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Franz Bieberkopf
Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:10:25 am

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/01/two-steps-forward-a-review-of-the-2013...

He seems to feel it's a good video editing machine, and is otherwise "cautiously optimistic".

There's some interesting perspective on power on the final page (7):

"... if you work with Final Cut Pro X or Da Vinci Resolve, these are exceptional workhorses. ... Apple has changed FCP to leverage dual GPUs and created a powerful dual-GPU workstation to push a narrative that says "the GPU is the future of computing." ... Despite the accomplishments of Resolve and FCP X, this thinking about the GPU as a silver bullet for everything computationally intensive is actually waning. The inflexible and difficult-to-program GPU cannot replace the CPU for everything. While there are some exceptions that manage to tap both GPUs and the CPU for maximum output, those applications are not the norm."
[...]
"Despite the hype, the GPU still plays second fiddle to the CPU, and that won't change for most demanding creative applications despite Apple's accomplishments with FCP X. A complete transition from CPU to GPU computing isn't going to happen, ... You can't rely on a GPU the way you can the CPU, and developers already know this."
[...]
"If Apple tries to drive a wedge between the kind of creative pros it wants and the kind it doesn't, then the company could find itself losing ground as things change. You can't say "yes, run Mari" but "no don't render on the Mac because we don't do dual Xeon anymore"—it's all or nothing."


On GPUs:
"As for the physical GPU—3D and OpenCL video users cannot be stuck with the same GPUs for the roughly four-year lifecycle of many workstations, so there needs to be some sort of upgrade plan. A GPU is very different from a CPU this way, and these expectations will not change. Having two of them is nice, but a competing dual Xeon workstation can accommodate four of the latest GPUs at PCIe x16, and the current Mac Pro design can only use one for all six displays. The need for mid-life upgrades will only increase as OpenCL takes over more of our creative content workloads. For all scenarios where the GPU matters, it makes no sense to have it be the same for the life of this machine."

On CPUs:
"This is the first generation of Mac Pros that didn't match competing workstation machines at the high end for multithreaded work."
[...]
But bring back dual-socket CPU options for people who absolutely need them. We won't flinch at the higher sticker price—we just need the power. I know that these dual-CPU machines likely make up a small portion of Mac Pro sales, but they are crucial for many creative workflows. I'm not asking for my old tower back, but throw me a bone here—I just paid $6,500 for the same render speeds I had three years ago. That's not revolutionary from any angle."


Franz.


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Jack Zahran
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:32:09 am

[Franz Bieberkopf] "I just paid $6,500 for the same render speeds I had three years ago. That's not revolutionary from any angle."

This comment seems to make the point that he wants the Mac Pro to be a Batch machine. Sorry for the 70s mainframe throwback. There are better ways to spend $6,500 for example, a Mini render farm... Keep the interactive devices for realtime interaction.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:16:03 am

A render farm does't always do the trick though. After Effects for example is a pain to run in a multi-machine setup.

On the flip-side, After Effects is again a software that scales very unevenly with a multi-core or multi-machine setup. RAM-previews are still not distributed for example.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:57:09 pm

[Jack Zahran] "This comment seems to make the point that he wants the Mac Pro to be a Batch machine. Sorry for the 70s mainframe throwback. There are better ways to spend $6,500 for example, a Mini render farm... Keep the interactive devices for realtime interaction."

One point of a powerful workstation is precisely that -- better interactivity. A 3D or comp artist should not have to throw a frame off to the farm every time they make a tweak in order to evaluate it.

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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Andre van Berlo
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:20:40 am

"I'm not asking for my old tower back, but throw me a bone here—I just paid $6,500 for the same render speeds I had three years ago. That's not revolutionary from any angle."

So he's talking about dual cpu computer and also about that he doesn't mind the higher price,... Then why did he spend 'only' $6500 on his mac pro? I would have understood what he was saying if he had bought the maxed out version. Or is a 12 core D300 $6500? (not sure about that, don't know the prices by heart and the apple store is down for maintenance)


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:53:22 am

A base 12-core machine costs $6500 yes. It should also handily beat any previous Mac. However, Arstechnica is very correct in the fact that the 2013 MacPro can't compete with the higher end PCs.


