New Mac Pro

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  • Reply 201 of 331
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    Sorry, these numbers are for which chips- the current Mac Pros, or the upcoming release?





    To be honest, I wasn't surprised. In my experience, the Radeon XT1900 was a dog from from the start- it ran hot and sounded like a hair dryer, and while nominally an upgrade (the only one available at the time), it wasn't much of an improvement at all. Frankly, it's put me off ATI- if they're the only option available, I'll take it, but I'd rather try something else.



    I'm not sure why that specific generation would put you off ATI/AMD. NVidia wasn't doing any better at the time, in a nut shell the designers where coming up with GPU designs faster than process shrinks could make them practical.



    At this point in time though AMD has a significant lead over NVidia when it comes to low power performance. Honestly nobody rejects Intel chips because of the shoddy crap they built a few years ago.

    Quote:



    I miss Freehand! What tablet do you use? I don't do much vector work, but I think I might get a tablet to take advantage of the gesture support- anything to take the strain from the wrist.



    My artistic capabilities never developed! . I can draw pretty nice straight lines with a CAD system though.

    Quote:



    Yes, this is what I'm curious about- while I'm all set regarding storage for the next few years (I hedged my bets and made sure that all my external drives are both Firewire and USB 3), I wonder which of these will take off, and which will slowly fade away... Faster storage would be nice- it's not bad now, but 6Gb/s SATA would considerably speed up Photoshop.



    I see a future where USB and Thunderbolt survive for a very long time. They really don't compete at this point and likely won't for some time. When you start to see IP stacks for TB ports in ARM based SoC then TB might start to replace USB in midrange implementations. Even then I don't see it as a low end port.



    We really don't have a clear picture of Apples vision for TB. However we currently only get one port per machine, that should tell us something right there.
  • Reply 202 of 331
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    Sorry, these numbers are for which chips- the current Mac Pros, or the upcoming release?



    These are processors that follow up what is currently in the mac pro. I can't recall if the current ones are 130 Watts though. It seems kind of high.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    To be honest, I wasn't surprised. In my experience, the Radeon XT1900 was a dog from from the start- it ran hot and sounded like a hair dryer, and while nominally an upgrade (the only one available at the time), it wasn't much of an improvement at all. Frankly, it's put me off ATI- if they're the only option available, I'll take it, but I'd rather try something else.



    Apple has had a number of graphics card problems. The Quadro ones from nvidia have had some complaints too. Currently Apple doesn't offer any non ATI bto options, but I haven't heard of any of the current ones dying. It sucks that you had so many problems. Those were an expensive upgrade at the time. The biggest issue I can think of in the current lineup is that there are a few programs that don't run as well without CUDA, but they're limited and even that will probably change eventually.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    I miss Freehand! What tablet do you use? I don't do much vector work, but I think I might get a tablet to take advantage of the gesture support- anything to take the strain from the wrist.



    I didn't mean the program blah. I meant I like to sketch and paint without doing it on paper first. Rather I prefer to block in rough shapes with colors and and then bring in shading via different layers. Works fine but sometimes you have to do pieces of it at higher resolution then bring them down just because photoshop doesn't handle sub 10 pixel brushes very well.



    I still have an intuos3 9x12. The intuos 4's are wide screen formats instead. If you're picky like me, you want a large one, and you want it tapered down in mapping so that pen movement to screen cursor movement is 1:1 or at least somewhere near that. I like it to feel to natural. If your cursor feels too jumpy you're constantly having to rely on what you see on the screen to know when to stop, rather than doing so by feel. I don't rely on having the ability to go back because it's digital. I prefer things be exact so that I don't have to redo the same action several times, or stack slight inaccuracies into the work as I go. If you do design work I'm amazed you're using a mouse. It would drive me crazy. If I absolutely had to I'd pick an ergonomic mouse and disable any cursor accelerations + set the mapping speed low. Mice are just way too slow though.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    Yes, this is what I'm curious about- while I'm all set regarding storage for the next few years (I hedged my bets and made sure that all my external drives are both Firewire and USB 3), I wonder which of these will take off, and which will slowly fade away... Faster storage would be nice- it's not bad now, but 6Gb/s SATA would considerably speed up Photoshop.



