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Gaspar Potocnik

AMD or Nvidia, any real world comparisons?

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Looking into buying a video card to use as a eGPU with a new MacBook Pro to run VW and Vision. For what I read in other posts there shouldn't be any difference, but has anyone done some actual tests with a Mac? AMD has always been the chipset choice of Apple, should this mean it should work better?

 

I've found online quite a few comparisons on windows and some on Mac, all show the GTX 1080 Ti is 20% better/faster than the Vega 64...

 

@JimW do either VW or Vision benefit from CUDA or Metal? Or is it all OpenGL and OpenCL? Have you done any test on either cards running on Mac?

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9 hours ago, Gaspar Potocnik said:

Looking into buying a video card to use as a eGPU with a new MacBook Pro to run VW and Vision. For what I read in other posts there shouldn't be any difference, but has anyone done some actual tests with a Mac? AMD has always been the chipset choice of Apple, should this mean it should work better?

 

I've found online quite a few comparisons on windows and some on Mac, all show the GTX 1080 Ti is 20% better/faster than the Vega 64...

 

@JimW do either VW or Vision benefit from CUDA or Metal? Or is it all OpenGL and OpenCL? Have you done any test on either cards running on Mac?

 

I have a 2014 MB Pro and 2013 Mac Pro (Trashcan)  That I ran an NVIDIA GTX 980 TI in an external thunderbolt 2 enclosure and external monitor.   While it worked better than the internal D700s and Geforce GT 750M (for Vision particularly) it was still disappointing and not reflective of the performance that card should produce.  I'm sure some of it has to do with it being thunderbolt 2 VS thunderbolt 3 and the shear amount of video card bandwidth needed.   Even with Thunderbolt 3 and using an external display you take a 20% performance hit right off the top just from the limited bandwidth of Thurnderbolt 3 (~40gbps theoretical)  and even less (~20gbps theoretical) with thunderbolt 2 (I say theoretically because after the overhead and stuff it's never that fast in the real world).    After an incredible amount tinkering and frustration I finally caved and setup a Windows box, specifically for Vision.    It worked much better for that application,  plus NVIDIA constantly updates their drivers for Windows vs slower updates for Mac. 

 

When I talked to the Vision tech support guys last year about eGPU's,  they had not encountered anyone using anything like that sort of setup.

 

I'm assuming you are running High Sierra.  Last I read, egpu's are sorta supported natively now,   but (I believe better support is coming in 2018) at this point (per my research) it only works with AMD cards natively without outside modifications/scripts/software.    When I was running my setup it was with goalque's automate-eGPU.sh script.   And while it worked,  sometimes the machine would hang on booting and if you disconnected something inadvertently or did something out of order, the Mac would crash hard.   So after several months of trying to make it all happen, I decided it was just a way bigger PITA than it was worth.

 

If you are planning on running the card on your internal display it will be a much more substantial performance hit.  In anycase YMMV.   It ultimately depends on the complexity of your Vision files and the frame rates you hope to get/find acceptable.   

 

-W

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19 hours ago, Gaspar Potocnik said:

@JimW do either VW or Vision benefit from CUDA or Metal?


We take no advantage of either of these techs at the moment, and I do not see any immediate inclusion of them on the horizon in the next version or two. My crystal ball isn't perfect but If I had a whiff that we might be bringing them in soon I would absolutely let you know.
 

For the GPU, we use OpenGL primarily, I do not believe we use OpenCL at all in Vectorworks or Vision.

As for eGPUs, SO FAR all the results I hear of the most recent official inclusion of them on the mac side are positive, with mild losses in performance compared to having the same model GPU installed internally, but only in extremely taxing scenarios. Almost any decent eDPU solution would trounce the lame integrated Intel graphics options however, so in those cases an eGPU is very much worth it. As to specifically Nvidia or AMD, Apple historically sort of swung back and forth between the two, but we don't see a huge difference in performance related to brand, just the raw performance of the hardware itself. 

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20 hours ago, Gaspar Potocnik said:

do either VW or Vision benefit from CUDA or Metal?

 

CUDA is proprietary NVidia cards only (beside, Mac + PC)

So not available for standard Mac users as Apple is by standard with AMD only.

So just for a minority which will use eGPU with NVidia cards.

 

OpenGL and OpenCL are "open" standards, so OpenGL Apps will run on PC + Mac (+Linux)

with both, AMD + Nvidia GPUs.

 

Metal is Mac only but should work on AMD + NVidia.

 

 

So supporting Metal would speed up VW on Mac significantly,

but would require to create 2 VW Versions, as far as all Graphics concerned.

A Mac Metall development + a Windows development.

(Where you would switch PC Version from OpenGL to MS DirectX in that case)

Such a parallel development is normally not affordable for cross platform Apps.

