New Mac Pro or Boxx 8950

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Old 03 March 2014   #16
I wrote the Mac Pro review for Ars Technica and, for Nuke, I found that the 3.0GHz 8-core was great for most comps because Nuke has a hard time saturating more cores unless you're doing 3D rendering. It actually degrades in multithreading as you add complexity with stuff like roto. You could probably get a more powerful BOXX with two Xeon CPUs but it will cost a lot more and the base clock of 2.2GHz will actually be slower for Nuke since you will likely never saturate between 24-48threads on a dual-CPU workstation in Nuke.

Also, mental ray for Maya is waaaaaaaaaaaay slower on Windows, so you'd be throwing away all that power unless you run the PC on Linux:



Don't build your own if you value your time. You're just asking for headaches. My home-builds are gaming machines and dumb render nodes not workstations. They are a pain in the ass to try and maintain like a Mac Pro and never are as stable.

Last edited by cgbeige : 03 March 2014 at 08:10 PM.
 
Old 03 March 2014   #17
Originally Posted by cgbeige: Also, mental ray for Maya is waaaaaaaaaaaay slower on Windows, so you'd be throwing away all that power unless you run the PC on Linux...


Are you sure there wasn't something up with that benchmark? Like a version of Windows that didn't support both processor sockets or something like that? It's hard to believe there's an almost 50% difference in performance between platforms with identical hardware. If so, Autodesk is really dropping the ball on that one. Either way, another reason to use Linux if you go that route!
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Old 03 March 2014   #18
If you value your time [ie you are using the machine to make money] get a machine with a support contract. In fact lease it and write it off as a business expense.

In which case I would recommend the HP Z8x0 series workstations. Nice machines and one of the best machines I've used at home and at the last 3 studios I've worked at.

I'd go with Nvidia for anything OpenCL related in Houdini, but granted with enough CPU cores on the xeons, its a moot point, Houdini's GPU accelleration isn't all there yet.

I own a Mac Pro and its a great box but there is no way I'd touch the new form factor. I do a lot of my photo work on the mac pro but all my 3d stuff is on the windows/linux/pc side.

If you do build your own, go and build a reference Intel system using all of their certified parts.

Get a intel server enclosure and xeon board. Inside the documentation for that board there will be a certification list of vendors with certified models of memory, etc. Stick to that list, get a certified power supply, and you should be good. I find that folks who have issues with home built pc's are mixing and matching components that may not be 100% compatible.

But if its for work/business use, just lease it and write it off as an expense.

Last edited by KWilliams : 03 March 2014 at 10:07 PM.
 
Old 03 March 2014   #19
Originally Posted by olson: Are you sure there wasn't something up with that benchmark? Like a version of Windows that didn't support both processor sockets or something like that? It's hard to believe there's an almost 50% difference in performance between platforms with identical hardware. If so, Autodesk is really dropping the ball on that one. Either way, another reason to use Linux if you go that route!


it's common knowledge that mental ray on Windows is slower. That's why Chaos Group uses Intel C++ on Windows so V-Ray is a bit faster on Win than the other platforms. It's always produced worse results and that procedural sand scene just seems to be really bad all my benchmarks are randomly selected, so this wasn't cherry picked to show the worst case but mental ray is never better running Windows on a Mac or on a dual boot Win/Linux machine.

KWilliams - I'm using the new Mac Pro with Maya, Houdini, Mari and tons of other programs. It's far better than the previous gen Mac Pros for 3D. I think that most people just have an intuition that the small form factor is very "un-3D" but that's just not the case.

Anyway, I have to start refraining from platform specific talk now because I can't really say I'm unbiased anymore for reasons I can't go into.
 
Old 03 March 2014   #20
Originally Posted by olson: Are you sure there wasn't something up with that benchmark? Like a version of Windows that didn't support both processor sockets or something like that? It's hard to believe there's an almost 50% difference in performance between platforms with identical hardware. If so, Autodesk is really dropping the ball on that one. Either way, another reason to use Linux if you go that route!


For my own MR/maya renderings, I've found scenes that render as simple passes - RGB mattes, depth, surface shaders, etc tend to render often almost twice as fast on linux compared to identical machines running windows. It's crazy.

However for main beauty passes, linux usually renders those passes about 11-15% faster than windows



The speed difference tends to be towards the more extreme end of the spectrum when using older hardware like a 6 year old intel quad Q6600 cpu or AMD quad X4 965 phenom II.

Last edited by sentry66 : 03 March 2014 at 12:45 AM.
 
Old 03 March 2014   #21
cgbeige, I heard that most 3D softwares are unable to take full advantage of the new Macs power at this point. Is this true? and in this case should I just wait another year to buy one?
 
Old 03 March 2014   #22
Originally Posted by cgbeige: Anyway, I have to start refraining from platform specific talk now because I can't really say I'm unbiased anymore for reasons I can't go into.