    6Gb/s SATA would be a factor only with the fastest possible SSDs (currently, they keep getting faster) or if you're using them in a raid. In its current version having a lot of ram helps. If it still scratches a lot a small SSD scratch drive would have you running fast. Thunderbolt may soon be another viable option for drive enclosures, especially multi-drive types. Really there are so many emerging IO standards right now that haven't made it into the mac pro yet.
  • Reply 203 of 331
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zeph View Post


    I was waiting for the new MacPro but it didn't come and I had to pull the trigger. That's why I got a pre-owned '09 quad. Basically the same and with the firmware tweak you can drop in a hex and 1333 memory. Saved myself $1000 that way. I actually consider it to be my own personal xMac!



    Personally I've done a 180 on processor upgrades. These days the benefits weighed against the cost seem to indicate that waiting for a next generation machine is the smarter move. RAM and other hardware are a different story. The problem with spending money on a processor upgrade is that you mis out on the rest of the architecture improvements.

    Quote:

    I thought about getting a new one but I felt like I was gonna pay $1000 more for a 140 Mhz cpu speedbump, a nicer gpu (that I don't need) and 360GB of extra hdd space. Combined with the prospect of a replacement coming this year, it just felt like a raw deal.



    Yeah the Mac Pro is a raw deal. In fact it is the only machine where the deal gets worst with every hardware revision. It is kinda pathetic on Apples part. Of course that is part of why this thread is becoming as long as it is. The Mac Pro has become a very expensive Yugo.

    Quote:

    Now I'm happy with my '09 and will hold out for IvyBridge. If Apple hasn't EOL'd the MacPro by then.



    At the rate that Intel is going you might be retired by the time XEON class Ivy Bridge based CPUs arrive. Seriously Intel has been very slow to push workstation/server hardware forward. This is one of the reasons why I'd love to see a XMac with 65 to 95 watt (maybe even 45 watter) processors. That is a mid range machine that uses parts that Intel actually pays attention to. Many of us simply have no need for the Mac Pros hardware nor price structure.
  • Reply 204 of 331
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Personally I've done a 180 on processor upgrades. These days the benefits weighed against the cost seem to indicate that waiting for a next generation machine is the smarter move. RAM and other hardware are a different story. The problem with spending money on a processor upgrade is that you mis out on the rest of the architecture improvements.



    I've never been that big on upgrading processors. Usually by the time it became a realistic consideration the rest of the machine becomes a significant bottleneck.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Yeah the Mac Pro is a raw deal. In fact it is the only machine where the deal gets worst with every hardware revision. It is kinda pathetic on Apples part. Of course that is part of why this thread is becoming as long as it is. The Mac Pro has become a very expensive Yugo.



    It is.... in 2006 the most popular mac pro seemed to be the 2.66ghz woodcrest. It required a dual socket motherboard and 2 $700 processors. It cost $2500 for the machine. Today the machine at that price point uses a much cheaper logic board and a $300 processor from a previous generation. It's beyond stupid that's it's beaten in raw cpu power by the imac. Apple isn't run by idiots. They know this is dumb. It's just a matter of if what they will do about it and when.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    At the rate that Intel is going you might be retired by the time XEON class Ivy Bridge based CPUs arrive. Seriously Intel has been very slow to push workstation/server hardware forward. This is one of the reasons why I'd love to see a XMac with 65 to 95 watt (maybe even 45 watter) processors. That is a mid range machine that uses parts that Intel actually pays attention to. Many of us simply have no need for the Mac Pros hardware nor price structure.





    The pricing structure there is terrible. Many of the processor/configuration choices are terrible. As you go up the mac pro ladder, each configuration has significant issues that shouldn't be there. For example the 8 core machine uses slower processors than it should at that price point. No user only runs stuff that takes advantage of 8+ cores yet they chose lower clock speed variants when it should have had the manufacturing budget for something better. At this point the six core should be the baseline model, with an updated graphics card (current one debuted on the PC side in september 2009).
  • Reply 205 of 331
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    I'm not sure why that specific generation would put you off ATI/AMD. NVidia wasn't doing any better at the time, in a nut shell the designers where coming up with GPU designs faster than process shrinks could make them practical.



    Yes, I know it's irrational, but I still get angry just thinking about the pain in the neck that card turned into. It was a pain from the start- not only was it expensive for such a small boost, it took months to arrive. And things went downhill from there...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    If you do design work I'm amazed you're using a mouse. It would drive me crazy. If I absolutely had to I'd pick an ergonomic mouse and disable any cursor accelerations + set the mapping speed low. Mice are just way too slow though.



