Mac Pro, Metal & moving forward

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Midphase
It's all basically speculating on, not only what Apple might or might not do, but also what 3rd party companies like Redshift, SideFX, Adobe, etc. might do.

I remain convinced that Metal support is coming from all those companies, and I think there might be some very Metal-specific advantages that we might not be aware of, but which might actually give Apple an edge over other platforms. How weird would it be if it turns out for instance that Redshift is faster on AMD GPU's that cost less than half of an RTX GPU.

Today's release of the Mac Book Pro 16 is further indication that Apple is committed to power users.


Here's an interesting opinion piece which is an interesting read regardless of what your interests are in operating systems:

https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/10/18/editorial-mac-pro-puts-the-pedal-to-metal-in-apples-race-with-nvidia [appleinsider.com]
For me the issue with Apple is price: at least in Europe, Macbook Pro 15" prices have raised around 500$ in the last 6 years for the exact same product range, making you pay around 1000$ more to get a significant upgrade. And better not comparing what you can get with a custom built PC vs Mac Pro. At least in Europe, they are completely ignoring professionals with this pricing climbing which doesn't seem to stop.
The good side is I discovered how well Houdini, Renderman and others run under Linux, and I can tell you I'm not the only one running away from Mac for most of the work if possible over here…
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Like Midphase said.. the OS is part of my consideration.
I grew up with windows, then switched to a mac in 2007 and never looked back until Apple made me.
And long story short I just feel way more comfortable on a mac than I ever did on windows.

As for the Houdini on Linux part:
what would be the distribution to go?
how is the situation with drivers, amd/ryzen/threadripper, redshift and nvidia over there?
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I was just rethinking this, reading the article where SideFX say:

Cristin Barghiel the vice president of Product Development at SideFX, stated, "with the new Mac Pro's incredible compute performance and amazing graphics architecture, Houdini users will be able to work faster and more efficiently, unleashing a whole new level of creativity.

It could be argued that if SideFx & Apple don't deliver a functioning solution, i.e a productive enough version of MacOS and Houdini, then you are entitled to a refund on both software and hardware. It's not your responsibility to make sure the systems work.

I say, stick with MacOS and hit up your small claims court if they don't deliver.
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Christoph F
As for the Houdini on Linux part:
what would be the distribution to go?
how is the situation with drivers, amd/ryzen/threadripper, redshift and nvidia over there?

My experience for some months after working with Windows 10 and MacOS for years: I have tested Linux Mint and CentOS, Mint light years ahead in ease of use. Installation easy enough, Houdini working at first try. Some minor issues with the HQueue installation (had to install a couple of dependencies for the network filesystem not installed by default). nVidia original drivers installation in Mint is a one-click task. No issues, OpenCL working correctly too. My CPU is a Threadripper 1950X and I'm constantly getting around +20% performance and -30% memory use in rendering with Mantra, and maybe around +40% in OpenCL accelerated workflows such as sims compared to Win10. With higher core count CPUs such as the 2990WX, rendering performance is known to be around 50-80% higher than in Win10. I know of people using Redshift without issues in Mint and Fedora, but no first hand experience.
Regarding other software: it's a pity SideFx is one of the few companies actually distributing software usable as-is in every big linux distro. My experience:
- Substance Designer: not direct but easy installation. But had to remove a file from the app directory to make it work. After that, running flawlessly.
- Davinci Resolve Studio 16: direct installation without issues, but won't launch. Again, a miscompatibility because Linux VFX and CGI software is mostly tested only under Centos/RedHat. Creating a link to a directory fixed the issue and running fine.
- Renderman: more of the same, just minor issues.\
- Win10: I have a Windows 10 Pro virtual machine running under VirtualBox for Affinity apps: Photo and Publisher.

Conclusion: if you have the patience to devote a day to set up the system, you get a incredibly stable workhorse with a no-nonsense UI and day to day operation. Save for the software installation process, Mint has brought me memories of the good old days of Snow Leopard, when the OS was boring as hell and just performed without hiccups.

