The AMD Radeon VII doesn't work on the Mac at launch, but will soon

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in Current Mac Hardware
AMD's Radeon VII graphics card may offer considerable performance, but at launch it isn't able to be used on either a PCI-E Mac or in a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure, as a driver that allows the card to work in macOS is still under development.

AMD's press launch of the Radeon VII in January
AMD's press launch of the Radeon VII in January


Announced in January, the Radeon VII is latest major release in AMD's roster of graphics cards, boasting a 25-percent performance improvement compared to earlier Vega cards. The card is a prime candidate for use in future "Pro" Mac models, but it first has to work with macOS.

According to a query to external GPU enthusiast site eGPU.io, there currently isn't a driver in macOS that will enable the graphics card to function, but one is apparently under development and intended for use in macOS 10.14.4. Another post notes the PCI ID is listed in the latest macOS 10.14.4 beta build, indicating that future support for the hardware is highly likely, but without a driver, it won't work.

A driver for the card would mean more than allowing owners of GPU enclosures being able to buy the card and use it with their Macs and MacBooks, as it could also be an indication that the card will be offered to Mac users when buying a new Mac.

As Apple seemingly is not interested in making macOS support Nvidia cards, this limits the range of graphics cards that could be used in a future modular Mac Pro considerably, with AMD's offering being the most likely card to be used in such a high-powered machine.

Produced using a 7-nanometer process, the Radeon VII has 16 gigabytes of memory with up to 1 terabyte per second of memory bandwidth. Processing takes place on 60 compute units clocked at up to 1.8 gigahertz, resulting in playing games like "Devil May Cry 5" at a 4K resolution with framerates over 100 frames per second.

AMD shipped the Radeon VII on Feb. 7 as promised, priced at $699.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,608member
    And, lo and behold, the critics just got into trashing Apple for the T2 Macs having issues with audio interfaces in another article and this hardware manufacturer releases a product that doesn’t work with macOS because there’s no driver yet. But I’ll bet those same critics will blame Apple for the “issue”, right? Oh, the irony.
    bsbeamerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    jlockerjlocker Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    I know that the external GPU box would not work. But was wondering if a legacy Mac Pro 2013 would work. I am going to sell my Nvidia GTX 1080 TI card and get the new AMD Radeon VII. I am tired of waiting for the Apple to approve the drivers for Mojave OS. It is stupid that Apple and Nvidia can not get along and work together.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,079administrator
    jlocker said:
    I know that the external GPU box would not work. But was wondering if a legacy Mac Pro 2013 would work. I am going to sell my Nvidia GTX 1080 TI card and get the new AMD Radeon VII. I am tired of waiting for the Apple to approve the drivers for Mojave OS. It is stupid that Apple and Nvidia can not get along and work together.
    FTA: "but at launch it isn't able to be used on either a PCI-E Mac or in a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure"

    And, the 2013 is the Coke can looking one. Are you talking about the 5,1? If so, it should work fine, but powering it from the pair of motherboard power connectors might be an issue. We'll see.

    I suspect that given the emphasis that AMD has put on memory bandwidth, there'll be a bigger squeeze on it than in previous models, but how much I don't have a good handle on yet.
    edited February 7 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 24
    jlocker said:
    I know that the external GPU box would not work. But was wondering if a legacy Mac Pro 2013 would work. I am going to sell my Nvidia GTX 1080 TI card and get the new AMD Radeon VII. I am tired of waiting for the Apple to approve the drivers for Mojave OS. It is stupid that Apple and Nvidia can not get along and work together.
    Stick with approved GPUs if you want official support.  Outside of that, it's a hack and workaround.  If your budget and workflow can support that type of experimentation, go for it and be sure to report your experience (and headaches) in forums.

    Still don't know who to really believe with the lack of NVIDIA web drivers for Mojave (Apple or NVIDIA).  Both are to blame to an extent and we are all "suffering" from the results.  There's rumors of a class-action lawsuit in regards to this, but doubt it'll get much traction.  Everyone basically says wait until MP7,1 before really evaluating.  High Sierra still works (and still is being updated) and the 387.10.10.15.15.108 (which added VOLTA) does not break with each High Sierra update like all other driver versions do.  Mojave does not offer a ton for MP5,1 & MP6,1 that High Sierra does not already cover.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    jlocker said:
    I know that the external GPU box would not work. But was wondering if a legacy Mac Pro 2013 would work. I am going to sell my Nvidia GTX 1080 TI card and get the new AMD Radeon VII. I am tired of waiting for the Apple to approve the drivers for Mojave OS. It is stupid that Apple and Nvidia can not get along and work together.
    No, contrary to what the other people say I don't believe it will work in your Mac Pro (under macOS) until AMD releases a driver for the card and Apple reviews/signs it. The official AMD site for the card offers drivers for Windows or Linux, but not macOS. That being said, you could bootcamp the Mac Pro and use the card in a different OS until the driver for macOS is released, but I doubt this is what you want to do.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 24
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,006member
    A better binned/lower clocked VII seems ripe for the iMac Pro. People are saying it would wait for Navi, but Navi is launching midrange first for one, and will be further tailored to gaming this time rather than blending the gaming and compute lines like Vega did. 

