Mac Pro Refesh in March

1246719

Comments

  • lemon bon bon.lemon bon bon. Posts: 2,073member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    I believe that even 12 are. But the cabling wouldn't be as pretty.



    *Blushes.



    Of course...



    *thinks. Hey...I wonder if they could sell us an 'X-Serve' like Mac Mini cabinet or an empty Mac Pro case where you can 'hot swap' minis into bays...



    **Like those 'Raid' boxes you get? Aren't they just stacked hard drives?



    ***Still musing.



    Lemon Bon Bon.
  • lemon bon bon.lemon bon bon. Posts: 2,073member
    12 Minis...hmm. That would be...about £8000? That would give you...uhm...12x4 cores=48. With hyperthreading...that would be...96 'virtually' to hammer a 3D render.



    Hmm...



    So I could have 3 stacks of 4 minis sat on top of each other...like '3 mini towers'...a personal render farm. Buy as much 'desktop'/'workstation' render power as you need.



    I'll have a burger...no...make that a double whopper...no...I'll have the tripple to go...etc.



    *Babbles.



    Lemon Bon Bon.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,487member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lemon Bon Bon. View Post


    *thinks. Hey...I wonder if they could sell us an 'X-Serve' like Mac Mini cabinet or an empty Mac Pro case where you can 'hot swap' minis into bays...



    **Like those 'Raid' boxes you get? Aren't they just stacked hard drives?



    YES. Like the XServe RAID, only instead of hard drive trays into which you put drives, just open slots into which you slide Mac Minis. The back of said slots have all the connectors needed (power, Thunderbolt, and USB are really all you'd need), and all the wiring is done for you like the Mac Pro is.



    Interesting? Very interesting?
  • hmmhmm Posts: 3,348member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    YES. Like the XServe RAID, only instead of hard drive trays into which you put drives, just open slots into which you slide Mac Minis. The back of said slots have all the connectors needed (power, Thunderbolt, and USB are really all you'd need), and all the wiring is done for you like the Mac Pro is.



    Interesting? Very interesting?



    I've read of people suggesting TB as a quick interconnect like this. Has it ever been successfully implemented?
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,539member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    I've read of people suggesting TB as a quick interconnect like this. Has it ever been successfully implemented?



    Sonnet has a product for using the Thunderbolt Mini in a rack:



    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/ra...nixserver.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_aj6ADTlcA



    but that setup is kinda like this one:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1PVq9mVSXQ



    using the Mini as front-end controllers for shared file access. But, Thunderbolt is external PCI - maybe they should have called it ePCI so that the capabilities would be obvious. Any kind of multi-port network interface can be plugged into it like fibre channel in the above example and you can do whatever you like with the networked Minis.



    It would be nice if someone was able to design a rack like these:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TET16uZUmM

    http://www.mk1manufacturing.com/MMR-2G-5U_Images.html



    but instead of the USB bar, just have a power socket and a Thunderbolt port per unit that connects them all up. You could run more than 30 Minis off a single home plug (<2kW). Under load, a Mini uses 40W vs 400-600W for a Mac Pro. 30 Minis actually take up around the same volume as a single Mac Pro too. There's 28 in this picture and you could fit some vertically:







    Given that one of those Minis in quad i7 form is around 85% the speed of the current entry Mac Pro while drawing 1/10th the power, it shows the performance per volume/dollar/watt are all in favour of the Mini. The Mini could even take a low voltage Xeon chip.



    I wish they'd improve the airflow though by perforating the front of the Mini.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RBR


    Nevertheless, 64 GB RAM for a Mac Pro is precious little more than 32 GB for an iMac.



    The PCIe card I would install first is one of the non-SATA SSD such as the one OWC has announced which will accept modules to increase the capacity when the user desires.



    But you see how this goes; when the iMac gets 64GB RAM, you say that the Mac Pro can handle 128GB RAM. When the iMac gets a GPU capable of x performance units, you say the Mac Pro can handle a GPU capable of x.5 performance units. Ultimately, the Mac Pro is not the most powerful nor the most expandable machine. Apple has made compromises with it like all the other machines.



    The bottom line is, how many people put 64GB RAM in their Mac Pro and actually use it? How many people are fitting PCI cards? How many people are buying PCI SSDs? It's great to think of the theoretical possibilities but if hardly anyone is doing this then what's the point designing the machine that way?



    I would like to see another Mac Pro incarnation but I don't want to see the same dull, giant box. One more design and it can run for another 6 years before it goes the way of ole' yeller. There is no question of 'if', it's just a matter of 'when'.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    The Mac Pro is not a substitute for an iPad and.vice versa. Different tools for different tasks.



