PRO 3D Card for G5?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by lem0nayde, Dec 30, 2003.

  1. lem0nayde macrumors regular

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    #1
    Hey everyone. I've been fooling around with Carrara, learning some 3d. I have used the program on my crappy PC at work and at home on my G5 - and strangely, I've found little difference in the rendering times.

    What kind of card does a person need to get if they want fast furious rendering of 3D graphics (not games, but homemade scenes and animations.)?

    I'm new to the 3D scene, from what I understand the major pro vendors for 3d cards don't have anything for Mac.

    Has there been any progress on this situation? Has anyone announced a product?

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  2. yamabushi macrumors 65816

    yamabushi

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    #2
    The top of the line general use consumer cards from nVIDIA and ATI each use chipsets very similar to their professional 3D cards. The drivers they use for each tend to be considerably different however and there is enough difference in hardware to notice a a difference in performance when pushed to the limit. The best card currently available for the G5 is the BTO ATI Radeon 9800 Pro. This card will perform far better than the 9600 but not quite as well as a true pro 3D card. Still, with a dual G5 and plenty of RAM in your system the 9800 Pro should perform adequately enough for professional 3D applications.

    The stupid ADC connector really makes porting a graphics card over more difficult than it needs to be. While you can still use a DVI card on a Mac, Apple doesn't want to sell DVI only cards. This discourages development of Mac versions of each card. If Apple were to abandon ADC more cards might get ported over since they would then only need a new driver and Apple would be more likely to sell their card as a BTO option. Writing drivers is no small task to be sure, but much easier than modifiying both software AND hardware for the Mac.
     
  3. arogge macrumors 65816

    arogge

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  4. yamabushi macrumors 65816

    yamabushi

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    #4
    3DLabs previously expressed an interest in cards for the Mac platform, I wonder what is keeping them? I doubt it is Apple's fault but I could be wrong.
     
  5. yamabushi macrumors 65816

    yamabushi

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    #5
    Tom's Hardware Guide did a review of the Wildcat VP in August 2002. Here it is.

    It looks like the Wildcat VP 970 is still a great card. I hope 3DLabs gives us this card or something even better.
     
  6. tjwett macrumors 68000

    tjwett

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    #6
    Unfortunately there still isn't really a "pro" video card available for the G5. I'm speaking of the really high-end stuff. It's funny because the G5 is touted as a powerhouse for graphics, video, etc. Kinda silly, but that's how it's always been. We just get slow video cards.
     
  7. yamabushi macrumors 65816

    yamabushi

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    #7
    I wouldn't call the Radeon 9800 pro slow by any means. It gives even some of the ultra high end cards a run for their money. You could call it an entry level card for the market at the ultra high end. It's a little slower than a FireGL or Quadra which is a bit slower than a Wildcat VP.
     
  8. tjwett macrumors 68000

    tjwett

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    #8
    I certainly wouldn't call it slow, being that I'm rocking a 32mb GeForce in my 12" PowerBook. But those who are used to things like the Wildcat and Quadra might call it slow. The G5 is supposed to be the comeback of the Power Mac, making all those pros who left for Windows start looking towards it again. Just isn't good when they have to take a step down.
     
  9. warcraftmaster macrumors regular

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    #9
  10. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #10
    Well, it wasn't always that way but it's been that way for quite a while. During the NuBus days, there were quite a few high-end ($1200+) video cards available for Macintosh.
     
  11. killmoms macrumors 68040

    killmoms

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    #11
    These days, the "pro" cards from NVIDIA and ATI are almost the exact same processor as their consumer graphics cards. The main differences are in the drivers, in that they're finely tuned and tweaked for OpenGL rendering in pro apps. There may be some differences in the chip, but very few if any. That said, I would like to see the Quadro and Fire cards (and others from manufacturers like 3DLabs) make it into the G5 to give it some standing in the pro 3D graphics field.