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In the past nVidia cards were a bit more stable and a bit better supported than AMD cards, but AMD has caught up and now the differences are not that big anymore.

 

There are two exceptions that you may want to look at when deciding for a card:

- power consumption, in the past AMD had a higher power consumption (and more heat production) than nVidia but lately it seems that AMD cards have a bit lower power consumption based on the reviews I have seen (though you really need to check this out as those reviews are only a small sample of the cards). This is important for mobile setups or when you have limited cooling options.

- support by other software for a specific card, some software relies heavily on e.g. CUDA and does not really support the AMD equivalent and if that other software is a main tool as well besides Vectorworks then this could sway your choice to one brand or the other.

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I found this website,  https://egpu.io/.  It contains a wealth of information and successful builds for just about every type of thunderbolt computer out there.  The level of detail is highly specific.  I was surprised to learn that not all TB3 endowed laptops have the 4 x PCI lanes enabled, and that there are various other considerations to know.

 

Also, it seems that Apple's new high sierra update will ONLY work with TB3 macs - something to do with  unreliable sleep and booting with TB2.  Since I have a late 2013 MBP with TB2, I'm mostly convinced that I need to either get a laptop with something like a GTX 1050 for on-the-go vectorworks use, and the ability to attach a TB3 eGPU for work at home, or an 8 pound behemoth that's basically a desktop replacement.

 

I don't think the Tb2 > eGPU function in my existing machine would make enough of a difference to justify spending the dough, but that would be impossible to know for sure without giving it a try

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On 4/1/2018 at 5:44 AM, Andrew Davies said:

I am keen to try one out - anyone got any recommendations?

 


We are going to be testing this inhouse shortly!

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Looking forward to hearing the results.

 

My Mac specialist have recommended a Sonnet eGPU with a 550w PSU and an AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100 with 8GB. Anyone’s thoughts on that? Not convinced how well they know Vectorworks 

 

One of my challenges though is that I have an LG 5k display which is USB-C only. Hoping I can go from DisplayPort to USB-C and maintain 5k

 

 

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Andrew, everything I've read claims the eGPU only works if it's the only thing  on your thunderbolt port, and uses a special tb3 cable. USB c and thunderbolt 3 both have the capacity to run your 5k monitor, but you'd need to check w the mfg on specifics.

 

I'm also very interested in the discovery process and hope it can be a great solution to power in the studio and light, portable laptop on site

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Our main hope is that an eGPU will give machines that have integrated graphics a longer/new lease on usable life, allow mobile machines to dock and become serious workstations as mentioned above, and also allow users to select a much cheaper Mac as their workstation since the GPU choices across Apples range are lacking. 

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25 minutes ago, Tim Olson said:

Andrew, everything I've read claims the eGPU only works if it's the only thing  on your thunderbolt port, and uses a special tb3 cable. USB c and thunderbolt 3 both have the capacity to run your 5k monitor, but you'd need to check w the mfg on specifics.

 

I'm also very interested in the discovery process and hope it can be a great solution to power in the studio and light, portable laptop on site

That’s correct - connect the eGPU to the MacBook Pro with USB-C

 

But I am talking about the connection from the Graphics Card that is installed in the eGPU to the monitor. Ie - MacBook Pro — eGPU — Monitor

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1 minute ago, Andrew Davies said:

But I am talking about the connection from the Graphics Card that is installed in the eGPU to the monitor. Ie - MacBook Pro — eGPU — Monitor


Unrelated to eGPUs, I've connected many displayport 1.2 monitors to macbooks, imacs, and directly to GPUs with the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 adapter with no issue. The adaptation seems fairly clean and straightforward.

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3 hours ago, Andrew Davies said:

connect the eGPU to the MacBook Pro with USB-C

 

As far as I know to one of the left ports as these should be connected

to more PCI lanes and faster.

 

Looks like they ditched TB2 ("current" nMac Pro 2013) support.

Although barefeats.com older speed test didn't show much bottlenecks by TB2 vs TB3.

And no official NVidia support.

 

So honestly, not much changed by that 10.13.4 announcement.

Edited by zoomer

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Hi

 

just about to go on site for a week but think I am going to order the Sonnet 550w eGPU with a Radeon Pro WX7100 with 8GB to test out when I am back. 

 

Was hoping Apple would release a new Mac Pro soon but that’s not happening until next year at the earliest apparently. 

 

Hoping this will make Open GL lovely and smooth on my MacBook Pro

 

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Ok -

 

So I got my Sonnet eGPU and AMD Radeon WX7100 Pro - and it was a resounding DISASTER!!

 

Well - not a disaster, that is too strong, but....