    I'd say any of the other Macs are suitable replacements for Mac Pros when we are talking about 1 person using 1 computer. For networked usage, the value isn't there for the Mac Pro. I agree that for the individual graphics artist doing compositing or 3D, a 12-core Mac Pro is a nice machine but it's just under 3x faster than a laptop:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wRLLT3RpsI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9770So2nZ0Q



    $1799 for the laptop vs $6199 for the Mac Pro. There's a chance that performance difference would mean being able to do certain kinds of work or not but that's when you get a render slave or two. Core i7 boxes are dirt cheap. Sit on the sofa with the laptop while the render boxes are sweating away in the cupboard.
  • rbrrbr Posts: 631member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Sonnet has a product for using the Thunderbolt Mini in a rack:



    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/ra...nixserver.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_aj6ADTlcA



    but that setup is kinda like this one:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1PVq9mVSXQ



    using the Mini as front-end controllers for shared file access. But, Thunderbolt is external PCI - maybe they should have called it ePCI so that the capabilities would be obvious. Any kind of multi-port network interface can be plugged into it like fibre channel in the above example and you can do whatever you like with the networked Minis.



    It would be nice if someone was able to design a rack like these:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TET16uZUmM

    http://www.mk1manufacturing.com/MMR-2G-5U_Images.html



    but instead of the USB bar, just have a power socket and a Thunderbolt port per unit that connects them all up. You could run more than 30 Minis off a single home plug (<2kW). Under load, a Mini uses 40W vs 400-600W for a Mac Pro. 30 Minis actually take up around the same volume as a single Mac Pro too. There's 28 in this picture and you could fit some vertically:







    Given that one of those Minis in quad i7 form is around 85% the speed of the current entry Mac Pro while drawing 1/10th the power, it shows the performance per volume/dollar/watt are all in favour of the Mini. The Mini could even take a low voltage Xeon chip.



    I wish they'd improve the airflow though by perforating the front of the Mini.







    But you see how this goes; when the iMac gets 64GB RAM, you say that the Mac Pro can handle 128GB RAM. When the iMac gets a GPU capable of x performance units, you say the Mac Pro can handle a GPU capable of x.5 performance units. Ultimately, the Mac Pro is not the most powerful nor the most expandable machine. Apple has made compromises with it like all the other machines.



    The bottom line is, how many people put 64GB RAM in their Mac Pro and actually use it? How many people are fitting PCI cards? How many people are buying PCI SSDs? It's great to think of the theoretical possibilities but if hardly anyone is doing this then what's the point designing the machine that way?



    I would like to see another Mac Pro incarnation but I don't want to see the same dull, giant box. One more design and it can run for another 6 years before it goes the way of ole' yeller. There is no question of 'if', it's just a matter of 'when'.







    I'd say any of the other Macs are suitable replacements for Mac Pros when we are talking about 1 person using 1 computer. For networked usage, the value isn't there for the Mac Pro. I agree that for the individual graphics artist doing compositing or 3D, a 12-core Mac Pro is a nice machine but it's just under 3x faster than a laptop:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wRLLT3RpsI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9770So2nZ0Q



    $1799 for the laptop vs $6199 for the Mac Pro. There's a chance that performance difference would mean being able to do certain kinds of work or not but that's when you get a render slave or two. Core i7 boxes are dirt cheap. Sit on the sofa with the laptop while the render boxes are sweating away in the cupboard.



    Just because you don't have a use for it does not mean there is not a demand for it. You are more concerned about what it looks like than what it can do, which is the reverse of the concerns of its users.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,487member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RBR View Post


    Just because you don't have a use for it does not mean there is not a demand for it. You are more concerned about what it looks like than what it can do, which is the reverse of the concerns of its users.



    I don't get that at all from his post.
  • rbrrbr Posts: 631member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    I don't get that at all from his post.



    He says there are other Macs which will substitute for a Mac Pro and so on which justifies it "going away". I disagree.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,487member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RBR View Post


    He says there are other Macs which will substitute for a Mac Pro and so on which justifies it "going away". I disagree.



    It's the truth. While I think that Apple should create some sort of Xserve replacement so that we might have OS X on the back-end in an ultra-high-performance situation, the rest of the Mac line will, for all intents and purposes, supplant the Mac Pro.



    How often are Mac Pros replaced in their use case? Just, on average if there is one.
  • lemon bon bon.lemon bon bon. Posts: 2,073member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Sonnet has a product for using the Thunderbolt Mini in a rack:



    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/ra...nixserver.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_aj6ADTlcA



    but that setup is kinda like this one:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1PVq9mVSXQ



    using the Mini as front-end controllers for shared file access. But, Thunderbolt is external PCI - maybe they should have called it ePCI so that the capabilities would be obvious. Any kind of multi-port network interface can be plugged into it like fibre channel in the above example and you can do whatever you like with the networked Minis.



    It would be nice if someone was able to design a rack like these:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TET16uZUmM

    http://www.mk1manufacturing.com/MMR-2G-5U_Images.html



    but instead of the USB bar, just have a power socket and a Thunderbolt port per unit that connects them all up. You could run more than 30 Minis off a single home plug (<2kW). Under load, a Mini uses 40W vs 400-600W for a Mac Pro. 30 Minis actually take up around the same volume as a single Mac Pro too. There's 28 in this picture and you could fit some vertically:







    Given that one of those Minis in quad i7 form is around 85% the speed of the current entry Mac Pro while drawing 1/10th the power, it shows the performance per volume/dollar/watt are all in favour of the Mini. The Mini could even take a low voltage Xeon chip.



