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Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"

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walter biscardi
Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 1:26:52 pm

With the new quad core iMacs there's almost no reason to use a Mac Pro for Final Cut Pro anymore. We keep saying that the render speeds are always faster on a Mac Pro, but the iMacs are getting very close. We've already been using iMacs for four years here in our shop for both long form and short form editing on our ethernet SAN. These new machines are just bad fast.

About the only stumbling block is the 16GB RAM limit. Once they get the RAM small enough so they can get 32 or more, then the sky really will be the limit. And if someone can come up with a Thunderbolt based Expansion Chassis, all that hardware so many of us have already invested in will still be fully functional.

Mac Pros are still faster (for the moment) but these are great editing machines, particularly with the Thunderbolt I/O devices coming on line. Especially the 27" model.

http://www.apple.com/imac/specs.html

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Devin Crane
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 2:04:37 pm

I have an editor that uses an iMac over ethernet and had him switch over to a Mac Pro and asked him if he saw any difference in performance. Answer, Nope.



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walter biscardi
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 2:04:36 pm

[Devin Crane] "I have an editor that uses an iMac over ethernet and had him switch over to a Mac Pro and asked him if he saw any difference in performance. Answer, Nope."

For editing, nope.

For rendering lots of filters. Yes.

That and the RAM are really the big difference. Also the ability to add all those third party cards that can really make your workflow more efficient for certain tasks like working with RED and Resolve among others.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Ernest Ratliff
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 2:07:03 pm

Pro will win out at GPU accelerated tasks, the iMac GPUs are all slower mobile versions.


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John Christie
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 3:20:21 pm

There are Thunderbolt to fibre channel adapters available now. That's the last roadblock removed for us to consider using iMacs for some of our edit suites in a SAN environment. We'll keep MacPros in the online suites for doing the heavy lifting, but iMacs for editorial could be perfect.

Now we need to see more Thunderbolt add-ons. (We prefer to call it T-bolt, who's got all that extra time to say thunderbolt?)

Cheers

John


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walter biscardi
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 3:59:31 pm

Sonnet has a whole lineup of Thunderbolt add ons planned included Ethernet, Firewire and even Expansion Chassis for PCI cards all via Thunderbolt adapters.

http://www.sonnettech.com/news/nab2011/index.html

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Ben Holmes
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 3:24:53 pm

For anyone considering an upgrade from older Mac Pros:

We used a 2008 8-Core 3.0Hhz Mac Pro alongside a 2010 quad core 2.97 i7 (or was it i9) iMac last year, and the iMac was 10-20% faster on renders.

I'm guessing the newer iMacs would smoke all but the newest Mac Pros.

As soon as I have my Matrox thunderbolt cable, I'm travelling with an iMac.

Ben

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

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Christopher McDonell
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 3:52:33 pm

The new imacs make the existing Mac Pros look sooo bloody expensive as well. It'd be hard to justify buying one now until the refresh comes out -- and when, can I ask, might that be?? I'm reading rumors of a new macbook air, a new macbook pro even, but how bout the biggest, baddest of the bunch?

chris


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Shawn Miller
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 4:46:43 pm

"About the only stumbling block is the 16GB RAM limit."

What about processors? Do you feel that it will be worth it to give up the dual Xeon configuration of the Mac Pro?

Shawn



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walter biscardi
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 5:28:43 pm

[Shawn Miller] "What about processors? Do you feel that it will be worth it to give up the dual Xeon configuration of the Mac Pro?"

Except for the very top of the line Mac Pros, I'm not sure you're going to miss them. If the PCI Expansion chassis via Thunderbolt take off, then you'll have all the expandability that has been missing from laptops and iMacs all these years.

This will be a major shift in the "status quo". The standard desktop will no longer be necessary for the most flexibility

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Ben Holmes
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 6:01:18 pm

Just to temper the discussion (and based on very little info about FCP X) I'd note that Thunderbolt is not yet ready for high end gfx expansion - it only amounts to around 4xPCI lanes - not the 16 that something like a Fermi-touting card needs, so this might be a factor in GPGPU intensive software, which FCP X ought to be, as well as CS5.5 Cuda support.

However - I recall Philip Hodgetts (I think) saying he heard that FCP X ran amazingly well on a Macbook AIR. If so, an iMac should smoke it...

For editorial use though, forgeddaboutit.

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/community/communitydetails/?UserStoryId=87...


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Dan Daube
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 9:14:36 pm

Food to fuel the speculation:
Does anybody think that there may be no MacPro workstations in the future? We all as professionals look to our needs when we look at these buying choices. It begs the question; is Apple going to sell more iMacs and Laptops than Pro workstations? I'd say yes.
Rumor to the contrary here: http://www.macrumors.com/2011/04/21/apple-developing-narrower-rackmountable...

The new iMacs look compelling: http://www.apple.com/imac/
What does everybody think about the switch to AMD from Intel??


"May you live in interesting times!"

Dan Daube
Director-Editorial Turner Studios Atlanta
Manager Multiple Systems-FCP 7.0.1 AJA Kona


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walter biscardi
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 11:43:35 pm

[Dan Daube] " It begs the question; is Apple going to sell more iMacs and Laptops than Pro workstations? I'd say yes."

They've been selling more iMacs and laptops than Mac Pros for years now. That's no big surprise. Consumers want laptops and small desktops. Apple sells millions more of those computers than Mac Pros.

