Actual testing on AMD Vega GPU destined for iMac Pro shows significant speed gains over Nv...

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2017
Hands on testing performed by a PC enthusiast site shows Vega 64 GPUs like those found in a build-to-order configuration of forthcoming iMac Pro beat the Nvidia Titan Xp card in actual workflows similar to those expected to be handled by the pro-level Mac -- and the Vega 56 should also slightly edge the Nvidia card.




Testing performed by PC World used identical Windows 10 Pro PCs, both with identical CPUs, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and Dell's 8K display and a 1080p display. One PC included the newly released Radeon Vega Frontier edition PCI-E card and the other sported the GeForce Titan Xp card released in April.

The workflow generated was a "simulated workflow in a design firm" according to the testers. Evaluation showed the Vega card outperform the Titan Xp by 50 percent in SolidWorks, and 28 percent in competing 3D rendering package Catia.

In Maxon's Cinebench OpenGL benchmark, the test showed the Vega Frontier edition beating out the Titan Xp by 14 percent.

Testing wasn't limited to OpenGL workflows alone. Given that augmented reality and virtual reality developers have used the Unreal Engine for visualizations, the 8K display was swapped out for a pair of 3440x1440 panels, with testing performed on the lower resolution displays.

PC World claimed to not be able to tell the difference between the Titan Xp and the Radeon Vega Frontier PCI-E card in Direct X gaming and similar applications.

Further testing outside of AMD's labs performed by the testers showed essentially the same results, if not a bit higher.

The tests aren't of entirely similar cards. The Radeon Vega Frontier is optimized for commercial workflows, and the Titan Xp is a consumer-level card. However, the pricing is the same at $1,200.

Relevancy to the iMac Pro?

The test is actually very similar to the workflows that Apple would like to see its users focus on. Apple's software is tailored for Metal, and as such, OpenGL.

The iMac Pro won't have a PCI-E card slot. But, the Vega Frontier PCI-E card has identical hardware to the Vega Pro 64 chipset, but if the speeds are the same between the iMac and the lower priced air-cooled $1,200 PCI-E card isn't known.

The Vega Pro 56, in the "default" $4,999 iMac Pro configuration is roughly 75 percent of everything in the Pro 64 -- about the same level as how the Nvidia Titan Xp performed.

For Mac users relying on Photoshop, there will be notable gains -- as evidenced by the speed boost in the Titan Xp over the Nvidia 1080ti -- they just won't be as pronounced as the gains from the AMD offering for Final Cut users.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
  • Reply 2 of 23
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,861member
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    I think maybe Apple was waiting for the technology to catch up to them rather than Apple build something around the current technology which at the time wasn't all that great in the end. 
    watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 23
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,800member
    I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    I see this a lot. How many products have people said would never get updated again? No one should assume anything until it happens, including the current rumors that Apple will never release another wireless router. Hell, AI posted countless articles for a couple(?) years saying the Mac Mini was going away. Apple even sells iPods, and I doubt those profits could even keep the lights on—which is saying something considering how energy neutral they are at this point.
    watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 23
    wigbywigby Posts: 689member
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    The problem is that by the time the iMac pro ships, there will be faster cards on the market. Unfortunately the iMac pro will not be upgradeable with these newer, faster cards. So until Apple releases the new upgradable Mac pros next year, any pros using the iMac pro will be facing the same problems as they did with current Mac Pros.
    edited June 2017 williamlondonxzu
  • Reply 5 of 23
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,800member
    wigby said:
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    The problem is that by the time the iMac pro ships, there will be faster cards on the market. Unfortunately the iMac pro will not be upgradeable with these newer, faster cards. So until Apple releases the new upgradable Mac pros next year, any pros using the iMac pro will be facing the same problems as they did with current Mac Pros.
    This cards are soldered? I could've sworn that during the WWDC keynote we say the inside of the machine with socketed RAM and GPU.
    watto_cobraireland
  • Reply 6 of 23
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 914member
    wigby said:
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    The problem is that by the time the iMac pro ships, there will be faster cards on the market. Unfortunately the iMac pro will not be upgradeable with these newer, faster cards. So until Apple releases the new upgradable Mac pros next year, any pros using the iMac pro will be facing the same problems as they did with current Mac Pros.
    Users of the iMac Pro will only face the "same problems as they did with current Mac Pros" if Apple doesn't keep the iMac Pro updated reasonably often. There is nothing inherently wrong with sealed box as long as a better sealed box is available when tech improves. I've sold a lot of Apple gear over the years. It holds its value well. Why not just sell the old and buy the new?
    watto_cobrawilliamlondonireland
  • Reply 7 of 23
    bkkcanuckbkkcanuck Posts: 854member
    I think it is best to wait til Dec.  I think by then there may be news about what shape the new Mac Pro will take.....  Most all-one-one (laptops, iMacs, Mac Minis) hold their value well -- so upgrading is not a problem.... sell the old one and get a new one and pay the difference (getting newer hardware as part of the upgrade)....