    I wish they'd improve the airflow though by perforating the front of the Mini.







    But you see how this goes; when the iMac gets 64GB RAM, you say that the Mac Pro can handle 128GB RAM. When the iMac gets a GPU capable of x performance units, you say the Mac Pro can handle a GPU capable of x.5 performance units. Ultimately, the Mac Pro is not the most powerful nor the most expandable machine. Apple has made compromises with it like all the other machines.



    The bottom line is, how many people put 64GB RAM in their Mac Pro and actually use it? How many people are fitting PCI cards? How many people are buying PCI SSDs? It's great to think of the theoretical possibilities but if hardly anyone is doing this then what's the point designing the machine that way?



    I would like to see another Mac Pro incarnation but I don't want to see the same dull, giant box. One more design and it can run for another 6 years before it goes the way of ole' yeller. There is no question of 'if', it's just a matter of 'when'.







    I'd say any of the other Macs are suitable replacements for Mac Pros when we are talking about 1 person using 1 computer. For networked usage, the value isn't there for the Mac Pro. I agree that for the individual graphics artist doing compositing or 3D, a 12-core Mac Pro is a nice machine but it's just under 3x faster than a laptop:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wRLLT3RpsI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9770So2nZ0Q



    $1799 for the laptop vs $6199 for the Mac Pro. There's a chance that performance difference would mean being able to do certain kinds of work or not but that's when you get a render slave or two. Core i7 boxes are dirt cheap. Sit on the sofa with the laptop while the render boxes are sweating away in the cupboard.



    The i7 performs very well as a single chip. It's made the iMac and Macbook Pro very compelling solutions. The Mac Mini also.



    Your creative post offers a compelling future where you can simply add the power you need as your workflow dictates. Add cpu modules, add HD modules...add gpu external oomph.



    I guess it depends on how creative the Thunderbolt adoption will be.



    You can, in your example, take your Macbook Pro workstation on the go...and 'dock' it at home into an auxillary cpu renderfarm with extra storage and gpu power.



    You can add Thunderbolt Raid to the iMac? Or more external GPU oomph to it? More monitors...



    Same could be said of the Mini.



    ie your 'desktop' could 'grow' with you and you could add to it over time. While having, at it's hub, a 'portable' computer like the Mini or Laptop.



    Your post hints at the possibilities.



    But Thunderbolt is definitely giving Laptops and iMacs more video workstation possibilities, at least according to Hitachi...



    You can kind of see where the future is going...if the iOS 'airplay' connectivity, all devices, all communicate, all share thing is going.



    How long before adding more 'power' to cpu/gpu/hard drive is simple plug in and play where all computing power in a house can be pooled to any common task?



    If you can add a Thunderbolt Raid to iMac or MacBook Pro....how long before the external GPU arrives? How long before I can render farm my Mac Minis with Thunderbolt?



    Lemon Bon Bon.
  • lemon bon bon.lemon bon bon. Posts: 2,073member
    As opposed to one pricey Mac Pro, under x3 performance of one laptop...



    ...you could buy 3 quad core laptops? Or an iMac desktop...a laptop...a mini to boost render and a mini Raid for all that? For a far more flexible working solution with most of the power?



    I still can't wait to see what Apple has planned for the next Mac Pro having said all that.



    Lemon Bon Bon.
  • hmmhmm Posts: 3,348member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Sonnet has a product for using the Thunderbolt Mini in a rack:



    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/ra...nixserver.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_aj6ADTlcA



    but that setup is kinda like this one:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1PVq9mVSXQ



    using the Mini as front-end controllers for shared file access. But, Thunderbolt is external PCI - maybe they should have called it ePCI so that the capabilities would be obvious. Any kind of multi-port network interface can be plugged into it like fibre channel in the above example and you can do whatever you like with the networked Minis.



    It would be nice if someone was able to design a rack like these:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TET16uZUmM

    http://www.mk1manufacturing.com/MMR-2G-5U_Images.html



    but instead of the USB bar, just have a power socket and a Thunderbolt port per unit that connects them all up. You could run more than 30 Minis off a single home plug (<2kW). Under load, a Mini uses 40W vs 400-600W for a Mac Pro. 30 Minis actually take up around the same volume as a single Mac Pro too. There's 28 in this picture and you could fit some vertically:







    Given that one of those Minis in quad i7 form is around 85% the speed of the current entry Mac Pro while drawing 1/10th the power, it shows the performance per volume/dollar/watt are all in favour of the Mini. The Mini could even take a low voltage Xeon chip.



    I wish they'd improve the airflow though by perforating the front of the Mini.







    But you see how this goes; when the iMac gets 64GB RAM, you say that the Mac Pro can handle 128GB RAM. When the iMac gets a GPU capable of x performance units, you say the Mac Pro can handle a GPU capable of x.5 performance units. Ultimately, the Mac Pro is not the most powerful nor the most expandable machine. Apple has made compromises with it like all the other machines.



    The bottom line is, how many people put 64GB RAM in their Mac Pro and actually use it? How many people are fitting PCI cards? How many people are buying PCI SSDs? It's great to think of the theoretical possibilities but if hardly anyone is doing this then what's the point designing the machine that way?



