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Different behaviour of mach_absolute_time() on i386 / ppc
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Different behaviour of mach_absolute_time() on i386 / ppc


I encountered an unexpected behaviour of the 'mach_absolute_time()' function -- maybe it's just undocumented, but Google didn't provide any clues.

It's not crucial, though, but it took me some time to figure out what's going on, so maybe somebody has a technical explenation.

Here's the issue...
to measure execution time of my code, I use following function:

#include <mach/mach_time.h>

static const int64_t kOneMillion = 1000 * 1000;

int getTimeInMilliseconds()
	static mach_timebase_info_data_t s_timebase_info;

	if (s_timebase_info.denom == 0) {
		(void) mach_timebase_info(&s_timebase_info);

	// mach_absolute_time() returns billionth of seconds,
	// so devide by one million to get milliseconds
	return (int)(mach_absolute_time() / kOneMillion);


This works perfectly fine; as soon as the app launches, the values returned by 'getTimeInMilliseconds()' are very low (starting at zero), increasing during runtime of the app.

But on an Intel-Mac, the time stamps are increased differently than on a PPC Mac:
On Intel hardware, the time is increased constantly, independently from the programs current cpu usage.
On PPC hardware, the time is increased only when the cpu is used.

That is, when calling 'sleep()' or 'usleep()' on PPC hardware, the timer which is queried by 'mach_absolute_time()' appearently is stopped, whereas it continues to run on a Intel hardware.

Is there an explanation what is causing this difference in behaviour?

Best regards, Dirk Stegemann

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