    --Cless
     
  12. kodiecap macrumors newbie

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    #12
    i have and older oxygen gmx i paid about $2k usd for my sgi onyx o2 station and my ati 9800 keeps up favorably on my g5.
     
  13. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #13
    There is still hope...

    At the Alias 3December event I spoke with people from ATI and Nvidia and both said that they are strongly considering the Mac platform now with the G5. The Nvidia representative actually said that they are in fact working on Mac drivers for their high end 3D cards.

    Now of course we can argue that representatives don't know much and that both were just pulling my leg. Although at the 3December event these companies usually do have good people manning their booths.

    And reportedly Apple does have a huge presence at this year's Siggraph. Maybe for a reason? Maybe - dare we dream? - Apple is presenting a dual 3GHz G5 in conjunction with Alias presenting Maya Unlimited optimized for the G5 while ATI and Nvidia are both unveiling their high end graphics cards with G5 drivers...


    And then I woke up... :D

    [Above information is actually true though.]
     
  14. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

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    #14
    Re: PRO 3D Card for G5?

    You mean Hardware rendering, right? Because actual rendering (ie: software rendering, frames of animation, etc) is done with the CPU, not the 3D Video Card. The fact that you say "rendering times" implies you mean software rendering.

    Which do you mean?
     
  15. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #15
    agreenster, a new feature in Maya 5 is 'hardware rendering', which uses the video card to do the actual rendering. The output quality is no longer dependent on the Maya software, but on the video hardware used and its drivers. Today the resulting images are still inferior to software renderers, but could be adequate for some jobs. They are in any case a lot faster than software rendering.

    This is one feature where a high-end ATI, Nvidia or 3DLabs card would be VERY desirable on a Mac.

    One of the speciality of the PRO drivers for these cards is that they are tweaked to give accurate results, as close to the software renderer as possible.
    In contrast to this render artefacts or 'mis-renders' aren't really any concern for gamers who would see the mis-rendered image 1/60th of a second only. This is one reason why commercial gamer cards like the ATI 9800 are just not good enough for high-end 3D. It's not the speed that's the problem, but the accuracy of the rendered image, which can be a lot sloppier in drivers for gamer cards.
     
  16. i_wolf macrumors regular

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    Jul 17, 2002
    #16
    Hi there,
    actually according to tomshardware and anandtech and others the FireGL X2 (think its that one) is identical to the 9800 pro, if anything i think tomshardware said the core was 15MHz slower. Anyway, back on topic, the FireGL is a pro card. Its feature set is probably better than even the Wildcat series, particularly its shader support.
    As was correctly pointed out above its the drivers that differentiate the different cards. However I don't think that its possible to compare a 9800 pro on Mac platform with 9800 pro on windows platform. What i am saying is that the windows version is primarily targeted at gamers and marketed as the 9800 pro. Professional 3d modellers pay 2000 for the same card, but it comes drivers for the different applications they use, these are tuned, optimized drivers for the different apps and ATI call it FireGL. The FireGL card is certified against different professional applications like MAYA, Lightwave, 3d S Max etc.... And in essence this is what people are paying most of their money for certification and driver support.
    now, on the mac, we don't know how ATI/Apple have geared the drivers for the same hardware that is found in the 9800 pro and FireGL X2. Has Apple/ATI gone and implemented their drivers around prosumer apps, or around multimedia games etc... The name 9800 pro does not necessarily mean that Apple intend its drivers to be gamer orientated like the 9800 pro on wintel platform.
    I would imagine that it would be fair to compare Apple's 9800 pro to the FireGL on windows, since they are using the same graphics technology, and assuming since the powermac is apples pro machine, they will target the drivers of this card towards professionals. This is a fantastic card to have in any 3d machine, the FireGL is one of the best out there.
    Just my 0.02 though. please go easy guys!!!
     
  17. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

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    #17
    Umm, yeah. I know. I use maya 5 everyday.

    Anyway, I know the features of Pro cards, and that hardware rendering will one day take the place of software (theres even rumor of Renderman 'on a chip') but that still doesnt answer my original question to lem0nayde.
     