    I would like to see another Mac Pro incarnation but I don't want to see the same dull, giant box. One more design and it can run for another 6 years before it goes the way of ole' yeller. There is no question of 'if', it's just a matter of 'when'.







    I'd say any of the other Macs are suitable replacements for Mac Pros when we are talking about 1 person using 1 computer. For networked usage, the value isn't there for the Mac Pro. I agree that for the individual graphics artist doing compositing or 3D, a 12-core Mac Pro is a nice machine but it's just under 3x faster than a laptop:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wRLLT3RpsI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9770So2nZ0Q



    $1799 for the laptop vs $6199 for the Mac Pro. There's a chance that performance difference would mean being able to do certain kinds of work or not but that's when you get a render slave or two. Core i7 boxes are dirt cheap. Sit on the sofa with the laptop while the render boxes are sweating away in the cupboard.



    Oh also the mini doesn't use 40W. The cpu uses 45W just like the cpu in the mac pro uses 95W for the single socket or 190W for the dual socket model.



    I'm just going to add, this is Apple. They are unlikely to offer much of a redesign, especially as if it means exotic cooling methods, the cost would go up anyway to cover it. They'll either keep it or drop it. My guess is that they'll keep it if/until thunderbolt can handle some of the upper ends of pci solutions at which point they'll drop it figuring people will grumble and make do. I'm also not sure how much life the imac has left in its current rendition.



    I could go on with this topic for pages. What irritates me is how Apple optimizes their machines, because it sucks. The imac isn't cost effective to repair at all. If it's out of warranty, a hard drive is barely worth replacing given the relative cost, and their display implementation has long term issues. I like the mini design better in some ways. What I dislike is integrated graphics on the quad model, and for its price, it deserves discrete graphics (keep in mind the cpus are almost identical in price). I'm not sure on the idea of clustered minis. Temperature might be an issue. You have to remember there's one temperature figure for short term use. If you're slamming them for periods greater than 8 hours a day, the thermal recommendations are significantly lower. In terms of raw cost, you'd be better off with cheap i7 boxes that use similar innards to the top imac. Using minis here is more of a leveraged use than a practical one in cost, while it is relatively efficient on space. Also do not expect them to be running in full turbo boost. They won't be able to keep that up for hours at a time.



    Okay regarding 12 core machines and top gpus, usually those kinds of things are a bigger deal for people like animators. It takes quite a lot of power to scrub through physics calculations or achieve realtime playback on a complex scene as opposed to lowering framerate to avoid dropped frames. Audio editors seem to use quite a lot of power too, but I know very little about it. Graphics and CAD are often limited on core scaling unfortunately. Graphics can take up a lot of ram if you're dealing with raster data and not solely vectors. At some point photoshop will better support 32 bit floating point math, and if that catches on and someone can make a clean linear workflow through raw processors like you have with a program like nuke, that would bump ram requirements immensely.



    In the end it's about how much you need on one machine and what other items you need included. This conversation comes up because Apple is focused on a newer market rather than a mature one. It happens. Apple irritates me, but there isn't much I can do there. When they design a new computer, they focus heavily on aesthetics and footprint. They don't care if you want to swap a hard drive when the installed one crashes. Most people don't even have proper backups anyway. They're perfectly willing to strip out features if they don't fit in a compact design. Personally I don't care about these things. I care how it runs. If something lags, I have to reduce my settings until it's back to a smooth experience. I did this with the G4s and G5s. I don't want to do the same thing today. I also feel it's asinine to plug a bunch of cords and boxes into an all in one machine. It defeats the entire point of the design without removing any of the compromises.



    @Lemon splitting things into pieces doesn't make it more flexible. It makes sense if it gives you more power per dollar. By the time you total up the cost of all the cables and storage enclosures and everything, it doesn't look so good for the minis which would run hot without additional cooling anyway. Note run hot for use exceeding 8 hours at a time.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,539member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    Oh also the mini doesn't use 40W. The cpu uses 45W just like the cpu in the mac pro uses 95W for the single socket or 190W for the dual socket model.



    Apple says the single quad-core Mac Pro power draw is 218W:



    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2836?v...S&locale=en_US



    Throw in two higher clocked CPUs (adds at least 90W) and perhaps run the GPU too and you're easily above 300W - the GPU at full load will take it over 400W but the Mini GPU is 20W in the worst case. The Mini has a maximum 85W PSU so it can't even come close to that without risking overloading it. Kill-a-watt readings of the latest Mac Mini on full CPU load are around 40W.



    The Mini at the very least is still 5x more power efficient.



    I wonder if Intel is going to delay the Ivy Bridge Xeon launch:



    http://www.extremetech.com/computing...yed-until-june



    They are saying there's a surplus of Sandy Bridge chips, thanks to the PC manufacturers' terrible attempts at making computers that people want. The Xeons are the most expensive chips so would lose the most money but they are likely to be the lowest volume chips so it might be ok to go ahead.



    Hopefully Intel gives Apple some special treatment so we at least get some decent updates in April.
  • dmeehandmeehan Posts: 1member
    Lemon Bon Bon - Thanks for the cross post into this forum.



