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Old Jan 6, 2013, 03:09 AM   #1
nycmi
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Question regarding nature of work for Professionals.

Hi all,

Newbie here. One thing that has continued to mystify me over the past couple of years is the nature of work regarding computers in the professional environment. Keep in mind I have no experience in the working environment of multi-core computer systems.

My questions are these.

How has the nature of your work changed over the years to justify the expectation of new Mac Pro's?

Every time a new Power Mac came out, or a new Mac Pro comes out, the product is heralded as the next great big thing. What is it about this new computer that you couldn't have done previously on your last computer?

Before I get snide comments along the lines of: 'Why don't they just stop making new computers altogether' and such, I would very much appreciate genuine answers, because I am looking to get into these professional fields and am genuinely interested in the reasoning behind these facts.
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 04:21 AM   #2
dpny
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Interactive/Print/Production/Pre-press here:

The short answer is that we're always pushing the machines as far as they can go, because there is always more creative potential available. It's not so much that the next generation will let us do something we can't. It's that the next generation will make it easier to do what we're already doing and, inevitably, will let us go to the next level.

There's an axiom in city planning which says building more expressways never alleviates traffic congestion because traffic always expands to meet available volume. This is true with computers as well, because as soon as you have the ability to add another adjustment layer to that Photoshop file, or another track to that video, you will. The minute you can take the file which used to bring your old machine to a stand still and put it on your new machine, you will have the ability to do things to that file you couldn't before, and you will.

I think it's almost human nature: the desire to keep improving and changing. You could ask a similar question as to why we keep making faster and faster cars. The answer is simple: because we can.
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 04:48 AM   #3
tomvos
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Programming / DBA

Once you deal with a cluster of databases you usually have a bunch of servers stored in a server racks in another room because of heat an noise. Which is OK for work (and I don’t use a Mac at my work).

At home I prefer a Mac and still like to try different things and technologies related to database clusters. So for me, virtual machines is a requirement to simulate clusters of machines.
While it is possible to run lots of virtual machines on any Intel Mac in theory, the difference in praxis is that memory and storage-IO are a serious bottleneck on most Macs—especially storage-IO.
SSD might help to mitigate the IO throughput bottleneck, but these are to small for most clustered systems. So I still rely on the option to use some decent 3.5" harddisks, have enough memory and a CPU which supports virtualization features.

This would lead to the options:
i) use an iMac and some external disk drives
ii) use a Mac Pro and put the disks internally.

I opted for a Mac Pro, because the price was nearly the same for an iMac with some FW800 drives and the Mac Pro with some internal drives. With the additional benefit that I can update my Mac Pro much easier when required.
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 06:22 AM   #4
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Mine is for graphic design, photography, and video production.

I built and ran mostly PC systems for... wow, a long time. I decided to run a Mac when I started my own shop because I had a deal on software and hardware that I couldn't pass up. It was fine in the beginning, but a little over a year ago, my source footage changed, and I found 16GB of RAM and the quad processor was holding me back, so I updated my system significantly rather than buy a new Mac Pro.

I totally agree that one will use as much power as they can, just as highway expansion will fill with cars as fast as they widen them. I'm just doing a new piece for NCSA, where they talk about supercomputing for industry, and how it allows companies to be more competitive by speeding up design/problem solving or whatever many times over. The example given is for Rolls Royce building new aircraft engines, and going from having to build prototypes by hand and testing them the old way, to being able to design 500 engines with slight design tweaks, and seeing how they would work in the real world all at once in a matter of days/hours instead of months/years. This is an extreme yet actual example of the advantage of having cutting edge systems.

When something comes along that can help me maintain, or better yet increase my business advantage, I'll upgrade. In the meantime, I've extended the life of my system at a great savings over buying a new one.
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Old Jan 7, 2013, 07:20 PM   #5
spoonie1972
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Music Composing

I cant get my hands on enough real-time CPU power and RAM.

While my current system is far from cutting edge (2.26 x8 slaved via midi over lan to 16channels of ADAT light-pipe back into my MBP which is my recording "master") - my friends with 2x 3.46ghz xeons and 80gigs ram still wish for more.

Sample libraries can eat up massive amounts of RAM and some of the computational stuff that has to be worked out in real time can be pretty intense.

I'm on the fence between updating my 2009 with x5680's, someone's used CPU's or whatever waiting on the new machine allegedly coming out. It almost feels like good money after bad if i upgrade now... though having more power now can help when deadlines are looming. Everyone wants everything yesterday.
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Old Jan 7, 2013, 07:58 PM   #6
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Photographer here...

I agree with the answers above, specifically or generally depending on how close a match it is to creating commercial photographs and photo fine art.

Just to add... I retired my functioning 8 core 2008 Mac Pro for a refurbed 12 core Mac Pro primarily for the warranty coverage. I want my system under warranty so that I don't have a large un-budgeted expense. I can plan for a new system in 3 years. The difference between what I can get for the 2008, and what I spent on the refurbed 2010 is about one good repair. For that price I have a new system that will hold it's value well for another 3 years.

Plus RAM prices for the 2010 are much much cheaper than the 2008 so I can max it out easily.

