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MAC Pro upgrade

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I just got a new six core. Some simple speed test results can be found here: https://techboard.vectorworks.net/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=39841&Number=197685#Post197685

FWIW, I have been a modeling and rendering fool since last week when the new machine finally arrived. Here is one additional result, in case anyone is interested. The project consists of adding a new front porch to an existing mid-century yawner (file size/resolution reduced for transport):

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

That is still going to be limited by Vectorworks' graphic engine for the time being.

It will be as fast as possible (Basically any video card superior to a GeForce GTX 560 should get you above the hardware hurdle without issue), but the "as fast as possible" speed will be significantly faster soon.

Once Vectorworks' top/plan redraw speed is limited by the hardware instead of the software as it is now, I will be making a full report on the details.

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My wish and suggestion is to release the next 64 bit version as soon as it's ready, and prior to the usual September release cycle, this would give more development time for the September 2015 release...NV benefits from more bug submits + time. The money is the same!

I'm on the maintenance plan so it's the same amount of money they get from me, but at least I can stop crashing and get work done. And that's what the purpose of being on maintenance is all about; GET REQUIRED URGENT fixes to crashing software as it's available and not being dependent strictly on annual release cycles.

Just change the release names from VW+year to VW+Release Number and give us the goods...I cannot stand the suffering any longer.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I can tell you because of the way things are structured here, that will almost certainly not happen for the next release (The planning for major releases is done a year or more in advance in most cases) but I will make sure to convey your wish to who needs to hear it.

It makes sense and I feel the same way, especially with the large majority of our users having subscribed to Service Select and our delivery being mostly done via download now rather than suffering from the overhead of shipping physical DVDs/boxes.

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Thanks for all that info. So based upon the "needs' of VW, what would be the ideal Mac Pro set up to get the most out of VW?

6, 8, or 12 cores-with a slower clock speeds

16, 32, 64 GB of memory

Fire Pro D500 or D700? (Assume the 700 would be best)

Of course budget pays into this as well.

Looking for the best set up with a Performance/Cost ratio.

Thanks again for the help.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

If you don't do Renderworks renderings regularly, the 6 core CPU is more than adequate.

The 12 core one however would render most files in about half the time as the 6 core, but again this is only the Renderworks renderings, not OpenGL or Hidden Line. If you did Renderworks renderings all day long, it would be a serious time saver and might tip the cost/benefit scales if that was a huge part of your workflow.

If you just did 2D drafting, it would not be a noticeable difference other than the stabbing pain in your wallet.

16GB is more than enough for Vectorworks and most applications. Unless you run Vectorworks in addition to other large, memory-hungry programs constantly, 16 is plenty.

It is unlikely you would notice the difference between the D500 and the D700 in Vectorworks. Currently both are massive overkill. Again, you'd notice the wallet ache mostly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay! I am in the market for a new computer, and I have read this thread and any other related threads I could find...

I'm all for a faster Renderworks, but what about Section Viewports? In preparing construction drawings, are not these the bread and butter for many of us? Building sections, interior elevations, details, exterior elevations, etc?

So! I understand that if you want to maximize Renderworks, go for as many cores as possible, along with a good dose of RAM as well. It looks as though 12 GB would be sufficient for Renderworks alone? Would 12 GB of RAM be more than adequate for Renderworks running in conjunction with something such as Photoshop as well, or would 16 GB (or more) be noticeably better?

And it seems OpenGL and Plan/Wireframe navigation are the responsibility (especially with 2014?) of the graphics card (for the first time, my '06 Mac Pro with it's 256 MB graphics card can't really run Vectorworks (2014)). I guess a more powerful graphics card is better for these functions? but only to a point if the FirePro D500 and D700 are "massive overkill?" Is the D300, with its 2 GB of VRAM, that point?

And, more than anything, what about maximizing the speed at which Section Viewports ("Hidden Line" drawings??) are rendered? What I can't quite figure out is, who's responsible for Hidden Line drawings? The CPU or the Graphics Card(s)? If it's the CPU, I'm assuming it's the one with the highest clock speed, and not the one with the most cores.

That all said, I'm sensing that a lot of the answers to the above questions may change as the limitations of near-future releases of Vectorworks shift from the software to the hardware it runs on (64-bit? Multithreading?). I may actually be more interested in those answers, as "future-proofing" is important to me (after all, my current Mac is going on 8 years old!?).

Last but not least? An iMac with a 3.5 GHz quad-core i7 and 3.9 GHz "Turbo Boost" (let's call it 3.7 GHz), 16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, a 2 GB graphics card, AND a monitor, keyboard and mouse, is $2,599. A Mac Pro with a 3.7 GHz quad-core, only 12 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, a 2 GB graphics card, and SANS monitor, keyboard and mouse, is $2,999. So, then? the Xeon chips and FirePro graphics cards must be significantly more powerful??

