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New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac

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Tim Wilson
New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 24, 2019 at 9:25:45 pm

Longtime cowpoke Alan Okey pointed me to a report at Gizmodo pointing out that the release notes for NVIDIA's new update point to the end of the road for the increasingly frayed relationship between them and Apple.

On Monday Nvidia published the release notes for the next update of its CUDA platform and noted that “CUDA 10.2 (Toolkit and NVIDIA driver) is the last release to support macOS for developing and running CUDA applications.” That means all future versions of CUDA will lack support for Apple devices, which could leave a decent share of the pro community, as well as the hackintosh community, without support for the most popular discrete GPUs being made at the moment.


This has been coming for a while, of course. Indeed, you could make the case that Apple made the announcement first in 2018, when they announced the end of CUDA support with Mojave.

Ultimately it seems to have the air of Paul announcing that The Beatles had broken up. The announcement didn't have anything to do with the breakup, which had already happened.

It was probably inevitable going back to higher-than-expected failure rates of NVIDIA chipsets in MacBook Pros back in 2008.

It still feels like there's quite a bit to unpack here, and I'm curious to hear what you folks see in all this.


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Craig Seeman
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 25, 2019 at 5:18:23 am

ProVideo Coalition Scott Simmons on this.
https://www.provideocoalition.com/officially-official-nvidia-drops-cuda-sup...



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Jeremy Garchow
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 25, 2019 at 1:25:32 pm

I think that, and who cares what I think, but I think that is has to do with system architecture and stability. Installing drivers for Nvidia has never been easy on a Mac. Apple hasn't made it easy, Nvidia hasn't made it easy. The "wrong" but supposedly approved drivers used to do really weird things to the OS, including full kernel panics, and crashes.

I don't think this was necessarily Nvidia's doing, Apple was stingy on driver installs (still is, and Catalina is even stingier with the Notarization that needs to happen from Apple).

Metal is obviously a direct response from Apple about integration of the GPU in to the macOS system (and iOS as well) and Nvidia is finally done with it. Like what Ole Uncle Lamont used to say, When you can’t beat ‘em, quit.

My experiences with CUDA weren’t great. A lot of hype for not much performance. I am not surprised to see this. There were so many barefeats tests back in the day with all these really expensive GPUs that weren't doing a ton more than much less expensive (and less powerful) GPUs for most work. I will admit, I don't need ray tracing, I don't do VFX, so it has never made sense to me to have this ultra special card that renders a few frames more per second.

Again, I’m sure Apple could have made this whole process much smoother and easier, but alas, here we are. Honestly, I don’t blame them as the process to install CUDA drivers was kind of a dark art at times.

I guess we will see how Metal fares with some of the punchier VFX/Animation softwares transitioning to it.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 25, 2019 at 6:34:41 pm

While there is probably justified finger pointing from both sides, I think it boils down to Apple wanting their operating systems to be Metal-only.

Apple stopped updating support for OpenGL and OpenCL around 2011. Metal was first released to the public in 2014 (presumably the creating of Metal took years). I don't think Apple ever support Vulkan. Coincidence? It looks like Apple let CUDA stick around until they thought Metal could get similar performance and then they shut the door.

People that primarily stick to the 1st party Apple ecosystem aren't going to feel a thing, and even most run of the mill post operations probably won't in the near future as well because, to Jeremy's point, GPUs just aren't typically heavily hammered in typical video post (yeah, back in the day PPro leaned on CUDA hard, but customer demand got them to improve OpenCL and Metal performance so people weren't 'forced' to get an Nvidia card). From what I've read very data intensive fields like deep learning, self-driving cars, VR, AR, etc., get a lot out of CUDA (and are places Nvidia has intentionally expended over the years) so the new Mac Pro plowing into big-iron PC territory probably won't happen. Apple-centric places will get beefier machines, but it's hard for me to imagine the Mac Pro will pull in a significant amount of switchers or retain users that really benefit from using CUDA.


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Steve Connor
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 25, 2019 at 6:37:16 pm

[Andrew Kimery] "From what I've read very data intensive fields like deep learning, self-driving cars, VR, AR, etc., get a lot out of CUDA (and are places Nvidia has intentionally expended over the years) so the new Mac Pro plowing into big-iron PC territory probably won't happen."

I make films in the tech sector and Nvidia are very well positioned in the burgeoning AI space at the moment.