I do need a Mac Pro for the power and the internal storage.... so this was just a reason why I went with a 'new' 2010 machine.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 06:00 AM   #7
AdeFowler
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Graphic design & print production.

Three reasons for my choice of Mac Pro:

Expandability, reliability and speed.

Everything I need is a mouse click away due to storage options that were a dream just a few years ago. I can't imagine using anything else.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 06:19 AM   #8
monkeybagel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycmi View Post
Hi all,

Newbie here. One thing that has continued to mystify me over the past couple of years is the nature of work regarding computers in the professional environment. Keep in mind I have no experience in the working environment of multi-core computer systems.

My questions are these.

How has the nature of your work changed over the years to justify the expectation of new Mac Pro's?

Every time a new Power Mac came out, or a new Mac Pro comes out, the product is heralded as the next great big thing. What is it about this new computer that you couldn't have done previously on your last computer?

Before I get snide comments along the lines of: 'Why don't they just stop making new computers altogether' and such, I would very much appreciate genuine answers, because I am looking to get into these professional fields and am genuinely interested in the reasoning behind these facts.
Systems Engineer/Network Engineer

Multi-processor/multi core power, multi-OS capability, expansion, RAM capacity, build quality.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:31 AM   #9
handsome pete
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To put it simply, I could still technically do anything I need on the old G5 I sold a few years ago (video editing/vfx/motion graphics). There's nothing tremendously groundbreaking between newer generations of hardware that most people absolutely need in order to work.

However, what newer machines allow me to do is get my work done faster and more efficiently. That is ultimately what matters most.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 12:05 PM   #10
dpny
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Originally Posted by handsome pete View Post
To put it simply, I could still technically do anything I need on the old G5 I sold a few years ago (video editing/vfx/motion graphics). There's nothing tremendously groundbreaking between newer generations of hardware that most people absolutely need in order to work.
I'll ad a caveat to this: new versions of software require newer machines. Fr'instance, the newest versions of the CS suite require 64-bit Intel machines. And, while Adobe loves to add bloat to their software, they do ocassionally ad a useful feature.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 12:10 PM   #11
handsome pete
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I'll ad a caveat to this: new versions of software require newer machines. Fr'instance, the newest versions of the CS suite require 64-bit Intel machines. And, while Adobe loves to add bloat to their software, they do ocassionally ad a useful feature.
Ah yeah, meant to include that bit of a disclaimer to my post.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 03:44 PM   #12
Zwhaler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycmi View Post
How has the nature of your work changed over the years to justify the expectation of new Mac Pro's?

Every time a new Power Mac came out, or a new Mac Pro comes out, the product is heralded as the next great big thing. What is it about this new computer that you couldn't have done previously on your last computer?

Before I get snide comments along the lines of: 'Why don't they just stop making new computers altogether' and such, I would very much appreciate genuine answers, because I am looking to get into these professional fields and am genuinely interested in the reasoning behind these facts.
The nature of my work has changed as it is now geared toward the use of applications that are fully 64 bit, and properly threaded to take advantage of as many cores as you can fit in the enclosure. As for the expectation of new Mac Pro's, I don't really have any expectations other than updated CPU architecture and better GPU, perhaps a different case design after so many years. My maxed out 12 core works great and I won't even be needing the next gen because it won't justify the purchase price of the top of the line even with 25% improvement in speed.

The point here is there isn't anything a new Mac Pro would do that my current one can't ... I still have the option of getting a better GPU than a 5870 if I choose without getting a 2013 Mac Pro.

Basically... I need hardware that is capable of cutting final versions of commercial films, advertisements, graphics, animation, photographs, flyers, collages, etc. The specs on this machine are capable of that and the software is too. They key is eliminating bottlenecks. Once you've done that, you don't need to upgrade every year until you start hitting bottlenecks again which for me won't be for awhile as I got the best CPU available at the time.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 11:40 PM   #13
FluJunkie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycmi View Post
Hi all,

Newbie here. One thing that has continued to mystify me over the past couple of years is the nature of work regarding computers in the professional environment. Keep in mind I have no experience in the working environment of multi-core computer systems.

My questions are these.

How has the nature of your work changed over the years to justify the expectation of new Mac Pro's?

Every time a new Power Mac came out, or a new Mac Pro comes out, the product is heralded as the next great big thing. What is it about this new computer that you couldn't have done previously on your last computer?

Before I get snide comments along the lines of: 'Why don't they just stop making new computers altogether' and such, I would very much appreciate genuine answers, because I am looking to get into these professional fields and am genuinely interested in the reasoning behind these facts.
Computational Biology/Epidemiology: Machines with faster processors/more cores/more RAM let me ask more elaborate questions, answer them faster, and avoid having to send them up to the cluster to be dealt with.
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Old Jan 9, 2013, 12:15 AM   #14
wonderspark
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Originally Posted by FluJunkie View Post
Computational Biology/Epidemiology: Machines with faster processors/more cores/more RAM let me ask more elaborate questions, answer them faster, and avoid having to send them up to the cluster to be dealt with.
You need sustained petascale computing:
Link to recent update (PDF) on Blue Waters
Get those answers quick on a whole new level of quickness!