    Well, as I said, I don't do much vector or freehand work, and I guess I've just gotten used to a mouse after so many years. I know what you're talking about, though- in my experience, the best mice have turned out to be high-end gaming mice: they're very sensitive, and can be very precise with the right driver. But there are times when I miss my old pad. I see that Wacom has come out with some new models that support touch gestures- I might have to try one out.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    I6Gb/s SATA would be a factor only with the fastest possible SSDs (currently, they keep getting faster) or if you're using them in a raid. In its current version having a lot of ram helps. If it still scratches a lot a small SSD scratch drive would have you running fast.



    All of these apply to me: I'm planning on an SSD for my boot/app drive, and use a raid for scratch and data. And yep, Photoshop still loves its scratch.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    I've never been that big on upgrading processors. Usually by the time it became a realistic consideration the rest of the machine becomes a significant bottleneck.



    I feel the same way- the last time I upgraded a processor, it was '92 or '93, when everything cost so much that $750 for a Sonnet upgrade made a lot of sense.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    IThe pricing structure there is terrible. Many of the processor/configuration choices are terrible.



    I agree. I'm sympathetic to the people who want something else "in the middle"- in fact, I'm probably one of them. Lately it seems to be a choice between paying a small amount for something that doesn't have what you need and paying too much for things you won't use. I don't know if Apple needs to introduce a mid-range line, though: I would probably be happy if there were simply a few more choices when I build my order.
  • Reply 206 of 331
    zephzeph Posts: 133member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Personally I've done a 180 on processor upgrades. These days the benefits weighed against the cost seem to indicate that waiting for a next generation machine is the smarter move.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    I've never been that big on upgrading processors. Usually by the time it became a realistic consideration the rest of the machine becomes a significant bottleneck.



    While I would normally agree with this assessment, I think that the single-CPU '09 model is an exception to that rule, which is part of the reason I bought it.



    For $300 I can drop in a W3565, which is the exact same processor as in the current $2899 model. No tweaks required, a straightforward upgrade and for less than 2K I am within spitting distance of the current quad upgrade (except for the gpu but that is of minor importance to me).



    For $600 and a firmware tweak I get a W3680, which is the cpu used in the current hexacore. So for less than the price of a new base model, I get a machine that is comparable to the op-of-line model. That is a pretty good upgrade in my book.
  • Reply 207 of 331
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zeph View Post


    For $300 I can drop in a W3565, which is the exact same processor as in the current $2899 model.



    For $600 and a firmware tweak I get a W3680, which is the cpu used in the current hexacore. So for less than the price of a new base model, I get a machine that is comparable to the op-of-line model.



    At those prices, that does seem to be a good investment, and it pokes some holes in Apple's pricing structure as well. Although you're not getting the absolute bleeding edge for your $300-$600, you're getting a very comparable machine at a third of the cost.



    I know that if I had such an option, I'd take it and wait another year or so while all these questions get resolved.



    On the other hand, these kinds of upgrades are the bread and butter of third party companies- while I know that Apple has a record of making things difficult for them, I think the major factor here is the size of the market.
  • Reply 208 of 331
    zephzeph Posts: 133member
    I thought it over and concluded that Ivy Bridge is gonna be much bigger leap forward than Sandy Bridge. Early next year I'll upgrade the cpu and I should be good until Ivy Bridge is here. If Apple does not offer a new MacPro I'll keep the '09 and get a PC.
  • Reply 209 of 331
    What led to that conclusion?
  • Reply 210 of 331
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    Yes, I know it's irrational, but I still get angry just thinking about the pain in the neck that card turned into. It was a pain from the start- not only was it expensive for such a small boost, it took months to arrive. And things went downhill from there...



    It's really not that irrational. They were asking a premium price for a midrange card (at best) there. When you're paying a premium for what you get at the very least it should be expected to run well. Did you call about it when it first started experiencing issues?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    Well, as I said, I don't do much vector or freehand work, and I guess I've just gotten used to a mouse after so many years. I know what you're talking about, though- in my experience, the best mice have turned out to be high-end gaming mice: they're very sensitive, and can be very precise with the right driver.



    Yes I'll agree with that, but I still prefer intuos pens to mice. The easiest way to test the feel of a device is to write your name and draw shapes without looking at the screen. If you're good at drawing and the device is working well for you, it's not that hard.