 

The Moshi DisplayPort to USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 cable (https://store.apple.com/xc/product/HLR62ZM/A) did not work with my LG Ultrafine monitor.  The packaging does say “Or, connect your DisplayPort computer to a USB-C / TB3 monitor - bidirectional support) - so I really thought it should work. It also says 5k is supported.  Why on earth it doesn’t work I don’t know.

 

So I hooked it up to my sons ancient old DVI monitor and loaded up a fairly heavyweight VWX file to test  There was a definite difference - but not massive.  I thought Open GL would be pretty much instant but not really.  Hidden Line rendering took awhile (I think that’s still CPU so no surprise).  Felt quicker editing “Section in place” but not massively so.


Comparing this to my MBP 2016 with a 4GB Radeon built in card.

 

So - I will probably give it a couple of days and then return it. The shop I bought it from have already said they would refund if it didn’t work.

 

Would love to know why that Moshi cable does not work when the packaging claims it would.  Even if it did work, I would have had to come up with some work around to get my webcam and speakers working.  If it was a HUGE performance improvement then ok, but not really worth the hassle.

 

Will put the £900 towards a Mac Pro whenever they come out.

 

Andrew

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On 4/19/2018 at 8:49 PM, Andrew Davies said:

The Moshi DisplayPort to USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 cable (https://store.apple.com/xc/product/HLR62ZM/A) did not work with my LG Ultrafine monitor.  The packaging does say “Or, connect your DisplayPort computer to a USB-C / TB3 monitor - bidirectional support) - so I really thought it should work. It also says 5k is supported.  Why on earth it doesn’t work I don’t know.

I've used various conversion connectors in the past to change from e.g. DVI to HDMI, or HDMI to Displayport etc. and the success rates varied greatly. Sometimes it worked fine, sometimes it worked only on a lower resolution and/or refresh rate or it did not work at all.

 

It could be a glitch in the adapter, a driver issue, other connection issue that prevents the signal to be properly processed. Sometimes it worked with one cable/adapter on one monitor but not on the other where a different adapter did work. My guess is that the chips dealing with the signal are not always at the same protocol version and this may cause some issues, and quality of the components of course (e.g. some connectors need to be put in really tight/firm to work well whereas other connectors had a bit more leeway and you could just plug them in and it would work). If you have the option to try another quality cable of another brand maybe it  might work work better. The less cables/adapters you can use, the better it usually is.

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11 minutes ago, Andrew Davies said:

Any one know if the Radeon Pro 580 is any good / works with Vectorworks?

 


Should be just fine even for a 4K+ display, and it would certainly be a dramatic improvement over any of the integrated Intel options in Apples lineup.

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Wonderful - thanks Jim.  It has 8GB memory and at £600 over here in the UK not overly expensive I don't think?  Just asked Apple Support if the GPU is upgradable and they said no - but not the end of the world.

 

I'll be using it with a 5K display. (LG UltraFine USB-C)

 

Heading over to your side of the Atlantic tomorrow for a week - so will get one ordered for when I get home.

 

Thanks

Andrew

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Well for an Apple-tax susceptible product, that price is not bad. The cheapest eGPU enclosures you can get are still minimum $200US from what I have seen, and then while the Radeon Pro 580 isn't available as a standalone unit, the similar Radeon Pro models that are are priced around that or higher. It certainly doesn't seem to be a huge price gouge like the very early eGPU offerings from various companies were.

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From the FAQ for the Blackmagic eGPU:

 

Quote

What is the GPU used in the Blackmagic eGPU?

The Blackmagic eGPU is built around a Radeon Pro 580 GPU which is the GPU found in the high end 2017 model of 27 inch iMac.

 

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Assuming OpenCL and OpenGL are comparable metrics for VW use, the 580 is a budget card at best:

 

https://browser.geekbench.com/opencl-benchmarks

 

And a $600 solution to a $5,000 problem computer doesn't sound like great budgeting.

 

Hoping for a 16GB AMD eGPU solution (like the AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100). Does anyone know if I can make that work with a 2018 MacBook Pro or a 2017 iMac?

 

As it stands, the 2017 iMac is the still the fastest Mac for VW:

 

https://browser.geekbench.com/mac-benchmarks

 

Waiting to see spec's for the 2018 iMac (hopefully no overheating/downclocking) before upgrading 2014 MacBook Pro. Assuming the 2019 Mac Pro will have a base cost of $10k, and all manner of disappointing compromises chosen by "experts"...

Edited by Mark Aceto

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Apple posted a list of 2 AMD GPUs and specific vendors

currently "allowed" to work with Apple eGPU.

But all expect that list to grow in the future.

 

I think it is pretty likely that AMD Pro cards will work in the future

but currently there may be still a problem with their power consumption

and heat with current available enclosures.

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