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digitalcarbon

the new mac pro

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was thinking of getting this:

New Mac pro

3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor

12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory

Dual AMD FirePro D300 with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each

OS X Mavericks

or

Mac Mini

2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

16GB memory

Intel HD Graphics 4000

OS X Mavericks

the age old question is how much of the hardware will VW2014 use for the money spent?

will it use the dual graphics card in the new Mac Pro? or will i find out later that it can only use one?

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I can say from experience that you will benefit from a real graphics card, not the intel integrated. Even though the graphics specs on the mac pro seem like overkill for VW.

Years ago I had a machine built with Xeons. I paid a lot of money for them (dual processor board) and the ECC memory that you have to have with them. I didn't find that they were worth the money.

But it's what Mac is offering in the pro world. I thought that the specs on a fully loaded hi end imac looked pretty good too. I might be more inclined towards that than the mac pro, pretty as it is.

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Avoid Intel integrated cards at all costs. They have yet to prove viable for Vectorworks.

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well Jim, i guess that does it. i like clear direction.

as to the iMacs. i just do not like the idea of paying for a screen.

i had mac minis since they first appeared. and I'm only on my second monitor.

plus i sell my mini every year and get a new one. easy to sell and ship

the mac pro will be easy to ship when i sell it also

thanks or all the comments.

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I'm about to upgrade before getting VW2014. The mac pro is sure nice looking with great specs. I've been using the mac mini late 2009 model which is the one mac mini which came with a separate graphics card. It's a bit slow with 3D rendering but does work fine with 2D and even open GL modeling if not too complex is OK. I'm not considering a mac mini now because of the clear directions from Nemetschek web site to not use Intel built-in graphics machines.

I have lots of monitors 20". However, the iMac 27" with one 20" monitor next to it should be a big step up from two 20"s. Even though the video card is optimized for gaming Nemetschek seems to say that it works very well for all VW tasks.

Here's my plan:

27" imac

3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz

8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2X4GB

(I'll upgrade it to 24GB from DMS; datamemorysystems.com)

1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5 (adds $150)

Apple USB SuperDrive (adds $79)

AppleCare Protection Plan for iMac - Auto-enroll (adds $169)

Everything I read says get extra RAM and lots of video memory with good card.

I'm guessing it is not necessary to upgrade the processor to the i7 - comments?

I know this is about the mac pro. I've been waiting for it but $3000++ and still to buy 27" monitor. And, it sounds like the iMac is what is most used / tested at VW-Nemetschek. The new mac pro with new graphics card could be problematic for first buyers using VW.

Edited by Henry Finch

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This brings up an age old wish of mine.

Vectorworks needs a set of benchmarking tests. That, along with a place where users could upload their configuration and results, would allow much wiser decision making when considering hardware replacement / upgrades. For most Vectorworks users, these test results would undoubtedly influence their purchase decisions possibly saving them many $$$.

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Hi Kevin,

Yes. Cinebench is good for Renderworks. While that's valuable, I'm more concerned with VW related tasks. Complex plug-in object, DTM regeneration, and other more basic tasks. Having a way to compare results would help us put more money towards the hardware that makes the digest difference for our interest. Maybe that extra money for that higher end graphics card would be better spent for a better processor, or RAM. Currently, all we have to go by is "get the fastest processor, loads of RAM, and the best graphics card you can afford". Unfortunately, many of us need to make a compromise somewhere.

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I agree completely. Better guidelines would certainly help. Though when I made my last purchase I considered what would work best for my other software first, since it takes advantage of modern technologies.

Of course many of those tasks are math heavy and likely the ones that would benefit most from 64bit? Any processor you buy will be 64bit ready so when the switch is made all of our existing systems should see some benefit, shouldn't they?

And if you're Mac based, I understand Apple seems to be working on managing system resources (ie. shifting tasks between the graphics processor and the main processors) in the new Mac pro so many combinations may be just as effective.

Kevin

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cinebench is great for C4d, but I would probably only trust it's benchmarks for opengl processing, not the actual renderer. I say this because Renderworks is a dumbed down version of the renderer C4D uses. I don't find that the controls available to the renderworks user give them very much control over how the renderer works, compared to C4D.

If you do some reading about xeons vs i7, you'll find that there are a lot of features in the xeon that may or may not benefit VW users. It would be good for VW to include this comparison in their knowledge base, like they have about video cards. I was sold on the notion of getting quadro cards ($$$) until I spoke to someone at VW, who changed my mind.

Xeons require a more expensive motherboard, and more expensive RAM. I find the marketing strategy of apple always to be very interesting and very decisive. Why did they get rid of the 17" macbook pro, and hardwire all of the components? Why did they move the mac pro to all super heavy duty components (xeons, ecc ram, two high end video cards)? They are obviously raising the bar for some users, and lowering it for others, forcing the user into one camp or the other.

Digitalmechanics argument about buying a screen is one of the most compelling I've heard regarding the imac.

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This brings up an age old wish of mine.