    (My original thoughts - http://davemeehan.com/technology/how...-a-post-pc-era



    The more I think of it, and post reading the comments here, the idea of a stackable mini as a replacement for the Macpro has much merit.



    As a given, take it tha Apple has the design and engineering skills to create a box that stacks nicely, just works (without linking cables in the conventional sense), looks ultra desirable and doesn't overheat. None of those things are unavoidable.



    Also, your concerns for overheating on a 8+ hour compute intensive tasks is probably an edge cae, even for existing Macpro users. As I said above, the cooling issues could be dealt with, even if it takes some exotic approach. For the edge cases, this might be an optional module.



    If you then create modules, or even allow third parties to do so, to provide options for storage expansion, GPU expansion (to drive more displays or simple for GPU grunt for specialist tasks via OpenCL), memory expansion , audio expansion, or other yet unknown uses.



    Don't forget, thunderbolt is/will be available on all OS X devices, and that means the expansion modules can be connected to a MacBook air to give it desktop class performance when docked/at home/office. So it's not a solution *just* as a Macpro replacement, it would actually provide benefit to every device.



    Consider also if an iOS device, now or in the future, could take advantage of these expansion modules, either via cable or wirelessly? How neat would that be? Could modules be put somewhere within a house/office to be shared wirelessly by any other Apple device.



    Obviously this goes beyond the idea of Thunderbolt, and it's performance possibilities. Wifi, even next generation would severely hamper the throughput, but as some form of distributed computing it could be incredibly powerful. Just think of voice processing of Siri like commands if you could offload the signal processing to a small in-house server farm.



    What else a Apple good at? Moving to where the competition is non-existent, creating a market of their own and nailing it. they've done it with just about every product they've created, an certainly so in the last 8-10 years. It really is about time someone turned the industry notion that power equals a big box on its head and gave the consumer something as simple as Lego with which to build their solution.



    No-one else outside of some custom shop does anything like this, but all the components are pretty much available, it just needs commercialising. The PC industry is backward and only able to compete on price, no innovation, and this could be huge if Apple can create the necessary 'special sauce' that makes it all just work seamlessly to the end user.



    And don't even start me on where I think the iPad could take things!
  • hmmhmm Posts: 3,348member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Apple says the single quad-core Mac Pro power draw is 218W:



    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2836?v...S&locale=en_US



    Throw in two higher clocked CPUs (adds at least 90W) and perhaps run the GPU too and you're easily above 300W - the GPU at full load will take it over 400W but the Mini GPU is 20W in the worst case. The Mini has a maximum 85W PSU so it can't even come close to that without risking overloading it. Kill-a-watt readings of the latest Mac Mini on full CPU load are around 40W.



    The Mini at the very least is still 5x more power efficient.



    I wonder if Intel is going to delay the Ivy Bridge Xeon launch:



    http://www.extremetech.com/computing...yed-until-june



    They are saying there's a surplus of Sandy Bridge chips, thanks to the PC manufacturers' terrible attempts at making computers that people want. The Xeons are the most expensive chips so would lose the most money but they are likely to be the lowest volume chips so it might be ok to go ahead.



    Hopefully Intel gives Apple some special treatment so we at least get some decent updates in April.



    I was comparing raw parts. I never said it didn't take less power. Anyway if they're going for a bunch of little boxes, the mini still doesn't look like that great of a solution to the problem. There are more scalable solutions for that. We're still mixing up the functions of a workstation and server farm here. You tend to use the workstation when your needs aren't so great that they really warrant expanding out to multiple boxes. It's not always as simple as just connecting computers. You do have to plan it, and have some means of diagnostics. There are a lot of issues, and as I mentioned internal temperatures could be an issue if these are being run for days at a time.



    Regarding workstations, your armada of minis only works if everything works out, and you have to take a lot of costs into consideration. Some applications require further licenses to run in a distributed manner like this, which can kill the economy of doing this with something like a mini. The base mini offers the best economy assuming no other costs like that. Otherwise there are better solutions. You can run inexpensive i7 boxes as an example. You wouldn't really add graphics and other things. They'd just be dumb nodes. If I was going for ultra low power, I'd want to compare to how it would work with atom cpus. In any event this is somewhat annoying to set up, and it only works with tasks that distribute well.



    Since the example of animation was used, yes rendering something out or rendering post effects could be run in a distributed manner. If you're looking for real time playback of an animation or 4k video uncompressed or something of that sort (that's a slightly extreme example but anyway) that is not a distributed task. It's something you run within an application for real time feedback rather than something that can be distributed via a job manager of some kind. This is the difference. We can go on to argue about percentage of users or whatever, but this same argument goes way back. When the complexity of the problem to be solved flattens out, hardware tends to shrink rather than simply being made faster.



    In any event, I don't think you'll see a redesign. I would wager that Foxconn is handling the designs at this point, and Apple is just making changes and signing off on them. I'd expect they're riding on technologies like thunderbolt and hoping that these things will scale up enough to limit how many customers they might lose by ditching the line. I don't think the mac pro has much of an associated R&D cost. If they're looking at something, it would be PR over the perception of a neglected product, spatial consumption in stores and on the site, etc. They aren't spending much of anything keeping it up to date.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,539member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    It's not always as simple as just connecting computers. You do have to plan it, and have some means of diagnostics.