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 23
    bkkcanuckbkkcanuck Posts: 854member
    polymnia said:
    wigby said:
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    The problem is that by the time the iMac pro ships, there will be faster cards on the market. Unfortunately the iMac pro will not be upgradeable with these newer, faster cards. So until Apple releases the new upgradable Mac pros next year, any pros using the iMac pro will be facing the same problems as they did with current Mac Pros.
    Users of the iMac Pro will only face the "same problems as they did with current Mac Pros" if Apple doesn't keep the iMac Pro updated reasonably often. There is nothing inherently wrong with sealed box as long as a better sealed box is available when tech improves. I've sold a lot of Apple gear over the years. It holds its value well. Why not just sell the old and buy the new?
    That is why I think that going back to a full case like the cheesegrater for the next Mac Pro is wise.... something that might be larger than it needs, but is easier for Apple to upgrade without much investment in thermal design etc.  Then it would be easier to go back to an 18 or 24 month upgrade schedule...
  • Reply 9 of 23
    krawallkrawall Posts: 157member
    As others have mentioned, this really is only valid for non-gaming PCs where you really want (need) to use a Mac. Sad otherwise. I wish Apple would put nVidia dGPU in their MBP's.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,800member
    krawall said:
    As others have mentioned, this really is only valid for non-gaming PCs where you really want (need) to use a Mac. Sad otherwise. I wish Apple would put nVidia dGPU in their MBP's.
    Is it not feasible for Apple to offer an otherwise same iMac Pro but with a completely different GPU: one optimized as a workstation in the traditional computing sense, and one  optimized for gaming? The latter could even allow for available drivers when running Windows in Boot Camp. I'd think nearly all of the R&D and engineering would be done, with little extra overhead, but that's just a wild guess on my part. Seems like an untapped market if it really is little effort as I'd assume enough people would spent that much money just to have a Mac that can play popular games.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,259member
    The FE is not the card destined for the iMac Pro. Those cards will have better results, when they arrive.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,566administrator
    The FE is not the card destined for the iMac Pro. Those cards will have better results, when they arrive.
    I don't know about better results, but you're right about the FE not being precisely identical to the iMac card.

    FTA: "The iMac Pro won't have a PCI-E card slot. But, the Vega Frontier PCI-E card has identical hardware to the Vega Pro 64 chipset, but if the speeds are the same between the iMac and the lower priced air-cooled $1,200 PCI-E card isn't known."
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 13 of 23
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,335member
    There's a pretty straightforward reason why Apple doesn't create a machine that has many interchangeable parts. Plain and simply it's called WASTE.  If users upgraded videos cards at the rate that they presume to desire on these forums, we'd have a whole mess of dismembered parts just paying around.  It's highly likely that these parts would never be used again, or if they were, they'd go in crappy Windows machines. This means a lot of circuit boards with harmful chemicals tossed in the trash.

    The batter solution is one that Apple has already offered which are products that last and have a long, useable lifespan.  In fact, many Macs from 10 years ago are still in use today and those that are no longer much good, can be recycled.  The value of the product holds well so users can sell the whole product and upgrade, just like you do a car.  When a video card, CPU or RAM is upgraded, you are still stuck with the technology available for the architecture of the motherboard.  Apple has allowed components that can be easily reused to be upgradeable.

    Another issue with upgradable components is RELIABILITY.  The more moving parts you have, the last reliable the system will be overall.
    Soliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 23
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,800member
    jkichline said:
    There's a pretty straightforward reason why Apple doesn't create a machine that has many interchangeable parts. Plain and simply it's called WASTE.
    I even wish Apple would offer an option to stop included the damn PSU or at least have some program that gets people actively wanting to turn them in to Apple. First of all, they rarely go bad so they could presumably be recycled and given to iPhone buyers on demand, but at the very least these complex devices with many rare and heavy metals could be recycled.

