Central processing unit Stories February 11, 2014

How to: Get Spotlight processes back under control when CPU usage goes crazy

If you’re finding that your Mac fans are running a lot more than they used to, you might want to check out whether a couple of Spotlight processes are consuming more than their fair share of CPU cycles.

Ever since the latest Mavericks update, I found that my MacBook Pro seemed to be running hot a lot of the time, with fans ramping up to high levels to cool it. Checking Activity Monitor didn’t seem to be shedding much light on things at first glance. The only two processes using an unusual amount of CPU were mds and mds_stores. These are two processes used by Spotlight when indexing, so I didn’t think too much of it – Spotlight has to do its indexing sometime, right?

But several checks later, these two processes seemed to be helping themselves to significant chunks of CPU on a regular basis, at which point I did some Googling.

I started by disabling Spotlight altogether to confirm that it was the culprit. To do this, I went into Terminal and entered:

sudo mdutil -a -i off

The fans spooled down and all was back to normal. Spotlight was indeed the culprit.

I briefly considered leaving Spotlight off until the next OS X update, but that proved too much of a pain. I keep my most-used apps in the dock, but everything else I habitually launch from Spotlight. CMD-space plus the first letter or two of the app is just too convenient to give up. So I did some more Googling – after switching Spotlight back on with:

sudo mdutil -a -i on

The first tip I found was here, where it suggested deleting the Spotlight database and forcing it to re-index. You can do this in Terminal again:

 sudo rm -rf /.Spotlight-V100/*

Top tip: set this going overnight, as the re-indexing takes a while.

This helped quite a bit, but the mds process still seemed a little greedy. More Googling led me to a suggestion to remove from Spotlight’s indexing any directories with frequently-changing content, especially those used for online backup. You can do this by going into System Preferences, clicking the Privacy tab and then drag-and-dropping onto it any directories you don’t want it to index.

I added my CrashPlan, MobileSync and Dropbox folders – three specific suggestions I’d found – and then for good measure added some others with frequently-changing content.

This did the trick: my fans stayed on low, and Activity Monitor showed the mds processes consuming only tiny amounts of CPU.

I’m not sure how general an issue this – hence making this an aside – but if you’re finding your Mac running hot, it may be worth checking out.

Central processing unit Stories January 31, 2014

If you’ve decided you’ve waited long enough for Apple to update the Mac mini with a Haswell processor, you can always create a Hac mini.

A user posting on the Hacintosh site tonymacx86.com has documented his successful squeezing of an Intel DH61AG motherboard with i3-3225 CPU (55w TDP), 4GB Ram, 128GB mSATA SSD, half mini PCIe Wifi and an external Dell laptop power supply into a 2010 Mac mini case …  expand full story

Central processing unit Stories December 31, 2013

Following a quick look from Other World Computing last week, iFixit has published its teardown of the new Mac Pro.

Unlike any other Apple product iFixit has reviewed this year, the firm gives high praise to the repairability of the Mac Pro. The system uses no proprietary screws and RAM is accessible without the need for any tools.  Add in the socketed, upgradable CPU originally found in the earlier teardown, the Mac Pro is the most repairable computer in Apple’s lineup by far.

expand full story

Central processing unit Stories September 12, 2013

AnandTech dug into the FCC filings for the new iPhones to reveal that the iPhone 5s battery offers approximately 10 percent more capacity than its predecessor, while the 5c battery offers a more modest 5 percent gain. That’s a different size battery (5.96Wh vs 5.92Wh) than we’d seen in supposed 5s prototypes …  expand full story

Central processing unit Stories August 15, 2013

There was much disappointment back in June when the new Mac Pro‘s CPU – the 12-core Xeon E5-2697 – delivered a surprisingly low Geekbench score of 23,901. It had been widely expected to break 30,000.

Some cautioned then that the score, based on a 32-bit build of Geekbench running on an early pre-release version of the CPU with a beta version of Mavericks, might not tell the whole story, and new tests by Tom’s Hardware on V2 of the chip appear to confirm this …  expand full story

Central processing unit Stories July 17, 2013

Rumored iPhone 5S production shots & specs: IGZO display, fingerprint reader, NFC, 12MP cam

Some unverified news out of China this morning points to new iPhone 5S production shots and specs which don’t seem out of the realm of possibility. The production shots above claim to be of the iPhone 5S, but with the case expected to be identical to the 5, it is hard to tell the difference.

Specs for the iPhone 5S from this same leak include NFC reader (which was taken out of the iPhone 5 late in production we’ve heard), a Fingerprint Reader (which may or may not be causing production delays), Sharp 4-inch 1136×640 (and maybe LG) IGZO display for power savings and better image quality and new 12 megapixel backside camera with dual LED flash.

Other purported improvements include 2GB of RAM, same A6 CPU at a higher clock with improved quad-core SGX 554MP4 (upgrade from the 3-core PowerVR SGX543MP3 in the iPhone 5) and improved LTE. Perhaps the power savings in display will offset the higher power usage needed for this improved hardware. That and a slightly bigger battery.

None of these seem outside of the realm of possibility (which is suspicious), but taken together seem to paint a picture of a dramatically improved iPhone 5S with some pretty incredible sensor improvements.

For those looking at upgrading to the lower cost plastic iPhone, the site also includes shells for those compared to iPhone 5, below (originally from Sonny Dickson):

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