iMacPro, Metal2 and beyond --> -->

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With Apple finally starting to produce powerful enough machines again and with High Sierra not budging on improving openGL/CL afaik, and Metal 2 being introduced, wondering how will that affect Houdini on MacOS going forward.

Sticking to OpenGL/CL is the sole biggest slowdown on MacOS, as far as I can tell, as it now has a good file system with AFPS, the memory manager is great, and the Nvidia 1080Ti is very impressive running Cuda in Redshift. So all in all MacOS is still a very viable production system, albeit pricey.

iMacPro - “Featuring up to 18-Core Processors, 22 Teraflops of GPU Performance, Fast Storage and Advanced I/O”

“In addition to the new iMac Pro, Apple is working on a completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro architected for pro customers who need the highest-end, high-throughput system in a modular design, as well as a new high-end pro display.”

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2017/06/imac-pro-most-powerful-mac-arrives-december/ [www.apple.com]
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The best case scenario I see for Houdini on the Mac would be for Apple to follow Microsoft's lead from years ago and remove OpenGL from the MacOS altogether, and then let the vendors themselves provide GL and Vulkan ICDs through their drivers. Then we'd have common drivers across all 3 platforms for the big 3 (AMD, Intel, Nvidia; though Intel doesn't directly provide Linux drivers currently), and 95% of the graphics issues on MacOS would disappear overnight.

As the the iMac pro, that's a strange beast. I'm not sure I'd want to tie a $5000+ machine to a display, nor have its GPU or CPU non-upgradeable (unsure about the RAM). Nor would I really want an 18 core workstation powering up its fans to full behind my monitor; the best part about a workstation desktop is that you can hide it under a desktop and muffle some of the fan noise when the CPUs are running full throttle. Having that less that 2' from my head is not something I'd particularly care for. The back of the iMac Pro shows no signs of heatsink fins (which it could totally have to dissipate heat more effectively), so you can bet that they're be some noticeable noise.

In short, it seems like Apple is giving its users another product that no one really asked for, when many professionals have been begging for an upgradeable workstation for years. Just my personal 2c.
Edited by twod - June 7, 2017 16:03:47
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Agreed. I was hoping that WWDC would unleash a GL 4.5+ update and OpenCL 2.2+ but unfortunately it wasn't.

Also thought that the new Gtx1080ti was crash free on MacOS, and for two days it was!, but just now, using muscles, got…

7   GeForceGLDriverWeb                  0x000000013a58095c gldReadTextureData + 82551
8   GLEngine                            0x000000013a1058c5 gleGetFreeOrphanNode + 340

ah well, at least the card will fit into a windows/linux box
Edited by fuos - June 7, 2017 17:40:50
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On the plus side, Metal's integration with new machine learning frameworks [developer.apple.com] could have potential for accelerating other types of intensive tasks:

Moving beyond just graphics, Metal 2 provides deep support for GPU-accelerated machine learning and offers enhanced developer tools that make it even easier to debug, optimize, and deploy Metal apps.



This sample demonstrates how to perform runtime inference for image recognition using a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) built with Metal Performance Shaders.

https://developer.apple.com/metal/ [developer.apple.com]

Looks like their documentation for OpenGL itself hasn't changed much since 2012:




https://developer.apple.com/library/content/documentation/GraphicsImaging/Conceptual/OpenGL-MacProgGuide/opengl_intro/opengl_intro.html [developer.apple.com]
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twod
The best case scenario I see for Houdini on the Mac would be for Apple to follow Microsoft's lead from years ago and remove OpenGL from the MacOS altogether

Could be a possible. High Sierra is meant to have moved the window manager to Metal2.

“Apple also mentioned that macOS' window manager will run on Metal 2. As always, be sure to take a peek at Apple's official High Sierra page.”

http://www.osnews.com/story/29850/Apple_showcases_macOS_High_Sierra [www.osnews.com]
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twod
In short, it seems like Apple is giving its users another product that no one really asked for, when many professionals have been begging for an upgradeable workstation for years. Just my personal 2c.

True for 3D creatives maybe but it specs out to a real value for a lot of editors, illustrators, color, mograph users…
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True for 3D creatives maybe but it specs out to a real value for a lot of editors, illustrators, color, mograph users…


The point was today it will be fine, even for 3d folk, but in 2 years it'll be ho hum and in 4 years archaic due it being not upgradable. Also the main issue with iMac is that if the main screen needs a repair then you lose the computer whilst it's away.
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Metal 2 sounds like it has some great performance boosts.
Is it that much of a huge pain to modify Houdini to work with it?
I know nothing about the technicalities of this so that's probably trivialising it but it seems like Apple are moving away from OpenGL, so clinging on to it will probably just become harder for Side FX anyway.
I love that Houdini is available for the Mac though, so I'll take whatever
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Metal 2 sounds like it has some great performance boosts.
Is it that much of a huge pain to modify Houdini to work with it?
I know nothing about the technicalities of this so that's probably trivialising it but it seems like Apple are moving away from OpenGL, so clinging on to it will probably just become harder for Side FX anyway.
I love that Houdini is available for the Mac though, so I'll take whatever
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Metal has an API that wouldn't be hard to adopt, as all GL calls in Houdini are wrapped anyway. It's the fact that they decided to design their own shading language that's the real issue, as we have over a thousand shader files. Converting, maintaining, and extending two sets of shaders is a lot of work for a single platform. It's one thing to #ifdef sections of shaders to work around platform and driver specific issues, and completely another to write separate shaders. If they supported SPIR-V or GLSL shaders directly, we could take a look then.
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Does that mean SESI will eventually drop support for ios?
Senior Houdini FX TD @ MPC

