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MAD-LD

Boost Performance with Metal 2 (Mac)

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It’s shocking how slow Vectorworks 2018 often runs on my MacBook Pro¹. Navigation and screen processing easily increases drawing time by 20-40%—even on simple 2D plans in wireframe view. It can take up to 5 seconds to simply select an object and for the object info window to load. Click–wait–manipulate object–wait–see results... repeat 500 times².

 

There is no question, something in VW 2018 has made it run slower than 2017 and 2016. Considering I set up VW 2018 on a fresh MBP and macOS installation, this doesn’t make sense. Open GL is already implemented, though it doesn’t seem to be helping.

 

Metal³ has the ability to increase graphics performance up to 10x by reducing CPU loads with efficiencies in programming and APIs. It also adds support for external GPUs.

 

is Metal already implemented in VW? Is it on the roadmap?

 

Either way, something needs to be done to boost the efficiency of VW. If it’s not a graphics bottleneck, then what is it—and is it an issue I can resolve?

 

¹Specs: MBP 15” 2017 / 2.9 GHz i7 / 500 GB SSD / 16 GB Ram / Radeon Pro 560 4 GB • macOS 10.13.4

²Note: Slowdowns occur on every level of VW graphic performance settings and when VW is the only non-system app in use. 

³Current version: Metal 2

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This certainly got my vote !!!

 

My experience with processes slowing down since VW 2018 is that for example when working on sheet layers and the viewports are in wireframe: 

 

- then the whole sheet layer page slows down when for example simply moving across the page itself to look for something then the Wireframed Viewports are re-generating all lines which takes a long time 

- or I want to work inside a Viewport either in the 'Crop' part or in the go to 'Design Layer' part then again the Wireframed layouts take very long to re-generate

 

G

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Definitely not a mac expert, but I used to have this problem with my PC laptop.  After some digging I found that that discrete graphics card in my laptop was not being engaged by vectorworks, the OS was still trying to use the integrated graphics processor on the motherboard.  I ended up having to force the program to use the discrete graphics card via some control panel settings.

The way you describe this problem leads me to think that this might be your issue.  

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Metal is fine but proprietary and Apple only.

Similar to fast DirectX on Windows only.

VW is a cross platform App that runs on Mac and PC.

Most cross platform Apps use a non proprietary system that works

on all supported operating systems - which is still OpenGL.

 

As far as I know, supporting the faster and more modern proprietary

solutions for each OS would not only be the double amount of graphic

system work but may also lead to inconsistencies in the whole App.

I doubt Metal+DirectX will ever happen in VW,

or any other cross platform 3D App.

 

OpenGL exists very long, not as close to GPU hardware and may be outdated

here and there. Nevertheless it is still in development and improvement.

OpenGL support is great on Windows and Linux, for some reasons worse

on Mac.

But I think even with the slower OpenGL "bottleneck" there is still a lot of room

for App improvements to make them faster.

And I think VW is still working on this and will do in the future.

 

I think that VW OpenGL works excellent and reasonably fast  - in 3D !

Beside some display problems after the first attempt, 2D geometry or Viewport

acceleration in VW 2018 is still not where it should be.

 

 

A more modern better cross platform "successor" of OpenGL would be Vulkan,

also open and from Chronos Group, supportet well on Windows and especially Linux.

But Apple refuses to support Vulkan to strengthen their Metal project.

Although Apple traditionally prefers open solutions like OpenGL and OpenCL

over proprietary solutions - as long as these don't come from Apple itself.

That is why Apple also favors AMD, which also prefers open solutions.

 

 

And over the last few years,

Apple did everything they can do to lose all professional content creators.

By concentrating on iOS and consumers only, degrading OS X, no more providing

adequate pro hardware and now quality issues in recent years.

Current Macbook Pro, iMac Pro + delaying modular Mac Pro again, may not be

enough to stop people from switching to Windows or Linux.

Strange OpenGL support + ignoring Vulkan may finally even make 3D Software

abandon cross platform support in the future.

 

So it will be very interesting and critical to hear at Jun 4th WWDC what Apple has

in mind for the next years and which subjects get their attention.

 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, MAD-LD said:

Either way, something needs to be done to boost the efficiency of VW. If it’s not a graphics bottleneck, then what is it

 

I wholeheartedly agree with this, everything should be done in order to speed up the user experience (UX) and graphic response of Vw. But it also needs to implemented cross-platform, so I agree with @zoomer that Apple’s Metal is probably not the right approach. Honestly, I don’t care technically how they do it, but an efficiency boost is sorely needed.

 

It should be a Design Engineering goal for each update revision of an existing tool / workflow to be more efficient and faster than the tool / workflow it is replacing. Period. 