For the record: since you can't go into the reasons, fair enough, but if later on you can disclose your bias (say you got a job for Apple), as long as it's made plain you are absolutely welcome to keep contributing to debates even if you have a vested interest on one of the sides.

We've always welcomed vendors, HW and SW, and their opinions. As long as a potential bias is obvious for readers to use the info they provide transparently, people with ties to companies bring great contributions and a unique and rarer perspective (if obviously biased) to discussions.

Just so you know.
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Old 03 March 2014   #23
Originally Posted by cgbeige: KWilliams - I'm using the new Mac Pro with Maya, Houdini, Mari and tons of other programs. It's far better than the previous gen Mac Pros for 3D. I think that most people just have an intuition that the small form factor is very "un-3D" but that's just not the case.

Anyway, I have to start refraining from platform specific talk now because I can't really say I'm unbiased anymore for reasons I can't go into.


Aside from moving all your expansion to external devices, you are locked to limited GPU options on the new Mac Pro, and how is the linux support for its hardware? too many questions for me so I'll opt for the turn key solution from another vendor with more options.

I'm sure the new Mac Pro is great for a lot of users, it may be a good fit for the op as well, however there are other options, and if its for professional use, I'd opt for a vendor workstation be it Apple, Dell, Boxx, HP or whoever.

If the Op can afford to wait another year as he just stated then it's probably not an urgent purchase.

Last edited by KWilliams : 03 March 2014 at 01:58 AM.
 
Old 03 March 2014   #24
Originally Posted by Tuckerjamez: cgbeige, I heard that most 3D softwares are unable to take full advantage of the new Macs power at this point. Is this true? and in this case should I just wait another year to buy one?

Speaking of 3D, so we're leaving image processing and editing out:
Some rendering engines out there do support multiple video cards, how many do so with AMD cards though, and on OS-X though, I don't know; probably a number between 0 and 2.
Anything else, and you will be tossing some money out of the window for the videocards, since there is no other option than the dual AMD Pros, and no major 3D app makes much use of multiple videocards.

Other than that, nothing else in the Mac Pro is "useless", online flash storage, CPUs and all are all fairly immediate and quantifiable advantages, the storage for a decent price as well (assuming it's of any interest to you, for some people it's a great deal, for some it has 0 value and it's more money out of the window).

"Unable to take full advantage" is a bit too blankety, it does hold true if you talk 3D DCC and the GPUs subsystem part of the offer, but not for much else.
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Old 03 March 2014   #25
If you are interested in dual-socket Boxx systems though you may want to look at the 8920. It's the standard dual-socket system. The 8950 is a bit of a specialist system designed around the Supermicro X9DRG-QF to allow up to 5 graphics cards and still have 2 slots to spare.
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Old 03 March 2014   #26
Originally Posted by Tuckerjamez: cgbeige, I heard that most 3D softwares are unable to take full advantage of the new Macs power at this point. Is this true? and in this case should I just wait another year to buy one?


I think you're referring to OpenCL software not being able to make full use of both GPUs. That's a very small amount of software (if you don't know if you need OpenCL, you probably don't need it) and it won't affect anything like Maya or Nuke. Mari already lets you use both GPUs in the Mac Pro I use the dedicated GPU for OpenCL functions (Mari on Mac can use the GPU for its constant live tile visibility processing that it does) and the screen GPU for just drawing. If you use the screen GPU for OpenCL processing, the viewport stutters, which is typical of what happens when you use a display GPU for compute at the same time.

But there's no software that doesn't tap the CPU or PCIe SSD or something correctly. It's just another generation of faster computer to the software.

how is the linux support for its hardware


the same as any other previous Mac: there is no support for Linux in Boot Camp. But who buys a machine with a stable Unix with tailored software and hardware only to use it to run another Unix with less predictability and less software? I like Linux but you should get an HP/Dell/BOXX if you're looking for a supported Linux/retail machine. You buy a Mac so you don't have to lose a day after a yum update or chase driver revisions to get Mari not to draw wonky patches.

Last edited by cgbeige : 03 March 2014 at 02:37 PM.
 
Old 03 March 2014   #27
Originally Posted by dmeyer: If you are interested in dual-socket Boxx systems though you may want to look at the 8920. It's the standard dual-socket system. The 8950 is a bit of a specialist system designed around the Supermicro X9DRG-QF to allow up to 5 graphics cards and still have 2 slots to spare.


I would have to agree with this. Most of the higher end BOXX stuff is catered towards guys that want multiple GPUs for iRay, etc, or some type of GPU simulation. If you dont need multiple GPUs, then you dont need the top of the line 8950.

What is your budget?
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Old 03 March 2014   #28
I want to be around 10k Usd. Thanks for the reply.
 
Old 03 March 2014   #29
Give me the 10k and I'll build one for you
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