Edit: forgot to mention Mint, Ubuntu and others provide Long Term Support versions: this installations receive only security and very minor updates for 5 or more years avoiding as much as possible the risk of something breaking, and never forcing you tu upgrade.
Edited by jarenas - Nov. 15, 2019 03:57:56
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QuickLook is the MacOS feature that I missed on Windows 10 the most.
I found that QuickLook by Paddy Xu, available in the Microsoft Store makes the experience of using Windows a whole lot better.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/quicklook/9nv4bs3l1h4s?activetab=pivot:overviewtab
QuickLook
Edited by penboack - Nov. 15, 2019 09:45:21
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I would totally give Linux a try if it wasn't that I'm so reliant on AfterEffects. It's basically one of the centerpieces for me, and as much as I tried to use Fusion, aside from some relatively specific things it's just no replacement for all the amazing plugins that I have for AfterEffects.
>>Kays
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https://community.foundry.com/discuss/topic/144465/mari-4-x-mac-version?page=3 [community.foundry.com]

We've been updating Mari to be compatible with the Qt OpenGL framework changes introduced in Qt5, which was not required for the Windows or Linux platforms. We have not scheduled any conversion to Metal at this stage.



On the mac Mari lags two years behind Linux, Katana doesn't even exist and most shops with teams of compositors run Nuke on cheap Linux boxes. I think for Houdini fx work it's a similar spread in that most of the user's are Linux/window. With the niche aspect of the mac I don't see the developers warranting putting in the time for supporting one limited use api where most app's are massive cross platform endeavors. I am typing this at a trashcan at work tired of buggy lagged support for these expensive computers. Linux is noticeably faster with all major software we use in the studio.
soho vfx
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well.. after seeing that stunt with Trump at the Flex Factory I kinda want to wait another year before I buy one of those..
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Draško Ivezić
I bought a special machine for Houdini and other CGI stuff when I realized how painfully expensive is my iMac 5K retina. This turned out to be very expensive and not usable monitor. The processor is already old and the graphic card is impossible to replace. To sum it up for the OP, Mac Pro is not worth investment. Not even in the big pipeline studios, I can't see how the 4K price just for the machine and expect to invest in the pro monitor another 4K (with the ergonomic stand it will be 5K). Realistically, you can get beautiful result for investing 5K with custom made machine which includes a 4K monitor. Mac asks you 9K for the arguably less impressive result. I am not sure who is the target for these new machines. Maybe some huge studios who need one or few machines with expensive monitors specialized for color grading and mastering. Other than that, I have no idea who should buy these overpriced machines. Word of advice - save your money. Sooner you get off the MacOS addiction, better for you, your projects, and your wallet. And this is coming from the current Mac user, I am still on Apple in all other aspects, my laptop, working machine for 2D stuff. But for CGI I think Pavel is absolutely right, so far Windows is the best bet, unfortunately.

I'll help you out a bit. YOU ARE NOT the target audience for this machine. I know that because you are comparing both the Mac Pro to PC's and the reference monitor to regular monitors.

When I saw this reference monitor for ONLY $5,000, I about lost my lunch. I couldn't believe how cheap it was and couldn't be more excited to finally get a comepetitive reference monitor to compete against what we have at the studio, which all cost at minimum $40,000. THAT is the league of reference monitors you are meant to compare this monitor to…NOT the 4k screens at Best Buy. You are NOT the target audience for this reference monitor.

As for the Mac Pro itself…it is a WORKSTATION CLASS system, and without question, the most powerful machine on earth. 8tb of internal SSD storage, 1.5tb of RAM, FOUR AMD Radeon Pro Vega GPUs, 2 on each Pro Vega II, connected via Apple’s proprietary Infinity Fabric Link connector inside Apple’s proprietary MPX box. And don't forget the eight PCIe slots and Thunderbolt 3 support. And we haven't even mentioned the 28 cores…

…and most importantly…don't forget this is ALL HAPPENING IN ONE WORKSTATION…

The bottom line is, this is the most powerful singular computer on earth upon it's release, and it is definitely NOT for you. You aren't the target audience. People who run racks in studios, render farms in the back room, indie artists who have $20k leftover from last year's haul and want to upgrade to the ultimate powerhouse system to take the pipeline to unparrarelled speeds…these are the target audience. I have had $17,000 stashed away for this machine for a year now from last year's earnings and I'm positive my first 4 projects in 2020 will pay for the machine…

This isn't a machine for a hobbyist. Just build a $5,000 PC if you're a hobbyist. This isn't a machine for gamers. That same $5,000 PC is going to run fortnite at 300fps with top settings and will be perfect for all your youtube videos. This machine is strictly for artists who make a living on high-end products. Commercials, Music Videos, Movies, Television, VFX, Sound Editing, Music Production, High End Photographic Manipulation, 3D Animation, 2k - 8k raw footage (of which you can run 6 streams of 8k raw on this machine)…THESE PEOPLE are the target audience.