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15 hours ago, grant_PD said:

Definitely not a mac expert, but I used to have this problem with my PC laptop.  After some digging I found that that discrete graphics card in my laptop was not being engaged by vectorworks, the OS was still trying to use the integrated graphics processor on the motherboard.  I ended up having to force the program to use the discrete graphics card via some control panel settings.

The way you describe this problem leads me to think that this might be your issue.  

@grant_PD I wish it was this simple; I disabled my integrated graphics almost immediately after installing Vectorworks.

 

A note for macOS users: This is done in System Preferences>Energy Saver, then by toggling off "Automatic Graphics Switching".

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, zoomer said:

Metal is fine but proprietary and Apple only.

Similar to fast DirectX on Windows only.

VW is a cross platform App that runs on Mac and PC.

Most cross platform Apps use a non proprietary system that works

on all supported operating systems - which is still OpenGL.

@zoomer I must admit, I was heated and rushed posting this. Afterwards, I did some reading around the forum and have since lost all hope that VW will ever support Metal.

 

From what I've gathered, Vectorworks is as incredibly bloated and inefficient as Microsoft Office. It uses far more resources and lines of code to complete tasks than necessary in today's modern operating systems. Much of this code is probably very old—which is why it is taking the engineering team so long to switch all tasks to the new VGM (which utilizes graphics cards and Direct X over slower CPU processing).

 

While I don't think they will use Metal (or fast DirectX on Windows) soon, coding for the lowest common denominator a big mistake. This is why I choose iWork apps over MS Office, Pixelmator over Photoshop and so on... Eventually, another company will take the day's current APIs and create an app that matches or surpasses while using far less resources and making users much more happy.

 

Unfortunately, this is a long way off for something as complex as Vectorworks. Hopefully the day will come when they throw out their aging code base and reinvent the program from the ground up, a-la Final Cut Pro X. Computers will continue to progress and eventually, developers won't be able to disregard technologies like Metal. These advances are key as processors become smaller and more mobile. Over time, doing more with less becomes a requirement, not a hope.

 

As of now, the biggest push to do more with less is coming from Apple—in both hardware and software. It has already afforded them a sizable processing and graphics lead in the mobile space. There is no doubt these ways of thinking (headlined by their use of custom CPU designs) will make their way to laptops and then to desktops. Computers, as they are now, will be relics in 10-20 years... and this VW code that has been slowly siphoning time from our short lives will be stone-aged.

 

I definitely see where Apple lost their way with professionals for a time, but I already see that course being reversed. In my profession, Macs still outnumber PCs 5-to-1 because even though they could have been better at supporting pro workflows, there is still no question that they remained the best. The few people I've seen switch spend their days wanting to throw their PC laptops off a balcony.

 

I know that one could take a Windows desktop, throw 500W of graphic card power at it and nearly rule the world. That may be great for anyone whose workflow keeps them at a desk, in an office. For my needs, programs like Vectorworks need to be fast, reliable and powerful while on the road—sitting in an airport lounge, a hotel room, on an airplane or a live production set. If VW wants their product to kill it in the office and on the go, they need to think about supporting the technologies that can make that happen.

 

I'm not holding my breath, but I'm also not wrong in asking. Vectorworks should support the top technologies of every OS. They should make their product the best it can be everywhere it is used because this is what we pay them to do.

Edited by MAD-LD

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For more background on VWs work to improve responsiveness and the switch to VGM*, visit the thread below.

 

 

*From what I have gathered, VGM is the new Vectorworks Graphic Module. It moves processes like drawing in Top/Plan to your graphics card instead of using the slower CPU route. While many processes have been moved to VGM, some very important ones have not. Neither sheet layers nor selection highlighting are using VGM yet. Due to complexities in the VW code, it's taking engineers a long time to get all systems working on the same level.

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20 hours ago, Grethe Connerth said:

My experience with processes slowing down since VW 2018 is that for example when working on sheet layers and the viewports are in wireframe: 

@Grethe Connerth I know at least the sheet layer processes has not yet seen the VGM upgrade. I'm not sure about wireframe. These are slow and buggy for everyone and will remain that way until the engineers catch up with themselves.

 

I would love to see an upgrade soon, maybe in SP4. I fear we will still have issues when VW2019 drops.

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I assume :

All mature App’s code is 80% garbadge, in VW especially.

If you would optimize Apps code they would use much less ressources

and be much faster.

Even if OpenGL may be weaker and outdated for todays needs. Apps are

still far from reaching its limits.

Software is like a city. It has many very dirty corners and details but works

as a whole. There happen always ugly workarounds to solve some urgent

problems because needs are dynamicly changing. The larger the city the

worse the details.

Even burning down the whole city and rebuilding from scratch with existing

knowledge and experience for current needs may only work for another generation

until it is obsolete again.

