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Apple: Five predictions for 2012

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Gary Huff
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 13, 2011 at 4:59:17 pm

[CNET]An anonymously sourced report from AppleInsider in October suggested that Apple's seen a sharp decline in sales of the workstations, which begin at $2,499 in the U.S., and that the drop has led executives to reconsider whether it's worth continuing to invest in the product.

Of course there's been a sharp decline in sales of the current Mac Pro. It's out of date and everyone's waiting for the new model.

Still think that Apple may not refresh the line.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 13, 2011 at 5:08:21 pm

They may not refresh the MacPro. They may replace it with an equally if not more powerful new line. Given the Thunderbolt market and Intel chip development it would make sense to wait until both Intel updates are ready to come to market. It will make sense for hardware peripheral developers to make devices that can be used across a product line rather than PCIe cards limited by the small MacPro sales. When Acer, Asus, Sony introduce Thunderbolt on the Windows side, that should help things along.



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Walter Soyka
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 13, 2011 at 6:23:35 pm

[Craig Seeman] "They may not refresh the MacPro. They may replace it with an equally if not more powerful new line."

Since you've been arguing that Apple would be better off reducing the case size and price, and perhaps going to i7 instead of Xeon in order to appeal to a broader market, I'm curious as to what "more powerful" means to you.

In absolute terms, yes, perhaps the next line of consumer processors will outperform the workstation-grade processor in today's Mac Pro, but in relative terms (Apple's offering versus whatever other high-performance systems are available at the time of its release), I think that would be a step down.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 13, 2011 at 7:02:29 pm

[Walter Soyka] "and perhaps going to i7 instead of Xeon in order to appeal to a broader market, I'm curious as to what "more powerful" means to you."

I'm not advocating abandoning Xeon processors. If they do, they'll have to focus on clustering more so though but I don't put that past Apple as an approach.

For many, expandability is "power" especially if one can easily add to or remove devices from a cluster. Telestream Episode's "one click clustering" is an example but obviously limited to compression.

PCIe (outside of 16x uses for example) has limits compared to Thunderbolt mobility. That's why I think a box with two PCIe 16x slots (for two GPUs for example) and the rest Thunderbolt, would make sense.



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Marvin Holdman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 2:42:58 pm

Craig Seeman - "they'll have to focus on clustering"

Ever wonder where the term clusterf@%&k came from? Lord help us if they seriously consider abandoning work stations for "clusters". For single purpose applications that require no third party software or hardware, it can be practical, if not somewhat tedious to set up (like say, transcoding). But if you are saying this would be a practical solution for implementing a complex shared editing environment with a bevy of third party plug-ins and hardware, then I'd have to ask exactly how you plan on making money spending so much time configuring and troubleshooting your "clustered" editing shop?

No disrespect, but if that's the solution they come up with to replace the workstation model, then I would have to say they're going backwards. Of course, given their hubris of late, I wouldn't put that past them either.

Marvin Holdman
Production Manager
Tourist Network
8317 Front Beach Rd, Suite 23
Panama City Beach, Fl
phone 850-234-2773 ext. 128
cell 850-585-9667
skype username - vidmarv


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 3:23:38 pm

[Marvin Holdman] "Lord help us if they seriously consider abandoning work stations for "clusters"."

Maybe you're not familiar with Telestream Episode's one click clustering. It'll cluster all available cores from both Mac and Windows computers. It requires no IT work at all. It's amazing. Apple could do the same. The questions I have is, will Apple go this route, what parts of FCPX might take advantage of it, what to do about the use of GPU in such cases? Being an Episode user though, clustering can be "Apple" simple for the end user. Telestream does it much more easily than QMaster.



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Marvin Holdman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 4:24:14 pm

Actually, Telestream Episode is the application I was alluding too. I agree that it works quite well as a clustering application. Thing is, you are not using 3rd party plugins with it, nor do you use 3rd party hardware. The model for FCPX seems to be relying heavily on both for functionality. Maybe it is a bold new world, but in every cluster type application I've ever worked with, it becomes exponentially more difficult whenever more vendors are added to any specific task (such as editing).

On any given day, we bounce between several applications on hardware that is many times dis-similar (macs and PC"s) with variants in configuration from machine to machine (some have accelerated GPU's, some not). I've never seen a cluster work well in those situations.

If you are saying that we'll have completely different systems for editing and periphery task (such as data management) then I'd say it has the potential to significantly increase installation cost, add complexity to workflows, creates more IT overhead and ultimately diminish output.

Clustering has it's place, but I'm not sure how well it's going to work in today's typical production installation. When you tie all the machines together, you are only as strong as you're weakest link. It creates a real "all or nothing" type of scenario for keeping a facility going.