    That's why I think Apple should have a zero-config Thunderbolt interconnect with an Airport-like admin, even if there's another Mac Pro.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    There are a lot of issues, and as I mentioned internal temperatures could be an issue if these are being run for days at a time.



    Like in a server farm:



    http://www.macminicolo.net/facility.html



    They do use cooling systems but the following point negates this anyway.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    Regarding workstations, your armada of minis



    It's not quite an armada, the image above is just to show the relative scale. A Mac Mini Server renders Cinebench at 4.2, a 12-core Mac Pro scores 15.2 so 4x Mac Mini Servers would be a replacement for a 12-core Mac Pro and one would be your main machine (this setup takes up 1/7th the space).







    In fact, if you bought the highest-end iMac as your main machine, you'd get away with just 2x Mini Servers as slaves.



    This is cheaper than a Mac Pro too:



    4x Mini Server = $3996 + display cost

    27" iMac + 2x mini Server = $4197

    12-core Mac Pro = $6199 + display cost



    The $4,999 12-core scores 13.8 so that's close to an iMac + 1x Mini Server = $2998 (might need a dual-core Mini on top to match exactly)



    That doesn't even account for the fact that the Mac Pro only comes with 6GB RAM vs 4GB per machine in the others (matters for concurrent frame processing) and also the fact that the iMac setup comes with a 27" IPS display worth $999.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    Some applications require further licenses to run in a distributed manner like this, which can kill the economy of doing this with something like a mini.



    I agree but some licenses are based on core count and render-only licenses tend to be cheaper. Some rendering engines are a free for all. V-Ray has an unlimited license for example. It is an issue to consider though.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    If you're looking for real time playback of an animation or 4k video uncompressed or something of that sort (that's a slightly extreme example but anyway) that is not a distributed task.



    That's true but a high-end iMac can easily do this if you use the right setup. In the example of real-time video, the bottleneck is usually storage - it's rare that it would be CPU dependent and if it's GPU-dependent, the GPU in the iMac is faster than the 5570 in the Pro and matches the 5870. 4k streams will run around 500Mbps (60MB/s). If you try to run them off an internal 7200 RPM drive then it'll choke with 2 layers. That's why you use something like a Thunderbolt Pegasus R4/R6:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg3vEVE8rss



    580MB/s write, 490MB/s read. Eventually SSD will be the best option. Although the Pegasus adds $1-2k to the overall costs, you already saved over $2k vs the Mac Pro and it also separates the RAID from the system and has a hardware RAID, which costs $700 in the Mac Pro. You can run your machines off small SSDs and put the data on the RAID - you have to modify the Mac Pro to do this if you want to avoid paying for the Pegasus on top.



    Compare:



    27" iMac, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 6970M + 2x Mini Server, 4GB RAM each, 256GB SSD each ($550x2) + 4TB Pegasus R4 ($1149) = $6946

    12-core Mac Pro, 6GB RAM, 4TB hardware RAID (no SSD boot drive), Radeon 5870, 27" IPS display = $8548



    If you leave the first setup without SSD boot drives, the first price is $5346 and you can use your own 128GB SSDs if you want to get somewhere in between.



    Given that the Mac Pro refresh is now once every 2 years, you would benefit from being able to upgrade your slave drives every year and get a 50% performance boost per slave or just add more while keeping your main setup and RAID untouched.
  • wizard69wizard69 Posts: 11,322member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lemon Bon Bon. View Post


    The i7 performs very well as a single chip. It's made the iMac and Macbook Pro very compelling solutions. The Mac Mini also.



    An i7 iMac is no more a replacement for the Pro than any previous iMac. You can't look at single thread performance and declare an iMac a replacement for the Pro. You realistically can't even consider general productivity apps. The reason is simple the Pro isn't targetted at such markets.

    Quote:

    Your creative post offers a compelling future where you can simply add the power you need as your workflow dictates. Add cpu modules, add HD modules...add gpu external oomph.



    It could be a desirable goal for some situations. The problem is Apple is no longer in the server business and seems to have lost interest in high performance computing. Frankly this sounds like a Mac spin on Beowulf clusters, not that that is a bad idea just that it is a very niche market.



    In a way I see the XMac as potentially supporting this role well. The idea here is that an XMAc would be either a half or third width computer (EIA rack widths). The XMac of course supporting easy configurability.

    Quote:

    I guess it depends on how creative the Thunderbolt adoption will be.



    It is still extremely early for TB! It will likely be a couple of years more until there is a strong market acceptance.

    Quote:



    You can, in your example, take your Macbook Pro workstation on the go...and 'dock' it at home into an auxillary cpu renderfarm with extra storage and gpu power.



    Render farms and cheap hardware go together. There is little reason to put a Mac into service here when commodity hardware and Linux is the common practice.

    Quote:

    You can add Thunderbolt Raid to the iMac? Or more external GPU oomph to it? More monitors...