Vectorworks needs a set of benchmarking tests. That, along with a place where users could upload their configuration and results, would allow much wiser decision making when considering hardware replacement / upgrades. For most Vectorworks users, these test results would undoubtedly influence their purchase decisions possibly saving them many $$$.

I have been trying to develop a reliable method of benchmarking machines specifically for Vectorworks for a few months now. Cinebench 11 seemed the most logical candidate to me as well, since we use their engine in a number of Vectorworks' components. My results (so far) are as follows:

OpenGL - The OpenGL test will give you an accurate idea of the performance of Vectorworks 2014 in (oddly enough) OpenGL rendering mode. Vectorworks 2013 and lower are not optimized for OpenGL and the benchmarking results can be inconclusive for those versions. In later releases this will start to reflect wireframe performance as well, but for now wireframe and OpenGL performance are not necessarily related.

At the time of my last test (July-ish?) a score of 40 or more in the OpenGL bench I would regard as a good candidate for Vectorworks. Anything lower than 40 would normally stutter or respond sluggishly and anything below 20 was nearly unusable.

CPU - The CPU test will give a VERY accurate scale against which Renderworks rendering speed can be judged.

As of the last testing I did, a CPU bench score of 9 or higher was more than adequate to render quickly and efficiently. A score between 2 and 7.9 was acceptable, but not great. Scores lower than 2 were completely unworkable.

Other - I have not yet found a way to accurately bench the speed of geometry operations/wireframe/recalculations or essentially anything other than OpenGL Rendering and Renderworks.

(To put the above scores in perspective, Maxon has now released Cinebench 15, so I do not know if the values i ended up with would still be valid or if they have changed their scoring system dramatically.)

I had to stop that testing to work on projects for the 2014 release, but I will keep an eye out for other benchmarks or methods of judging an existing machines performance in an accurate and meaningful way.

Edited by JimW

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I agree you should get the i7, and upgrade to the Fusion drive. The 128 GB flash built into the drive really reduces start up times.

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Of course many of those tasks are math heavy and likely the ones that would benefit most from 64bit? Any processor you buy will be 64bit ready so when the switch is made all of our existing systems should see some benefit, shouldn't they?
I would like to think that VW has been compiled for 64 bit data paths for many years ie compute power of big(ish) numbers. 64 bit data paths run on 32 bit OS' so has been mainstream for many years.

64 bit addressing is what everyone is waiting for ie ability to handle large amounts of data and requires a 64 bit OS so for mainstream computing is a relatively recent thing.

Your unlikely to see faster maths with 64 bit VW that everyone is waiting for unless the model needs loads of memory.

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People who are banging up against the memory limitation should see speed improvements as well as stability improvements with 64bit. However as Ian above stated, unless that is the limitation you are running into, 64 bit is not the same as multi-threading, which is where the crazy speed boost will come in.

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64 bit is not the same as multi-threading, which is where the crazy speed boost will come in.

Now THAT sounds nice! If VW becomes more multithreaded, all the more reason for a good set of VW benchmark tests. I think we'd all be swayed toward more cores. :-)

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I have ran pros as my main computer from day one. The xeons are a superior chip and the overall Pro will be a workhorse far into the future. I have ran a xeon Pro first gen since they came out (now 7 years) and have been waiting for this new version for quite some time. My existing system renders and runs fantastic even on 2014. My only true limitation is the OS is maxed so I now need to change. I would call this money well spent. I know of a few operators that use laptops and imacs and VW functions great. Bruce K. I saw piped in and he runs an iMac and seems to be quite happy.

My end take is get the computer that best serves your workflow and budget. That is if you are a power user and produce a lot of 3D renders go for the Pro as it is designed to be a workhorse. As for the graphics cards Apple has stated the both will be used through internal software for computative intense tasks i.e. rendering.

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My end take is get the computer that best serves your workflow and budget. That is if you are a power user and produce a lot of 3D renders go for the Pro as it is designed to be a workhorse. As for the graphics cards Apple has stated the both will be used through internal software for computative intense tasks i.e. rendering.
I wouldn't like to think that anyone spends their life savings on Apple hinting that graphics cards will be used for compute intensive operations.

My understanding is that some OSX compute intensive operations have been rewritten that can be handed off to graphics card, but IMHO I doubt this is the same for third party code and algorithms such as renderworks unless these have been rewritten to use the completely different architecture and processors of the graphics engines instead of the current code base utilising the Intel CPU's.

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I don't think that because there are two graphics processors in the mac pro, there would be double the graphics performance. I think that you should compare the graphics card in your mac mini, to the graphics card in the mac pro.

The fact that it has two cards should only allow it to run that many more monitors (probably 4 or more).

Ian is probably our best authority on this.

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Vectorworks specifically can only take advantage of one graphics card at a time, the dual graphics in the Mac pro would benefit the user only in extra monitor support, as well as leaving one graphics card free for other applications and the OS GUI itself.

I don't know whether they will be running the cards as two discrete devices or if they will be SLI/CrossFire linked, but at the moment, Vectorworks can only use a single graphics device.

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Sorry for the delay in response, we have only recently finished our testing of hardware setups like that in tech support.

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