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For me personally, I don't see the appeal of these one-in-all setups.
I rather spend my money on a normal pc case, so I can add/replace stuff as the hardware comes along.
Now you're stuck, a simple replacement of a graphics card and alike is out of the question.

It's a nice rig, but I would like to see the price of their top model. It's probably climbing up to 8K easily…

rob
Apprentice Attribute / Houdini 16.5.405 / GTX 970 - driver 390.65
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pusat
Does that mean SESI will eventually drop support for ios MacOS?

If Apple dropped OpenGL entirely without allowing 3rd party OpenGL implementations to be installed, we would have to make a determination at that time. It'd certainly dump a large burden on us which would make the GL-core profile sweep look like child's play (also done for MacOS). I'm hoping as a developer they would consult with us on that decision, and at least give us a decent heads up. But this is purely theoretical right now, so I'm not going to worry about it too much.
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I have to poke this in here: although MacOS isn't as good as Windows/Linux it still limps along with brand new support for Nvidia 10 series cards and great Redshift Cuda performance but still suffers a lot of unpredictable crashes in Houdini that appear to happen because of the handles' GLSL code on Nvidia.

The word on the street is that ‘16.5’ is a very lucky number for making handles great again!
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aRtye
I have to poke this in here: although MacOS isn't as good as Windows/Linux it still limps along with brand new support for Nvidia 10 series cards and great Redshift Cuda performance but still suffers a lot of unpredictable crashes in Houdini that appear to happen because of the handles' GLSL code on Nvidia.

The word on the street is that ‘16.5’ is a very lucky number for making handles great again!

I am getting a much better experience in Houdini 16 under the High Sierra Beta… although the system in general can be wildly unstable at times, not recommending the beta.
- “spooky action at a distance”. Albert Einstein
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kevinthebright
True for 3D creatives maybe but it specs out to a real value for a lot of editors, illustrators, color, mograph users…


The point was today it will be fine, even for 3d folk, but in 2 years it'll be ho hum and in 4 years archaic due it being not upgradable. Also the main issue with iMac is that if the main screen needs a repair then you lose the computer whilst it's away.

Depends, External GPU support could add lots of longevity, especially if GPU enhanced rendering really takes off.
- “spooky action at a distance”. Albert Einstein
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I am getting a much better experience in Houdini 16 under the High Sierra Beta… although the system in general can be wildly unstable at times, not recommending the beta.

Sweet! It'll be fun to test it against the brand new Ryzen I've just had built. Hopefully HS will extend the life of the Big Mac Pro longer Will test as soon as Nvidia release Web Drivers.
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An impractical and unreasoned idea that comes to mind reading this Apple Machine Learning Journal [machinelearning.apple.com] article: Generate a low quality, dirty render image quickly, then cheat with automated image processing to force it to look more accurate:

To help close this performance gap, we’ve developed a method for refining synthetic images to make them look more realistic.



https://machinelearning.apple.com/2017/07/07/GAN.html [machinelearning.apple.com]
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@Cyzor Redshift devs looked at the deep learning Nvidia stuff and thought it was only useful to clean up a render when the render was mostly complete anyways, at this stage.
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twod
The best case scenario I see for Houdini on the Mac would be for Apple to follow Microsoft's lead from years ago and remove OpenGL from the MacOS altogether, and then let the vendors themselves provide GL and Vulkan ICDs through their drivers. Then we'd have common drivers across all 3 platforms for the big 3 (AMD, Intel, Nvidia; though Intel doesn't directly provide Linux drivers currently), and 95% of the graphics issues on MacOS would disappear overnight.

As the the iMac pro, that's a strange beast. I'm not sure I'd want to tie a $5000+ machine to a display, nor have its GPU or CPU non-upgradeable (unsure about the RAM). Nor would I really want an 18 core workstation powering up its fans to full behind my monitor; the best part about a workstation desktop is that you can hide it under a desktop and muffle some of the fan noise when the CPUs are running full throttle. Having that less that 2' from my head is not something I'd particularly care for. The back of the iMac Pro shows no signs of heatsink fins (which it could totally have to dissipate heat more effectively), so you can bet that they're be some noticeable noise.

In short, it seems like Apple is giving its users another product that no one really asked for, when many professionals have been begging for an upgradeable workstation for years. Just my personal 2c.


I have no idea if the recent announcement of Vulkan for osx would make any difference to sidefxs graphics roadmap?

https://www.anandtech.com/show/12465/khronos-group-extends-vulkan-portability-with-opensource [www.anandtech.com]

We use Houdini on OSX and would be gutted if we lost support.

David.
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