Hardware to go over well with Film/video industry

in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
No inside info but...

...from running a small prduction house with three editing/fx rooms I can tell you what would go over very well with me and many collegues in this market that Apple is clearly targeting.

1. Rack mountable "desktop machine"

Why? - Because you do not want your "desktop" machine on your desktop. In your editing room you want the following hardware:

Computer monitor

Keyboard and mouse

Video monitor


Audio mixer

Every thing else should be off in the machine room where you keep all your tape decks and all other hardware. In the machine room you want as much stuff as possible to be rackmountable in regular 19 inch racks.

What would it be like? - Basically a desktop machine in a Xserve form factor - it MUST however have at least 3 PCI slots wich would make it about 4U high.

2. Rack mountable "render node" macs + "system level clustering" (or what ever you would call it.

Why? - It would allow you to add processing power by adding units. Software like After Effects and many more already supports "render farms" at the application level - If Apple could pull a rabbit out of the OSX-hat and make the "renderfarm" transparent to the user/application this would be great.

What would it be like? - Basically a scaled down Xserve 1U rackmountable unit. Just 1 "small" internal harddrive needed, no PCI slots. Basically a dumb box with the sole purpose of supporting the main computer. It should also be fairly inexpensive. The big question mark is of course how these units would be connected to the main unit...

Will this happen? - I have no idea, but this would be way more important to the professional film/video market than a 20 or 40% speed bump in clock frequency.

For what it´s worth



  • Reply 1 of 6
    keyboardf12keyboardf12 Posts: 1,379member
    that and realtime after effects / final cut effects and rendering using Quartz extreme using our current hardware.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    Oh, and by the way...

    This hardware would also go over very well with the professional audio community, where EVERYTHING is rack mountable.

    Check out the form factor of DigiDesigns ProTools HD system at:

    <a href="http://www.digidesign.com"; target="_blank">www.digidesign.com</a>

    Can you see a rackmountable Xserve-like "desktop machine" in the same rack as the ProTools hardware...

  • Reply 3 of 6
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,136member
    Yes! This is something that has be discussed at length on a private chat server that caters to the VFX/3D crowd...

    While the xServe is nice, it is NOT what is needed for a proper renderfarm...

    Like outlined above; what is needed is a barebones unit, made just for computational rendering... The xServe is aimed more towards the server market, for file & web serving...

    All that would really be needed for this device would be CPUs, RAM and a fast interconnect to other units...

    Go redundant on the unit to unit interconnect, and when the individual unit is done with a frame, it can send it back to the master control machine, where the frames will be saved to a RAID array... (this could also be a SAN, rather than the master machine)

    This way, the render units would NetBoot (OS, render engine and task running in RAM) off of the master machine, and get their render assignments from the master also... After the render is complete, the master machine would assemble the frames into the desired format from the storage medium (SAN or RAID in master machine).

    Control of the render units would be via HTML client, allowing the render units to be headless, and mouse/keyboard free... Which in turn would bring the total cost of manufacturing down...

    So, a basic setup would have a master control box and any number of render units attached ... (whether one integrates the switch/hub/interconnect into the master machine, or keeps it as a seperate rackmountable unit, would be another choice... I personally would go for the seperate unit, to make scalability easier, and to cut down on total cost of the master machine.)

    The render unit itself would need only a basic main logic board (CPUs, RAM, interconnect ports & possibly a basic BootROM; unsure if it would be needed for NetBoot...) and a power supply...

    I would figure a unit with Quad G4s (G5s?) and a bunch or RAM (how much RAM can we get into a specialized device like this? 8GB? 16GB?!?), a BootROM (only if needed) and a few interconnects should be pretty cheap to produce, and provide Apple with some nice margins...



    <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" /> Maya Unlimited for Mac OS X <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" />
  • Reply 4 of 6
    rackmountable desktop macs can be found here. i have one

    <a href="http://www.marathoncomputer.com/"; target="_blank">marathon computer</a>
  • Reply 5 of 6
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,136member
    [quote] rackmountable desktop macs can be found here. i have one

    marathon computer <hr></blockquote>

    I believe the machine being looked at for this market is one that has more in it for crunching, less in it for amenities... Basically, something that doesn't flip the optical drive on it's side, and does away with extras like Airport, audio out, USB/FireWire ports more than one each, etc. ...

    Just enough to hook up a keyboard & mouse, run a pair of monitors, and fill with LOTS of PCI cards...

    CD-ROM drive needed only for loading software... (and this could be done away with if software was loaded over the network)

    Again, to stave off the naysayers, all above is hypothetical intellectual exercises...


    <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" /> Maya Unlimited for Mac OS X <img src="graemlins/smokin.gif" border="0" alt="[Chilling]" />
  • Reply 6 of 6
    ghost_user_nameghost_user_name Posts: 22,667member
    All the post houses I've been in use the Marathon kit and rack the G4's they use that way. The Avid suites all have the PCI extender when running off a G4... so why couldn't you just grab a PCI extender chassis and run it through an Xserve for instance? You'd still have room for your Avid boards .(if Avid ever certifies the machine, which I guess is dependent on bringing MC and XPress to OS X)

    I really feel like this kind of request is trying to overcomplicate things. You can make it work 'good enough' with hardware already available. Hell, I could get away with running an XServe as my compositing and animation workstation; AGP card capable of running two displays, pop a Media 100 card in one PCI slot, and an Ultra160 SCSI card in the other. I don't see the problem with that :-)

    You can't please all the people all of the time, and as big as this industry is, in the grand scheme of things, this just seems an unnecessary move, especially, when current hardware available is doing a good enough job. I have an Avid suite, and I have no problem with my CPU rackmounted with a Marathon chassis. And as I mentioned above, I'd consider the XServe as a small compositing and animation workstation, because I don't see a reason why it wouldn't work well.

    Maybe I'm just really missing something here, but you're buying off the shelf hardware, and that comes with limitations. People have made this work in this environment, and it works fine, and as nice as it might be to have a system specifically tailored to your 'vision thing' I just don't see how or why it would be such a feasibly high priority with Apple...
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