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Andre van Berlo
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:18:50 am

"Arstechnica is very correct in the fact that the 2013 MacPro can't compete with the higher end PCs."

do you mean similar spec'd pc's or simply because the higher end pc's can have multiple cpu setups?

I've tried to setup a similar pc at digitalstorm but couldn't get it cheaper, but you can however get much more cores.

I don't know if you can connect 2 mac pro's and have them work as 1, in that case you could go up to 24 cores for 13k. But I don't know how that compares to what you would pay for a highend pc.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:07:46 pm

Per dollar the MacPro 2013 is competetivly priced but you simply can't get a dual CPU (24 core) machine with 512 GB of RAM and four GPU's. Heck, you can't even get a MacPro with nVidia GPU's.

Then again you can't get a PC with the specific size and spec the MacPro holds. In general these are huge systems.

The theory of connecting multiple MacPro's via TB2 would be interesting but as far as I know TCP/IP over thunderbolt is very unreliable. But the idea of a main machine and offload machine could be interesting for a certain audience.


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Gary Huff
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:32:18 pm

[Erik Lindahl] "The theory of connecting multiple MacPro's via TB2 would be interesting"

Surely you would hit that 10/20Gbps limit really fast once you got past one or two though.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:50:41 pm

Depends on what you do. Realtime FCPX-work it might not be optimal or work at all. However, imagine being to send off a comp in AE or a cut in FCPX where the secondary station does all the work. The only thing that would affect the main station is i/o.

For me having that type of setup would be optimal IF it actually worked and wasn't a setup nightmare.


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Frank Gothmann
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 2:02:45 pm

It used to work just fine. Not anymore. Previous versions of Qmaster could hand AE render jobs to clusters and other machines. In the latest version of Compressor (and Qmaster) Apple have killed all that functionality. It's gone.
You now would need a seperate render manager (such as Squid etc.).

------
"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
iTunes End User Licence Agreement


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Walter Soyka
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 2:17:02 pm

[Frank Gothmann] "It used to work just fine. Not anymore. Previous versions of Qmaster could hand AE render jobs to clusters and other machines. In the latest version of Compressor (and Qmaster) Apple have killed all that functionality. It's gone. You now would need a seperate render manager (such as Squid etc.)."

Did you actually have Qmaster driving Ae? I've seen lots of people talk about it in theory, but I haven't seen anyone ever actually do it in practice.

You'd have to write quite a lot of support for Qmaster yourself to compete with a commercial render manager anyway: in-app submission, progress reporting, dynamic load adjustment, scheduling, prioritization, notifications...

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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Frank Gothmann
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 2:30:26 pm

[Walter Soyka] "[Frank Gothmann] "It used to work just fine. Not anymore. Previous versions of Qmaster could hand AE render jobs to clusters and other machines. In the latest version of Compressor (and Qmaster) Apple have killed all that functionality. It's gone. You now would need a seperate render manager (such as Squid etc.)."

Did you actually have Qmaster driving Ae? I've seen lots of people talk about it in theory, but I haven't seen anyone ever actually do it in practice.

You'd have to write quite a lot of support for Qmaster yourself to compete with a commercial render manager anyway: in-app submission, progress reporting, dynamic load adjustment, scheduling, prioritization, notifications...
"


I have done it quite often in the past for certain jobs that were simple but render intensive. eg. 90 Minute feature with certain filters applied that needed to go out as DPX.
It wasn't as full-featured a render manager and as advanced as other solutions but it was helpful on certain jobs, especially if one doesn't have the need for a full-on render farm (which doesn't make sense on Mac hardware anyway).

------
"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
iTunes End User Licence Agreement


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Andre van Berlo
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Feb 3, 2014 at 11:08:51 pm

Hey Erik,

I just saw this video and remembered our little "discussion", 7 minutes into the video he mentions mac pro's are able to use as renderfarms by linking them over thunderbolt and according to this man it works very well.

It also puts things in a different perspective as you can now suddenly have a 24 core machine for $13000, and go up to... I guess 6x12=72 cores for $39.000? But in any case, 24 cores for 13000 doesn't sound like a bad deal

here's the link to the video (at 7mins):



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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Feb 3, 2014 at 11:16:41 pm

Yeah I saw that clip the other day. I have however read numerous reports of very poor speeds, or rather unreliable speeds over TB networking.


