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OkiRun

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 25, 2019
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There is nothing in FCPX to indicate that the Afterburner Card is in play.

Screen Shot 2020-01-29 at 5.29.09 PM.png
 

bsbeamer

macrumors 601
Sep 19, 2012
4,232
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Almost all "good" tests to date are user-generated and usually involve having the card present vs. not having the card present and almost replicating the Apple demo at WWDC with multiple streams of 4K and 8K in FCPX. Outside of that, there is little to no "benefit" for workflow that would be measurable.

Several are still waiting for their Afterburner to arrive.
 

Casey P

macrumors member
Jan 16, 2020
43
12
I've been waiting for some type of test on the Afterburner card. The render files in FCPX are in ProRes so I was hoping that the Afterburner card might enable near instantaneous background rendering. I was hoping it might even continue rendering when timeline skimming and other processes are taking place. I might buy one if it did.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G4
Mar 10, 2009
10,576
2,566
I've been waiting for some type of test on the Afterburner card. The render files in FCPX are in ProRes so I was hoping that the Afterburner card might enable near instantaneous background rendering. I was hoping it might even continue rendering when timeline skimming and other processes are taking place. I might buy one if it did.

Afterburner soaks up the load of the time line skimming. It isn't going to process ProRes into "something else". So should be able to continue to work while new stuff gets created and even more so in multiple camera timelines that start with the ProRes perquisite. The primary point to work ( in terms of high levels of interactive ) with higher quality"source" files and leave resources available to do "other stuff".

Unless "rendering" proxies to work with, that isn't the rendering it is aimed at.
 

Casey P

macrumors member
Jan 16, 2020
43
12
As far as I can tell, FCPX renders timeline video into prores for easier playback. You can choose the version of prores and you can choose the length of time before background rendering begins. All background rendering is paused when any timeline skimming or playback is started. If the Afterburner either speeds up background rendering or allows background rendering while editing without pausing, then it could help quite a bit with editing since background rendering is usually the only task that seems to cause a slowdown in my workflow. Well, the other slowdown occurs when events or large files are loaded, but I am hoping that an increase in RAM will fix that.
 
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deconstruct60

macrumors G4
Mar 10, 2009
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As far as I can tell, FCPX renders timeline video into prores for easier playback. You can choose the version of prores and you can choose the length of time before background rendering begins. All background rendering is paused when any timeline skimming or playback is started. If the Afterburner either speeds up background rendering or allows background rendering while editing without pausing,

Apple has outlined what Afterburner does.

"...
What does Afterburner do?
Afterburner accelerates decoding and playback of multiple streams of ProRes and Pro Res RAW video files.1
..."


Once you have ProRes files, Aferburner lowers the workload to playback those files. It does not create ProRes files. It also allows to playback a higher number of ProRes files with next to no CPU/GPU workload.
Skimming over the timeline is playback. Afterburner will help with that. That frees up resources so could be another task doing something else. If do lots of skimming over large ProRes files this helps free up lots of resources. if you have zero ProRes files to start with then it does not. You have to get to ProRes status to get traction.


Could Apple later add another mode that does ProRes encoding also? That is conceivable but it is not their current priority. I wouldn't hold my breath expecting that to show up soon.



then it could help quite a bit with editing since background rendering is usually the only task that seems to cause a slowdown in my workflow.

If you are doing lots of moving around and reviewing of footage while working then Afterburner should help. But really only indirectly. The CPU/GPU resources formerly consumed on ProRes playback can be assigned to the background rendering. If you editing was slowing down the background processing to keep the UI interaction fast with the foreground work then you can "push" more resource to background processing while Afterburner offloads that foreground workload.

Afterburner is more so dedicated to foreground workload than background. The corner case background work is when exporting something in ProRes to something else. To transcode out of ProRes you need to decode before re-encode in something else. The 'step 1' in that transcode process can be done by Afterburner. ( So Compressor can use Afterburner also when transcoding out of ProRes. )


Well, the other slowdown occurs when events or large files are loaded, but I am hoping that an increase in RAM will fix that.

Loading large ProRes file (e.g., ProRes RAW ) for viewing Afterburner should help with that. Any other format, no.
 

Casey P

macrumors member
Jan 16, 2020
43
12
Thank you for that rundown. I've never had a problem playing back prores or rendered footage, so it is hard for me to see how the Afterburner would help in that. But if the afterburner would handle all timeline and playback footage while rendering by the CPU's and GPU's could happen in the background, then it might be useful. Does the Afterburner make it so that background tasks in FCPX do not pause when timeline and event skimming are occurring?
 

Bradleyone

macrumors regular
Jul 7, 2015
232
259
Sydney, Australia
I don't think adding the Afterburner slowed down a BTO like the wheels, but a lot of people probably didn't add it in at time of order, intending to get it separately later.

That way, you're less committed to it if it doesn't work out and can return it in 14 days without returning the whole Mac Pro.

But it looks like it's in short supply.

