Apple announces support for external graphics cards, virtual reality platforms in macOS Hi...

Posted:
in macOS edited June 2017
Coming this fall as a free upgrade, Apple's new macOS 10.13 High Sierra platform will include support for external graphics cards over Thunderbolt 3, giving systems enough power to support high-end gaming and popular virtual reality platforms.




Introduced alongside Metal 2, Apple's next-generation graphics API, the forthcoming support fulfills a promise made when Thunderbolt ports were first included in Mac years ago. Specifically, Metal 2 includes new assets that work with external GPUs connected over Thunderbolt 3.

To help coders get a head start with creating use cases for Metal 2, Apple will soon be shipping a $599 developer kit that includes the newly announced standalone Sonnet eGFX Breakway Box, a USB-C to USB-A hub, and an AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU. Similar to third-party external GPU solutions, Apple's version shuttles graphics data back and forth using the high-throughput Thunderbolt 3 protocol.

Full support in High Sierra is expected in Spring 2018, according to Apple.




Apple is also baking in support for virtual reality with macOS High Sierra. The company reached out to popular VR platforms like Steam VR, as well as Unreal and Unity, which will offer their services for Mac later this year.

With Metal 2 and backing from outside VR experts, Mac might catch up with machines running Windows. Since PCs offer upgradeable GPUs, including support for the latest high-performance equipment, VR hardware makers like Oculus and HTC have concentrated development of respective goggle hardware on compatibility for Windows based computers. That could change once High Sierra sees release in the fall.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    nhtnht Posts: 4,429member
    Hmmm...I wonder as an enterprise dev if I can get one for home use...for learning to develop in metal....
  • Reply 2 of 11
    mlarkinmlarkin Posts: 13member
    Just keep it simple .... will this allow me to use a video card that makes it possible to create cool stuff in Lumion?
  • Reply 3 of 11
    This is the thing the so-called "Pros" don't get.

    Thunderbolt 3 has greater throughput than PCI-e which means that you don't need internal upgrades other than RAM as it can all be done over Thunderbolt 3.

    In otherwords Thunderbolt 3 makes upgrading your setup infinitely simpler and can in theory even allow for more videos cards to be used than you ever could with a big box Mac. Think about it, from all the big system boards I've seen in the past 5 years in the PC world the most PCI-e ports I've ever seen on a system board were two. That's not a lot of expansion capabilities but with Thunderbolt 3 I believe each port is capable of daisy chaining four Thunderbolt 3 devices. That means this new iMac Pro literally has 16 PCI-e capable ports that can be used at least in theory.

    To not call this machine a pro machine is a delusion.
    fastasleepanomemacxpresswatto_cobrapscooter63
  • Reply 4 of 11
    iMac Pro + Apple branded eGPU hardware = Mac Pro replacement?
    or is there still a new Mac Pro coming next year?
  • Reply 5 of 11
    shapetablesshapetables Posts: 201member
    This will keep the MacBook Pros from six months ago relevant for a long time. The only real features of the new MacBook Pros shipping next week are about 300MHz added performance (which isn't thermally sustainable for very long anyway because: these are laptops) and a next generation GPU (huuuuge for some applications). The ability to drop in desktop-grade GPUs (for vector processing neural nets, 3D/VR/AR modeling, etc) in a macOS-beta-kind-of-supported-way will be great (except for the UltraFine bullshit causing system crashes if the RFI from the external GPU enclosure bleeds into its circuitry, but I digress).
    vukasika
  • Reply 6 of 11
    pkisselpkissel Posts: 24member
    Finally looking like I have a reason to get a new MacBook Pro.  Still waiting however for a new Apple monitor to replace my aging Thunderbolt Display.  Hopefully its in the pipeline for later in the year!
  • Reply 7 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,071member
    iMac Pro + Apple branded eGPU hardware = Mac Pro replacement?
    or is there still a new Mac Pro coming next year?
    Theres still a MP coming. This is a new product in addition to that, since Apple found that many pros use iMacs. I myself use a maxed-out 2011 w/ SSD and 2gb VRAM and it's still suitable for software dev, VMs, SQL Server, etc.. Bit long in the tooth now tho, so an iMP would be sweet -- I use a VESA arm mount on my desk so it's a super clean look.
    watto_cobrapscooter63
  • Reply 8 of 11
    sagerysagery Posts: 1member
    This is the thing the so-called "Pros" don't get.

    Thunderbolt 3 has greater throughput than PCI-e which means that you don't need internal upgrades other than RAM as it can all be done over Thunderbolt 3.

    In otherwords Thunderbolt 3 makes upgrading your setup infinitely simpler and can in theory even allow for more videos cards to be used than you ever could with a big box Mac. Think about it, from all the big system boards I've seen in the past 5 years in the PC world the most PCI-e ports I've ever seen on a system board were two. That's not a lot of expansion capabilities but with Thunderbolt 3 I believe each port is capable of daisy chaining four Thunderbolt 3 devices. That means this new iMac Pro literally has 16 PCI-e capable ports that can be used at least in theory.