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Andre van Berlo
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Feb 3, 2014 at 11:27:38 pm

In that case I hope over time they can make it work properly.


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 4:21:17 pm

On the GPUs, there's a good comment (first, I think), from user InfernoBlade challenging the popular characterization of Apple's D-branded GPUs as FirePros; he claims they're better described as Radeons (cheaper by almost an order of magnitude):

"Apple's D-branded FirePros are actually Radeons, not FirePros. They don't have the ECC memory enabled that is fairly key to FirePro vs Radeon with extra RAM, and oddly enough, they do have CFX support which the FirePros don't.

6 GB GDDR5 Radeon 7970s don't actually exist, but that's what a FirePro D700 actually is, and the 3 GB variants are $300 cards now (well, when the miners haven't bought all of them).

I don't actually think the Mac Pro is an expensive unit, not with the PCIe SSD and Xeon E5 CPU stuffed in it. But pointing at $3400 GPUs that have ECC memory and top-end qualification isn't really fair, not when Apple's shipping $400-500 GPUs with the wrong label on them since OS X's drivers have never actually cared about the ECC RAM and other FirePro/Quadro features. The W9000 is a very expensive part because of the niche features like ECC RAM in it."


I don't have enough knowledge to follow the comparison (thus posting here for comment), but if accurate it's another bit of interesting marketing.

Franz.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 4:36:48 pm

We have discussed the ECC RAM thing a bit here. Here's a reference from back in June:
http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/55178

The Radeon HD 7990 is spec'ed for 6GB of RAM:
http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/7000/7990/pages/radeon-7990...

I guess they're FirePros if AMD says they are, whether or not the match the specs of the other FirePros. The certfied drivers and the capabilities they bring are probably a bigger differentiator of pro vs. consumer GPU than the RAM is.

However, I'd argue that in this context, the name is just marketing anyway. Using these systems for GPGPU instead of traditional graphics processing blurs the pro/consumer line considerably.

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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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 4:40:02 pm

I think they are identified as Radeon 7970's or R9280X under Windows which is normal consumer grade cards, given they do have 6GB VRAM. It's a marketing gimmick I'd say. And it's a bit sad the MacPro got stuck with a 2 year old card even if they boosted it with 6GB VRAM. The R2 290X would be quite a bit more powerful but they might be running on the hot side for the small case.

Not bad cards but lower-high end consumer cards with boosted VRAM.


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:07:36 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I guess they're FirePros if AMD says they are, whether or not the match the specs of the other FirePros. ... However, I'd argue that in this context, the name is just marketing anyway."

Walter,

Yes, it's just interesting to me that they've successfully generated a certain perception of the hardware, centred around the "FirePro" branding (before any specs were even known), and continuing even now.

June speculation:
http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/55178

December effect:
[Nicholas Zimmerman] "The new rumors seem to be pointing to only $600 for the D700 upgrade, which assuming this meant both cards would be only $300 per card. The PC equivalent of this card is $3,500 and Tim Cook really focused on how good of a deal Apple got from AMD on these cards."
http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/62694#62694

Another topic: did you read (at arstechnica) the discussion of OpenCL and Apple's support?

Franz.


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:55:37 pm
Last Edited By Gustavo Bermudas on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:57:30 pm

I gotta say I'm getting more and more disappointed with the new Mac Pro, I was playing with one at the Apple Store the other day, my first impression was WOW!!!, a minute after I was meh...

I'm starting to get really pissed at Apple's design over function direction, I can't believe I got to a point where a HP Z820 looks incredible sexy to me, if only they'd open OS X...


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:59:31 pm

[Gustavo Bermudas] "I gotta say I'm getting more and more disappointed with the new Mac Pro, I was playing with one at the Apple Store the other day, my first impression was WOW!!!, a minute after I was meh..."

What did you expect and how were those expectations not met? How do you go from wow to meh in 60 seconds? Just curious.


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:12:58 pm
Last Edited By Gustavo Bermudas on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:13:59 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "What did you expect and how were those expectations not met? How do you go from wow to meh in 60 seconds? Just curious."

