Will high-end nVidia cards (Quadro class) ever be on the Mac?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I just got back from a Maya training class this evening and was reminded of the lack of workstation-class cards available for the Mac. Will these types of cards come to the Mac any time soon? Has there been any rumors?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,259member
    My guess is when we OSX gets OpenGL into Tiger. But I have not a freakin' clue really.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Keda

    I just got back from a Maya training class this evening and was reminded of the lack of workstation-class cards available for the Mac. Will these types of cards come to the Mac any time soon? Has there been any rumors?



    Dude I've been asking this question for 3 years and I've been thinking it for 7.



    Most the people that I knew wanted the card on the Mac waited for it, but it never came so they bought the card in a PC, and hardly use their Macs anymore because Apple wont deliver the one two punch. They chose the hardware (and more 3D software options) over the OS.

    In some things like CG, DCC, 3D (whatever you chose to call it) it's mostly all about hardware. Unless your want to try,/or your job requires you to use XSI, Deep Paint, 3D Studio Max or something that is not available under OS X then you have other excuses, but Apple, and friends have yet to deliver a complete workstation with all the available trimmings like Pro 3D cards, and what not.



    At least you can rejoice in the fact that windows can never deliver the one two punch with that OS. But they will probably always keep the hardware advantage until Apple decides it's time to show the world all that is possible. (IMO -> will never happen )



    There is one card that is available, and works in a G5. It's a PCI card made by ARTVPS called the PureRender or something. It's a hardware rendering card, so it's really fast, and It comes with renderman shaders, and all kinds of goodies.

    You can use dual Pure cards too, but I don't think the cards are fully supported by Maya like the Quadro is, and I think it's only for rendering. It wont help your "While working render" I think you'll still need an AGP card to see your self work.



    HERE IS A LINK
  • Reply 3 of 15
    mmmpiemmmpie Posts: 628member
    The pro cards that nvidia and ati make are pretty much ( there are some minor differences ) the same as their high end gaming cards. Macs really do have that hardware already.



    The key difference is that those cards get drivers which have been certified by software vendors as being supported. That means meeting certain minimum quality levels ( which are much more demanding than games ), for a variety of products. Hence, you will see that the quadros are certified to run Maya, for example.



    As far as Im aware Apples OpenGL is not certified to run that same software, and there seem to be deeper issues with the performance of Apples OpenGL stack. I hope they fix that.



    My question is, when are Apple going to get some real workstation cards. 3Dlabs wildcat are very nice, and offer full hardware virtualistion, which is great for a workstation environment. It means that multiple applications can share the card without the very costly need to swap between rendering contexts. That means that an app like Maya could share the card with Quartz 2d without massive performance penalties.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    yes, the chip is the same, but not the firmware: is about velocity versus accuracy, look anandtech test: pro card are exxellent for cad/cam and slow for games, the opoosite to game-card.



    mosr insist saying that in the next pmac will see pcie and a firegl v7100: i hope that this is the truth (anyway we' ll see); because that kind of card (and a wildcat too, or better) is wath a large pro need, and can bring a large selling case for apple itself
  • Reply 5 of 15
    kedakeda Posts: 722member
    Well, at least I'm not the only one who feels strongly about this.



    The class was small?six people. Of that two of us were Mac users. At the end of the class the other Mac guy (who chose to sit at the only available Mac, a G4 1.2x2) was talking to the instructor about the PC version of Maya.



    The instructor was fairly unbiased and said that users should choose the platform they are comfortable wit, but did admit that the Mac is not as fast and lacks real graphics cards. It is a shame that Apple seems to be targeting this sector, but does not work w/nVidia and others to ensure that the HW is there to back-up the apps. On top of it all, I had some PC weenie sitting next to me, who couldn't stop telling me why he didn't like Macs.



    I wish Apple would address this issue. They finally have a rock-solid OS and decent machines, I wish they'd throw that other punch;



    Thanks for the link to the Pure card. I want to move to Maya from LW and it would be a good time to buy the HW too.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    gamblorgamblor Posts: 446member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by mmmpie

    As far as Im aware Apples OpenGL is not certified to run that same software, and there seem to be deeper issues with the performance of Apples OpenGL stack. I hope they fix that.





    mmmpie, thanks for posting this. I don't think I've seen that as an explanation for why there aren't any "pro" video cards for the Mac. Does anyone know if there any indication that Apple takes this seriously, or do they thing their OpenGL implementation is "good enough"?
  • Reply 7 of 15
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    I'm not really sure if Apple is targeting the CAD/3D scene too heavily. The only good mac CAD program I'm aware of is FormZ.



    My point is that there's something of a chicken-and-egg problem here. SolidWorks, ProE, etc don't have mac versions, so there's no one to buy CAD specific cards.