The Mac Pros are primarily used by pros, schools and laboratories.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Martin Curtis
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 4, 2011 at 10:05:34 am

[Dan Daube] "What does everybody think about the switch to AMD from Intel??
"


AMD supplies the graphics card. The CPUs are still Intel.


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walter biscardi
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 4, 2011 at 10:17:07 am

[Dan Daube] "What does everybody think about the switch to AMD from Intel??"

As noted above, AMD is now the graphics card, looks like they purchased ATI or have licensed the technology since the cards have the same Radeon name.

Processors are all Intel i5.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Dan Daube
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 4, 2011 at 1:32:39 pm

Apologies I mis-spoke (mis-typed) meant the AMD change from NVidia, not Intel in the new iMacs.

I'm posing the question though that while Apple in the past has had a "proper" Pro workstation do we think that will continue?
They got rid of XServes recently and as far as being concerned about others' software running on their hardware, Adobe Flash is still not on their iOS devices. I wonder if they feel that the power in this level of system is enough for us "pros"?

Dan Daube
Director-Editorial Turner Studios Atlanta
Manager Multiple Systems-FCP 7.0.1 AJA Kona


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Martin Curtis
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 5, 2011 at 9:30:05 pm

[walter biscardi] "Processors are all Intel i5.
"

There is an i7 option.

If you take a look at how Apple has segmented the options, you can only specify the 3.4GHz i7 if you originally select the top of the line (with 1GB Radeon 6970M GPU) 3.1 GHz i5, and it is a A$240 option. You can't select the i7 if you originally choose the "low end" (with 512 MB Radeon 6770M) 2.7 GHz, but a bit of maths reveals that going from a 2.7 GHz i5 to the 3.4 GHz i7 plus going from a Radeon 6770M to 6970M is worth A$540, or about a quarter of the purchase price. Adding another GB to the 17's GPU (same model) is a further $120.

I have no idea what all this means, but come Lion's release, I'll plead my case to the accountant for the top end model.


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Shawn Miller
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 6:23:12 pm

Interesting insight, thanks Walter.

Shawn



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Walter Soyka
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 3, 2011 at 11:12:02 pm

My main issue with the iMac had been connectivity, but Thunderbolt will change that, so it might be time to reevaluate.

FCP has historically underperformed on Mac Pros because its legacy architecture didn't support multiple processors or 64-bit memory addressing. Since it seems that FCP X will address these, I'd expect that FCP X on a Mac Pro will be quite a bit faster than FCP X on an iMac. Whether it will be necessary for most workflows or whether it will be worth the cost difference are separate questions.

Other common apps like AE and C4D can still use the extra power in the Mac Pros, and apps like Resolve can use the extra bandwidth, so there is still a need for a "proper" workstation -- but I agree with Walter that adding Thunderbolt will let the iMac make huge inroads in a lot of studios.

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
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Al Bergstein
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 4, 2011 at 2:20:58 pm

This, once again, is the right move by Apple. The prices of the Mac Pros are prohibitive for anyone but companies doing significant work. The addition of TB is just what I wanted to make that move. The downsides are that I have always hated being tied to a machine with a built in monitor, and it's wasteful environmentally. I already have two good monitors. The new processors are very fast, compared to the MPro I'm using. I personally don't need more than 16GB RAM at this point.

So this is a good move from Apple. They continue to innovate in a very fast cycle on hardware. Now I wait to see what they've done to FCP. That's the wild card. The new interface is too much like the changes which I really hated to iMovie (I used to use it for personal family work, no longer), and also to Apeture, which I promptly abandoned for Lightroom, and never looked back. They lost a loyal customer of a higher end product with that interface change.

Alf


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Ernest Ratliff
Quad Core iMacs. Now with jumbo frames
on May 4, 2011 at 5:10:23 pm

According to the iFixit teardown, the NIC is a Broadcom BCM57765B0KMLG, which supports jumbo frames. This corrects one of the biggest letdowns in the previous model.


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James Disch
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 4, 2011 at 5:26:39 pm

If you don't like being tied to a monitor you may want to wait for the Mac Mini refresh. It will most likely be in June.

http://www.rapidlightproductions.com


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Martin Curtis
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 5, 2011 at 12:13:41 pm

[walter biscardi] "About the only stumbling block is the 16GB RAM limit."
The iMac can take 32 GB of RAM. Four 8 GB sticks of the appropriate RAM (1333MHz DDR3 SO-DIMM PC10600 204 Pin) will set you back approximately $3000.


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Martin Curtis
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on May 5, 2011 at 9:16:16 pm

[walter biscardi] "About the only stumbling block is the 16GB RAM limit."
The iMac can take 32 GB of RAM. Four 8 GB sticks of the appropriate RAM (1333MHz DDR3 SO-DIMM PC10600 204 Pin) will set you back approximately $3000.


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Mohamed Safwat
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on Jan 15, 2012 at 12:09:12 pm

will there be any issues with the iMac performance if you maxed the ram to 32GB? & why do you think Apple recommends only 16GB max?

Thanks
Moe
multimedia services


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Isaac Brillant
Re: Quad Core iMacs. "Mac Pro who?"
on Jul 16, 2012 at 4:04:04 pm

I have a few questions about using an iMac

Is there much of a difference between the "3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5" option and the "3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7" for $200 more?

If I'm mainly working in FCP, editing ProRes with multiple tracks, and using filters and titles, but am not getting into heavy Motion of After FX work, is 16GB RAM (for $200 more than 8GB RAM) overkill? Can I add an additional 2 4GB RAM cards at a later point or is that not possible with an iMac?

Thanks all!


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