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Explain to me your professional concept.

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I am hoping this is the right place for this thread so we shall see how it goes. We are probably about four months away from the last Mac Pro update which was two years ago in August 2010.

 

I'm curious what constitutes a professional machine, a workstation, etc. I get it to some degree though it means different things to different people.

 

For example, how long does a good professional machine last with the pace of technology. How long can you future proof it? Let's use coding, photo editing, video editing, graphic design, etc. as examples.

 

Currently I'm a consumer with an entry level machine (2011 Mac mini) though I want to understand more. I want to cross over into the professional market and utilize the best that the market can offer or some of what the market can offer I suppose.

 

I'm curious to hear some answers.

post #2 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

I am hoping this is the right place for this thread so we shall see how it goes. We are probably about four months away from the last Mac Pro update which was two years ago in August 2010.

I think you need to tweak your logic here as I did not parse the above successfully.
Quote:

 

I'm curious what constitutes a professional machine, a workstation, etc. I get it to some degree though it means different things to different people.

You pretty much answered your question yourself. Many professionals make really good use of the AIRs. It is a nice concept but for me comes up short. The point being professionals use the tools that best fit their needs.
Quote:

 

For example, how long does a good professional machine last with the pace of technology. How long can you future proof it? Let's use coding, photo editing, video editing, graphic design, etc. as examples.

It depends upon the user, his selected software and system improvements / regressions down the road.

Thereis little you can do to future proof a Mac purchase. The one exception here is to buy the best GPU performance you can afford at the time of purchase the GPU is one of the reasons I went with a MBP in 2008. A good GPU, especially the newer ones that do a better job of supporting OpenCL, allow for a bit longer return on your investment.
Quote:

 

Currently I'm a consumer with an entry level machine (2011 Mac mini) though I want to understand more. I want to cross over into the professional market and utilize the best that the market can offer or some of what the market can offer I suppose.

 

I'm curious to hear some answers.


Ignore the labels on the Machines. Just about everything Apple sells can be leveraged for professional usage. The trick is to fit the hardware to your needs. Often chasing after the best can lead to wasting a lot of cash. Especially in regards to computer hardware which quickly becomes outdated after purchase. Computers by their very nature are short term investments - nix that - they are more like expenses.
post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

I'm curious what constitutes a professional machine, a workstation. How long does a good professional machine last with the pace of technology.

Years ago, the distinction between professional-class and consumer-class was easier because there were bottlenecks everywhere. A workstation would allow faster hard drives, more RAM, better displays, faster CPUs and GPUs to the extent that you could not do certain tasks on consumer-class hardware. That distinction largely doesn't exist any more.

The only difference now between an iMac and a Mac Pro is that when it comes to raw computation steps like image rendering, the Mac Pro will finish the tasks in less time and the price seems to go up linearly (a $6000 12-core Pro will render about 3 times faster than a $2000 iMac - 3x the speed, 3x the price). These tasks can be offloaded onto dedicated machines though, in some cases, cloud services.

When it comes to longevity, Moore's law is adhered to for the most part but you generally see a doubling of speed every 2 years. It can come in uneven amounts, such as 25% one year and 60% in another to give 1.25 x 1.6 = 2x speed up over 2 years. It gets a bit screwed up when the GPU comes into play as Intel can allocate some of the 'silicon budget' to the GPU instead of the CPU and technically still adhere to Moor's Law but you don't necessarily see the benefit. At least with OpenCL compute, there's a better chance you will though.

Due to this doubling every 2 years, you can see that the highest-end iMac will outperform the highest-end Mac Pro within 4 years so that's the general shelf-life of the Pro in terms of superiority to consumer-class hardware. It's slightly less than that in fact as the 2012 Mini Server will outperform the 2009 8-core Mac Pro.

To justify buying a Mac Pro, you should expect it to out-last consumer hardware by 2 years so I'd say probably the fastest 6-core or an 8-core are the minimum requirements but it depends on what you use it for.

A workstation in 2012 is only beneficial for high-end rendering, compositing and possibly audio processing but these tasks were being done with 2009 Mac Pros and the processing requirements don't shift that much in 3 years. It comes down to a matter of pride in a lot of scenarios. A lot of users like to think of themselves as high-end users. Video editors for example could use a Macbook Air hooked up to a Thunderbolt RAID and 27" Cinema display to do their job but they'd get 'penis envy' seeing people in their field using E5 Xeon PCs, sign up to AppleInsider and declare that unless Apple sorts this out, they're going to switch over.