    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    I agree. I'm sympathetic to the people who want something else "in the middle"- in fact, I'm probably one of them. Lately it seems to be a choice between paying a small amount for something that doesn't have what you need and paying too much for things you won't use. I don't know if Apple needs to introduce a mid-range line, though: I would probably be happy if there were simply a few more choices when I build my order.



    The way the line is set up is dysfunctional in far too many ways. I've listed enough of them in this thread. It hasn't really evolved in a good way.
  • Reply 211 of 331
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    Yes I'll agree with that, but I still prefer intuos pens to mice. The easiest way to test the feel of a device is to write your name and draw shapes without looking at the screen. If you're good at drawing and the device is working well for you, it's not that hard.



    Yes, there's no question that in some situations, a pen is the best way to go. That's why I'm looking into these new midrange Bamboos, hoping to find one that gives me more sensitivity (but not on the level that you need it) and lets me use the new touch gestures as well.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    The way the line is set up is dysfunctional in far too many ways. I've listed enough of them in this thread. It hasn't really evolved in a good way.



    I agree- I sympathize with Mac Pro users who feel neglected, because we have been for a while now. It's clear that Apple's focus has been in other areas (and I can't blame them for that, it's where the money is), and as a result the line seems fragmented and incoherent.



    The real shame of it is that it's the Mac Pro users who are most likely to have remained loyal through thick and thin. We're the people who made Mac the standard in certain industries, and while we may represent only a fraction of users, we seem to be taken for granted.
  • Reply 212 of 331
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    The real shame of it is that it's the Mac Pro users who are most likely to have remained loyal through thick and thin. We're the people who made Mac the standard in certain industries, and while we may represent only a fraction of users, we seem to be taken for granted.



    They know these kinds of users are a semi captive audience, and it feels like they've been trying to guide them toward imacs and laptops for years. There are a lot of larger businesses that do purchase a number of mac pros at a given time. Single users that buy them tend to also own a lot of other Apple devices.



    I'm completely confident that Apple could do a better job of implementation on a line aimed at being powerful. Even Aperture and Final Cut Pro X haven't scaled well with the power offered by the 12 core machine. Snow Leopard was still criticized for poor scaling with a large number of cores available. They need to actually think about what would be a good successor to the line rather than just using the PC vendor method of throwing components in a box.



    On the other side of it, they need to offer options that truly improve performance over a wider range of applications, and consider what they are offering relative to pricing. Right now it goes from quad core i7 imac at $2200 to slower quad core mac pro with no screen at $2500 just for better IO. Think the gpu difference matters? It's starting to more than it did in the past, but it's still a very modest boost in performance relative to other things, and Apple doesn't offer a single gpu option that is strong enough to be a deciding factor in purchasing decisions. I can cite evidence of this for final cut pro x, aperture, photoshop, etc. Many people buy mac pros and gpu upgrades only to be disappointed.



    I can't stress this enough but an expensive machine needs to justify its price in real performance. Xbench, geekbench, etc. scores are meaningless (I'm looking at you and your jpeg Marvin).
  • Reply 213 of 331
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    They know these kinds of users are a semi captive audience, and it feels like they've been trying to guide them toward imacs and laptops for years. There are a lot of larger businesses that do purchase a number of mac pros at a given time. Single users that buy them tend to also own a lot of other Apple devices.



    Semi captive or not all users are impacted by economics. If the competition can beat you with far lower cost hardware then you won't be captive for long. The point here is not that the Mac Pro is a bad machine, but rather it is more machine than a lot of users need.

    Quote:

    I'm completely confident that Apple could do a better job of implementation on a line aimed at being powerful. Even Aperture and Final Cut Pro X haven't scaled well with the power offered by the 12 core machine.



    For things like Aperture the software will likely never scale well across all the cores possible in a Mac Pro. The lack of core usage should not reflect negatively upon the hardware as that will vary based on the specifics of the software package in use.

    Quote:

    Snow Leopard was still criticized for poor scaling with a large number of cores available.



    Well anybody can criticize but they might not know what they are talking about. Snow Leopard actually enabled significant increases in core utilization for software that was properly written for Grand Central Dispatch. Before and after examples abound but some apps like ray tracers really leveraged the cores well. People can blame Snow Leopard if they want but it is rather foolish and likely highlights a misunderstanding of what is possible with parallel processing.