Form factor, of course you can't get a good test in the Apple Store, I guess I bought into the new form hype, but after a minute next to it, it really felt like a trash can, hard to explain...
But I've been following up the reviews, specially the one that did the guys at liftgammagain, and the conclusion seems to be that it barely outperform a 2012 12 core, if it does at all, and RED 4K debayering in real time is a myth, you still a RED Rocket card, and good luck with this new mac, PCI-e over thunderbolt has a cap on the speed as well, so it's not the perfect solution, or the "Most expandable Mac ever" as Tim Cook said.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:09:05 pm

[Gustavo Bermudas] "But I've been following up the reviews, specially the one that did the guys at liftgammagain, and the conclusion seems to be that it barely outperform a 2012 12 core,"

In what sense?

[Gustavo Bermudas] " and RED 4K debayering in real time is a myth, you still a RED Rocket card, and good luck with this new mac, PCI-e over thunderbolt has a cap on the speed as well, so it's not the perfect solution, or the "Most expandable Mac ever" as Tim Cook said."

So, the verdict is that on older MacPros you needed a RedRocket card, and the same is true on new MacPros? What PC's can debayer Red 4k in real time, and how much do they cost? Do they cost more than a Tube with a Rocket card? How about a laptop and a Rocket card? How about the lowest end Tube and a rocket card?

I can playback RedOne material, in real time (lower quality selected), on my laptop that is running off battery, and send an image an sound via AppleTV. Granted, I am not doing anything critical in terms of quality, but I am editing and making decisions which is not trivial. So, performance and capability is subjective. If you need a QuadGPU real time machine, the MacPro Tube isn't for you, and arguably neither was the old MacPro.

Jeremy


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:41:35 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "So, the verdict is that on older MacPros you needed a RedRocket card, and the same is true on new MacPros? What PC's can debayer Red 4k in real time, and how much do they cost? Do they cost more than a Tube with a Rocket card? How about a laptop and a Rocket card? How about the lowest end Tube and a rocket card"

Where are you going to plug that card, specially the new Red Recket X coming? You need a computer with PCI-e x16 slots..., and if you think you can get a thunderbolt to pci-e adapter you can, but thunderbolt 2 speed limit is 20 gbps, PCI-e x16 is 80, so with a thunderbolt 2 to pci-e you can use but at a quarter of its capabilities


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:56:02 pm

[Gustavo Bermudas] "Where are you going to plug that card, specially the new Red Recket X coming? You need a computer with PCI-e x16 slots..., and if you think you can get a thunderbolt to pci-e adapter you can, but thunderbolt 2 speed limit is 20 gbps, PCI-e x16 is 80, so with a thunderbolt 2 to pci-e you can use but at a quarter of its capabilities"

A thunderbolt based PCIe extender, just like all PCIe cards.

Or something like this: http://www.maxxdigital.com/mobile-thunderbolt-redrocket.html


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:06:14 am
Last Edited By Gustavo Bermudas on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:07:53 am

[Jeremy Garchow] "A thunderbolt based PCIe extender, just like all PCIe cards."

Serioulsy??? Didn't you read anything I just said? Thunderbolt is 4X slower than PCI-e X16!!! You cant plug high performance cards like a RED Rocket X in it


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:35:45 am

I did. You will see from that link that a red rocket card can debayer 4k in real time over thunderbolt one.

Look, I know a thunderbolt is not the end-all-be-all. It's not.

But I do think that we have to take a look at what is truly possible instead of spouting theoretical speed stats.


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:47:45 am

[Jeremy Garchow] "But I do think that we have to take a look at what is truly possible instead of spouting theoretical speed stats."

It's not theoretical stats, it's math, you have a device that requires a transfer speed of 80gbps and you put it on one that transfers at 10. Now,I don't know of the top of my head the speed of the Red Rocket, but with 5K and Dragon, Red Rocket X is what's going to be, and that needs speed. The only way I can see that working in a TB environment is if someone figures out how to raid TB ports, meaning you get 4 TB2 ports to act as one giving you 80gpbs.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:14:48 am

And you are absolutely sure a RedRocket X card is going to saturate the bus?

The original red rocket supposedly requires 8x, yet realtime debayer is achieved at TBs paltry 4x 10Gb/s.

We should wait to see what's possible.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 3:49:26 am

By the way, from the Red Rocket X tech specs:

"SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS Mac OS X 10.7 or later
Windows 7 or later
Linux (Red Hat)
2048 MB RAM Minimum
Thunderbolt Compliant"

At least one person is going to try and shove this in a Thunderbolt chassis.