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Tim Wilson
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 25, 2019 at 6:39:15 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "who cares what I think"

I do! I do!

[Jeremy Garchow] "Apple hasn't made it easy, Nvidia hasn't made it easy."

This really does feel like about the right take to me. It's reductive and not especially informative to try to pin more of the blame on one or the other, and for a lot of people in the heart of the "video" part of video production, it doesn't much matter.

In the bigger picture, I'd always rather see everyone get along. I have a computer, I want to put stuff in it, it should be doable, especially if the stuff I want to use is otherwise industry-standard and generally considered best of class.


[Jeremy Garchow] "There were so many barefeats tests back in the day with all these really expensive GPUs that weren't doing a ton more than much less expensive (and less powerful) GPUs for most work."

I think that's true for an awful lot of people in an awful lot of circumstances. I remember when ICE cards were the thing that everyone had to have for rendering in After Effects. They really were everywhere. I asked my then-boss Boris why he wasn't more excited about optimizing Boris FX plug-ins for ICE. He replied, "Hardware can goose performance in the short run, but in the long run, software is always faster." He predicted that he'd never be able to recover the revenue he invested in optimizing for even this very popular platform before CPU and OS advances made it obsolete. He was right of course.

But as you note, Jeremy, that's a world where ray tracing and enterprise-class VFX aren't really a factor. It's irrelevant for Apple to provide support for multiple NVIDIA GPUs strung together, because the host software that runs such configurations tends not to be written for Macs anyway. Apple hasn't chased every potential customer for 25 years or more.

I'd still rather see a world where they're working with more partners rather than fewer, but I'm used to not getting much of what I want. :-)


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Dom Silverio
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 25, 2019 at 10:22:34 pm

Apple could have made it easier if they allowed 3rd party GPU natively. But the Mac platform required custom EFI and OS native drivers to make it work. If not, then you needed Apple to bless the drivers. I think Nvidia did a great job providing great hardware even though they were never fully welcomed by Apple. They were tolerated at best.

Nvidia added years to the Mac Pro cheesegraters. Resolve and other GPU heavy apps flourished with the cheesegraters because NVidia provided the drivers needed to run a more powerful GPU than the terrible D700 in the MP2013.

Even now, using 3rd party AMD GPUs is not smooth!
But Apple's financial interest and corporate philosophy (closed ecosystem) ensures that it will always be the case.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 25, 2019 at 7:40:46 pm

[Tim Wilson] "It was probably inevitable going back to higher-than-expected failure rates of NVIDIA chipsets in MacBook Pros back in 2008."

Maybe... but AMD GPUs were in the 2011-2013 MBPs that required an extended warranty/repair program, the nMPS that had GPU issues, and, going way back, the OG Mac Pros (which had some faulty ATi X1900 cards). Apple just seems to have a history of GPU-related issues (and part of it is due to thermal issues since size and weight are so high on Apple's list of priorities).

The crutch of the current issue isn't that Apple doesn't want Nvidia silicon in Macs, it's that Apple doesn't want to support 3rd party APIs (including CUDA) in MacOS. If Nvidia started supporting Metal then I'd bet Nvidia cards would still be an option (at least as eGPUs and user upgrades to Mac Pros).


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Michael Gissing
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 26, 2019 at 12:38:31 am

It's been ten years since I bought my last Apple product and with the re-release of cheesgrater grunt, Apple give me another compelling reason to continue to ignore their hardware and OS.

I have had a dream run with NVIDIA and Resolve since switching to PC and this is not going to help Apple trying to win back people and facilities like me. I'm sure they don't really care and that's fine. What was once an imperative for my business is now an ignore-able option.


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Paul Neumann
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 26, 2019 at 2:33:55 pm

Is there anything to the idea that in order to have USB-C charging (no more MagSafe) Apple had to go with something other than Nvidia in the Macbook Pros?


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Dom Silverio
Re: New NVIDIA release will be the last to support CUDA on Mac
on Nov 26, 2019 at 5:54:36 pm

I highly doubt it. USB-C is an Intel technology and Apple uses a custom motherboard and chipset. Maybe it affects their power and heat profiles? But even then Apple is known to change the clock speed of the CPU and GPU to match their technical needs.


[Paul Neumann] "Is there anything to the idea that in order to have USB-C charging (no more MagSafe) Apple had to go with something other than Nvidia in the Macbook Pros?"


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