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  • Apple's Mac Studio launches with new M1 Ultra chip in a compact package

    Depending on your productions needs the Mac Studio is either a bargain of a lifetime or not a particularly great deal. For video and 2d creative work I think you'd need your head seen to if you didn't but a Mac Studio either version will run rings around most PC boxes running Resolve. I can see many post production studios coming back to the Mac and the lower end Studio being the hot seller, I predict this model will fly off the shelves.

    Unfortunately for 3D artists like myself the GPUs are just too weak for rendering and there's no hardware raytracing and what's more disappointing Apple's own software acceleration structure isn't particularly great. There's still issues with the size of the kernel Metal is able to work with so it looks like it's going to be behind Optix/HIP in performance and features for a while.

    Towards the end of the year both nVidia and AMD will be dropping their next gen GPUs which are predicted to be of the order 2x (maybe even more) the performance of their current GPUs and that probably puts daylight between an M1 Mac Pro let alone the Studio. Leaks coming from the nVidia hack show that the GPUs will have double the VRAM so 48GB renders the unified memory advantage of the M1 moot. No one is going to try and render a 64GB 3d scene on a GPU as weak as the Studio's.

    For me as predominantly a 3D artist I can't see beyond a PC workstation but I will probably pick up a low end Studio for video and compositing to replace my iMac. I might wait until M2 to do that though.
  • Mac Studio review roundup: Incredible speed, that not everybody needs

    aderutter said:
    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.

    It’s also very biased against Apple Silicon as other GPUs prefer small tiles but ASi prefers larger tiles.

    Better to compare Redshift rendering times imho.
    You clearly are speaking from a position of ignorance as Blender doesn't use tiles anymore CyclesX is a progressive renderer.

    Redshift is not at all well optimised on Ampere hardware, so use that if it makes you think Apple Silicon is closer in performance but it isn't, Apple Silicon GPU performance is woeful for 3D rendering. Looking at these representative benchmarks not even the Mac Pro will get close to an 18 month old GPU. With the replacement coming at the end of the year which promises 2x the performance of the 3090 unless Apple has something coming like massively more GPU cores then the Mac Pro will be yet another dud for 3D work.
  • Mac Studio review roundup: Incredible speed, that not everybody needs

    lkrupp said:
    With all the claims of inferiority made by the ‘experts’ here it’s a wonder anyone uses Apple hardware, right? I mean, according to these ‘experts’, Apple exceeds at nothing, is always two years behind every curve, lacks pro features, and is overpriced to boot. Why would any ‘pro’ user select Apple hardware? 
    What makes an 'export'? Is it someone who has bashed nearly 10,000 posts in a forum?

    Speaking as someone who has been in the creative industry for over 25 years and has owned a succession Power Macs and Mac Pros during that period from my point of view and I suspect many other 3D artists wanting to come back to the Mac will look at the performance of the Studio's GPUs will give it a hard pass.

    Apple has one more chance with the Mac Pro to deliver the necessary GPU performance, maybe with their own custom GPU and if they can deliver that then they have a chance to get many former Mac based 3D artists back who were lost after Apple's Mac Pro releases went to rat shit in 2013 and became a laughing stock.

    Professionals have different needs to fanboys who enjoy Macs vicariously through the medium of web forums, Professionals need performance which exceeds their preference for an operating system which is why so many had to reluctantly move on from their beloved Mac Pros. With Apple Silicon Apple has sewn up the video editing market, you'd be a fool to choose anything but a Mac for video work but 3D is one area that brute GPU performance is an absolute necessity and based on the Studio benchmarks Apple is still way off.
  • High-end users on 'Why I'm buying the new Mac Pro'

    I've been a consistent Mac Pro buyer over the last decade and a half, I have two of them, iMacs and various laptops, phones and iPads in my studio because as a small studio I've already started moving to Windows. I hung on long enough that 18 months ago I built a custom PC workstation and haven't looked back.

    I always left the door open for Apple if they were going to give me the Mac Pro I really needed effectively a reboot of the classic Cheese grater. I'm afraid this new Mac Pro is not it even if it might look like it from an aesthetic point of view, the absurd cost does not make financial sense any way you look at. $6k base price for a low end workstation is ridiculous, a teenager would laugh at those specs, a $6k workstation shipping with a 3 year old GPU! It's embarrassing. The Vega II GPUs if you go by the similar mass produced Radeon7 GPUs for the PC are likely going to be minimum $800 for a single GPU and $1600 for the DUO version plus a huge slice of Apple tax. The SSDs in the Mac Pro are proprietary so you're going to get shafted on SSD upgrades to the pathetic 256GB base. I'd be surprised if the 28 core BTO wasn't >$4-5k given the iMac Pro 18 core BTO is $2.5k.