    I wonder, since Apple co-writes the driver over macOS, if they will be able to uncap the FP64 rate, as AMD further unlocked it to 1/4th rate on Windows after feedback. This was purely a vBIOS limit, otherwise the chip can use the full rate FP64 M150 does. 

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/13923/the-amd-radeon-vii-review/15

    edited February 7
  • Reply 7 of 24
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,033member
    Apple GPU please.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,079administrator
    jlocker said:
    I know that the external GPU box would not work. But was wondering if a legacy Mac Pro 2013 would work. I am going to sell my Nvidia GTX 1080 TI card and get the new AMD Radeon VII. I am tired of waiting for the Apple to approve the drivers for Mojave OS. It is stupid that Apple and Nvidia can not get along and work together.
    No, contrary to what the other people say I don't believe it will work in your Mac Pro (under macOS) until AMD releases a driver for the card and Apple reviews/signs it. The official AMD site for the card offers drivers for Windows or Linux, but not macOS. That being said, you could bootcamp the Mac Pro and use the card in a different OS until the driver for macOS is released, but I doubt this is what you want to do.
    The hooks for the Radeon VII are already in the macOS beta, like the article says. The driver just isn't complete. AMD doesn't release downloadable drivers for macOS like Nvidia did before Mojave. They don't need to, Apple bakes in support.

    With OS-level support, the 5,1 should be fine, given that how it's coded in macOS, an eGPU Thunderbolt 3 connection is mimicking slotted PCI-E connection.
    edited February 7 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    It would be fantastic if someone would make a Mac Pro 2013 compatible video card upgrade. Actually surprised we haven't seen one yet. I realize that it's a different form factor, but if Apple could make dual D700 cards work, why not Vega?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Apple doesn’t really want a modular Mac Pro do they?

    One of the biggest reasons to make it modular is to give users graphics options...
  • Reply 11 of 24
    jlockerjlocker Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    Should be interesting this year to see what new Mac Pro is coming out. It is time to retire my old Mac Pro. Hoping Apple returns to the PCI, upgrade your own memory. internal drives and add on cards. I am so ready to upgrade to a new machine. I would even take a smaller box if i could do some upgrading to it over the years.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 24
    I find it hilarious how some people want to treat Apple hardware/software products like Android, Windows and Linux hardware/software products. They are not the same and never will be. Apple’s fully integrated IC/SMD strategy leads to great efficiencies and the walled garden approach is stable. Stable, as in not what you usually get with the previously mentioned hardware/software products. I am as geek as they come and I know the place of each platform I use. If you want infinitely upgradeable everything and always want to be on the bleeding, cutting “oh my god, kernel panic” edge, then don’t use Apple products..they are not for you. If you are a true geek, you use everything like I do and you know everything’s place. The mainstream doesn’t know the Vega elbow from the VII’s ass and they don’t need the kind of incremental power upgrades these forums seem to complain about all the time. Also, why would you want to pay a premium for that stuff right at launch? Use what is stable to get your work done and play on the side, within financial reason. If you have golden pockets of money, all power to you!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    lkrupp said:
    And, lo and behold, the critics just got into trashing Apple for the T2 Macs having issues with audio interfaces in another article and this hardware manufacturer releases a product that doesn’t work with macOS because there’s no driver yet. But I’ll bet those same critics will blame Apple for the “issue”, right? Oh, the irony.
    I gotta ask: Do you sit at your computer with appleinsider.com open, hitting refresh over and over to make sure you're the first to reply to every new article, giving you the chance to "predict" how evildoers from the dark side will respond to the article?

    Serious question. It happens SOOOO often it can't possibly be coincidence.