    Lastly, as a 3D designer, I don't think it's that big of a deal. CAD software is so expensive that you just as well can have it on a dedicated computer. If you need the big-time 3D cards and/or software that's not for mac, it's not that big of a deal to pick up a PC. Most of the programs have really proprietary interfaces anyway, and if you're spending the whole day inside the program, the rest of the OS doesn't really matter. The only really nice thing about macs is that, for the time being, they can address a lot more RAM than a Windows PC can. Of course, if you think you need a $6000 machine to do 3D, then you're doing something wrong.



    Most designers I know like to have a laptop around anyway, in order to -- when necessary -- quickly switch tasks to everything that's not 3D. I never work on fewer than two computers.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    hobbithobbit Posts: 532member
    If you search the forums you will find posts explaining why no pro cards are available for the Mac. It's really a catch-22. Not easy to solve.



    Here's a brief summary, but don't nail me down on details, as I only picked this info up in forums:



    On the PC the OpenGL drivers for the pro cards are programmed 100% by nVidia, ATI or 3DLabs, et al. They have total control over it and hence can certify it to run with Maya.



    On the Mac things are different. OpenGL support is part of Mac OS X, on a very deep level.

    This has two consequences:

    1.) Being a core part of the OS, a lot of this stuff is proprietary and deeply linked to other OS stuff.

    2.) It is completely up to Apple to program any OpenGL driver, as they won't let others look into their OpenGL implementation.

    Basically when you buy an ATI or nVidia games card for the Mac, a good portion, if not 100% of that driver was in fact written by Apple not nVidia or ATI.



    This opens a messy conundrum:

    Pro graphics cards are normally certified by the card manufacturer, nVidia, ATI, 3DLabs etc. Yet in Apple's case they would not have written the driver - at best they've written a small portion of it. Therefore they cannot certify any card as a 'pro' card as the driver was not theirs.

    On the other side, Apple is not the manufacturer of pro cards either, and hence unable to certify them as pro cards.



    Mac user's are basically stuck because the certification process would have to be split between Apple and the card manufacturer and no manufacturer would agree to that as they would be liable for the certification.



    What Mac users get is a very good OpenGL implementation which is almost pro, i.e. a lot better than the average gamer driver on the PC. However it is just not good enough for pro graphics.



    Unless Apple is willing to certify those pro cards, it won't happen. The card manufacturer's won't. Understandably, as they don't have authority over a huge portion of the OpenGL code. Unless Apple is serious about 3D, nothing much will happen.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    ATI programs their own drivers for the Mac.



    Apple ports nVidia drivers, although most of the code is written by nVidia themselves.



    Apple fills in a few patches for extensions that ATI/nVidia failed to port themselves (thus all the APPLE_ extensions).



    Other than that I know nothing about pro cards or their certification process, so I'll keep my mouth shut :P
  • Reply 10 of 15
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by gregmightdothat

    ATI programs their own drivers for the Mac.



    Apple ports nVidia drivers, although most of the code is written by nVidia themselves.



    Apple fills in a few patches for extensions that ATI/nVidia failed to port themselves (thus all the APPLE_ extensions).



    Other than that I know nothing about pro cards or their certification process, so I'll keep my mouth shut :P




    That's about right. ATI used to write their own Mac drivers, but I don't know if they still do or not. But Nvidia still gives Apple the exact same source code to compile on the Mac that that is compiled into a driver for a PC. It should be simple, and at that point it's still identical. What Apple does with it is anybodies guess, but to get specific after that point you would have to work for Apple to know.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    kedakeda Posts: 722member
    Then Apple should really take the driver programming on. They seem to tout the Mac as a Maya solution often enough. In fact, I don't think you can say that Apple doesn't care about this sector because of the amount of attention they have focused on it.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Keda

    Then Apple should really take the driver programming on. They seem to tout the Mac as a Maya solution often enough. In fact, I don't think you can say that Apple doesn't care about this sector because of the amount of attention they have focused on it.



    Have they? I'm pretty sure Apple's big focus is desktop video, and everything else takes a distant back seat.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    dave jdave j Posts: 84member
    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    Quote:

    Have they? I'm pretty sure Apple's big focus is desktop video, and everything else takes a distant back seat.



    The thought occurred to me reading your post and the one you replied to that an enormous amount of FUD could be eliminated if Apple would be just a tiny bit more open about what they are planning, why they are planning it, and why they cannot easily implement feature X. Is that too much?



    Ergo: Apple needs a PR guy. Or press secretary. And no, the CEO shouldn't be expected to do this. Sorry if a bit OT.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,259member
    Dave



    I agree. At some point Apple is going to have to move from adolescent to adult and forgo on some of the secrecy. People need to plan their purchases. Jobs did well with the secrecy to bring excitement back to the platform. Now it's time to be a little more open about the directon of the platform.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    Dave



    I agree. At some point Apple is going to have to move from adolescent to adult and forgo on some of the secrecy. People need to plan their purchases. Jobs did well with the secrecy to bring excitement back to the platform. Now it's time to be a little more open about the directon of the platform.




    Amen... Unless of course SJ is planning a BIG surprise.
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