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:19:01 am

Of course they're going to say that, they're not going to discard the whole Mac user base, and while you can run that card in TB, you're never going to get the same performance you can get running on a fast PCI bus.

I'd recommend give this a listen where they talk about the limitation and bottlenecks that may occur running a Red Rocket X in a NMP

The Coloristos ColorCast - Episode 15 "New Mac Pro"

Stream here: http://coloristos.podomatic.com/entry/2014-01-20T11_55_53-08_00
or on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-coloristos-colorcast/id549040100?mt...

They also have this tests done targeting DaVinci Resolve and comparison with 2010 vs New Mac Pro

http://liftgammagain.com/forum/index.php?threads/new-mac-pro-resolve-benchm...


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:00:24 pm

[Gustavo Bermudas] "Of course they're going to say that, they're not going to discard the whole Mac user base, and while you can run that card in TB, you're never going to get the same performance you can get running on a fast PCI bus."

Of course TBolt has limits, but look at the form factor. And real time is real time. You mentioned real time, so I am using that as the bench mark.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:34:10 am

[Gustavo Bermudas] "It's not theoretical stats, it's math"

My back-of-the-napkin math says that a 6144x3160 image with 3 channels (RGB) at 16 bits per channel is about 888 Mb or 112 MB.

With a transfer speed of 20 Gbps, you could move 23 of these frames per second.

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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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:26:01 am
Last Edited By Gustavo Bermudas on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:26:32 am

[Walter Soyka] "My back-of-the-napkin math says that a 6144x3160 image with 3 channels (RGB) at 16 bits per channel is about 888 Mb or 112 MB.

With a transfer speed of 20 Gbps, you could move 23 of these frames per second."


That's only uplink right? I don't think TB2 maintains 20 Gbps up and down simultaneously, if it doesn't then is 11.5 fps


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 6:52:28 am

I think Thunderbolt is bi-directional so a total of 40 gbit/s. In reality with overhead taken into account I think this translates to a peak of about 1.5GB/s (1500 MB/s). So, uncompressed 6K would handle roughly 13 fps fully uncompressed, 4:4:4 16bpps if the previous figures are correct.

Not sure that's the case with RED RAW. Downstream is much lower as I presume the RAW-file is sent at its 1/5 the size or similar (i.e up to 60 fps). Back to local storage, if they actually do send it 100% uncompressed you'd be stuck at about 50% of real time. I'd image even lossless compression could bring the file size down by 50% almost giving realtime.

All in theory of course.

If compression and scaling is handled by the card, going to anything below uncompressed 4:4:4 16bpp RGB 6K (which to be fair is what most people do) should give realtime performance. At sort of depends where things happen in the pipeline. Most people would probably go from 6K to 1080p where I'd imagine scaling is done on the card hence only a 1080p uncompressed stream comes back over TB.

Playback of R3D media even at 6K should be realtime as downstream we're talking 1/5 of the bandwidth.

I also think Thunderbolt 2 supports port aggregation. Linking two ports could potentially handle 6K uncompressed, in theory.


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 7:34:54 am
Last Edited By Gustavo Bermudas on Jan 30, 2014 at 7:49:43 am

[Erik Lindahl] "I think Thunderbolt is bi-directional so a total of 40 gbit/s."

For what I understand TB2 is the same as TB1, with the only difference that TB1 has two 10 gig channels, one for each direction, and TB2 combines those 2 channels into one stream if it's unidirectional.

This is from wikipedia:

At the physical level, the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 are identical, and Thunderbolt 1 cabling is thus compatible with Thunderbolt 2 interfaces. At the logical level, Thunderbolt 2 enables channel aggregation, whereby the two previously separate 10 Gbit/s channels can be combined into a single logical 20 Gbit/s channel.



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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:12:36 am
Last Edited By Erik Lindahl on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:16:39 am

[Gustavo Bermudas] "For what I understand TB2 is the same as TB1, with the only difference that TB1 has two 10 gig channels, one for each direction, and TB2 combines those 2 channels into one stream if it's unidirectional."


That's incorrect I think.

[Anandtech] "Thunderbolt 2 provides that solution. By combining the channels together, Thunderbolt 2 enables two 20Gbps bi-direction channels instead of two sets of 10Gbps channels. There's no overall increase in bandwidth, but the solution is now more capable."