Also, the more I see those wheels, the more I want a wheel kit. Dammit, Apple, sell me the wheels!
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G4
Mar 10, 2009
10,576
2,566
Thank you for that rundown. I've never had a problem playing back prores or rendered footage, so it is hard for me to see how the Afterburner would help in that. ....

It wouldn't necessarily be a problem if the thread scheduler "degrades' the time allotment for the tasks tagged as being "background" tasks in favor of the tasks tagged as being user interactive. The user part wouldn't be the most direct indicator. Activity monitor would be a better metric. If you background a large workload and then start heavy ProRes playback does the CPU utilization spike close to 100%. The percentage gap between "just background" and the foreground+background combo puts the upper limit on what Afterburner could "get back" for you.

Does the Afterburner make it so that background tasks in FCPX do not pause when timeline and event skimming are occurring?

That is far more so up to FCPX than Afterburner. The way Apple set this up is that the AV Foundational library allocates the work to Afterburner or not. The apps makes the same API call to do the work. If there is no Afterburner present then the software implementation is used. If there is hardware then the library shuffles the work there. It is suppose to be mainly opaque to the apps if using the set of APIs that Apple suggest that folks use to "handle" the ProRes files.

Apple has a thread Quality of Service (QoS) API also. If FCPX is using that to 'tag' background worker threads then they should get an incrementally bigger allocation of resources if the foreground consumes a bit less. Sometime apps try to hold onto more the work allocation duties themselves ( if doing more X submit less Y workers ). So it depends more on FCPX internals than it does on Afterburner directly.
( For example lots of apps don't scale well with more cores ( *cough* Adobe) and that is mostly the app internals as opposed to Apple's Foundation Library issues. macOS has problems with more than 64 threads but no Mac Pro is close to that zone yet. )
 
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MaxYuryev

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2015
37
117
Lots of good info about the afterburner in my review. My single afterburner can decode 4 streams of 8K ProRes RAW on the fly with the CPU having to do no work. If I had two Vega 2’s it could do 6 streams.

A 28 core CPU ($7000 upgrade from Apple) could only do 2-3 streams.


Afterburner Review - is it Worth $2000 for Video Editing?
 
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12vLego

macrumors newbie
May 7, 2020
14
8
I have tested the Afterburner Card to investigate if it can speed-up 'normal' ProRes exports. To my regret, most of the times it does not. To the contrary, I found that it may even slow down export (on a 16 Core machine). I have not tested RAW footage.

See the results on YT:

 

LeonPro

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2002
797
402
I have tested the Afterburner Card to investigate if it can speed-up 'normal' ProRes exports. To my regret, most of the times it does not. To the contrary, I found that it may even slow down export (on a 16 Core machine). I have not tested RAW footage.

See the results on YT:


I might have missed this, but I assume this was using FCPX?

I was debating on adding either another Vega II card in dual config, not duo, to get the extra TB3 ports or an After Burner card with hopes that it gets fully optimized by third-party video editing programs. I guess another Vega II it is.
 

bsbeamer

macrumors 601
Sep 19, 2012
4,232
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Only recently have Adobe and Avid started to basically mess around with support for Afterburner. I still would not recommend purchasing for use with that software.
 
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LeonPro

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2002
797
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Lots of good info about the afterburner in my review. My single afterburner can decode 4 streams of 8K ProRes RAW on the fly with the CPU having to do no work. If I had two Vega 2’s it could do 6 streams.

A 28 core CPU ($7000 upgrade from Apple) could only do 2-3 streams.


Afterburner Review - is it Worth $2000 for Video Editing?

If the After Burner can also encode/decode H264/H265 especially 4:2:2 8K from the latest Canon EOS R5 files the way the iPad Pro can play these back, then would be a great value than just encoding/decoding ProRes alone. That means two Vega II gpus may just be enough in conjunction with an After Burner.
 

OkiRun

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 25, 2019
1,005
583
Japan
The Afterburner card doesn’t affect FCPX export. It is for encoding and decoding from my understanding. It deals mainly with playback. However, there are conflicting reports about this. One poster said AB does speed exporting. However, I haven’t seen confirmation from an Apple source.
But encoding, transcoding, rendering, decoding, exporting. It’s really difficult of the vocabulary understanding for AB.
 
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tommy chen

macrumors 6502a
Oct 1, 2018
863
362
what is so hard to understand about that?

the afterburner card speeds up the playback of prores footage
and does neither decoding from other codecs nor encoding to another codec.

that means, if you work with H264 footage and the end product of the playout
is H264 again, the afterburner does nothing.

except when the H264 footage is automatically converted to prores,
the afterburner speeds up playback during editing.

if the final product of the cut is H264 again, the afterburner pauses.


Screenshot 2020-07-31 at 09.31.24.jpg
 

OkiRun

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 25, 2019
1,005
583
Japan
what is so hard to understand about that?

the afterburner card speeds up the playback of prores footage
and does neither decoding from other codecs nor encoding to another codec.

that means, if you work with H264 footage and the end product of the playout
is H264 again, the afterburner does nothing.

except when the H264 footage is automatically converted to prores,
the afterburner speeds up playback during editing.

if the final product of the cut is H264 again, the afterburner pauses.


