MATLAB Answers


Matlab with MacBook Air

Asked by Jeff
on 18 Jul 2011

I'm considering purchasing a MacBook Air and just wanted to know if MatLab will run well on the Air?

Thanks, Jeff


Log in to comment.


8 Answers

Answer by Walter Roberson
on 20 Jul 2011
 Accepted Answer

With today's substantial updates to the Air series, they may well be worth considering.... except that you still wouldn't want to get just 2 GB of memory on the smaller one. They now have i5 processors and can be ordered with i7 processors. I have not yet taken a detailed look at them.


I was sort of counting on a significant upgrade with the release of new airs. I agree that 4 GB ram is probably necessary - and it's only an additional $100. Matlab work on the air would probably only be done at night when there is nothing to do or on an airplane.

Thanks for your input.

What do you know about the intel hd video?

Log in to comment.

Answer by Andrew Newell
on 21 Jul 2011

Here are some benchmarks I obtained using bench. Note that my Mac Book Air (the last entry) has only 2GB memory.

1. Windows 7 (64-bit) 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad

4 threads, Windows 7 Enterprise, 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad, 4 GB memory, NVidia Quadro FX 1500, MATLAB (R2010b)

2. Windows XP (32-bit) 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2

2 threads, Windows XP SP3, 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 CPU 6700, 3.25 GB memory, NVidia Quadro FX 1500, MATLAB (R2010b)

3. Windows Server 2003 (64-bit) 2.4 GHz AMD Opteron

8 threads, Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition SP2, 2.4 GHz AMD Opteron, 32 GB memory, Rage XL PCI, MATLAB (R2010b)

4. Windows 7 (64-bit) 2.39 GHz Intel Xeon

16 threads, Windows 7 Enterprise x64, 2.39 GHz Intel Xeon E5520, 12 GB memory, NVidia GeForce 9500 GT, MATLAB (R2010b)

5. Windows 7 (32-bit) 1.6 GHz Intel Atom

1 thread, Windows 7, Intel Atom CPU N270 @1.60 GHz, 1.0 GB memory, Mobile Intel® 945 Express Chipset Family, MATLAB (R2010b)

6. Mac 10.5 (64-bit) 2.66 GHz Intel Xeon

4 threads, Leopard 10.5.5, dual 2.66 GHz Intel Xeon, 4 GB memory, NVidia GeForce 7300GT, MATLAB (R2010b)

7. Mac 10.6 (64-bit) 2.27 GHz Intel Xeon

16 threads, Snow Leopard 10.6.2, 2.37 GHz Intel Xeon E5520, 12 GB memory, NVidia GeForce 9500 GT, MATLAB (R2010b)

8. Linux Debian (64-bit) 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2

2 threads, 2.6.26-2-amd64 kernel, 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 CPU 6700, 4 GB memory, NVidia Quadro FX 1500, MATLAB (R2010b)

9. Linux Ubuntu (64-bit) 2.27 GHz Intel Xeon

16 threads, 2.6.30-020630-generic kernel, 2.37 GHz Intel Xeon E5520, 12 GB memory, NVidia GeForce 9500 GT, MATLAB (R2010b)

10. MacBookAir 10.6 (64-bit) 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2

4 threads, Snow Leopard 10.6.7, 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2, 2 GB memory, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, MATLAB Version (R2010b)

     LU        FFT       ODE       Sparse    2-D       3-D
1.   0.0577    0.1153    0.1641    0.2628    0.5081    0.7387
2.   0.0775    0.1132    0.1199    0.2364    0.3300    0.5703
3.   0.1042    0.1348    0.2572    0.7519    0.5510    0.4986
4.   0.0386    0.0546    0.1415    0.2079    0.4124    0.7271
5.   1.8844    0.7826    0.7091    1.5299    2.4052    1.9797
6.   0.0760    0.1770    0.1817    0.3503    0.5827    0.6359
7.   0.0465    0.0995    0.1892    0.3535    0.4546    0.6841
8.   0.0658    0.0945    0.1636    0.2567    0.2651    0.2044
9.   0.0515    0.0434    0.1727    0.2814    1.3914    1.6377
10.  0.0866    0.1767    0.2660    0.3801    1.0964    1.3405


Log in to comment.

Answer by Walter Roberson
on 19 Jul 2011

I'm afraid I don't see much point in having 1066 MHz DDR3 memory with an 800 MHz Front Side Bus.