    I like what the EU did in regards to interchangeable chargers, but it kind of stops short of being effective if they're now just collecting in a billion drawers instead of collecting in a million landfills.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,551member
    wigby said:
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    The problem is that by the time the iMac pro ships, there will be faster cards on the market. Unfortunately the iMac pro will not be upgradeable with these newer, faster cards. So until Apple releases the new upgradable Mac pros next year, any pros using the iMac pro will be facing the same problems as they did with current Mac Pros.
    Eh, don’t really see it as a problem. As a pro i’m using a 6 year old imac, the GPU isn’t what i bought it for. If i needed a cutting edge GPU at all times i likely wouldn’t be in the market for an AIO computer. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 23
    seankillseankill Posts: 467member
    jkichline said:
    There's a pretty straightforward reason why Apple doesn't create a machine that has many interchangeable parts. Plain and simply it's called WASTE.  If users upgraded videos cards at the rate that they presume to desire on these forums, we'd have a whole mess of dismembered parts just paying around.  It's highly likely that these parts would never be used again, or if they were, they'd go in crappy Windows machines. This means a lot of circuit boards with harmful chemicals tossed in the trash.

    The batter solution is one that Apple has already offered which are products that last and have a long, useable lifespan.  In fact, many Macs from 10 years ago are still in use today and those that are no longer much good, can be recycled.  The value of the product holds well so users can sell the whole product and upgrade, just like you do a car.  When a video card, CPU or RAM is upgraded, you are still stuck with the technology available for the architecture of the motherboard.  Apple has allowed components that can be easily reused to be upgradeable.

    Another issue with upgradable components is RELIABILITY.  The more moving parts you have, the last reliable the system will be overall.

    I completely disagree with this comment. I am not really sure what you mean by: "Apple has allowed components that can be easily reused to be upgradeable." This makes no sense at all. Most of their components are one-time use. The RAM in my Macbook is soldered to the mother board, which is fine by me but this argument is less valid in desktops. To upgrade my CPU in my PC, I am looking at new RAM, motherboard, and CPU. GPUs require new motherboards less often. However, I can reuse the case, monitors, power supply, and hard drives, in addition to other miscellaneous components. Whereas, on an iMac, I would be buying new everything, particularly the pricey 5K LCD panel which takes much longer to become "unusable." I expect my monitors to last twice as long as my computer components. So in one case, I have bought maybe half of a computer and in the other, I bought the entire computer. Which ultimately introduces less waste? The one that uses less materials; assuming equal life which is fair if you don't buy garbage Windows computers.

    You can argue reliability but you are fooling yourself if you really think that the iMac's design leads to less waste.......... Recycling and resell applies to both cases and assumptions on how the end user handles old parts isn't an argumentative point.

    That said, I just didn't buy an iMac because it wasn't worth $3,500 for outdated technology (December 2016) and I need windows to run heavy programs not available on MacOS anyway. Plus the options on mass storage were much more flexible.  My only pains are windows 10. I will, however, continue using Macbooks, iPhones, and finally upgraded my iPad 2.


  • Reply 17 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,785member
    wigby said:
    Woo-hoo, I can't wait for that iMac Pro to go on sale. In Apple terms, that has to be plenty of bang for the buck. If the Vega GPU comes anywhere's close to an NVIDIA 1080, I'll be more than satisfied. I honestly thought Apple had given up on building competitive desktops due to using cases with limited airflow and Apple's self-imposed low-energy requirements.
    The problem is that by the time the iMac pro ships, there will be faster cards on the market. Unfortunately the iMac pro will not be upgradeable with these newer, faster cards. So until Apple releases the new upgradable Mac pros next year, any pros using the iMac pro will be facing the same problems as they did with current Mac Pros.
    Which are problems of the imagination.    There is a wide spectrum of users that one could consider to be "pros", not all of then are constantly upgrading their machines.    Frankly it does make sense anymore for the majority of desktop users.  An iMac Pro will remain useful for many years as the benefits if quick up dates have dwindled.   In any event when hardware does improve to the point that you can benefit it is usually time to replace the whole system.    