Computers should be chosen based on capability to perform a job, not based on preconceptions of what form factor is required to do them. The Mini Servers and iMacs are perfectly capable of doing almost any high-end task. To justify a Mac Pro purchase, you have to go up to about $3500-4000 + display.
post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


Years ago, the distinction between professional-class and consumer-class was easier because there were bottlenecks everywhere. A workstation would allow faster hard drives, more RAM, better displays, faster CPUs and GPUs to the extent that you could not do certain tasks on consumer-class hardware. That distinction largely doesn't exist any more.
The only difference now between an iMac and a Mac Pro is that when it comes to raw computation steps like image rendering, the Mac Pro will finish the tasks in less time and the price seems to go up linearly (a $6000 12-core Pro will render about 3 times faster than a $2000 iMac - 3x the speed, 3x the price). These tasks can be offloaded onto dedicated machines though, in some cases, cloud services.
When it comes to longevity, Moore's law is adhered to for the most part but you generally see a doubling of speed every 2 years. It can come in uneven amounts, such as 25% one year and 60% in another to give 1.25 x 1.6 = 2x speed up over 2 years. It gets a bit screwed up when the GPU comes into play as Intel can allocate some of the 'silicon budget' to the GPU instead of the CPU and technically still adhere to Moor's Law but you don't necessarily see the benefit. At least with OpenCL compute, there's a better chance you will though.
Due to this doubling every 2 years, you can see that the highest-end iMac will outperform the highest-end Mac Pro within 4 years so that's the general shelf-life of the Pro in terms of superiority to consumer-class hardware. It's slightly less than that in fact as the 2012 Mini Server will outperform the 2009 8-core Mac Pro.
To justify buying a Mac Pro, you should expect it to out-last consumer hardware by 2 years so I'd say probably the fastest 6-core or an 8-core are the minimum requirements but it depends on what you use it for.

It's an ongoing cycle. Years ago graphics workstations could be five to six figures, and they were purpose built machines. A couple years ago Autodesk ported Smoke over to the Mac. It used to be another of those applications that ran on dedicated (linux) hardware. Something like a mac pro is still a generic workstation rather than dedicated hardware. The problem with Apple is that it's your one option for some measure of flexibility. Assuming you don't need the number crunching power, the other machines are making inroads in this regard, but they still have a long way to go for me personally. It still makes me angry that they don't feel it's necessary to design something like a hard drive access panel for the imac, and they have done very little to improve the display consistency. Apple's success in prior displays involved a lot of marketing and switching to an lcd solution before many of the others. As soon as a couple other brands caught up, everyone dropped Apple there. There's a lot they could do, but cost and perceived benefit probably hold this back. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



A workstation in 2012 is only beneficial for high-end rendering, compositing and possibly audio processing but these tasks were being done with 2009 Mac Pros and the processing requirements don't shift that much in 3 years. It comes down to a matter of pride in a lot of scenarios. A lot of users like to think of themselves as high-end users. Video editors for example could use a Macbook Air hooked up to a Thunderbolt RAID and 27" Cinema display to do their job but they'd get 'penis envy' seeing people in their field using E5 Xeon PCs, sign up to AppleInsider and declare that unless Apple sorts this out, they're going to switch over.
Computers should be chosen based on capability to perform a job, not based on preconceptions of what form factor is required to do them. The Mini Servers and iMacs are perfectly capable of doing almost any high-end task. To justify a Mac Pro purchase, you have to go up to about $3500-4000 + display.

Bleh....  there are many things they could do to improve upon their other designs to a point of where they'd capture the lower budget end of this market. If their laptops trend toward an airlike design, this will become even more necessary if they wish to hold onto users. There are a lot of little details that just aren't ideal for heavy editing work, especially if color is an issue. There are also many options other than the Thunderbolt RAID. As of today it remains an underdeveloped technology. It won't influence my purchasing decisions until I see it at a slightly more mature level.

 

You're correct about purchasing the right machine. There are a lot of little things that can change the game in that regard. Say you needed a mini in 2011 right when they came out. If you needed more than 8GB of ram at that time, I would have suggested considering another machine. It was something like $750 or more depending on where you got it back then for 16GB as opposed to $200 or less on an imac (again at that time). Basically the need to go to a higher ram density would have killed the economy with the machine right there. With cpus and gpus, it's often not a matter of rendering times. You need to know it won't choke on your workload. As machines age, you'll often find with newer software that you must taper down preferences used to maintain performance. It's quite easy to spend too much. In Apple's case, you don't have a lot of options for configuration. A lot of guys that do lighter video editing would probably benefit greatly from a setup much like the baseline mac pro with storage bays internally, a decent gpu, and a quad cpu. It's not a bad setup. It's just the price for that base configuration is way off. The guys who would spend that much mostly just go for the 6 or 12 core anyway. The 8 core is almost redundant unless your primary concern is maxing out ram. It may have made more sense when 8GB dimms cost a fortune.

 

I've personally been irritated with a lot of Apple's actions for a long time, but I don't make rage posts about that, and I didn't sign up to do so :P. There are too many speculation posts on here anyway. Look at the thread about how an analyst predicted that the 17" would go away this year. He cited the 13" as their most popular model. Prior to this the general attitude was that the 13" would go away in favor of the macbook air. Many people on here just follow the site's narrative as long as it doesn't conflict with their own perceived needs.

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