32EFI Mac Pro video upgrade path dying out?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by maghemi, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. maghemi macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Are we likely to see apple or the third party card manufacturers come up with any more drop in upgrades for these machines.

    Obviously the current highest card is the 4870, and if you want to dick around there are other options.

    But I get the impression that apple are getting close to just dropping any major support for efi32 based machines.

    If it's not likely to see any major video upgrades in the future, would it be worth just offloading the efi32 mac pro and going for something like the i7 machine with the 4850? I know the video card is a little lower, but not hugely so.

    The possibility of continual video card upgrades is the only major thing keeping me with the Pro at the moment. The current crop of Pro machines are just way too far out of my budget.

    And I've been moving a lot of my data off my internal hdd's over to network storage. In reality I don't need to size of the pro, I only went with it because at the time the best video card in an imac was appallingly bad.
     
  2. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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  3. MacVidCards Suspended

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    Hollywood, CA
    #3
    You can run a PC GTX285 in a 1st Gen pretty easily.

    In fact, in terms of future software maintenance, it will likely be easier then the 4890s so in vogue now.

    There is some "dicking around" however a used PC GTX285 is $250-300

    you need a 7300GT or 8800GT as an EFI source/helper card

    I installed Netkas little package, ATY-init and BINGO my PC GTX285 firs up A-OK in OSX.

    The money saved over buying the Mac Edition GTX285 covers the cost of the 7300GT or 8800GT. Most 1st Gens already have a 7300GT, so they are that much closer.

    While the 4890 guys are forever tied to adding a modded file for each and every OS update, the ATY-init package has been set-and-forget. It has continued working through OS updates without a lick of my time.

    Yes, it would be nice if I didn't have to add the extra steps to have a GTX285 in my 1st Gen. But having the 6.0 L V-12 under the hood of my Mac Pro is a nice feeling. The Quad 3.0 was a nearly free ($0) upgrade, just some Ebay time. The 17 G of RAM I picked up when I had some extra $. But the GTX285 finishes the picture.

    If I need another boost I'll RAID some SSDs for some extra "snap".but I don't think I'm missing much compared to a EFI-64 machine. If I were forever encoding HD video, I might see this differently. But for my needs now, the extra $1k for an EFI-64 machine is not justified, nor would I likely be able to detect the difference.
     
  4. maghemi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Melbourne Australia
    #4
    I've read through all your threads on the topic, and you've got some pretty good work arounds.

    I realise it's foolish to want something that can be bought from apple, or third party supplier (even if I am using a flashed 4870 card) that doesn't require the playing around with software.

    If it were as straight forward as the 4870 flashing was then sure I'd go that way. But I'm never that comfortable with a software solution.

    I just don't see them supporting the efi32 mac pros any more. And it would not surprise me in the least if the drop support for them in up coming major os updates.

    It just have the feeling of time is running out for them.

    The 4850 I feel would cover my video needs nicely as the only majorly graphic intensive thing I do these days is COD:4 MW.

    So essentially. My reason for the question is future proofing.

    At the moment I could sell my 07 Pro with all it's bits and buy an i7 imac with a little change to spare or direct cost depending on what I got. And the i7 could be a little more 'future proof' as it were.

    Or if we are likely to see more 'simple approved' updates for the 06-07 Pro's I'd stick with it.

    But the Value of the 07 Pro is declining and will even more so when they release a '10 machine, so now would be the time to make the change if I were going to.

    I'm looking for compelling reasons to go either way. And the video card is the main swinging point for me.
     
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #5
    Unfortunately, this is the case. Apple's dropping support for the EFI32 systems ('06 - '07 models). '08 and newer have EFI64.

    As it stands, ATI is using EBC, and seem likely to support the older MP's longer. But that's they're choice to do so, not Apple's (OTB Mac editions).

    As per nVidia, OTB is gone in the new cards, and won't be back. As The Rominator indicated, there's ways around it, but it's not OTB, and requires some work. If you're not comfortable, I'd recommend going with an EFI64 based system. That covers graphics cards.

    But there's another important reason to consider the switch as well. OS X is going to go full 64 bit Kernel (K64), and drop K32 completely. It could be as early as 10.7, as Apple doesn't like supporting interim products long at all, going by their history. So it's quite possible SL may be the last OS that works on those systems. :eek: Not that they're useless, but usage needs to be weighed carefully to determine if it's usable for an individual.