But let's talk money and see if you financially line up via your work:

If $40/month—a fraction of a billable hour for many of the pros who will buy this box—is a meaningful amount of money, there’s absolutely no way the 2019 Mac Pro is in any way something you should be thinking about buying.

It's ego — people don't like hearing they may not be this level “pro”, being discovered like guys with big Pickups that don't haul anything. This machine is a bargain for network-connected workstations. And anyone thinking the monitor is too expensive — it's only because you don't need a reference monitor.
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When I saw this reference monitor for ONLY $5,000, I about lost my lunch. I couldn't believe how cheap it was and couldn't be more excited to finally get a comepetitive reference monitor to compete against what we have at the studio, which all cost at minimum $40,000.

I was wondering why there could be a big price difference; and in my preliminary search I have found others thinking the same.

I don't mean to be critical, but it appears you really comparing bananas and oranges. You may notice a huge bargain by using the apple over the 40K one your studio uses, but that only means for your studios purposes.

Apparently 40k broadcast monitors can still do more than the new apple one…but for working in Houdini? Likely features not needed/used.

But in that light, the same could be said for a ‘best-buy’ 4k moniter and the apple - even for a small studio, on a price point it may not give the mileage deserved.

Here's a link that highlights why I wouldn't necessarily put that apple monitor on a high pedestal:

https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/c0d7fq/why_is_the_pro_display_xdr_so_cheap_when_the/er485i8/ [www.reddit.com]
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BabaJ
When I saw this reference monitor for ONLY $5,000, I about lost my lunch. I couldn't believe how cheap it was and couldn't be more excited to finally get a comepetitive reference monitor to compete against what we have at the studio, which all cost at minimum $40,000.

I was wondering why there could be a big price difference; and in my preliminary search I have found others thinking the same.

I don't mean to be critical, but it appears you really comparing bananas and oranges. You may notice a huge bargain by using the apple over the 40K one your studio uses, but that only means for your studios purposes.

Apparently 40k broadcast monitors can still do more than the new apple one…but for working in Houdini? Likely features not needed/used.

But in that light, the same could be said for a ‘best-buy’ 4k moniter and the apple - even for a small studio, on a price point it may not give the mileage deserved.

Here's a link that highlights why I wouldn't necessarily put that apple monitor on a high pedestal:

https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/c0d7fq/why_is_the_pro_display_xdr_so_cheap_when_the/er485i8/ [www.reddit.com]

I can't understand what you are saying? Reference monitors wouldn't be needed for Houdini. We are talking about for Coloring, Color Matching, Lighting, General color continuity. There's zero reason to use a reference monitor for Houdini. Again, this monitor isn't for you if you are just using Houdini. Run your simulations on any monitor you please “any 4k or above monitor”…this isn't for that purpose. The brightness that comes with the Apple Monitor and the consistency and being able to STAY that bright, while working on HDR10 projects, etc…it's necessary for theater quality projects.
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The brightness that comes with the Apple Monitor and the consistency and being able to STAY that bright, while working on HDR10 projects, etc

Then which one is it? Because the one discussion I reference in the link suggests the broadcast monitor is better than the apple for the purpose you suggest.

Edit: And what I am meaning by all this. I can understand for your studios specific purpose, it seems like when apple was not around with their current monitor we are speaking about, your studio had no choice but to go with the 40k reference, as the next step ‘down’ were the best-buy 4k variety which simply would not do.

But at the same time, I cannot help but think that other studios of comparable size to yours but perhaps having different needs might actually still not be able to make do with the apple one. And if that is the case, the comparison can't really be made between the apple and a 40k broadcast; Because in the end it's actually all the specific technical features one is going to use or is not.

And to show me up in my ignorance you could probably tell me if you think all studios of the same approximate size(to yours) would only have the same needs as your studio? And in turn all benefit from a huge savings by only going with the apple?
Edited by BabaJ - Dec. 5, 2019 17:25:17
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Thanks to @callie_btw for confirming that Apple Mac Pro, and monitor, isn't for Houdini users.
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callie_btw
The bottom line is, this is the most powerful singular computer on earth upon it's release

Not by a long shot. The 28 core intel is already matched and beaten by the 24 core threadripper in most benchmarks, and unless apple pulls its fingers out the 64 core threadripper will be released before it as well, which will absolutely trounce it.