    Quote:

    They need to actually think about what would be a good successor to the line rather than just using the PC vendor method of throwing components in a box.



    That is about all they can do. When it comes right down to it all they get to work with is a set of parts from Intel. The trick is in building a box that will sell in large numbers, something the Mac Pro has failed to do. That failure to sell is almost directly related to price / performance ratios. To put it simply the Mac Pro is grossly over priced for what a lot of people need and what their software can get out of it.

    Quote:

    On the other side of it, they need to offer options that truly improve performance over a wider range of applications, and consider what they are offering relative to pricing. Right now it goes from quad core i7 imac at $2200 to slower quad core mac pro with no screen at $2500 just for better IO.



    Stinks doesn't it? Again I'm not knocking the market where a machine like the Mac Pro makes sense. The real problem is that Apple doesn't have a reasonably priced desktop machine. More importantly a machine built with mainstream chip technology that allows it to stay competitive with other Apple hardware.



    I'm certain that the Mac Pro will get revved sometime soon when all the hardware is in place. I'm just as sure that the machine will then sit in the line up for another year or more without an upgrade. It is the nature of the beast, modest sales and obscure chipsets result in long production cycles.

    Quote:

    Think the gpu difference matters? It's starting to more than it did in the past, but it's still a very modest boost in performance relative to other things, and Apple doesn't offer a single gpu option that is strong enough to be a deciding factor in purchasing decisions. I can cite evidence of this for final cut pro x, aperture, photoshop, etc. Many people buy mac pros and gpu upgrades only to be disappointed.



    This thing with the GPUs is interesting. For one thing Apple is very conservative with their drivers. That is likely a good thing as for the most part Apple machines are very stable.



    The other use for GPUs, that is computation on the GPU, is new technology. As such adoption is spotty. When fully utilized though a good GPU can make a significant difference. People really should understand how their software makes use of the GPU before making assumptions, because disappointment is assured otherwise.

    Quote:

    I can't stress this enough but an expensive machine needs to justify its price in real performance. Xbench, geekbench, etc. scores are meaningless (I'm looking at you and your jpeg Marvin).



    Most assuredly! However it is just as meaningless to knock a high performance machine because a specific software package can't use all the cores in that machine. What you have there is a mismatch in capabilities. The Mac Pro is not to blame nor the operating system. Some apps will simply perform better on a machine with fewer cores clocked at a higher speed.



    This highlights another reason to support a more mainstream machine, sometimes cores are not the answer. At least when looking at the performance of a single app.
  • Reply 214 of 331
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Semi captive or not all users are impacted by economics. If the competition can beat you with far lower cost hardware then you won't be captive for long. The point here is not that the Mac Pro is a bad machine, but rather it is more machine than a lot of users need.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    For things like Aperture the software will likely never scale well across all the cores possible in a Mac Pro. The lack of core usage should not reflect negatively upon the hardware as that will vary based on the specifics of the software package in use.



    I should have indicated that was directed more at Final Cut Pro X. Capture One and Lightroom seem to scale better in terms of bulk raw file processing than Aperture. They're all completely different code though. The difference is more noticeable when you're dealing with higher resolution files like 30 megapixel + cameras rather than the cheaper ones.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Well anybody can criticize but they might not know what they are talking about. Snow Leopard actually enabled significant increases in core utilization for software that was properly written for Grand Central Dispatch. Before and after examples abound but some apps like ray tracers really leveraged the cores well. People can blame Snow Leopard if they want but it is rather foolish and likely highlights a misunderstanding of what is possible with parallel processing.



    You made me realize I actually don't know the full details of Grand Central Dispatch myself. Ray tracers do love cores, but with rendering it's pretty highly variable how much you gain going to 8, 12, etc.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    That is about all they can do. When it comes right down to it all they get to work with is a set of parts from Intel. The trick is in building a box that will sell in large numbers, something the Mac Pro has failed to do. That failure to sell is almost directly related to price / performance ratios. To put it simply the Mac Pro is grossly over priced for what a lot of people need and what their software can get out of it.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Stinks doesn't it? Again I'm not knocking the market where a machine like the Mac Pro makes sense. The real problem is that Apple doesn't have a reasonably priced desktop machine. More importantly a machine built with mainstream chip technology that allows it to stay competitive with other Apple hardware.