    Same could be said of the Mini.



    ie your 'desktop' could 'grow' with you and you could add to it over time. While having, at it's hub, a 'portable' computer like the Mini or Laptop.



    I really don't see people rushing over each other to install rats nests on their desks, book shelves or whatever.

    Quote:

    Your post hints at the possibilities.



    But Thunderbolt is definitely giving Laptops and iMacs more video workstation possibilities, at least according to Hitachi...



    You can kind of see where the future is going...if the iOS 'airplay' connectivity, all devices, all communicate, all share thing is going.



    How long before adding more 'power' to cpu/gpu/hard drive is simple plug in and play where all computing power in a house can be pooled to any common task?



    Huge app software hurdles there. Frankly Macs have shipped with Libraries for such for a long time. That is software to pool computing performance, but it is seldom used.

    Quote:

    If you can add a Thunderbolt Raid to iMac or MacBook Pro....how long before the external GPU arrives? How long before I can render farm my Mac Minis with Thunderbolt?



    You can do that today given the app to do the calculation. Sure you would be using Giga bit ethernet, but that may or may not be a throttle point. It is a mistake to believe that TB would immediately be a superior solution, it really depends upon where your bottle necks are.



    As to external GPUs, sorry but it don't see the attraction at all. In fact I could see Apple tightly coupling the dGPU to the CPU by building them right on the motherboard. If not this year in a couple of more, especially if GPUs can sit on the memory bus as equals to the CPU. If memory serves me AMD expects to be fairly close by 2014. The days od GPUs being on expansion cards is quickly comming to an end.

    Quote:

    Lemon Bon Bon.



    Cheers
  • lemon bon bon.lemon bon bon. Posts: 2,073member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dmeehan View Post


    Lemon Bon Bon - Thanks for the cross post into this forum.



    (My original thoughts - http://davemeehan.com/technology/how...-a-post-pc-era



    The more I think of it, and post reading the comments here, the idea of a stackable mini as a replacement for the Macpro has much merit.



    As a given, take it tha Apple has the design and engineering skills to create a box that stacks nicely, just works (without linking cables in the conventional sense), looks ultra desirable and doesn't overheat. None of those things are unavoidable.



    Also, your concerns for overheating on a 8+ hour compute intensive tasks is probably an edge cae, even for existing Macpro users. As I said above, the cooling issues could be dealt with, even if it takes some exotic approach. For the edge cases, this might be an optional module.



    If you then create modules, or even allow third parties to do so, to provide options for storage expansion, GPU expansion (to drive more displays or simple for GPU grunt for specialist tasks via OpenCL), memory expansion , audio expansion, or other yet unknown uses.



    Don't forget, thunderbolt is/will be available on all OS X devices, and that means the expansion modules can be connected to a MacBook air to give it desktop class performance when docked/at home/office. So it's not a solution *just* as a Macpro replacement, it would actually provide benefit to every device.



    Consider also if an iOS device, now or in the future, could take advantage of these expansion modules, either via cable or wirelessly? How neat would that be? Could modules be put somewhere within a house/office to be shared wirelessly by any other Apple device.



    Obviously this goes beyond the idea of Thunderbolt, and it's performance possibilities. Wifi, even next generation would severely hamper the throughput, but as some form of distributed computing it could be incredibly powerful. Just think of voice processing of Siri like commands if you could offload the signal processing to a small in-house server farm.



    What else a Apple good at? Moving to where the competition is non-existent, creating a market of their own and nailing it. they've done it with just about every product they've created, an certainly so in the last 8-10 years. It really is about time someone turned the industry notion that power equals a big box on its head and gave the consumer something as simple as Lego with which to build their solution.



    No-one else outside of some custom shop does anything like this, but all the components are pretty much available, it just needs commercialising. The PC industry is backward and only able to compete on price, no innovation, and this could be huge if Apple can create the necessary 'special sauce' that makes it all just work seamlessly to the end user.



    And don't even start me on where I think the iPad could take things!



    Firstly, welcome to the Appleinsider boards, Mr. Meehan.



    A worthy and thoughtful 'first' post.



    The tantalising notion of a 'lego built' desktop solution that expands the potency of an iMac, MacBook Pro or even an iPad of the future teases with it's possibilities and price advantage. It's also more flexible for the user.



    I look at the Raid 'mini towers' and wonder how far away is a 'Mini-tower' stack of minis to achieve a similar effect but for 'extra' processing.



    ..and like you say, Apple is all about the 'special' sauce.



    Even if Apple won't make a 'hot swap' solution cabinet that you can 'bung' two, four or six mini's in...the user can simply stack a couple of minis (not the car) one on top of the other and link them to eg the iMac? Macbook Pro?



    Maybe I'll email Sonnet and see what they say about the potential of all this.



    Enjoy the debate!



    Lemon Bon Bon.
  • lemon bon bon.lemon bon bon. Posts: 2,073member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    That's why I think Apple should have a zero-config Thunderbolt interconnect with an Airport-like admin, even if there's another Mac Pro.







    Like in a server farm:



    http://www.macminicolo.net/facility.html



    They do use cooling systems but the following point negates this anyway.