Marvin Holdman
Production Manager
Tourist Network
8317 Front Beach Rd, Suite 23
Panama City Beach, Fl
phone 850-234-2773 ext. 128
cell 850-585-9667
skype username - vidmarv


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 4:39:51 pm

[Marvin Holdman] "Actually, Telestream Episode is the application I was alluding too. I agree that it works quite well as a clustering application. Thing is, you are not using 3rd party plugins with it, nor do you use 3rd party hardware."

That's why I have questions. If Apple goes this route they'd have some hurdles to jump but I don't think they're insurmountable and I don't think this would be immediate. If they can jump those hurdles it would be one of things that would make FCPX attractive for facility use.

[Marvin Holdman] "Clustering has it's place, but I'm not sure how well it's going to work in today's typical production installation. "

Apple is an innovator. This is the type of thing they might tackle. It's the type of thing that could move hardware.

I see FCPX use of resources and I see Apple's problems selling the current MacPros and I see them creating something as simple as one click clustering so that whether it's a "home" user with an iMac, a MBP, maybe a new Mini being able to do it and scalable to a facility without any involvement (or much involvement) from IT. Episode's One Click Clustering is kinda sorta close to that.



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Walter Soyka
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 4:44:14 pm

We discussed clustering a couple months ago in the Theoretical Mac Pro Replacement thread [link].

Here's a quick summary of the points I made in that thread about why I think clustering is an unlikely solution to the problems at hand, Episode and Compressor notwithstanding.

Apple's clustering technology hasn't seen much love lately:
Shake 4 was released in 2005 (never mind that it was EOLed in 2006), but Qmaster's Shake command today still assumes Shake 3.5. Apple's Advanced Computation Group hasn't published a paper since 2009. XGrid, which was based on an old NeXT technology, isn't featured on the Mac OS X Server page anymore.

I'd guess the market for scalable server clusters for enterprise applications, web, storage, and databases far outweighs the market for video-oriented clusters, and Apple chose to exit the enterprise market last year.



Clustering isn't necessarily cheap:
Clustering for any serious work requires significant networking and shared storage infrastructure. Building a cluster of lower-performance, lower-cost nodes to replace a higher-performance, higher-cost workstation may be penny-wise and pound-foolish.



Clustering would require working with developers:
Developers have really just caught up to multithreading and multiprocessing in the same box, and we're at the dawn of GPGPU. Clustering trades raw performance for scalability, but adds all kinds of new challenges which I don't think will be overcome overnight.

If Apple were heading back in the cluster direction, I'd think they're be a hint of cluster support in Grand Central Dispatch. Even if they introduce a new cluster technology tomorrow, it will take a long time before this technology could be integrated in apps across the industry.


Clustering isn't artist-friendly:
Rather, a render cluster doesn't necessarily remove the need for a high-speed workstation on an artist's desk. There's a lot of time overhead associated with submitting and collecting network renders, so when time is money, saving a couple thousand dollars on the artist's desktop doesn't always pay. A powerful, local workstation for previews and a cluster for bigger test renders and for final renders is ideal.

With both 3D and compositing, once the artist gets something roughed in, refining it requires iteration. Make a change, do a test render (or partial render), evaluate the result, repeat as necessary. Network renders add a lot of overhead (gather assets, submit render, wait, receive finished render) and may require the artist to step outside of their main app dozens of times a day.

A fast machine on the artist's desk will allow him or her to iterate more rapidly, getting good results faster, or getting better results in comparable time.

I like Qmaster quite a bit for its ease in establishing a cluster, but it's far from ideal as a production render manager. Its control for third-party renderers is somewhat naive, lacking any sort of render monitoring or dynamic reassignment. Since Qmaster has been mostly untouched since its initial release, I'm not optimistic that it's very high on Apple's development priority list.


Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 5:00:26 pm

Just like FCP legacy development slowed for years, it's possible the same thing is going on because Apple's doing major ground work. It may well be tied to Lion features still in the works. Apple tends to surprise us time to time. That doesn't mean they'll do it but as a company that sells hardware, if they want FCPX to demand hardware, it's something they might approach. Apple hasn't been in this environment before with their product approach. They often drop things and revisit them later . . . sometimes years later . . . when they are equipped to do things they way they want to.



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Chris Harlan
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 5:54:28 pm

[Craig Seeman] "They may replace it with an equally if not more powerful new line."

That would be great. My guess, however, is that they just aren't that into it anymore. FWIW, I'd like to be wrong.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 6:20:23 pm

It may depend on what "it" is. I don't mean to be obtuse.
Just as Apple's approach to "Pro" may not be what some of use think, Apple's approach to "powerful" may not be what some of use think as well.

I can't help but think Apple's $1000 Thunderbolt monitor is targeted to MacMini or MacBookAir users. I'm not sure if MBP or iMacs will drive enough of those monitor sales. I think Apple will replace the MacPro with something that will at least be an i7 six core with more Thunderbolt ports. I don't think Xeon is off the table either. Of course one could argue they could do that with another higher end iMac model (sans Xeon in that case I'd think).