Aanandtech.com: Thunderbolt 2 Everything you need to know

Even looking at Intels info we get the same data.



Thunderbolt 1 has 4x10 Gbps - two upstream, two downstream
Thunderbolt 2 has 2x20 Gbps - one upstream, one downstream


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Gustavo Bermudas
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:50:28 am
Last Edited By Gustavo Bermudas on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:56:30 am

No, it's the same aggregate as TB1, that graph can be misleading.

ATTO released a document detailing the differences

http://www.jigsaw24.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/TechBriefThunderbol...

Also another view on the topic:

http://www.redsharknews.com/production/item/1369-thunderbolt-2-is-not-twice...

It seems that TB2 is designed with the only purpose of supporting 4K Displays


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:53:39 am
Last Edited By Erik Lindahl on Jan 30, 2014 at 9:22:52 am

[Gustavo Bermudas] "No, it's the same aggregate as TB1, that graph can be misleading.

ATTO released an extensive document detailing the differences"


Yes, TB1 and 2 have the same total bandwidth. Even the ATTO document states this.

"Thunderbolt exists as (4) fully independent 10Gbps channels ‐ two upstream and two downstream (see left side of diagram below)."

"Thunderbolt 2 enables (2) 20Gbps bi‐direction channels (see right side of above diagram) instead of (4) of 10Gbps channels."


Intels diagram and what ATTO writes sounds quite crystal clear to me. Even the second link states exactly the same thing.

"Thunderbolt 1 has 4 independent 10 Gb/s channels, Thunderbolt 2 combines these to give 2 20 Gb/s bidirectional channels"


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Walter Soyka
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:13:55 pm

[Franz Bieberkopf] "Yes, it's just interesting to me that they've successfully generated a certain perception of the hardware, centred around the "FirePro" branding (before any specs were even known), and continuing even now."

Yes, true -- but this goes far beyond the GPU. The reality distortion field is very strong. The 4K marketing has lead many people who ought to know better that the Mac Pro hardware has some kind of "special sauce" that makes it superior to offerings on the PC side due to hardware alone.

Notably, Grant Petty's comment "this is the Mac we've been waiting for" has been taken by many as "this is the computer we've been waiting for," suggesting that the 2013 Mac Pro is the pinnacle of Resolve performance (which it is not).

Further, The Foundry's Jack Greasly's comment that the Mac Pro is the best "out of the box" computer they've seen for Mari has also been twisted, with folks thinking that the Mac Pro is the best system available for Mari performance and further extending this to include NUKE (of which I don't believe any mention has been made).

I think the Mac Pro is notable for three things:

1) Form factor. That thing is small.

2) PCIe flash storage standard.

3) Dual GPUs standard.

Items 2 and 3 from my list have been options on other systems for years, but the fact that they come standard (and in fact, that there are no mechanical HDD or single-GPU configs) is a big deal.

I think it's a pretty promising system -- especially for its form factor -- but people are buying into the marketing and falsely assuming that the Mac Pro hardware is unparalleled.

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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Walter Soyka
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:43:48 pm

Looking at the whole system, Mac Pro + FCPX, is important and worthwhile. Replying to myself, I will add that FCPX's raw performance (not counting workflow strengths or weaknesses, which vary according to situation and which may be significant) is impressive. Curiously, though, the Barefeats benchmarks suggest that FCPX is leaving a lot of performance capability on the table.

But again, a lot of this is marketing. Premiere has impressive performance, too. And if you really want to see a system fly, Mistika and/or Mamba FX is most impressive as well. Motion estimation-driven effects in real time have to be seen to be believed.

Bringing this back to the Mac Pro, recent tests and articles like these show that what was true a year ago is still true today: balanced systems are important. Having one or two outrageously overpowered subsystems will be a waste when the system as a whole bottlenecks on the relatively underpowered subsystem.

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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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:57:15 pm

[Erik Lindahl] "I think they are identified as Radeon 7970's or R9280X under Windows which is normal consumer grade cards, given they do have 6GB VRAM. It's a marketing gimmick I'd say. And it's a bit sad the MacPro got stuck with a 2 year old card even if they boosted it with 6GB VRAM. The R2 290X would be quite a bit more powerful but they might be running on the hot side for the small case.