View attachment 939117
The question is, does it have any acceleration effect on exporting to finished master file? An English vocabulary can be challenging at times..
 

tommy chen

macrumors 6502a
Oct 1, 2018
863
362
for lack of 7.1 and afterburner I cannot answer this question.

and yes, english is not my main language +g*
 
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OkiRun

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 25, 2019
1,005
583
Japan
I found by watching Max video very carefully again - to find that AB does accelerate exporting when staying within ProRes format. Thanks so much to that great video. Very helpful.

[edit] Just exported an 11gb film in fcpx; it took 1 minute, 25 seconds
 
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LeonPro

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2002
797
402
Does the afterburner card help with 4:2:2 Canon R5 footage? (h.265)

The Afterburner card was only developed to serve Apple's codec which is ProRes. It exists to decode ProRes and ProRes RAW. Nothing else. It can't even encode ProRes.

Any other codec, you might as well invest in a GPU than purchase an Afterburner. Or get a Mac Studio.
 
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chfilm

macrumors 68040
Nov 15, 2012
3,077
1,796
Berlin
The longer time goes on, the more it bugs me that the afterburner never received any upgrades- if they truly wanted to let us Pro users keep and upgrade the 2019 mac pro for a while longer, they should make use of the flexibility to swap in a new afterburner card with updated video engines, like the m1 ultra has. But I'm afraid it's never gonna happen.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G4
Mar 10, 2009
10,576
2,566
The longer time goes on, the more it bugs me that the afterburner never received any upgrades-

Has there been any major ProRes or ProRes RAW file format upgrades that Afterburner missed?
Similarly, Apple now tends to bury firmware upgrades inside of "macOS xyz updates " ... so bug fix upgrades to Afterburner could have weaved in without much fan fare.


I think there was a "throw away" comment by some Apple Exec ( Craig Federighi ?) about some being able to cover future formats. However, it was generally non-Apple entities that grossly oversold the FPGA aspects of the Afterbuner card. ( "oh I wish it could be a RedRocket card replacement" , " Oh the FGPA means it can possible do any codec" , etc. ) . Apple themselves did relatively little to rave about the FGPA aspect.

Where Apple probably hugely failed was in omission of useful information about Afterburner before it went on sale. ( the FAQ and support docs that highlight the specific role it was build for.). That vacuum got filled with lots of expectation setting that didn't line up with Apple intentions.


Afterburner had a specific job and it did its job. Make Pro Res look good.

The one quirky part of the "main mission" though that is missing is ProRes Encode. ( If there was an "A/B" switch so have one decoder card and one encoder card. But it would stick in a single mode on boot.)

There are three primary use cases for using a FPGA

1. Cheaper than a application specific IC (ASIC). Don't want to go though whole fabrication cycle and need a modest number of implementations.

2. Prototyping. Need to evolve to a correct spec over time

3. Varying custom workloads to work on in a single deployment.


The huge expectation disconnect is that Apple had problem 1 and 2. Three really wasn't an Apple issue.

First, at the time of Afterburner development Apple was still in a patent 'dust up' with Red over ProRes RAW. If they implementation in a ASIC and the patent issue went sideways that would be very expensive to go in a different direction on compression scheme. They also aren't going to ship millions of these priced at $2K a pop and narrow use case. ( " Apple needed to make the use cases broad to justify the price" ... that's tag-wags-dog thinking. )

Second, eventually the ProRes decoders did go ASIC. It is in the M-series. More than decent chance that was not decoupled from the Afterburner development and release. Apple gets to 'sell' a prototype before they weave it into the SoC. If there are bugs or problems ... can work that out before it goes into 10+ million dies.


The third gets entangled with the FPGA's development kit.. which Apple probably doesn't want to get to caught up in when it comes to distribution.


if they truly wanted to let us Pro users keep and upgrade the 2019 mac pro for a while longer, they should make use of the flexibility to swap in a new afterburner card

But that exists now. That what they did. How much further behind on modest ProRes RAW workloads would the MP 2019 be behind a Studio Max/Ultra if it didn't have Afterburner as an option?


MP 2019 boots Windows 10 (and pretty sure W11) or Linux. AV1 workload to do ... toss a Intel Data Center GPU card in there and it will probably work (eventually when they ship).


with updated video engines, like the m1 ultra has. But I'm afraid it's never gonna happen.

Besides 'encode' , there is ProRes format that M1 Ultra covers that the Afterburner doesn't? ( Not talking number of concurrent streams but a decode).

The number of concurrent streams has to do with both the bandwidth to the Afterburner card ( which if keep the same MP 19 PCI-e feeds isn't going to get any better) and the number of "gates" that the FPGA implementation has (again fixed in the basic foundation; not changing over time). If tried to add encode to the AFterburner gate set up , then you'd probably loose number of decode streams (not an infinitely large number of 'gates' available to use). Second, the internal bisection bandwidth that a M1 Pro/Max/Ultra has is way above that of a x16 PCI-e v3 link.
 
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