Why Doesn't Jeff Wagner's Mac Crash?

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Hi All,

I was watching Jeff's webinar on FLIP, part-1.
https://vimeo.com/182074285 [vimeo.com]

At 52:40 Jeff mentions that his Mac has only a 1GB graphics card. This is well below the hardware requirements to run Houdini. I have a 16GB MacMini which has 1.5GB graphics intel card yet I get constant crashing when I try to use Houdini 15.5. This machine is “out of spec” so SideFX offers no support for this hardware configuration.

How does Jeff do it? How does he run Houdini on a low-end, out-of-spec OSX machine? (essentially a MacMini is a Mac Laptop)

Are there secret scripts somewhere that allow Houdini to work on a Mac?

I was disappointed the day my MacMini fell out of scope yet when I see a major SideFX developer still rockin' a Mac I wonder how is this possible?
Edited by Enivob - 2016年12月29日 09:10:13
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It's the combination of the driver and hardware, not the Vram. i.e. a geforce 120 will work but an Intel 3000 will not. Both have 512Mb.
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It is becuse of OpenGL support in drivers. Intel does not have such good OpenGL support like nVidia and AMD. For 3d avoid intel cards. On top of that Apple OpenGL implementation is subpar compared to Linux and Win. My guess is that he uses Nvidia card, maybe GTX650.
Edited by SreckoM - 2016年12月29日 16:01:32
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Intel Graphics don't actually have dedicated VRAM (a few have 128MB of special cache). While you can run with less than the recommended VRAM for a discrete card, it's not recommended as it tends to cause sluggishness and other problems down the line (black windows, for example).

In this case, the HD3000 doesn't even meet the minimum GL3.3 standard - it's a GL3.1 capable GPU. Apple pushes it as a 3.3 part by implementing the 3.2 and 3.3 specific bits in software, making it a really sluggish GPU, if it even manages to work at all.

We eventually took all Intel GPUs off the table for the Mac due to strange, unresolvable issues that aren't present in Intel's own drivers on Windows.
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That's very interesting about the Intel graphics ram. Thanks!
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Thanks for the info, I guess i was hoping for a Christmas miracle and I could use Houdini on my MacMini again.

I never understood how Software giants could have unresolved issues? I mean there are millions of dollars to solve the problem and tons of brain power. In my mind all you need is an if then else to fix the problem.

If the code is attempting to use an OpenGL function that is known to crash on Intel, don't perform that operation and instead use a non-crashing default. Aren't there software fall backs to hardware accelerated features that could reside in an ELSE condition?
Edited by Enivob - 2016年12月30日 09:08:39
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If you want to hack the glsl code, go for it. Nothing is stopping you. There lots of example code on the web, you need a lot of patience and there is no guarantee that you will find any fixes or whether they can or will be incorporated. Sounds better to hbatch/bin the macmini

BTW if you want to see software openGL, just boot without a monitor and screen-share into it. It's so slow you may want to reassess that idea.
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Enivob
Thanks for the info, I guess i was hoping for a Christmas miracle and I could use Houdini on my MacMini again.

I never understood how Software giants could have unresolved issues? I mean there are millions of dollars to solve the problem and tons of brain power. In my mind all you need is an if then else to fix the problem.

If the code is attempting to use an OpenGL function that is known to crash on Intel, don't perform that operation and instead use a non-crashing default. Aren't there software fall backs to hardware accelerated features that could reside in an ELSE condition?
I guess it is easier for them that you buy new Mac
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Nothing is stopping you.
I think the problem is more comprehensive than a glsl patch. A coder would need the original source code to Houdini itself to make an effective change and recompile. Are you hinting that it is just a shader crash that is pulling down the entire Houdini application when it crashes? I think it is an unhandled exception from issuing an OpenGL call that fails on invalid hardware. The failure is unexpected and unhandled. That is why I suggest an IF/THEN/ELSE could fix it.

I guess it is easier for them that you buy new Mac
Yeah, that'll never happen for me again. I don't see much value in Apple computers at this point.
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I don't see much value in Apple computers at this point.
Yeah it's a shame they seem to be slipping a bit lately.
I bought last years (top of the line) MacBook Pro primarily for Houdini and recently found out even it doesn't meet the requirements!?
It still runs pretty much fine though and I rarely ever have a crash.

I run a bunch of other 3D programs on OSX that don't seem to have the same troubles as Houdini though, so it is a little frustrating.

Also I've seen a lot of demos and webinars done on the mac with Houdini, so it always seemed strange it gets so little love.
Edited by peteski - 2016年12月30日 23:46:25
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That is why I suggest an IF/THEN/ELSE could fix it.

Go for it - as i said you should code it up, as you're the only one out in the world using a MacMini for Houdini BTW there is ~1000 shaders to go through.