    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    I'm certain that the Mac Pro will get revved sometime soon when all the hardware is in place. I'm just as sure that the machine will then sit in the line up for another year or more without an upgrade. It is the nature of the beast, modest sales and obscure chipsets result in long production cycles.



    Yeah... I wish they would spend some time thinking on what might make for a good mainstream machine. There are plenty of areas where people are not fully satisfied with the options that Apple gives them. Your only real alternative in a desktop with any reasonable level of power is the imac, where the amount of power you can obtain is relative to the display size. For me the imac display is a secondary display at best. The glossiness bugs me to no end and the quality control on the display is aimed at a prosumer level at best. It's just not on the level of some other options. I also worry about heat because I run these things quite hard. No matter what computer I'm on, activity monitor always indicates a high processor/ IO usage. I tend to turn off desktop animations close out web browsers and tweak application settings to pull out every last bit of performance. When I buy a new computer it's the same thing as the old one. It just seems to make use of as much power as it can at any given time.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    This thing with the GPUs is interesting. For one thing Apple is very conservative with their drivers. That is likely a good thing as for the most part Apple machines are very stable.



    In spite of this they've had some rough cards that have had long complaint lists. X1900XT, Quadro 4000, etc. Many of the upgrade cards have had driver issues and shorter lifespans.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    The other use for GPUs, that is computation on the GPU, is new technology. As such adoption is spotty. When fully utilized though a good GPU can make a significant difference. People really should understand how their software makes use of the GPU before making assumptions, because disappointment is assured otherwise.



    You know whenever a manufacturer talks at all about starting to leverage the gpu, everyone jumps on gpu upgrades at the time of purchase. Really most applications including raster based image programs don't make enough use of them to warrant seriously changing your purchasing direction just for a better gpu. Once you're out of the realm of intel integrated graphics, the differences across the mac line are less severe. Applications that involve heavy rendering (including games) do still seem to benefit from the upgrades offered.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Most assuredly! However it is just as meaningless to knock a high performance machine because a specific software package can't use all the cores in that machine. What you have there is a mismatch in capabilities. The Mac Pro is not to blame nor the operating system. Some apps will simply perform better on a machine with fewer cores clocked at a higher speed.



    This highlights another reason to support a more mainstream machine, sometimes cores are not the answer. At least when looking at the performance of a single app.



    Quad core is basically the norm these days for consumer machines so going below that hardly seems like an option. It's not like those processors are expensive anyway. There are plenty of people who have purchased the mac pro for stability, decent IO, and/or desktop level graphics. These things shouldn't be hard to include. As mentioned if growing the mini a bit was an option, that could likely provide a more cost effective alternative to the current mac pro. I realize their margins may not be too insane on that machine currently, but the price to performance ratio of desktop components tends to be better than those designed for laptops. Even now I tend to wonder how well the 21.5" imac is doing. It doesn't boast truly impressive screen real estate by today's standards. The performance margin over the laptops isn't anywhere near what you get from the 27" i7, and it lacks the dual thunderbolt ports. If it's all about the mobile devices this one must be starting to slow down too.
  • Reply 215 of 331
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,667moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    I can't stress this enough but an expensive machine needs to justify its price in real performance. Xbench, geekbench, etc. scores are meaningless (I'm looking at you and your jpeg Marvin).



    Not entirely meaningless. They test loops that use the raw performance of the CPU - the same raw performance used by other apps. I personally consider Cinebench to be one of the best as it's not purely synthetic but an actual real-world rendering benchmark.



    I agree that a high-end machine should justify its price, which is exactly why the current entry Mac Pro is very bad - you can get the same performance for $1000 less from the same company.
  • Reply 216 of 331
    Everyone is making some very good points here, I hope the discussion continues.



    But, since I'm not up-to-date on current trends in chip design or computer architecture, I have a couple of questions:



    Is there, speaking in terms of engineering, a reason that we couldn't have more options available to us when we order our machine?



    I'm thinking mainly of things like gpus: if we don't count the hyper-expensive Quadros (and I don't count them because they offer me little advantage over much less expensive gpus), why are we limited to two choices? Would it be so hard to design a system that allowed us to access some of the other gpus out there? I realize that part of the answer has to do with the companies that produce the gpus, and how they design their cards, but is there something specifically unique to the Mac Pro that prevents our using these cards?



