Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 18th Dec 2013 20:47 UTC
Apple

Apple today announced the all-new Mac Pro will be available to order starting Thursday, December 19. Redesigned from the inside out, the all-new Mac Pro features the latest Intel Xeon processors, dual workstation-class GPUs, PCIe-based flash storage and ultra-fast ECC memory.

This thing is so damn awesome. I don't need it, but I still want one.

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RE: Comment by smashIt
by galvanash on Thu 19th Dec 2013 13:00 UTC in reply to "Comment by smashIt"
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

I'd recommend a wait-and-see tactic
IMO the heatsink is not up to the task of cooling 2 firepro w9000 and a xeon e5 12-core


I agree, but you can look at this argument from the other direction. Maybe we should wait and see if the D700 (the high end GPU) really is a w9000 before assuming that the thing will need to dissipate 550W of GPU power.

I find it somewhat odd that even though they are now on sale and you can order one, Apple still doesn't disclose the exact specs of the D700...

http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/specs/

They list the other two lower end card's details, but the D700 is suspiciously absent.

Anyway, I assumed the D700 was a w9000 too because the specs more or less line up - but Apple hasn't officially disclosed anything but rough lip service even now.

Something is seriously amiss though. I just priced a 2nd tier Mac Pro baseline config upgraded to D700s.

It is $4599.

That is simply too cheap. If those are really w9000s, the GPUs alone have a street price of way more than that... Based on the tier one baseline config, you would have to think Apple is pricing the "rest" (everything but the GPUs) of the machine at around $2000. So whatever the D700 is, Apple is selling them for about $1300 a piece (give or take a few hundred dollars)

So one of 3 things is happening:

1. Apple is subsidizing the costs of the GPUs (yeah, right...).
2. AMD is giving Apple an absolutely enormous discount. Possible of course, but 60% off of street price is quite a hit.
3. It isn't a w9000 and is some new undisclosed variant (maybe a Hawaii XT based firePro?)

My bet is it is either 2 or 3, and if it is 3 then we don't really know what the TDP of the GPU is...

If it ends up being 2, and those are really w9000s, and Apple's cooling solution can somehow handle them - well I would have to say that as a graphics/rendering workstation, assuming one would need the power it offers, it is far from expensive... Hell at that price it is rather cheap.

Edited 2013-12-19 13:09 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by smashIt
by smashIt on Thu 19th Dec 2013 13:19 in reply to "RE: Comment by smashIt"
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

the problem with those gpus is that they use consumer-chips
so apple has the option to use regular tahiti xt chips (like in a 7970) add 6gb of ram and just call it a firepro

and i doubt that it will be a hawaii xt based card
if it were it would have a 512bit interface and much more FLOPS

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by smashIt
by galvanash on Thu 19th Dec 2013 13:53 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by smashIt"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

the problem with those gpus is that they use consumer-chips
so apple has the option to use regular tahiti xt chips (like in a 7970) add 6gb of ram and just call it a firepro

and i doubt that it will be a hawaii xt based card
if it were it would have a 512bit interface and much more FLOPS


Your right, I didn't think about it that way...

It may be that AMD is simply selling Apple the GPU silicon and the right to use the firePro branding - leaving it up to Apple to support it on their platform as a "professional" card and all the bs that goes with it (maintaining certification status with the various apps that require it).

So yeah, ok - the price discrepancy is fairly easily explained. Assuming AMD is ok with Apple possibly mudding up their branding a bit, these GPUs won't be available outside of Apple's platform economy so they won't really compete directly with AMD's cards.

Still though, they really are pretty cheap at the high end (for the 6 core Xeon anyway). Assuming their cooling solution works...

Just to illustrate, this is the kind of stuff they seem to be aiming to compete with:

http://www.boxxtech.com/products

Apple is very price competitive... Remains to be seen though if Apple can put the support required behind the platform - professionals don't buy this kind of hardware because of the hardware - they buy it for the support and guarantees that it will work with their tool chain.

Edited 2013-12-19 14:04 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by smashIt
by galvanash on Thu 19th Dec 2013 14:31 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by smashIt"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Another thing this brings to mind...

Assuming they are not "officially" AMD cards, will Catalyst drivers even work if they are booted into Windows?

This probably won't affect people who actually buy these things for what they are (i.e. professional graphics workstations), as if they aren't using OSX they wouldn't buy them in the first place. But there were a lot of people who used to buy Mac Pros as high-end "swiss army knives", as you could do quite a lot of different stuff with them (including gaming in Windows if you were so inclined) - and they were a "relatively" cheap way to get a high core count machine.

Just saying I wonder how they will work in bootcamp considering the "unique" nature of their GPUs... It may turn out that Catalyst drivers work fine, but then again it may turn out they don't work at all - and Apple's bootcamp drivers likely won't go to a lot of trouble to tune for gaming performance on Windows.

Will have to wait for reviews I guess.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by smashIt
by Drumhellar on Thu 19th Dec 2013 18:42 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by smashIt"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

the problem with those gpus is that they use consumer-chips


That's not really a problem. It's not like the Pro designs were simply replaced by consumer chips, and that's-that.

When chips were fixed-function, it made sense to optimize a piece of silicon for gaming or for workstations. Since chips are so general-purpose now, there's really no point in doing the optimizing on the chip - instead, it's done on the driver.

Some workstation-only features are now part of the architecture as a whole, and are exposed via driver + extra connectors - features like genlock/framelock, ECC memory, and stereoscopic. These are workstation features, and the silicon is also present on consumer chips.

One could also say consumer products use workstation chips. 10-15 years ago, both this and the converse would have been meant something, but it hasn't been true in a while.

So, the real question is, are the drivers on the new Mac Pro actual FireGL drivers? FireGL drivers are a different beast from consumer drivers. They are optimized heavily for geometry over texturing, tend to handle basic untextured views better, and handle wireframe views better. At the same time, gaming performance isn't as good as the consumer counterparts.

Other features exist in workstation drivers, like being able to partially render only part of a window (Say, when a viewport is partially obscured by another window), multiple clipping planes and slices, etc.

Finally, validation occurs. Apps are certified to run on a specific driver level, and driver development happens with close communication with ISVs. Accuracy of the rendered image is far more important than performance.

These things are what makes a FirePro a FirePro. Is Apple doing these things?

Reply Parent Score: 3