Not bad cards but lower-high end consumer cards with boosted VRAM."


What is even more weird is if you look at the iFixit teardown the 2 D300 cards were different in that they were manufactured in two different East Asian countries. Seemingly, part of this is due to the SSD connection.

I don't really care if it's labeled Pro or has sizzle juice, or whatever. I have read enough Barefeats reports to know that marketing, in the GPU sense, bends the rules even more so than Apple.

You can pay a lot of money for a "professional level" card, or buy a "gamer" level card for pennies on the dollar and get just as good, if not better performance.

Does the MacPro work well against a myriad of uses? That's the only thing I really need to know.


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Gary Huff
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:01:02 pm

Which is why I want to see someone do a Red Cine X export out of both an iMac with the 780M 4GB vs these.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:04:43 am

Over at the Lift Gamma Gain forum they did test the new MacPro against a 2010 modell with various GPU's. Sadly the nVidia GTX 780 wasn't able to perform the Red Cine X export due to some OpenCL error. The new MacPro however performed very well, especially the D700 machine.

6K debayer to ProRes 4444 / 23.98 fps:
2013 12c 2xD700: 29 seconds
2010 12c 2x280X: 39 seconds
2013 6c 2xD500: 52 seconds

It would of course be interesting to see how an iMac would fair in the above. It does however have a much slower GPU than the machines in the test. It's clear Red Cine X today only uses ONE of the two GPU's however as the old 2010 12c machine got the same result with one 280X card.


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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:18:21 pm

More discussion of GPUs, commenter Haravikk (page 4 of arstech):

"Re: Apple's D-branded FirePros are actually Radeons, not FirePros

I'm not sure this is true; just because they don't have ECC enabled doesn't mean they're not FirePros. ... and besides which it's not really a feature that most people need anyway.

I don't know if anyone's actually looked to see if the Apple FirePros have other FirePro specific features yet? Anandtech don't go into things like 30-bit colour output (10-bit per channel, consumer cards can process this but won't output it), Order Independent Transparency under OpenGL, ECC for onboard cache memory, EDC for memory bus protection, and various other FirePro only features.

Even if feature wise these cards are closer to Radeons than FirePros, they should still be rated for 24/7 workloads, which is most important of all."


(Note this is mostly out of my league of understanding, so again, posting for comment)

But as a general perspective, there's also this on Anantech, which seems to concur (though in less harsh terms) with the arstechnica conclusions:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/7603/mac-pro-review-late-2013/9

"Since Final Cut Pro 10.1 appears to be a flagship app for the Mac Pro’s CPU + GPU configuration, ... Final Cut Pro’s division of labor between CPU and GPUs exemplifies what you’ll need to see happen across the board if you want big performance gains going forward. ... your applications will have to take advantage of GPU computing to get significant speedups. ... A huge portion of my workflow in Final Cut Pro is still CPU bound, the GPU is used to accelerate certain components within the application. You need the best of both to build good, high performance systems going forward."

Franz.


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Rick Lang
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:17:16 am

I believe Dave Girard's review said the Apple FirePro included 10-bit colour but since OS X doesn't support 10-bit colour yet, you can utilize the 10-bit colour if you boot up under Windows.

I think that was a very detailed review from a perspective (visual effects artists) of which I have very limited understanding. Once in a while I thought he was even contradicting himself but I guess that's inevitable in such a lengthy review. I really appreciated the effort made in that review but it seemed flawed at times and selective of things that didn't show off the Mac Pro in its best light.

I hesitate to give examples because I don't want to get into a fight about my opinion versus anyone else's opinion, but one example would be the number of times he used Cinebench 11.5 tests when he probably knows Cinebench 15 results would show better performance. He also repeatedly played down the FirePro label (workstation class GPU) and referred to it as the gamers 7970 I think. Why would he do that after educating us in the distinction between Intel desktop machines that may be faster than the Xeon, but point out the much more rigorous testing the workstation Xeons must pass? Just because some of the physical specs are similar to the gamers GPU, doesn't mean that Apple GPUs were not subjected to similar rigorous testing befitting a workstation GPU.