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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 5:06:39 pm

Would love to see a version of Mac OS for PC platform besides the hackintosh.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 5:16:47 pm

Apple's business model is to sell hardware. They are not a software company. They develop services and software to sell hardware.



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alban egger
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 7:25:17 pm

That is a silly list anyone can write up. Nobody knows what Apple is up to. At least nobody who can talk about it.......

MacPro: will be back with a vengeance
AppleTvSet: no big surprise this might be years away
IPhone5: well, evolution is going on.....so nothing new here either


I give you my 5 Apple/FCPX expectations for 2012 as a producer/editor:
- multicam
- HD-SDI preview (via thunderbolt and from 3rd parties )
- motion-roundtripping
- cleaner database (that doesn't go to its knees with thousands of clips)
- API opened up, so plugins come in volumes

Probaly more of a wishlist........



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Craig Seeman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 14, 2011 at 7:47:13 pm

Hey, give me my crystal ball back ;->
although I do like what you see in it.
Multicam doesn't count because Apple said that. How monitoring will work is good speculation though.



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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 15, 2011 at 12:04:14 am

[Craig Seeman] "Apple's business model is to sell hardware. They are not a software company. They develop services and software to sell hardware.
"


no Craig that is honestly wrong. Jobs said, on the record, with passion that they are a software company - they simply believe in sheathing their software in their own hardware.

That is currently a fundamental expression of Apple.

Apple are now, in profit terms, overwhelmingly producing combined devices that are an expression of software and the enclosed hardware tweaked to within an inch of its life to drive that software.

it is not a brute effort to leverage some software to sell hardware - theirs is now a device model.

the question is whether apple have more than vestigal interest in niche areas, like legacy FCP, dependent on non-consumer behaviour with de-coupled relatively expensive hardware requirements.

(If they did choose to exit it, they... might still choose to make some easy, ongoing appstore prosumer cash selling the badge while they were at it?)

Apple make iPads, Apple make iPhones, Apple make iPods. (They also make beautiful hermetically sealed laptops).

saying that sentence above, one is saying that apple make specific physical enclosures for highly optimised software use scenarios.

you've made your argument, I think, in order to validate the notion that FCPX is a true pro gambit to shift iron.

It is not. It is a near throwaway play for growing prosumer video behaviour on an installed consumer hardware platform they control via the appstore.

their research push here would match the accruing dollar value: and that is infinitesimal in their terms.

FCPX isn't, in our terms, an honest endeavour for Apple, at best it's tangential, it has about as much importance or validity as pages.
Apple are not, in any sense, an invested player in our space. FCPX represents near nothing strategically to them.

its an end game hurrah - a radically reduced, tailored, throwaway prosumer product.

I would argue that FPCX and motion (that world beater) are the very last we will ever hear from Apple in the pro-space.

a few updates, whatever, and then there will just simply be no pro-apps. I'm saying 36 months? - for full titanic, with near dead software left lolling around.

FCX is now bedded down two floors above imovie, on the appstore - its not going anywhere. Whoever buys it whatever. If they hit a million users - they get three hundred million - like they actually care at this point. As I said - they could care more about the shape of a lozenge on iOS.

this software is the kiss off. Honestly Craig - Apple really and truly are done with this kind of thing.

they just do not care about any of this stuff.

I really do think that Apple are desperately trying to quietly walk away.


http://www.ogallchoir.net
promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Marvin Holdman
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 16, 2011 at 9:42:06 pm

Aindreas Gallagher - "no Craig that is honestly wrong. Jobs said, on the record, with passion that they are a software company - they simply believe in sheathing their software in their own hardware."

Not exactly sure when he made said this, but I have the feeling that if he could somehow say something like this again tomorrow, he might replace "software" with "iApps". Combined with the iOS convergence via Lion, it seems like a pretty good description of what we appear to be witnessing and a logical progression of the above statement.

Marvin Holdman
Production Manager
Tourist Network
8317 Front Beach Rd, Suite 23
Panama City Beach, Fl
phone 850-234-2773 ext. 128
cell 850-585-9667
skype username - vidmarv


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Adam White
Re: Apple: Five predictions for 2012
on Dec 15, 2011 at 1:00:54 am

I can't see the Mac Pro being refreshed. Its difficult to see any other outcome than it being dropped entirely at this stage.

It may well be that Thunderbolt provides new kinds of desktop setups that are very different to what we know at the moment.

But, as with the FCPX fiasco, the real problem is that Apple never explain where they are headed and will never, ever provide any kind of meaningful roadmap. This is the central problem! It is incedibly tiresome for companies backed into a corner and forced to play guessing games when they are trying to make good, solid purchasing decisions that aren't going to disintegrate in a few short months.

I'm rapidly reaching the conclusion that FCPX was a VERY clear statement of intent and that its time to move on, certainy in terms of software but quite possibly in terms of hardware too. It really just doesnt seem prudent to build anything around Apple hardware of software right now.


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