    Similarly with cpus: I understand that different architectures have different requirements, but are they really so dissimilar as to justify the huge differences in price (I realize that partly this is due to Apple's tradition of charging a lot for everything, but still...)? In other words, if I wanted a 6-core westmere instead of a quad-core nehalem, I would have to pay $1200 more. Does the swap really involve the kind of customization that the price suggests?
  • Reply 217 of 331
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Not entirely meaningless. They test loops that use the raw performance of the CPU - the same raw performance used by other apps. I personally consider Cinebench to be one of the best as it's not purely synthetic but an actual real-world rendering benchmark.



    I agree that a high-end machine should justify its price, which is exactly why the current entry Mac Pro is very bad - you can get the same performance for $1000 less from the same company.



    Snap! I sucked you back into the thread I get you on these things, but they still don't tell the full story. Cinebench doesn't always give an accurate look at performance in real applications as it can't really track the use of core utilization or gpu leveraging (mostly thinking of things like rendering video here). The ram and overall IO are considerable bottlenecks too (one thunderbolt port for data and display bandwidth). Integrated graphics on the only quad core model chop its market potential further. If they at least built it into an actual desktop, it might be an eventual successor. Thunderbolt can't really replace things like SAS and fibre channel standards today, but depending on intel's performance roadmap it could happen eventually. I've noticed some cool stuff has started to trickle out for the standard, but more than one port to be shared with the display would be a good thing.



    Another issue is overall machine stability and heat. The mini is packed in pretty tight but it's been suggested that they've improved on this aspect of the machine. I'd have to play with the most recent model, but that was always a huge turnoff for me. As it is, it's still hard for me to see purchasing a mini as opposed to just upgrading the laptop and using that as my sole machine (which I probably wouldn't do).



    I upgrade computers when necessary, but no matter how new the computer, I tend to push it pretty hard, so heat is always a consideration. I could see photographers, graphic designers, video editors, prepress workers, professional photo labs, ad agencies, and possibly animators and audio engineers benefitting from a midrange machine like the possibilities that have been discussed. A lot of these guys are going to own laptops regardless, and this simply provides a more appropriate desktop option for when they're at the office with better ergonomics, speed, stability, and IO integration. Gamers are another market for such a machine. The imac is a lot of resolution to cover with a mobile graphics chip for something like gaming as it renders on the fly (I'm not a gamer but I know the logistics of it).



    Well anyway I hope they do something with this market segment. They just need something that fits well with the line. I've commented on the 21.5" imac. It's in kind of a weird spot right now. It's a bit better than a laptop with a larger screen. It's a little small for use as a television for content viewing even though the resolution covers it. The display isn't bad but it's not great. I tend to wonder what people think when they see the lower tier of imacs next to the 15" macbook pros. You do spend a bit more to get to a quad core laptop, but that may change in the next couple revisions.
  • Reply 218 of 331
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    I could see photographers, graphic designers, video editors, prepress workers, professional photo labs, ad agencies, and possibly animators and audio engineers benefitting from a midrange machine like the possibilities that have been discussed. A lot of these guys are going to own laptops regardless, and this simply provides a more appropriate desktop option for when they're at the office with better ergonomics, speed, stability, and IO integration.



    Yes, I'm one of those- I won't have any use for a 12-core machine until Adobe starts writing Photoshop (and InDesign, and Illustrator?) to use those cores effectively. In fact, according to some tests I've seen, the six-core Westmere outperforms the eight-core when it comes to processing large images.



    Laptop? Forget it, I hardly use mine for anything other than downloading and previewing during a shoot.



    In other words, I need the IO and GPU options (as well as the ergonomics and other points you mention) more than I need a simple CPU upgrade: the current iMac would be almost perfect if only it allowed me to add another graphics card (or two) and keep my internal RAID configuration.
  • Reply 219 of 331
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post




    Laptop? Forget it, I hardly use mine for anything other than downloading and previewing during a shoot.




    I understand that, but you own one. I'm trying to say that most people that own a mac pro or those who would buy an xmac would own one in addition to that macbook air or pro. Also regarding desktops, I've heard people claim they were on their way out for more than a decade, but the software becomes more resource intensive, and the use is still there. I'm somewhat curious what kind of stuff you shoot now. Photoshop doesn't actually make that much use of the gpu outside of a few functions. It has opengl enabled drawing and leans on it when working with 3d elements and during a few other things. Processing images doesn't seem to use it much in any software package.