  18. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #18
    [a bit off topic, sorry]

    Hey cool! :)
    Had meant to enlighten you with my comment, but it must seem a bit stupid now...

    This is a bit off topic now: do you actually use Maya 5 on a Mac and if so which one?
    Or do you use it on Linux or Windows? Have you experience with Maya 5 on different OSs? How do they perform in your experience? Which OS would be the best to use Maya on? Would the Mac have an advantage since 2D graphics (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator) are still its domaine?

    [p.s. I own Maya 5 and am currently learning it - well, you probably never finish learning about it.
    I use it on a TiBook 800 with an attached 23" Cinema Display. Speed is OK, but it's not great.]
     
  19. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

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    #19
    Re: [a bit off topic, sorry]

    Yes, 1ghz TiBook.

    Yes, WindowsXP, dual 2ghz Xeon Compaq Evo W6000

    Hmmm. Well, I would have to say that the performance on the dual Xeon is obviously far superior to that of my 1ghz Powerbook, but I have never used Maya on a G5. I would really like to see how it compares to this workstation, since they have the "same" clockspeeds. The video card in the PC is an NVidia, but cant remember which one.....its over a year old and I think its 64MB. Works pretty well though. Animating with this computer is so great because you can playback in real time without having to playblast, even with a semi-complicated character.

    However, there are some nice little touches in the mac version, like in the attribute window, you use pull-down menus to cycle through the attributes, whereas on the PC it is an arrow click. So, sometimes you have to click through 20 or so attributes to get to the one you are looking for. Can get messy.

    Overall though, I dont think the Mac or PC version is superior to the other. I bet most of it depends on the hardware. I do like the mac version of fCheck better than the PC version. You can save as a Quicktime movie! (animation compressioin, which is nice)

    Oh, and BTW, I just started using Maya 5, but have used Maya 4.5 and 4 (and 3-3.5) for years. Im most comfortable with 4.5
     
  20. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #20
    ageenster, thanks for your feedback!
    I've been using Maya since 4.5 and must say that 5.0 is definitely a nice improvement. As you said fCheck saving to QuickTime, not to mention the new renderers.

    From benchmarks people did on the Maya forums it seems that Maya is currently not optimized for the Mac (let alone the G5) and GHz for GHz renders faster on a PC.
    Alias once mentioned that 25% of their new sales are for the Mac platform. If that still holds true, I'm pretty sure that Maya 6 will become 'G5 optimized'.
    And there are signs that Pixar is moving to G5s, and not only for Renderman. They wouldn't do that if Alias would consider the Mac a 'second best' platform.

    Maya 6 is scheduled to arrive somewhen in the 'May timeframe' before the end of Alias' financial year. In time for Siggraph and in time for the next gen G5.

    As I said before (and to quote Arwen) "There is still hope."
     
  21. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

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    #21
    Yeah, I 'kind of' started that rumor (here at MacRumors) during last year's Siggraph. There was a thread over at CGTalk.com about Renderman on the Mac and a heated discussion about the Mac in the CG marketplace. And so, I brought a screengrab over to macRumors ( I still have it, if interested, its a screencap of a G5 running renderman and showing how it beats a Xeon) and started chatting up the idea of Pixar porting their tools from Linux to OSX and switching.

    Since then, there have been several rumors about it, and its now pretty much known that Pixar is using G5's a lot. There were even a few articles about how when Pixar gets a new G5, they have a script they run that installs all of their old tools, and configs it all in about an hour or something. Cool.

    I know some people in the CG industry, and a lot of major studios are considering a switch. (I know of one studio in particular who has done shots for many films, including Matrix3, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, HellBoy, Catwoman, etc etc etc, I'll let you figure it out :D) Anyway, I dont know if they've switched, but I know they were testing setups.

    Oh well, I know Ive posted this pic SOOO many times (sorry arn), but I just love the idea of Pixar and OSX/G5's...
     

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