MATLAB on MacBook Pro

Kimo Johnson

11 April 2006

I did some simple testing of MATLAB on my MacBook Pro today. I compared MATLAB running (emulated) in OS X to MATLAB running in XP via Apple's Boot Camp and also in XP using a Parallels virtual machine. The results are somewhat surprising in that I was expecting MATLAB in Boot Camp to be fastest overall, but that isn't always the case.

The times listed below are from running bench(10) and averaging the results. I actually executed bench(10) twice for each test, once to warm the machine up and a second time for the actual test. For those unfamiliar with bench, here is what it tests (taken from the MATLAB documentation):

Test Description Performance Factors
LU LAPACK, n = 1000 Floating point, regular memory access
FFT Fast Fourier Transform Floating point, irregular memory access
ODE Ordinary diff. eqn. Data structures and M-files
Sparse Solve sparse system Mixed integer and floating point
2-D plot(fft(eye)) 2-D line drawing graphics
3-D MathWorks logo 3-D animated OpenGL graphics

OS X 1.8960 0.5202 0.6114 1.7013 2.6938 2.2483

XP - Boot Camp 0.7849 0.3880 0.2011 0.5356 0.9143 0.7517

XP - Parallels virtual machine 0.4563 0.7197 0.1571 0.6858 0.5903 0.7942

I’m surprised by the Parallels virtual machine beating out a native XP installation in a few of the cases, especially in the graphics tests. OS X beat Parallels in the FFT test, but was a factor of 2 or 3 slower in the other tests. Let’s hope a universal build of MATLAB is not too far in the future.