Any feedback greatly appreciated! Thanks, Will

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An iMac with a 3.5 GHz quad-core i7 and 3.9 GHz "Turbo Boost" (let's call it 3.7 GHz), 16 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, a 2 GB graphics card, AND a monitor, keyboard and mouse, is $2,599.

The iMac has a raw speed of 15442

A Mac Pro with a 3.7 GHz quad-core, only 12 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, a 2 GB graphics card, and SANS monitor, keyboard and mouse, is $2,999.

The MacPro has a raw speed of 14660

An 8-core MacPro has a raw speed of 22279

speeds and details from http://www.everymac.com/

Edited by Jonathan Pickup
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Section Viewports rendered in Hidden Line will use the CPU.

Section viewports rendered in OpenGL would use the GPU for the actual rendering component, but for the geometry calculation when it is slicing through the model it will use the CPU first.

Soon we will have a more standardized method of bench marking machines and judging ahead of time how well we can expect them to perform in Renderworks/OpenGL. (I just haven't had time to finish it yet.)

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Last I heard, hidden line rendering was NOT multiprocessor aware. Only a renderworks style rendering of a viewport is going to take advantage of multiple cores.

Graphics cards mean nothing to the output of viewports, unless your render mode is OpenGL.

But in the interest of "future proofing," I've read on this forum many times that they are working towards making hidden line renders multi thread aware. But for now you're limited to single processor clock speed. The rule of thumb here is not to buy the latest greatest processor as it's wildly overpriced. The above average processor (just below top of the line) will usually be the best value. I've never noticed the difference between say...a 3.5ghz clock speed and a 3.7ghz clock speed.

I'm up to 16 gigs of ram on on my office computer, an upgrade I made a few months ago from 12. The computer is snappier for sure. I never think you're wasting money on ram as it's relatively cheap these days. True, at say 32 gigs of ram you might be wasting money, but I think you're good up to even 18 or 20. Photoshop and other programs benefit from the extra ram.

That macpro is not worth the money for VW if you ask me. It's got dual graphics cards which I don't think you'll ever take advantage of unless you're drafting with like four monitors. Add to it the limited upgrade ability, no monitor, no keyboard, etc.

64 bit and multi processor support is going to be life changing. When I render a "cell drawing" (which is hidden line) in C4d, it takes seconds to implement.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
Last I heard, hidden line rendering was NOT multiprocessor aware. Only a renderworks style rendering of a viewport is going to take advantage of multiple cores.

Not to disagree, just to clarify:

Its 50/50 at the moment, the geometry calculation portion of a Hidden Line rendering is single core, the rendering portion is multicore. Depending on what geometry you are rendering sometimes that makes the split 60/40 or the other way around. But yes, full multicore is coming, soon.

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Thanks for the responses! First, a few quick questions:

1.) Is multi-threading the same thing as a software's ability to use more than one CPU core (at least as we're using the terms here)?

2.) I assume any new computer at this point, whether it be an iMac or a Mac Pro, is going to be fully 64-bit capable, and that the issue is really whether or not a particular software takes advantage of that?

3.) While 3.5 or 3.7 GHz is clearly more than my current 2.66 GHz (though not as much more as one might expect after almost 8 years??), is a single processor with four cores much different than my current two processors with two cores each (total four?)?

Based on the "raw speed" comparisons (thanks for the www.everymac.com link, great site!) and the "extraneous" second graphics card of the MacPro, it seems like an iMac is the way to go for Vectorworks. Except that if the rendering portion of Hidden Line drawings is multi-core, wouldn't they benefit from six or more cores rather than just the maximum of four available with the iMac?

In any case, maybe it's a moot question if Vectorworks is soon to more extensively and completely take advantage of multiple cores? Maybe the Mac Pro is "not worth the money for VW" at this point, but "soon" will be (at least ones with six or more cores?)?

Bottom line, I guess, is what's the best way to faster Hidden Line drawings - in the near future if not right away? I have large projects (60 sheets) that take an entire day just to update the viewports and print the PDFs? (not to mention the time demand updating viewports while actively working on a project?).


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

1) Effectively yes.

2) Correct. I think all Macs shipped starting around 2-3 years ago in 64bit, and most new Windows machines are now 64bit Win 7 or 64bit Win 8. There is little to no reason to use a 32bit machine any longer.

3) Normally this difference is negligible as far as Renderworks is concerned. You may notice a difference in benchmarking apps but in my experience you wont see much difference in practice.

Currently there isn't a great way of reducing section rendering time. Much of the wait time isn't hardware related, just your machine waiting for one of Vectorwork's single processes to complete. The only option is to remove any geometry (via disabling the class visibility, usually) that isn't completely necessary.

Rendering within viewports rather than directly on the design layer can decrease render times as well.

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Thanks, Jim!

Currently there isn't a great way of reducing section rendering time.

But what about in the near future? I believe you've indicated that 64-bit and multi-threading will soon play a larger role in Vectorworks. Will these reduce Hidden Line rendering times? Significantly? If so, I assume more, rather than fewer, cores will be helpful, at least with respect to multi-threading

Thanks, Will

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