    By the way, your supposed "condemnation" of those who perceive issues differently than you, and you itemizing the things they'll surely say, manages to spread more negativity in a single post than most entire threads. I mention this not to attack you -- you should obviously feel free to do whatever you think best -- but because I can't imagine that's really your intent. Maybe knowing how others perceive your "defence" of Apple will inform your future posts.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,006member
    Just curious if they'll uncap the FP64 rate since that's just an artificial limit clearly, if AMD released more last minute. The "Pro" in Macs has usually straddled the line definition and kind of been Radeons with Apple drivers, but this generation will have more tells, as the M150 has uncapped FP64 and ECC where the VII does not. AMD further released FP64 performance to 1/4th based on feedback, so I wonder if Apple uses a downclocked version of this in the iMac Pro, if they'd be so good as to fully uncap everything, making it more like the M150 part, though likely still lacking ECC. 
  • Reply 15 of 24
    mcdave said:
    Apple GPU please.
    Yes. I am really hoping for a radical new GPU architecture invented by Apple to work perfectly with Metal 2 and other Mac specific tech. It could be a great differentiator for Apple.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    mcdave said:
    Apple GPU please.
    Yes. I am really hoping for a radical new GPU architecture invented by Apple to work perfectly with Metal 2 and other Mac specific tech. It could be a great differentiator for Apple.
    I'm way out of my depth here, so forgive me if I've got this wrong. Wouldn't a custom Apple graphics system require developers to put a lot more effort into making their software work with it? If so, how many would bother for such a small market?
  • Reply 17 of 24
    Just an FYI if someone ordered the Radeon VII. I picked up the Sapphire branded card and while you won't get OpenCL or Metal.
    It does boot and you can use macOS, but you'll see that it's sluggish. It's only identified as a Radeon Vega 16GB. 
  • Reply 18 of 24
    CooeCooe Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    tipoo said:
    Just curious if they'll uncap the FP64 rate since that's just an artificial limit clearly, if AMD released more last minute. The "Pro" in Macs has usually straddled the line definition and kind of been Radeons with Apple drivers, but this generation will have more tells, as the M150 has uncapped FP64 and ECC where the VII does not. AMD further released FP64 performance to 1/4th based on feedback, so I wonder if Apple uses a downclocked version of this in the iMac Pro, if they'd be so good as to fully uncap everything, making it more like the M150 part, though likely still lacking ECC. 
    IMO, I'm doubtful 64-bit compute gets pushed any higher than the current 1/4th 32-bit (which still means it smokes just about every single consumer GPU on the market at 64bit compute) as Vega 20's best-in-class double precision compute capabilities are a primary reason one would buy an MI50/60 over say, an Nvidia Tesla V100 for example when shopping for a "compute accelerator". And with data-center/professional GPU being among (if not outright) AMD's most rapidly increasing addressable market in terms of size & profitability (as unlike with the gaming space, Vega's been a serious competitor in that space since Vega 10 first launched >1.5 years ago [as long as you don't need CUDA, that is]), making it so that one can pay literally just a fraction of an MI Instinct card's cost for the same industry leading, high-precision compute performance, just as long as you don't need ECC simply doesn't make any sense. ESPECIALLY seeing how the new Mac Pro will almost surely use standard PCIe graphics cards (I mean, it's either that or MXM as far as "swap-able GPU form factors" go).

    What the Mac Pro/iMac Pro WILL get is the verified professional driver stack (ala Radeon Pro for AMD/Quadro for Nvidia), which is super important for numerous GPGPU accelerated workloads/applications in a professional &/or enterprise setting. Along with an optional, full-fat 32GB (aka, 8GB stacks) HBM2 VRAM equipped model for the many, MANY memory intensive professional workloads out there. This model could also come with the fully enabled 64CU count/ 4096SP's, ala the MI60, but that I'm far less sure of than there simply being a 32GB VRAM option at all.

    edited February 10
  • Reply 19 of 24
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,610member
    lkrupp said:
    And, lo and behold, the critics just got into trashing Apple for the T2 Macs having issues with audio interfaces in another article and this hardware manufacturer releases a product that doesn’t work with macOS because there’s no driver yet. But I’ll bet those same critics will blame Apple for the “issue”, right? Oh, the irony.
    I gotta ask: Do you sit at your computer with appleinsider.com open, hitting refresh over and over to make sure you're the first to reply to every new article, giving you the chance to "predict" how evildoers from the dark side will respond to the article?

    Serious question. It happens SOOOO often it can't possibly be coincidence.

    By the way, your supposed "condemnation" of those who perceive issues differently than you, and you itemizing the things they'll surely say, manages to spread more negativity in a single post than most entire threads. I mention this not to attack you -- you should obviously feel free to do whatever you think best -- but because I can't imagine that's really your intent. Maybe knowing how others perceive your "defence" of Apple will inform your future posts.
    I've been on the receiving end of one of lkrupps attacks whenever I've brought up Apple's ever increasing pricing.     Eventually reading his posts I noticed that he seems to only have old apple equipment and is here be APPL is an important investment for him since he retired.

    EDIT: A lot of posters here got into Apple at the right time and are more motivated by keeping the profits up and the stock price climbing.  It's been a tough quarter for them.   Probably will be a tough year or maybe two.
    edited February 10
  • Reply 20 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,079administrator
    icreate said:
    Just an FYI if someone ordered the Radeon VII. I picked up the Sapphire branded card and while you won't get OpenCL or Metal.
    It does boot and you can use macOS, but you'll see that it's sluggish. It's only identified as a Radeon Vega 16GB. 
    It crashes under load too. I suspect it's because it's using the Vega driver with fewer compute units than it expects.
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