOT of data among my databases that I’ll be carrying around, probably more than the average bear.

That’s VERY helpful. Thanks a lot, Bill!

I’d like add to what Bill said with some real world empirical evidence from my own upgrades.

My main machine is a white 2.16 Ghz ginormous iMac with 3GB ram. Until recently, it had the stock 256GB Caviar Blue drive. DTPO ran well, but not snappy.

Early last spring I upgraded the ram from 2 to 3 GB. DTPO showed only marginal speed changes that were consistent with system improvements across the board.

The biggest change yet was when I snagged a Caviar Black 7200 rpm drive for $79 and installed it myself. (AppleCare ran out a month prior). WOW

The hard drive made everything ZOOM! For most things, my 3.5 year old iMac seems as snappy as a new model (obviously not a fast encoding or doing heavy lifting like OCR), BUT DTPO FLIES now.

For me and for my 6 GB databases, DTPO flies.

Now, how does this tie into Bill’s statement an your question? Well, the 1.86 Ghz air manages to compete on the latest performance reviews with the 13" MacBook. That MacBook and my iMac are similar in performance. The SSID drive only solidifies it all the much more, but I would expect that DTPO will run like it does on my iMac.

From my experience, I would have no qualms getting a 13" air for DTPO (in fact, come January, I just might if I don’t get an i5 iMac).

I’ve been using DTPO on the last model of the MacBook Air, a 2.13GHz with 2GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD. It works very well. My largest DB is an 11GB DB with 415,000 unique words, 34,000,000 words total.

My databases do not reside wholly within RAM. I’m usually running a gig into swap. I’ve found that having the solid state drive makes an enormous difference if you don’t have enough RAM. Unless I’m getting 2-3 GB into swap, I don’t notice much slowdown. It’s great.

I’d be perfectly comfortable recommending the new one to anyone.

And my 13-inch Air (256 GB storage, 4 GB RAM) is fully living up to expectations. Very snappy! And light!

If anyone puts DTPO onto an 11.6" 1.4ghz or 1.6ghz MBA, I’d be most grateful for some first-hand anecdotes. :slight_smile:

I’ve been running on an 11" for a week now. I’m quite pleased for my purposes.

This is NOT my main machine (that’s a 2.4 Core 2) but rather an “on the road” unit. Database loading, finding and retrieving seem very acceptable to me.