    If you ever do have to use a laptop for programs like the ones described, there are a lot of things you can do to speed up the workflow. In fact if it had as little as a second thunderbolt port to provide a data only channel and the option for an external display, you could get reasonable performance if you set it up just right. Like in photohop turning off all the thumbnails, setting the cache as low as possible (you have to test how long you can go without screen redrawing lag), custom ram setting, external scratch disk over thunderbolt with scratch compress disabled, dashboard and overall animations (like the dock) disabled, etc. There's a fairly long list but I've applied custom settings for people in the past that make it fly on less than ideal machines. If I see the beachball too much, disk warrior cures it. Many people haven't used it in a very long time, but it still helps me out so I continue to use it.
  • Reply 220 of 331
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe Blue View Post


    Everyone is making some very good points here, I hope the discussion continues.



    But, since I'm not up-to-date on current trends in chip design or computer architecture, I have a couple of questions:



    Is there, speaking in terms of engineering, a reason that we couldn't have more options available to us when we order our machine?



    In simple terms there are few limitation in a Mac Pro when it comes to video cards.

    Quote:

    I'm thinking mainly of things like gpus: if we don't count the hyper-expensive Quadros (and I don't count them because they offer me little advantage over much less expensive gpus), why are we limited to two choices?



    Support and engineering expenses.



    I don't know how much truth there is to this but it has been said that Apple develops it's own drivers. If this is the case then they can control expenses by limiting the cards they support.



    The problem I have with this idea is that GPU cards are very complex, as such you would need a manufactures involvement. On top of that it looks like things have changed with the move to AMD GPUs. That is there appears to be a greater involvement on AMDs part, but understand that is me reading the tea leaves.



    In the end I just don't think Apple wants to support an endless number of video cards. Their arraingement with the GPU suppliers seems to enforce this as you don't see third party cards offered for Apple hardware with drivers independent of Apples.

    Quote:

    Would it be so hard to design a system that allowed us to access some of the other gpus out there? I realize that part of the answer has to do with the companies that produce the gpus, and how they design their cards, but is there something specifically unique to the Mac Pro that prevents our using these cards?



    Well there is no BIOS in the Mac so in the past the GPU cards had to have Apple specific firmware. Hardware wise I don't see an issue they have a very hefty power supply in the Mac Pro.

    Quote:

    Similarly with cpus: I understand that different architectures have different requirements, but are they really so dissimilar as to justify the huge differences in price (I realize that partly this is due to Apple's tradition of charging a lot for everything, but still...)? In other words, if I wanted a 6-core westmere instead of a quad-core nehalem, I would have to pay $1200 more. Does the swap really involve the kind of customization that the price suggests?



    This is a most difficult question to ask and answer. For example if a platform supports buffered memory you can have much more installed in a machine. If that machine supports Error Correction and Detection it might make the machine suitable for engineering where mistakes are not acceptable. As to Intel processors well they can be had with all sorts of features which some may value while other don't.



    The hard part here is your question about price, for some like me the price isn't worth it. This in part is why I'm gung hoe on XMac, all I really need is an expandable Mac with a decent desktop class processor. I'm not talking expandable like the Mac Pro either, all I want is a couple of slots and storage bays. Note that I dont really want to give up to many cores but right now I know I don't need twelve.



    Processor architecture itself is very interesting. Our good friends at AMD are going through a very interesting change to their lineup of hardware. They are taking dramatically different paths than Intel and in some ways outperforming Intel. Bulldozer (a code name for a new AMD core) is dramatically different than Intels latest. It will be interesting to see Intel feel a little heat again. The thing is it is not impossible to find situations where different architectures have different weaknesses or strengths. So what does this side trip to AMD land mean? In the context of Intel hardware it means that the various features are ways to create pricing teers, with the user deciding if he wants a specific feature.



    In the context of many users on this forum what you get from the Xeon line is virtually worthless. On the other hand as hmm has pointed out, Apple has really cheapened the Mac Pro with some of the lowest end Xeons Intel makes. People might argue with this point but right now you are paying first class rates in exchange for steerage class accommodations. I still believe that Mac Pros incredible bad value is the result of poor sales. Apples laptops, Minis and IMacs aren't that bad of a value, the mac Pro on the other hand is a joke value wise.
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