I'm not sure you quite understand how opengl is debugged on the mac. think lots and lots of coffee and testing whilst windows/linux has a nice debugger. you can write to apple about it, okay.

I run a glsl-hacked houdini and although not perfect, it's okay. It took a only a few days of work over two years to nut out the error.
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Yeah it's a shame they seem to be slipping a bit lately.

Apple makes money, not computers
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peteski
Yeah it's a shame they seem to be slipping a bit lately.

Apple makes money, not computers

Apple makes money on making computers for ordinary mortals, not a bunch of nerds.
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Go for it - as i said you should code it up,
I don't have access to the SideFX source code, no one does it is proprietary software. I would not know how to recompile a massive app like that or even determine where the fix would need to be applied.

It seems to me the problem is not a glsl shader, but what happens after the shader fails. For instance if I click on the Simple Female Character using the tool shelf I get a crash if the Materials button for the viewport is on. If I leave the Material button off I get one step farther before Houdini crashes. The character node is created and I can navigate the network view but the view port is blank.

as you're the only one out in the world using a MacMini for Houdini
A MacMini is essentially a Mac Laptop with no display so there are a lot of those out there that fall into this category. I typically see 1-4 posts a month about people who can't run Houdini on their mac. To a new use it just looks like Houdini does not work.

I run a bunch of other 3D programs on OSX that don't seem to have the same troubles as Houdini
I use other 3D programs on the MacMini just fine, Blender, Marvelous Designer, Clarisse, MakeHuman, C4D. Those programs have to deal with the given hardware for their view ports and they don't crash out like Houdini does.
Edited by Enivob - 2016年12月31日 09:39:05
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@Enviob - I'll leave it here, as my lateral thinking is on a collision course with with your linear thinking. Sorry I couldn't be of any help.

@h16aup - Consumer Reports' negative review may be the best thing to happen to help them fix things, but I doubt it.
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Consumer Reports' negative review may be the best thing to happen to help them fix things, but I doubt it.
Yeah I hope that has some effect.
Hey, so knowing nothing about what causes the incompatibility, if I was to submit a bug report to them, what would you ask for? Better integration of OpenGL?
It's probably pointless but at least I could feel like I tried .
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@peteski - go for it! It's probably equal in ratio to a mosquito biting an elephant but eh, you never know Some years ago we all held off sending in reports and the outcome was nothing happened, afaik, maybe one bug was fixed… A good bug report would show how it is slow or crashes on OsX, but booted into Windows/Linux on the same hardware is much better as the glsl is effectually the same.


In the end if the MacOs drivers were up to the standard of other platforms we wouldn't crash, and, if GL4.5+ was implemented we would have much better performance, and if the driver was optimised we would equal the performance too. It's all in Apple's hands… surprisingly OpenCL was updated in the last Sierra build, ‘OpenCL 1.2 (Dec 9 2016 21:36:44)’ so sometimes, just sometimes


I also did see a blog post about circumventing some of the limitations of Metal that *could* be relevant as Apple seem to be dragging their feet implementing all the features we need for Houdini. Not sure if this helps or hinders our quest for better 3d MacOs life!

http://hacksoflife.blogspot.co.nz/2015/06/os-x-metal-raw-notes.html [hacksoflife.blogspot.co.nz]

Comments:
'Regarding Metal's support for geometry shaders and transform feedback — my understanding is that you can combine compute and graphics shaders into a single command buffer, so you could use a compute shader to alter the geometry and store it in a private buffer, then use graphics shaders to render that buffer.'
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Apple has pretty much abandoned Mac (at least for pro users). It's about time pro Mac users have abandoned Apple back.
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@tinyparticle - Apple machines still work well, especially within a pipeline of creative software. Metal should bring about Vulkan or OpenGL 4.5+ performance and the new filesystem ,APFS, should bring Linux speed to the playform. 10bit display are common too.

Metal incorporates compute as well, so I'm not anything non-professional in the latest software offerings. Currently the hardware is underpowered but that can change.
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For one ex-Apple employee's critique of Apple:
https://chuqui.com/2017/01/apples-2016-in-review/ [chuqui.com] (taken from slashdot [apple.slashdot.org])
Back when I was running most of Apple's e-mail systems for the marketing teams, I went to them and suggested that we should consider dumping the text-only part of the emails we were building, because only about 4% of users used them and it added a significant amount of work to the process of creation and testing each e-mail. Their response? That it was a small group of people, but a strategic one, since it was highly biased towards developers and power users. So the two-part emails stayed – and they were right. It made no sense from a business standpoint to continue to develop these emails as both HTML text, but it made significant strategic sense. It was an investment in keeping this key user base happy with Apple. Apple, from all indications I've seen over the last year and with the configurations they've shipped with these new laptops, has forgotten this, and the product configurations seem designed by what will fit the biggest part of the user base with the fewest configuration options. They've chopped off the edges of the bell curve – and big chunks of their key users with them.
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