Like other Apps, beside adding new features, VW does need to spend an amount

of work in fixing their worst building sites before it collapses. But new features

are better to sell than maintenance and maybe VW exaggerated that weighting

during the last years and users complain more and more.

 

For me it sounds like that was finally heared and there will be a change with the

next release. That the features already there have not only to be there or half

there but to be good or at least ok to not only annoy users.

OpenGl and VGM are still in the works and expanding. Don‘t know why 2D

acceleration announced in VW2017 (?) did not work as expected. Maybe there

were too many legacy building sites to clean up first.

But I am convinced that there are now some capable people cleaning up complex

legacy stuff and make things work well - if they are allowed to do so.

 

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3 hours ago, zoomer said:

For me it sounds like that was finally heared and there will be a change with the

next release. That the features already there have not only to be there or half

there but to be good or at least ok to not only annoy users.

OpenGl and VGM are still in the works and expanding. Don‘t know why 2D

acceleration announced in VW2017 (?) did not work as expected. Maybe there

were too many legacy building sites to clean up first.

But I am convinced that there are now some capable people cleaning up complex

legacy stuff and make things work well - if they are allowed to do so.

 

My guess is a lot of issues stem from the remaining code that uses a single core - issues are either on a list waiting for other things to be upgraded (highlighting bug where it makes more sense to wait for new code than fix old code) or are directly impacted by single core delays (geometry processing during rendering). This code is way overdue for upgrading. My last two Macs have had multiple cores, meaning the upgrade is at least 10 years overdue. The connection points through old code may be preventing new features (VGM for example) from performing to their full potential or are now exposing bugs that weren't that apparent when everything ran slower.

 

Kevin

 

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Speed is an issue.

It is lags in PIO editing, IFC Export, DLVPs and such things or

Bug/Change requests told to be complicated that make me as a user

think the current code is crap or far from being good or optimized.

Maybe that's not true (?)

But normally I worry much more about the way Tools and Functionality

are designed :)

 

Compared to other Apps on my nMac Pro, I think my 3D OpenGL is very good.

On par or slightly better than C4D which likes AMD GPUs.

Also I have seen much slower times loading geometry into GPU.
So I think, if they finally get 2D and VP acceleration working, it will be good,

although being "only" OpenGL.

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There seem to be a few interesting things at WWDC for VW so far. (like an open AR scene file format USDZ)

I find it odd DirectX12 (3d), Metal and Vulkan have all come out of the same AMD Mantle project yet are vastly different. Although seems to be some moves by Vulkan team to find common ground.

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/khronos-meta-api-vulkan-metal-directx12,33962.html

 

Given VGM age I do wonder how much it was designed with Vulkan in mind and if runs Vulkan on Metal. Or if porting from DirectX to Metal will be easier given they have common ground.

 

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Posted (edited)

Found the other thread. 😐

Edited by M5d

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7 hours ago, Matt Overton said:

There seem to be a few interesting things at WWDC for VW so far. (like an open AR scene file format USDZ)

I find it odd DirectX12 (3d), Metal and Vulkan have all come out of the same AMD Mantle project yet are vastly different. Although seems to be some moves by Vulkan team to find common ground.

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/khronos-meta-api-vulkan-metal-directx12,33962.html

 

Given VGM age I do wonder how much it was designed with Vulkan in mind and if runs Vulkan on Metal. Or if porting from DirectX to Metal will be easier given they have common ground.

 

 

Great Link(s) !

 

If I got that right,

they came not out of Mantle,

but all had to change and adapt some of its features, after Mantle came out.

 

Funny to read these reports from more than a year.

At that time Khronos still thought about reaching a compromise with Apple to

support Vulkan. Looks we know now that went different.

There is also an article from Feb 2018 that Khronos will ship around Apple by

providing an API on top of Metal to make Vulkan Apps running on Metal.

Slight performance loss but still faster than OpenGL.

I am not sure if Apple will allow that.

 

 

I don't know what VW's VGM actually means. The whole Graphics or just

Viewport acceleration (more likely). In that case it could be running on

these new APIs but would assume it is still also OpenGL.

But then VGM may get adapted to these new APIs, maybe even to more

of them. No fun to do so but possible and faster (?)

 

I think the problem is more the App features and UI itself, which may use

legacy OpenGL features here and there that aren't available in the modern

APIs anymore, which makes switching so tedious and complicated.

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Do you guys think by adding external GPU will help? I am using MacBook Pro Touchbar 2017 and is experiencing same slowness.

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eGPU will help (in the future).

I think currently there are still some problems to easily profit from eGPU.

If you have a few Thunderbolt 3 ports, you'll be fine for the next years.

 

As for now there a still some other bottlenecks existing in VW so that it will

not help very much in every case to just put more GPU power on it.

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