    As a 3D artist I've always had high end Mac Pro requirement, I've always needed as much CPU and GPU power that you can throw at the problem but I there's no way I could justify a Mac Pro built to suit my workflow needs. The Xeon 28 core is already matched by the 32 core Threadripper at half the price and in a few short months AMD are announcing 48 core and maybe even 64 core Threadrippers that will annihilate the very top spec Mac Pro. nVidia's 20 series is already working with the GPU based renderer I use, Redshift who knows if the Vega II GPUs will offer anything like the performance.

    For 3D, compositing and video editing the traditional bread and butter for Mac Pro buyers you'd be insane to consider the new Mac Pro over a vastly higher spec PC at probably a third to half of the cost.

    I find it strange that a professional user in the article would say they'd buy the Mac Pro and use it for 10 years, we've only been able to stretch out the lives of our classic Mac Pros because there was absolutely zero competition in the CPU market. Intel was happy to keep tick tocking 4 cores for the mainstream and did nothing in the HEDT space so our 12 core MPs lasted forever. AMD have kicked down the doors with Ryzen, Threadripper and EPYC and there's going to be an almighty CPU war again. You throw $15k at the Mac Pro in the Fall and by Spring 2020 you're going to feel an epic case of buyers remorse. By this time next year this shiny new cheese grater is going to look unbelievably dated when workstations costing a fraction are running PCIe4, nVidia's 7nm GPUs, much faster SSDs and 200 GigE networking.

    I know Windows isn't as nice as MacOS but when push comes to shove I prefer more powerful hardware over a slightly better OS. All my software is cross platform and works the same on MacOS and Win it just works a heck of a lot faster. Of the artists I converse with on forums and on social media none is impressed with this Mac Pro so for a more balanced view I'd check out the Mac forums of the 3D community and see what less handpicked professionals think of Apple's latest white elephant.
  • Mac Studio review roundup: Incredible speed, that not everybody needs

    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.
  • Apple's Mac Studio launches with new M1 Ultra chip in a compact package

    cgWerks said:

    Thanks for the in-depth background and information!

    Yeah, when I did a lot of CAD/3D work in the past (I spent over a half-decade heavily into it, then more as a hobby since), I was using Electric Image Animation System (dating myself there! I used to hang in forums with Alex Lindsay, people from ILM, people working on the Matrix, etc.) and a Spatial ASIS-based 3D CAD app (Vellum Solids -> Ashlar Cobalt -> Concepts Unlimited -> ViaCAD now. Same product.) I was doing mostly architectural design (in a mechanic sense, though!) and visualization.

    My scenes were HUGE and complex. I modeled every detail, so it wasn't like game design or even a lot of 'illustrative' architectural stuff. I was dealing with many millions of polygons (once tessellated for rendering) even back in the late 90s. EIAS was one of a few apps that could even handle that very well.

    I more recently learned Revit to get back into the industry, but who knows what I'll do on my own, as I want to get more into architectural visualization. BTW, EIAS has an update in the works, so I'm quite interested to see what they do. I'm probably going to start playing with Blender, as it has gotten quite advanced. I'm really interested in the huge number of renderers out there these days. Making a choice must be tough!

    But, from your post, it looks like how well the new Macs might do will depend a lot on which type of 3D you do, not just that you do 3D. I wouldn't have considered a lot of that, so thanks much! Great points about how all that shared RAM might be used. I was looking and even the 3080/3090 are in that ballpark of 800 GB/s (a bit above and below, respectively). If the speed is the same, then it shouldn't matter much if it is dedicated or shared RAM, I'd think. It just provides greater flexibility.

    Yeah, for video production, it looks like Apple will own that. And, yeah, at this point I just run one machine, which will be a Mac. But, if I start making money on my own with 3D work, then I'll pick the most money-making machine for that work (and probably use a Mac for everything else).
    Well I started out on Imagine 3d on the Amiga then Lightwave, then C4D. I now use Houdini and a bit of Blender. So who's dating who?

    Apple has a huge team of in house developers who have assisted greatly in porting Redshift, Octane and now Blender's Cycles to Metal. I saw yesterday that Apple is committing huge amounts of development to Blender, they are writing a new Metal backend so Blender runs right on top of Metal for the viewport and EEVEE which is Blender's real-time renderer, Cycles is Blender's photorealistic renderer. I also saw that one of the Apple developers say they expect to get more performance with Cycles in the coming months are they begin to lean more on the M1 architecture. So even for Apple it's an iterative process to getting the best out of the new architecture. BTW, I highly recommend Blender it has blossomed into an incredible App and Apple is playing a big part in its development. Blender is going places and it pays to know it as so many more studios are using it now. 

    It's still very early in the development cycle for M1 compatible Apps and developers are still finding their feet but it won't take long before everything is on M1 and highly optimised.