    It's not quite an armada, the image above is just to show the relative scale. A Mac Mini Server renders Cinebench at 4.2, a 12-core Mac Pro scores 15.2 so 4x Mac Mini Servers would be a replacement for a 12-core Mac Pro and one would be your main machine (this setup takes up 1/7th the space).







    In fact, if you bought the highest-end iMac as your main machine, you'd get away with just 2x Mini Servers as slaves.



    This is cheaper than a Mac Pro too:



    4x Mini Server = $3996 + display cost

    27" iMac + 2x mini Server = $4197

    12-core Mac Pro = $6199 + display cost



    The $4,999 12-core scores 13.8 so that's close to an iMac + 1x Mini Server = $2998 (might need a dual-core Mini on top to match exactly)



    That doesn't even account for the fact that the Mac Pro only comes with 6GB RAM vs 4GB per machine in the others (matters for concurrent frame processing) and also the fact that the iMac setup comes with a 27" IPS display worth $999.







    I agree but some licenses are based on core count and render-only licenses tend to be cheaper. Some rendering engines are a free for all. V-Ray has an unlimited license for example. It is an issue to consider though.







    That's true but a high-end iMac can easily do this if you use the right setup. In the example of real-time video, the bottleneck is usually storage - it's rare that it would be CPU dependent and if it's GPU-dependent, the GPU in the iMac is faster than the 5570 in the Pro and matches the 5870. 4k streams will run around 500Mbps (60MB/s). If you try to run them off an internal 7200 RPM drive then it'll choke with 2 layers. That's why you use something like a Thunderbolt Pegasus R4/R6:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg3vEVE8rss



    580MB/s write, 490MB/s read. Eventually SSD will be the best option. Although the Pegasus adds $1-2k to the overall costs, you already saved over $2k vs the Mac Pro and it also separates the RAID from the system and has a hardware RAID, which costs $700 in the Mac Pro. You can run your machines off small SSDs and put the data on the RAID - you have to modify the Mac Pro to do this if you want to avoid paying for the Pegasus on top.



    Compare:



    27" iMac, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 6970M + 2x Mini Server, 4GB RAM each, 256GB SSD each ($550x2) + 4TB Pegasus R4 ($1149) = $6946

    12-core Mac Pro, 6GB RAM, 4TB hardware RAID (no SSD boot drive), Radeon 5870, 27" IPS display = $8548



    If you leave the first setup without SSD boot drives, the first price is $5346 and you can use your own 128GB SSDs if you want to get somewhere in between.



    Given that the Mac Pro refresh is now once every 2 years, you would benefit from being able to upgrade your slave drives every year and get a 50% performance boost per slave or just add more while keeping your main setup and RAID untouched.



    Still processing your post.*



    But at a quick glance the idea of a top end iMac as a main hub with 2-4 mini's stacked alongside has alot of potency.



    Most of the Mini's I 'touch' (sorry, can't help myself...) in store seem very cool to the touch.



    The picture of 4 mini's stacked up vs the Mac Pro and the Cinebench face off is quite a stark contrast in terms of power per footprint.



    With things like Thunderbolt (while it's full promise, obviously, hasn't arrived yet) even HD makers like Hitachi are beginnging to acknowledge the increased reach and flexibility it gives to machines like the iMac and MacBook Pros. Where, increasingly, such machines are reaching and encompassing the 'king of jobs' (yes, 'workstation' jobs) that were once the sole province of a 'Mac Tower.'



    3D. Video. Games. Photoshop/Print. There was a time when the iMac or Mac Mini, for that matter, simply couldn't cut it. That time is no longer the case.



    Nobody is suggesting that the iMac can do full global scale scientific simulations all by itself.



    While it's aimed at the consumer full and frontal...it's been more than a 'mere' consumer machine since the i7 landed...alongside that whopping 27 inch screen, expansion ram limit, Thunderbolt connectivity and with the recent revision a rather tasty 2 gig 6970m GPU (the first GPU, in my view that circumvents the 'slender' design of the iMac.)



    Lemon Bon Bon.
  • lemon bon bon.lemon bon bon. Posts: 2,073member
    i7.



    Is very compelling to someone who wants 3D rendering power care of Hyperthreading! It's even more so to someone (ie me who has a Core2 duo iMac (which is no 'slouch' by any means...)



    It was a bigger landmark or a more significant beachhead than when the iMac got the G5.



    I remember my friend buying his monolithic PC tower ( tried to tell him to get an iMac, a PS3 and a cheap PC for the price he paid...but no...he wouldn't listen...and his two 5oo gig hard drives failed a week after his PC arrived...and his Radeon dual GPU card kept blowing hot...) and asking him to perform a Cinebench. I was very, very impressed by the i7. It simply outclassed my Core Duo by a mile on 3D rendering.



    Sure, he was smug. But I said, think about what my iMac does in a much, much slimmer enclosure. I said to him, 'Yeah, but it will be game over when the iMac gets that cpu in it's 2 inch enclosure...' 2 years later, Apple obliged.



    Whether Pro, iMac or Mini...I have an interest in Apple's desktop strategy and where it's going.



    Lemon Bon Bon.
Sign In or Register to comment.