    To not call this machine a pro machine is a delusion.
    You must not be much of a pro, because you're words just simply aren't true. 

    First of all - Thunderbolt 3 doesn't have a greater throughput than PCI-e. not by a longshot. The throughput of T3 is 40Gbps. the throughput of PCI-e 3.0 x16 slot is 16GBps which is 128 Gbps. Thats over 3 times the amount of throughput. The big B (GB) and little b (Gb) make a huge difference.  the little b is bits. the big B is Bytes. there are 8 bits in a Byte.

    But! you may argue that most modern GPUs dont saturate a full x16 PCIe Gen-3 slot, a lot of them run just fine at x8. thats still 64Gbps. which is still more than Thunderbolt 3. 

    The next thing is that depending on what you're doing - Thunderbolt's throughput can be cut in half. For example: if you were using this external box to drive an *internal* display on your macbook pro, you're only getting 20Gbps throughput, because the information has to be sent to the external box AND return over the same cable. which only has a *maximum* throughput of 40Gbps. So you get 20 to send, and 20 to receive. PCIe slots don't have that problem.

    Just look at this video: 
    Where Linus tests 2 popular external graphics boxes and compares a thunderbolt 3 box vs a proprietary PCIe version. 

    The last thing - you can easily get boards that support more than 2 graphics cards. most consumer X99 platform boards will support 3 or 4, if you have a CPU with enough PCIe lanes to drive them. Those boards are a dime a dozen. you can google it yourself and see. Then there are server grade boards that will support up to 7 and 8 cards. Just look up GPU mining or GPU rendering.  

    I'm not crapping on the hardware apple announced today. I definitely think its a step in the right direction for professional users...... but no mistake - its just a step. You don't need to spread disinformation in order to support apple. 

    I am a pro. All pros are not all the same. What as announced will be good enough for a lot of pros, as were all the previous generations of apple hardware..... but what was announced today is still not 'pro' enough for my use case. That doesnt mean it's "Not Pro". That also doesn't mean that I "don't get it". 
    vukasika
  • Reply 9 of 11
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,208moderator
    iMac Pro + Apple branded eGPU hardware = Mac Pro replacement?
    or is there still a new Mac Pro coming next year?
    The iMac Pro alone is a Mac Pro replacement, it has an 11TFLOP GPU, Mac Pro has 2x 3.5 TFLOP.
    This is the thing the so-called "Pros" don't get.

    Thunderbolt 3 has greater throughput than PCI-e which means that you don't need internal upgrades other than RAM as it can all be done over Thunderbolt 3.

    In otherwords Thunderbolt 3 makes upgrading your setup infinitely simpler and can in theory even allow for more videos cards to be used than you ever could with a big box Mac. Think about it, from all the big system boards I've seen in the past 5 years in the PC world the most PCI-e ports I've ever seen on a system board were two. That's not a lot of expansion capabilities but with Thunderbolt 3 I believe each port is capable of daisy chaining four Thunderbolt 3 devices. That means this new iMac Pro literally has 16 PCI-e capable ports that can be used at least in theory.

    To not call this machine a pro machine is a delusion.
    There are often comparisons between TB and PCIe as if they are different but TB is PCIe, that's why you can run PCIe devices using it:

    Image result for intel thunderbolt pcie displayport

    TB3 is somewhere between a PCIe 3 x4 and x8 slot. PCIe 3 x4 will run a 1080 GPU at 96% performance:

    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_1080_PCI_Express_Scaling/24.html

    TB is basically designed to turn PCIe slots into something more accessible, especially for laptops which most people use now. ExpressCard was what people used before TB.

    I think it would be good if Apple designed their own external GPU enclosures. They can put a high-end GPU in a Mac Pro style cylinder with a heatsink on each side and a 250-300W PSU so it's quiet. Even laptop users could hook one (maybe two) up and get decent GPU power without the huge expense of the iMac Pro or Mac Pro.
    edited June 2017 kevin kee
  • Reply 10 of 11
    pkisselpkissel Posts: 24member
    Marvin said:

    I think it would be good if Apple designed their own external GPU enclosures. They can put a high-end GPU in a Mac Pro style cylinder with a heatsink on each side and a 250-300W PSU so it's quiet. Even laptop users could hook one (maybe two) up and get decent GPU power without the huge expense of the iMac Pro or Mac Pro.

    I agree.  I would also consider an Apple Thunderbolt 5K display with a built-in discrete GPU.  It wouldn't be as upgradable as a external GPU enclosure but would offer less clutter on the desk.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    Hey,

    Does anyone know now that Apple officially supports eGPU's how it will play along with the LG Ultrafine 5K Display. Will it be possible to drive this monitor with a eGPU with a eGPU enclosure you can find on the market right now? if not, is it technological possible that there ever would be a eGPU enclosure that does? 
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