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I'm looking to buy a MacBook Pro w/ SSD.

I was wondering if anyone out there has noticed any significant performance drop with FileVault2 enabled for the following tasks:

  1. Small (under 2 GB) PostgreSQL and MySQL databases
  2. Ruby development
  3. Lots of grepping and text parsing
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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

As you will buy one of the latest Macs, you should be fine.

The used Intel processors support Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) which is also used in Filevault 2.

Ars Technica, published an extended review on Filvault 2 in Lion. They say:

Apple also leverages the special-purpose AES instructions and hardware on Intel's newest CPUs, further reducing the CPU overhead. The end result is that regular users will be hard-pressed to notice any reduction in performance with encryption enabled.

Edit:

These are real world numbers from my MBP with an Intel 2635QM processor which supports AES encryption. My hard drive is a Crucial M4 128GB.

  • Filevault 2 disabled: max. read 510MB/s, write: I forgot to write this down :(
  • Filevault 2 enabled: max. read 490MB/s, write: 190MB/s

I mention only the max. numbers as these figures depend on different factors for file operations. The difference for maximum read here is 20MB/s abosolutely which is 4% relatively.

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When the disk is encrypted, the CPU becomes the bottleneck. Using Intel AES standards should compensate most of the deficits. Still, I admit that it would be nice to have real world numbers to point to. –  gentmatt Jan 20 '12 at 10:33
    
I have real word numbers! I have real world numbers! See the edited answer :) –  gentmatt Feb 4 '12 at 19:14
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I'm pretty sure your usage pattern is going to determine your perception of whether performance is a big hit.

I'm doing Rails development on a 2012 rMBP-13" with 512SSD, 8GB RAM and FileVault 2 enabled. My co-worker has a 2012 rMBP-13" with 768SSD, 8GB RAM and FileVault 2 disabled.

Running the same suite of unit tests (which are db heavy), mine complete in 70s, while hers complete in 55s, about a 22% difference.

In regular use (opening browser, files, email, etc.) the machines seem to perform about the same.

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