----------

Or maybe you would like a different kind of speed:

iForge
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 07:20 PM   #15
DJenkins
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You need sustained petascale computing:
Link to recent update (PDF) on Blue Waters
Get those answers quick on a whole new level of quickness!

----------

Or maybe you would like a different kind of speed:

iForge
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycmi View Post
How has the nature of your work changed over the years to justify the expectation of new Mac Pro's?
My opinion comes from a video production/motion graphics line of work. I've noticed as your skills improve over the years, you see and learn how a better machine will enable you to improve beyond current limitations. So you start to expect that new machines will be released that enable you to realize your own scope for improvement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycmi View Post
Every time a new Power Mac came out, or a new Mac Pro comes out, the product is heralded as the next great big thing.
I would have agreed with you a few years ago. But now I know a bit more about computers I guess there's not much mystery anymore and I pretty much just accept that new machines are the best they can do at that point in time. Apple is very far behind in the 'wow that's impressive' game now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycmi View Post
What is it about this new computer that you couldn't have done previously on your last computer?
I remember a few years ago I was trying to make a motion graphics showreel with some ribbons flying around in 3D space. The machine was a dual core G4. Even though I had the idea and method of making it work clear in my mind, I was waiting for over 40 seconds per frame to preview. This made any adjustment trial and error tweaking unbearable. So I abandoned the idea and did something else. The end result was work of a lower standard. Only a few months later I got a job where they had eight core mac pros and I pulled the ribbon effect off on another job without even breaking a sweat.

So as others have said above, there are people who are constantly pushing the limits of what their machines are capable of and some will never have enough power. Although having said this it's not unreasonable to think that a company as large as Apple should be capable of offering a workstation that is competitive in the market and uses current generation technology.

One issue I see with 'expectation' is that current availability of information and learning resources mean peoples creativity and technical ability are making leaps and bounds, yet comparatively technology seems bound to smaller steps.


BTW are you sure you're not an Apple employee doing market research?
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:40 AM   #16
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@Dj Jenkins

Haha no I'm far from it! I'm more interested in the psychological attitudes in terms of overall society really. It seems like with technology, there lies a great need for things that potentially don't exist yet. I feel it is a shame that Apple has a different target market now (not professionals) and I think it is going to come back and bite them.

I've been experimenting with Windows 7 for a couple of months on the side now (I've been a Mac user since 2000) and it really doesn't seem to be that bad. In fact I have more trouble with Mountain Lion on my 2009 Macbook Pro than I ever have on Windows 7 with various bugs and whatnot. (This is to prove I'm not an Apple Marketing/Research guy).
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:50 AM   #17
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Like others have said, the speed of the machine can have a major effect on your creativity. We all have to work within parameters on a given project - safe print colors, size specs, broadcast safe color gamut, broadcast safe audio levels, etc. Having a machine that limits your ability to efficiently work adds another type of parameter to the mess that we already have to deal with.

Often I'm trying to reach a tight deadline for video and motion graphics projects that I know have to be out of the door by the end of the day. Due to this, my creativity is limited. There's a whole list of graphical things I would love to do, but will not be doing for a given project, all because the speed of the entire system (along with render time, compression time, etc) will not allow me to meet the deadlines. It happens more often than I'd like.

I've worked on MacPro's of various age, speed, etc. Yes, the old ones can still get work done, especially if they are dual processor. However, the efficiency in which they can get the work done is a problem. Time is money, even if you're not getting compensated hourly. It's costing something. Watching renders tick by, and progress bars creep to 100% isn't efficient. Many of us spend that time doing other parts of our job functions, but we'd all like to be creating.

Honestly, even if we were told SOMETHING about a release date for the new one, making professional plans, budgets, and arrangements would be easier.

I'm in a sticky situation and will need to purchase another workstation in the next month or two. I'll most likely be purchasing a refurbished MacPro and trying to "upgrade" it as much as possible. However, if I knew for sure that the new MacPro's were coming at a certain time, then I'd find a temporary solution that could get by for a few months.

It's the lack of product announcements and roadmap that has left many of us scrambling for alternate solutions. I explored the hackintosh route, but I need more dependability. We'll see where this is heading, at some point I guess...
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:59 AM   #18
Genghis Khan
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Surely the answer is obvious?

The faster/better it is, the easier/faster/better your work is.

Sometimes speed alone is worth the money (professional film rendering 2hr -> 1hr is a lot if you charge per rendering, quicker means you can do more)

Sometimes speed allows new functions to be performed that couldn't be performed before (live updating parametric 3D modelling)


And how do you mean 'I'll be getting involved in these fields'? Generally, you can only be involved in one professional field. Unless you plan to sell something to everyone and this thread is market research...
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 10:41 AM   #19
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'These Fields' meaning when I finish University I want to be looking at doing audio production and media/advertising.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 08:02 PM   #20
FluJunkie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wonderspark View Post
You need sustained petascale computing:
Link to recent update (PDF) on Blue Waters
Get those answers quick on a whole new level of quickness!

----------

Or maybe you would like a different kind of speed:

iForge
Trying to get a job that lets me get my hands on the good stuff
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