    In a nut shell i dont buy this BS about pros and the need for upgradeable GPU cards.  That is a very small segment of thhe oveall market. 
    watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 18 of 23
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,051member
    ". The Radeon Vega Frontier is optimized for commercial workflows, and the Titan Xp is a consumer-level card. However, the pricing is the same at $1,200."

    One of the features of Frontier is hot switching between workstation and gaming drivers:

    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/11583/radeon-vega-frontier-edition-software-blog-game-development_575px.jpg


    actechwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 23
    actechactech Posts: 9member
    The new AMD Vega cards has a series of new architectural features that can have significant impact on the overall performance. I doubt if the Apple software has been optimized to take advantage of the new Vega new features. From the new geometry pipeline, pixel engine, to the new HBCC high-bandwidth memory cache controller, etc. These features can really speed up performance if they fine tune the applications and they optimize the drivers. Apple invented OpenCL, and AMD has followed Apples vision for OpenCL, while NVIDIA has always tried to sabotage the OpenGL efforts, which are key for Apple and for a lot of related technologies. If not for AMD Vega, Apple users will have to pay a lot more money for their machines.. Now that AMD is raising from the ashes, it is just a matter of time before the huge profits from the CPU and GPU TAMs begin to fill AMD's research and development coffers, which will help AMD to bring a lot more innovation and better technology to Apple, to the PC world, and to many other technologies.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 23
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,217moderator
    wizard69 said:
    In a nut shell i dont buy this BS about pros and the need for upgradeable GPU cards.  That is a very small segment of the oveall market. 
    It is a small amount of people, evident from the revenue of the GPU manufacturers: NVidia at $5.8b revenue in terms of $500 GPUs is 11.6m potential high-end units out of 300m new PCs every year and over 2 billion in use = <4% of new PC buyers and about 0.5% of existing users. Including AMD would increase those amounts by about 50%. They sell more than this volume overall but most are the lower end cards so buying a high-end card with the machine wouldn't be outclassed for at least a couple of years. Upgradeability saves money for people who don't upgrade the machine for over 3 years, only $500 or so no matter when they choose to upgrade vs thousands for a new machine and they can choose different GPU manufacturers. eGPUs can help with this.

    The iMac Pro will have up to an 11TFLOP GPU. This is equivalent to a 1080ti that was launched this year. NVidia is supposedly launching Volta later this year. They have already released a server version:

    https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/data-center/tesla-v100/

    The single precision there is 15TFLOPs at 300W. That's still around 50GFLOPs/Watt like Vega. There won't be anything else this year to significantly improve on what Apple will use in the iMac Pro (11TFLOPs ~200W).

    If someone buys an iMac Pro this year with the highest-end GPU option, it will likely be $5500. This will be 8-core, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Vega 64 11TFLOP.

    GPU performance has gone:
    680 = 3TFLOP at 195W (2012), 15 GFLOPs/W (28nm)
    780 = 4TFLOP at 250W (2013), 16 GFLOPs/W (28nm)
    980 = 5TFLOP at 165W (2014), 30 GFLOPs/W (28nm)
    980ti = 6TFLOP at 250W (2015), 24 GFLOPs/W (28nm)
    1080 = 9TFLOP at 180W (2016), 50 GFLOPs/W (16nm)
    1080ti = 11TFLOP at 220W (2017), 50 GFLOPs/W (16nm)
    Tesla V100 = 15TFLOP at 300W (2017), 50 GFLOPs/W (12nm/16nm)

    They use some tricks for new GPUs like releasing a lower power model initially and then newer ones aren't always more efficient, they just use more power. Intel does this too. 7nm Navi is planned for 2019 and NVidia will have to move to 7nm too, so potentially another doubling in performance per watt in 2 years. This is going to run out eventually. They talk about 4nm, 2nm even 1nm but they may not be able to manufacture that small and it will still run out. The move to 7nm in 2019 would be the best time for the next Mac Pro but by that time, the iMac Pro can get a 22TFLOP GPU so few people will bother about higher GPU performance.

    If we assume that GPUs will double in performance in 3 years and someone wants a 22TFLOP GPU option, the iMac Pro at that point would be $5500 or maybe less if the 8-core CPU prices drop. They would be able to sell their existing iMac Pro for ~$4000 so the upgrade price would be $1500. Buying a $500 GPU upgrade is more cost-effective but you get a brand new machine the other way.
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