2 GB really isn't enough memory to run any MATLAB version that is currently purchasable. On Mac, I don't think I'd be comfortable even with the maximum 4 GB you can equip the devices with.

1.4 GHz isn't very fast, even if you run both cores. The desktop system I'm using at the moment is 4 GHz single core Pentium 4, a two or three generation hand-me-down because no-one else thought it fast enough to bother with; if you are accustomed to running systems designed this century, you likely won't find 1.4 GHz an enjoyable experience for computation.

The graphics aren't anything special. The 320M integrated chipset has 32 shader cores and no dedicated memory, using 256 MB of the system memory (reducing the amount available for MATLAB). See here for some benchmarks

It is difficult to findy any official nvidea acknowledgement that the 320M exists in its CUDA information, but the evidence I found suggests that the 320M supports Cuda 1.2 capabilities (not enough for MATLAB to use, but enough for Accelereyes Jacket to use); that evidence also indicates 48 CUDA cores, not the 32 Apple officially claims.

If your question is whether MATLAB will run on the Airbook: then Yes, but I would push the 4 GB memory in ASAP.

"run well"... ummm... compared to what?


Matlab on my Macbook pro is fine. Not all of the toolboxes are available with macintosh but unless you need DAQ or some other more obscure toolbox you should be fine.

This Macbook pro is three or four years old: 4GB, 2.5Ghz, 667MHz, DDR2 duo. I still frequently (at least weekly) dump the whole system by trying to create 9Gb matrices.

Yes, CUDA is the use of the graphics card (or similar architecture) to perform parallel computations. The CUDA instruction set is limited, but what it can do it can do pretty quickly. If you are interested in "high performance" computations then you probably want to investigate CUDA.

CUDA use does require special code, or at least code operating on a special class of objects; as far as I know it is not integrated in to any of the other toolboxes.

Is it possible for you to get access to the kind of Air that you would be interested in purchasing? With access and a MATLAB trial license, you could see for yourself whether performance was satisfactory for your purposes.

5 hours or 7 hours for the battery, though... wonder if that includes the situation where you are doing heavy computing on it?

Walter is correct that Jacket supports these Macbook Air computers with the 320M GPU. Good luck!

Log in to comment.

Answer by jl
on 21 Jul 2011

I am interested in MacAir 13" with Matlab as well. If anyone has done a Bench on these, please post it up.

As for the memory, 4G is marginal but having said that, the SSD disk system should compensate greatly with any swapping.



Log in to comment.

Answer by Andrew Newell
on 21 Jul 2011

Some follow-up thoughts: I think the most important comment that Walter made was "compared to what?" To which I would add, "For what purpose?"

It seems a bit silly to compare this laptop to industrial-grade desktops. Most people considering a Mac Book Air are not in the market for 4GHz hand-me-downs, let alone the current top models. The Mac Book Air should be compared to other laptops.

Similarly, there are a lot of uses of MATLAB that don't require blazing speeds or even 4GB memory. I use the Air when I'm traveling, and most of the time I don't miss the extra power. Balance that against the ease of carrying it around.

One major caveat: Very few hotels have good wireless support, and this caused me no end of trouble for a while. Fortunately, there is a cheap solution. If you are traveling, get an Ethernet-to-USB adapter!!!!


Log in to comment.

Answer by jl
on 21 Jul 2011

Hi Andrew, Thanks very much for the results! They are better than I expected, so the just released Macbook Air should blitz it then.


Log in to comment.

Answer by Jeff
on 25 Jul 2011

As a followup to this chain, I purchased the Air with 4 GB Ram this weekend, installed MS Office 2008 and MatLab R2011a. Everythings works well. In fact, the startup time for MatLab is significantly faster with my Air than it is with my desktop PC. The Bench script does indiciate that it is at the bottom, second from the bottom to be accurate, in terms of running times. However, for what I am doing I am seeing anything significant yet.

Thanks for everyone's input. I appreciate your help.



Did you get the i5 or i7? Which front-side bus?

I went cheap and bought the 1.7 GHz i5 processor with 4 GB RAM. My mistake was getting the 128 GB hard drive. However, I will be taking it back this afternoon for the 250 GB version.

Log in to comment.

Answer by Jeff
on 25 Jul 2011

I chose to cast two votes. Each was helpful in their own way.


Log in to comment.

Discover what MATLAB® can do for your career.

Opportunities for recent engineering grads.

Apply Today