    As you're interested in Archviz, I would check out Twinmotion, Enscape also Unity and Unreal Engine as I know for a fact many of the biggest architect studios in the world are moving towards real-time rendering solutions because they fit so well for highly stylised and clean renders but you can also iterate so much quicker. The Mac Studio can access a huge amount of VRAM and if you make use of that in your Archviz work it could be quite the USP. To get an nVidia GPU with similar memory you'd have to spend more than a Mac Studio just for the GPU! There's definitely areas of opportunity for Apple Silicon Macs in 3D.

    The video editing market is now completely owned by Apple, they own it so much that a Mac mini performs better than a lot of high end PCs, that's not hyperbole, that's fact!

  • Apple's new Mac Pro is being manufactured in China

    dewme said:

    Agreed. Anyone who actually needs a Mac Pro as a business enabler and not simply because they lust after cool tech gadgets, is not complaining about the price. Businesses purchase tools and machinery to sustain their business and they pay for these as a cost of doing business. 
    I take it you aren't exactly in business with a comment like that?

    To suggest business customers aren't as price sensitive or don't want the best value for money they can get shows a complete lack of understanding of how business works. We are in competition if I spend 2-3 times more on a computer that does exactly the same as a much cheaper computer what does that do to either my profits or the rate I have to charge my customer?

    Businesses want to keep their overheads as low as possible, I'd be happy to spend 2-3x more on a computer if it gave me some competitive advantage or it did a task 2-3x better but the Mac Pro is just a workstation that runs MacOS instead of Windows or Linux. There is no advantage for me in MacOS and if there was it wouldn't be worth spending 2-3x more on it. The reality is that PC Workstations are vastly cheaper, much easier to customise to best fit your business demands (e.g Intel or AMD CPUs and nVidia or AMD GPUs) and come with better warranties.

    As others have noted the Warranty and service agreements that other Workstation vendors offer, Apple's lug it back to an Apple store for servicing when we get round to it is so far from the expectations of business customers it isn't funny.

    I don't see what the Mac Pro brings to the table, it can't now even bring manufacturing jobs back to the US because the overt SJW CEO would rather off-shore US jobs to China. Where's the social justice in that decision?
  • Mac Studio review roundup: Incredible speed, that not everybody needs

    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.
    The Metal backend and Apple Silicon compatibility for Blender *just* came out and it's documented that it still has a ways to go with optimization. I don't think this is a fair test. 
    That Metal backend was developed solely by Apple so it is very much a fair test.
  • Mac Studio with M1 UItra review: A look at the future power of Apple Silicon

    Again, I know there is no such thing as a built in eGPU. I am also expecting that the reader to also understand there is no such thing as a built in eGPU, I used the term as shorthand to describe the function I believe a discrete GPU in the future Mac Pro will have as an additional compute device.

    I expect the Mac Pro will come with 2x and 4x SOCs with 64/128 GPU cores but also with a PCIe discrete GPU option with 64, 128, or 256 GPU core options. I think the discrete GPU will be more of an additional compute device for heavy lifting and not used as the frontline GPU which will be managed by the integrated GPUs on the SOCs. I used the term built-in eGPU to denote the function of a discrete GPU in the Mac Pro as it would have a similar role to what people use eGPUs for today with current Intel Macs but it would also have inefficiencies associated with it due to it being a PCIe device like eGPUs have inefficiencies associated with their usage.

    When I wrote that I expected people to understand the nuance and not immediately get triggered and say, 'Bruv, you know a built-in eGPU ain't a fing.'

    I might be wrong and Apple is planning something completely different and they have found a way to have a discrete GPU that doesn't come with all the latency inefficiencies of sitting on a PCIe bus that they've gone out of their way to eradicate with the M1 design philosophy. Heck, they may not even bring a discrete GPU to market at all in which case the Mac Pro will be rather disappointing as far as raw compute performance is concerned.
  • Jony Ive's departure follows years of dissatisfaction and absenteeism

    Yet that product could still sell if it was properly positioned and marketed. It was still a decent 4K video workstation.
    No it wouldn't. The trashcan offered nothing that couldn't already be done with the then current Mac Pro. There was no position for it then and now.

    Even if the Trashcan was slashed in price it would be useless for 4k Video as the vast majority of users shooting 4k video rely on h264 based codes which benefit hugely from Intel's Quicksync technology which is found on consumer i7/i9 CPUs and not on the Xeons. A cheap laptop would easily out-perform the Trashcan in 4k video editing. Apple has subsequently used the Vega GPUs to accelerate video codes in the iMac Pro but it's still not as fast as Quicksync.

    The trashcan failed because it didn't offer a worthwhile performance improvement from the classic Mac Pro and the jobs artists wanted it for it sucked. There are countless stories of production studio literally burning through Trashcans because the GPUs cooked themselves to death. It was an appalling design and a disaster that went a long way in destroying the confidence of professionals in Apple Pro products. Apple's attempt to maximise profit by making the Trashcan as proprietary as possible and into an appliance failed miserably.

    The latest Mac Pro makes similar mistakes of completely missing what the core Mac Pro buyer wants. There is a malaise in Apple's Mac design department.