It is a superb review overall and paired with the AnandTech review that emphasizes other aspects, these reviews give a rather good picture of the new Mac Pro. Considering how superficial many of the reviews have been, I hope Apple reads the Girard review carefully and thoughtfully. I don't see the new Mac Pro and the software running on it as immutable. It seems to me it may take months or even a few years as software and hardware evolve for the combination to be a winner for more disciplines. Right now is just that, the present. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. If you are primarily a user of Final Cut X and DaVinci Resolve, at least today you should have a good night's sleep! And bless you all.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Jack Zahran
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:30:56 am
Last Edited By Jack Zahran on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:33:09 am

The FirePro designation has always been a discussion. Typically FirePros are behind the top gaming gpu from the same vendor, in the way Xeon's are last years model but revisioned and hardened for Servers. When I was supporting Autocad for Windows, this workstation designation was always an issue on the PC side.

But when you have a deadline and its 2 in the morning, it's a little more assuring to know that the GPU your using has been certified as a workstation card, with whatever tests it needed to pass to get that designation. For the most part, I've always understood that one differentiating aspect is that the firmware nor the drivers are allowed to take "shortcuts" or "cheats" to improve performance, IEEE specs and rules on math precision, etc.

So this argument that the GPU is no different than a gaming GPU is really pedestrian. Really surprised by the Arstechnica review. I think they are just trying to be controversial and attention mongering. The MacPro is quite a development and the current pinnacle of innovation in the workstation world. Its a great target for critics who want to be read.

Reading it, on the one had they seem to imply the GPUs are not a big deal after all, with some marketing spin. Then when switching to the CPU, they claim it's the weakest link and the Mac Pro is really about the performance of the GPU. The reality is that this is a workstation, and as a workstation, you're getting some of the best combinations of CPU and GPU even compared to systems that are more expensive.

And as far as programming to leverage both GPU's and the CPUs simultaneously, OS X's Cocoa frameworks already have that covered. If the developers has been leveraging apples math and other frameworks, a lot of this performance comes for free. With Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL, not only is the GPU an OpenCL target but so are all the virtual CPU cores. Many modern Cocoa Apps get the boost for free. But, if the developer takes a few extra streps, than the boost is quite significant, take a look at Pixelmator...


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:59:44 am

What I have to agree with in the arstechnica review is the lack of dual CPU options. This would open two lacking feature:

A) more peak multithreaded performance.
B) cheaper multithreaded performance.
C) cheaper upgrade options and more peak RAM.

As they note a dual 6-core system would be cheaper than a single 12-core system and have supperior single and multithreaded performance. Dual 8-, 10- or 12-core systems would push performance way off the current machines charts. This really is a design flaw from Apples point of view. Seeing technically how well the single CPU design works even at full load with both GPU's Apple surely could have solved this with out to much headache.

It would be interesting with a system that has four boards rather than three where the end-user has more options.

- choice of 1 or 2 CPU's
- choice of 1 or 2 GPU's
- choice of using unused slots for internal disk expansion (seeing general PCIe cards would be virtually impossible).

This would open up the current hardware to a wider audience for sure.

I also find the GPU performance issue very alarming. Apple and / AMD really have to step up there game here. Clearly apps like FCPX utilize the machines potential but third party devs need this available to them as well. If the case is as bad as A mentions - up to 40% less perfromance in OSX on top of at best 50% of "top CPU choices" - Apples workstation has a bit of a problem.

The MacPro 2013 is a pretty interesting development. I'd love to see this grow into other product la given Apple tends to draw very clean lines between product categories. For example the high-end 4- and 6-core chips in the consumer market with consumer grade GPU(s) would make TERRIFIC lower end work or gaming systems. The Thunderbolt design would however be a problem here.

All that said, the MacPro 2013 holds a place for many. People just need to understand what the system is and what it is not. Apple also needs to "get with the workstation program" and sort out some soft and hardware features.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Mac Pro - arstechnica Review
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:21:08 am

[Jack Zahran] "Really surprised by the Arstechnica review. I think they are just trying to be controversial and attention mongering. The MacPro is quite a development and the current pinnacle of innovation in the workstation world. Its a great target for critics who want to be read."

What in your opinion makes this the "current pinnacle of innovation in the workstation world?"

I find it rather telling that Apple studiously avoids the word "workstation" and calls the Mac Pro a "pro computer" instead.

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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