Mac OS 9 Discussion > Emulation

Can we run Mac OS 9 faster under emulation than the original hardware?

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the title says it all. I am wondering if the current emulations of os9 such as QEMU and Sheepshaver are actually faster than the old hardware. I have been using Sheepshaver and UTM on my 2015 MacBook Air and have thought that this seems pretty quick. I would imagine that a faster machine like the M1 MacBook would be a lot faster. I have also heard that you can get UTM running on an iPhone or iPad, and I wonder what the performance would be like. I have my old iPhone 11 Pro Max I might consider setting up as a dedicated mobile Os9 machine.

Anyone have any experience with this?

I am pretty sure that it would be slower than 400 Mhz G4, because it is slow to emulate its 128-bit Altivec code with modern 64-bit machines  ;) But older not G4 only programs might run quite fast.

But I will soon test mobile MacOS9 in Pinephone Keyboard with Maemo Leste OS (it has qemu-system-ppc in its repository).

Thanks for DieHard's Complete working QEMU v5.2 System background info, I could use that script with only little modification with Pinephone Keyboard. Because QEMU use only one core, it working about PowerMac 6200 75Mhz CPU speed and graphics update is even slower. It needs mouse, because using with touch screen is little hard.

dont underestimate the difference it can make between different types of applications.

Question: Can we run Mac OS 9 faster under emulation than the original hardware?

Answer: No.

Detailed answer: Emulators like Sheepshaver and the like are locked to 30 FPS maximum, AKA every looks and feels like shiet, particularly games. If compiled with special flags, the likes of QEMU can do 60 FPS, but are SLOW AS HELL, even on ultra high-end, $10000+ machines. A lot is playable, though, and not everything is as slow as I said. It depends on what you do or play. You can make it bearable here and there, but you CANNOT replace the hardware. Period. What we have is just not powerful enough, and our emulation software not well-written enough to utilize all of the hardware, nor to catch up with the speed of the likes of our MDDs and whatnot, particularlu those equipped with a legendary dual 7448 2.0GHz PPC processor, let alone the 64-bit "quad-core" G5s at 2.5GHz and dual-processor 2.7GHz G5s. (G5s can't boot into OS 9, though.)

Some read/write operations CAN be FAST, though, and arguably surpass the original hardware, when you consider the original is limited to SATA I at best (SATA II on G5s, maybe SATA III even?), whereas we emulate OS 9 with hardware on SATA III SSDs or nowadays even NVMe SSDs, which are even faster.

Then you have issues like compatibility and accuracy. Even if you got things to run faster (which you can't), would you really be able to say you achieved such a goal, when software that should work does not work? (Compatibility.) Or when software behaves differently under emulation compared to its behavior in real hardware? (Accuracy.)

Emulation is a convenient tool, but never really a true replacement for what it is emulating. Especially for something as powerful as PowerPC-based Macs.

You can write code to contribute to such goals if you wish to do so, however. A lot of people share such ambitions, afterall. I think it has its uses, and is particularly cool for things like System 6 and earlier 68k crap, but not in lieu of the actual hardware.


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