    You might want to consider an '08 system if you want the ability to upgrade easily (graphics cards + future OS versions), and if you look, can be had for a decent price (i.e. keep an eye on Craig's List, as you can inspect the system and verify it works before payment).

    Good luck. :)
     
  6. maghemi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I had thought about this, however I'm in Australia and we don't really have anything akin to craigslist. And Mac Pro's are very thin on the ground and command fairly high prices on the second hand market anyway.

    Not to mention they rarely come up on the refurb store either. They're just prohibitively expensive. Add to that the '09 model came out when the Australian dollar was very weak against the US. So their prices are obscene, and apple never seem to drop the prices once they've been set regardless of exchange rates. (ie, right now on the American apple store the base model is US$2499, where as on the Australian store the base model is US$4169, based on today's exchange rate. Where as the i7 is US$2199on the US store compared to US$2686 on the Aus store)

    Has there been any word on if ATI are likely to release the 5800 series for the 07-06 Pro? I suppose it's not viable really in the long term as realistically the software path is likely to evaporate anyway.
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #7
    I didn't realize where you were, or that there's not a Craig's List there. I do realize the prices are high in Australia though from other members.

    Sorry it's not an option.

    Some have already gotten it to work, and though there's been no formal announcement, I'd expect one to release as a Mac edition. How long this will hold, I'm not sure.

    If you can live with it for awhile, and perhaps the lack of upgrading the OS eventually (I'd presume SL is the last if I were you), take a good long look at what you do with the system right now, as you could be able to eek out a couple of years on it. It all depends on the usage. Meanwhile, saving up for another system at that time. ;)

    Hopefully the currency will improve, and it won't hurt so much. :)
     
  8. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #8
    Apple did not support anything beyond the x2600 officially on the MP1,1 and 2,1. The fact that 3870 and 4870 work is more a lucky coincidence than effort on behalf of Apple. I would not expect that anything will be added to the list in the future. The iMac doen't look like a good system to be flexible for graphics either. You best option really is a 2008 quad if you can lay your hands on one at a reasonable price if you want future options.
     
  9. Bat Commander macrumors member

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    Jul 29, 2009
    #9
    The other thing that sucks is that there's no official way to get a mini displayport in a 2006/2007 Mac Pro. I know the 4870 has a mini displayport and it "works" in the first gen Mac Pro, but Apple doesn't support that configuration so if anything happens to the card, they will NOT replace it.

    Apple should make a compatible card with a MDP for the early Mac Pros so that they can sell more LED Apple Cinema Displays. Right?
     
  10. arkitect macrumors 601

    arkitect

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    #10
    Of course, we'd expect any "sane" company to think that way.
    But this is Apple, Inc. and believe me they'd much rather be selling you new Mac Pros than making upgrades easy for their users… ;)
     
  11. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    #11
    I don't think they will drop EFI32 for 10.7 that is very quick. After all 10.6 is the first too drop PowerPC. 10.5 even ran on G4 systems. I would think 10.8 would be the closest to dropping EFI32.

    As for graphics cards I guess we can just hope apple releases a EFI64 update for our 2006 Mac Pros but I doubt it.:(
     
  12. PurpleLogix macrumors member

    PurpleLogix

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    #12
    Let's hope they don't drop K32.

    Just give us a firmware update and stop screwing us.
     
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #13
    I'm going by recent history. 2005 PPC systems lost their OS update capability in 2009, so 4 years. 2006 to 2010, is also 4 years, and makes 10.7 the more likely candidate, 10.8 for sure.

    But IIRC, there was some bit of information on the MR front page awhile back, that also lead me to beleive that K32 wouldn't be in 10.7. :(

    Not going to happen. It will allow them to push the newer machines, and not have to spend a single cent on development. A win-win from Apple's POV.

    K32 is coming to an end, and a firmware update isn't realistic, unless there's a major problem that can't be solved without firmware. EFI64 systems may get one from time to time, but the EFI32 systems won't get a 64 bit replacement.

    As EFI64 will be around awhile, those systems will be a better value. Support will be available for a longer period of time, as the OS will remain K64 as will the newer graphics cards (and needed for double precision floating point for GPGPU processing).
     
  14. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    #14
    Yeah I was hopeful. 10.7 may be a different time frame then the PPC as that was a different architecture so optimization of the kernel would take much more work for two architectures vs 32 bit and 64 bit. Maybe I am just being optimistic.
     
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #15
    Dropping PPC made the development easier and faster than had it been included in SL. That allowed them to dump some of the spaghetti, and lets the OS go about it's business as a leaner version.