The GPUs are nice but I wonder how many apps will be able to take advantage. A shame it won't have the option of cuda/optix.

Pcie slots - still gen 3, threadripper is gen 4…
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Thanks to @callie_btw for confirming that Apple Mac Pro, and monitor, isn't for Houdini users.

You're very welcome. Folks like me need to look out for folks like you sometimes. It's just an act of kindness. Pay it forward kiddo.
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callie_btw
The bottom line is, this is the most powerful singular computer on earth upon it's release

Not by a long shot. The 28 core intel is already matched and beaten by the 24 core threadripper in most benchmarks, and unless apple pulls its fingers out the 64 core threadripper will be released before it as well, which will absolutely trounce it.

The GPUs are nice but I wonder how many apps will be able to take advantage. A shame it won't have the option of cuda/optix.

Pcie slots - still gen 3, threadripper is gen 4…

Be real. The GPU's aren't just nice, they are, as I said, the most powerful on earth in a single system…but keep bending the words however you need to for your narrative lol.
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callie_btw
Be real. The GPU's aren't just nice, they are, as I said, the most powerful on earth in a single system…but keep bending the words however you need to for your narrative lol.


To be clear, in Houdini, those GPUs are seen as 2 separate devices and therefore are half the power of the advertised speed. Houdini can only use one device at a time.
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BabaJ
The brightness that comes with the Apple Monitor and the consistency and being able to STAY that bright, while working on HDR10 projects, etc

Then which one is it? Because the one discussion I reference in the link suggests the broadcast monitor is better than the apple for the purpose you suggest.

Edit: And what I am meaning by all this. I can understand for your studios specific purpose, it seems like when apple was not around with their current monitor we are speaking about, your studio had no choice but to go with the 40k reference, as the next step ‘down’ were the best-buy 4k variety which simply would not do.

But at the same time, I cannot help but think that other studios of comparable size to yours but perhaps having different needs might actually still not be able to make do with the apple one. And if that is the case, the comparison can't really be made between the apple and a 40k broadcast; Because in the end it's actually all the specific technical features one is going to use or is not.

And to show me up in my ignorance you could probably tell me if you think all studios of the same approximate size(to yours) would only have the same needs as your studio? And in turn all benefit from a huge savings by only going with the apple?

To answer your question, I would answer it like this. To color a film, “which is not my primary job…I'm usually serving as VFX Supervisor, Lead Editor, Post Production Supervisor”, I would charge a client a flat rate based on project length and their budget, OR, I would charge around $100 per minute…if it is a 30 minute short film, they are looking at a bill of $3,000. 2 of these films in a year “of which I usually do 4 or 5” and the monitor has paid for itself. I color in DaVinci Resolve. I used to do it on a friends console “which is $30,000”, but once I get this monitor, I will do it in-house. A benefit to this is when I do run Houdini, RealFlow, C4D or whatever other tools I'm using to do the VFX on a project, I can color them with the film as well on this reference monitor and they will blend together much better.

As for size, I have a team of about 3 to 5 depending on who's available and not working on another project when something I want to take on comes along. So for any studio between 1 - 5 people, yes, I think it's a worthy investment.

Now I'm not suggesting your opinion, or anyone else's for that matter is wrong, we are all entitled to our opinions…but this is mine, and these are the reasons I feel it's a proper investment, and frankly, a godsend.
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callie_btw
Be real. The GPU's aren't just nice, they are, as I said, the most powerful on earth in a single system…but keep bending the words however you need to for your narrative lol.


To be clear, in Houdini, those GPUs are seen as 2 separate devices and therefore are half the power of the advertised speed. Houdini can only use one device at a time.

The problem with that theory is assuming the fiber link doesn't get Houdini to register it as ONE device…as is the case with DaVinci Resolve, per their CEO, who was excited and shocked upon realizing this…maybe we should wait and here what SideFX has to say about it.
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sure, have a read:
https://www.sidefx.com/forum/topic/66758/?page=1#post-284718 [www.sidefx.com]

We used one of Grant Petty's first boards in 2000. He's always been ‘excited and shocked’ with marketing opportunities
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