    Dropping K32 will do the same thing. They can toss the old stuff that won't need to be carried over.

    Ultimately, it reduces their work load, and lowers costs as well. Both something developers are rather interested interested in. Apple's a business, and their ultimate goal is making money. The rest of it's BS/fodder for the marketing dept.
     
  16. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #16
    Apple actually released Snow Leopard the same month when the last Power Mac G5 from August 2006 went out of Apple care. If we go by past performance a K64 only OSX will not be coming before spring 2011 when the last MacPro3,1 go out of Apple care.
     
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #17
    I'm going off the initial release, not last system made. This is one of the aspects that makes it so hard on owners of the EFI32 systems, namely the '07 owners (same board/systems, but Quad Core chips added).

    EDIT:
    They ran June 2003 - August 2006, but I was thinking the most updated versions of the CPU's (dual core parts that were available in '05 on = quad core systems for DP models).

    Either way, it's coming shortly. 2010 or 2011, but I do think 2010 is more likely if Apple can pull it off, given how lean they run their OS development team.
     
  18. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    #18
    True. The difference being the '06 model can still run 64 bit programs. So they can optimize the applications in the OS all they want. The kernel is the only thing that must be kept 32/64. With dropping powerPC it let them strip that code from all the applications.
     
  19. PurpleLogix macrumors member

    PurpleLogix

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    #19
    I guess i better re-think that x5355 cpu upgrade. Yes i know it will still work with SL in 3yrs time, but I kind of feel ripped off knowing it is a 64bit MP that still has plenty of life in it, but can't use any of the newer tech stuff.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #20
    Yes, the K32 versions can still run 64 bit apps. But the issue is the newer tech won't be accessible to EFI32 owners, or even OS X after it goes K64 exclusively.

    They'll still work with the latest version designed to run on them, but it can make users feel cheated. And if by chance the new features that will come are actually needed.

    Double float precision GPGPU work for example will become valid for the video/graphics pros in the very near future, once the software developers manage to utilize it for a performance improvement. Graphics cards capable of this require EFI64, and EFI31 is only capable of single point precision. The apps will need K64 too to finally utilize more memory per instance).

    So it doesn't seem unrealistic to think something else will make a presence not too much later. YMMV, depending on usage, as for general computing (i.e. word processing, web browsing,...), the earlier systems will be fine.
     
  21. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    #21
    I understand. I was just stating that since it can run 64 bit code its different then the dropping of powerPC as apple can still strip a large amount of 32bit code out of the OS. Verses they couldn't do that with the powerPC without getting rid of support. This is just me hoping we will be able to run 10.7.
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #22
    I'm looking at it more as a hardware issue than a software one, as the features that can't be used by EFI32 are those that actually use the larger address spacing available to EFI64. K64 becomes a necessity, not a luxury.

    Apple really ripped people with EFI32 & K32 IMO, as the Intel systems have always been capable of 64 bit operation. They could have just included 32 bit emulation in a K64 OS, as others do.

    They sell them as professional systems, but their methodologies and support tactics are those more atune to consumer systems. Definitely not what you'd get with Xeon based systems from any other vendor.
     
  23. Bat Commander macrumors member

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    Jul 29, 2009
    #23
    I feel kinda ripped off too because Apple has always pushed the fact that it's 64 bit.

    When I originally bought my Mac Pro, I thought it would have a long future for upgrades since it was so advanced. The OS couldn't even use all of it's power until just recently.
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #24
    From what I've seen here on MR, you're not alone. Particularly with professional users. Most expected their systems to last longer than they have in terms of graphics card options (which are already limited for OTB solutions). Then you have the exclusively K64 OS issue with OS X to deal with shortly.

    It would be one thing if it's the inevitable obscelecence due to technology changes, but this is intentional. Apple could create new firmware to make those systems EFI64, but won't. They don't want to spend the resources, and it happens to force upgrades to new systems, as that's what their profit model is based on. They're not budget systems either, and should be expected to provide adequate support for pro systems.

    So a lot of people are going to be (if not already), pissed off, and rightly so IMO. These are sold as workstations, not consumer toys. Such tactics are fine for the iMacs and laptops (typically 3 yrs), but not the pro market, where 5 yrs is the accepted industry standard.
     
  25. Bat Commander macrumors member

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    #25
    If the 64EFI is just a firmware thing, then what's stopping them from changing it? There MUST be a reason why they don't offer it. I bet if you asked Apple, they would say that it's a hardware thing and cannot be fixed with a firmware update.
     

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