Any hope for NVIDIA GPUs in next Mac Pro update?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Let's Sekuhara!, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. Let's Sekuhara! macrumors 6502

    Let's Sekuhara!

    Jun 30, 2008
    I'm just putting this out as a beacon to attract information.
    When the 2013 Mac Pro was announced I drooled, then I cried, upon discovering that from a graphics standpoint it is more limited than its predecessor. It cannot be of any use to me unless it supports NVIDIA.

    So, it's been a while and I just want to know if there are any credible rumors circulating about the next hardware update (whenever that may be) including support for non-AMD GPUs. Thanks in advance.
  2. riggles macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2013
    No new rumors. In fact, the new retina iMac with AMD graphics makes it seem even less likely that Apple would include an NVIDIA option in the next Mac Pro.
  3. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    After the nVidia debacles with failing chips I wouldn't bet on it.
  4. kitsunestudios macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2012
    Well, unless something changes, I won't be able to buy hardware from Apple anymore. AMD GPUs are incompatible with Blender's GPU Rendering feature, and that's a key value point I have to consider when buying hardware; enough to favour a Windows box.

    I'm just glad I bought the 2013 iMac refurbished before the refresh. Hopefully by the time I need a new one, AMD will have it's OpenCL implementation fixed, or Apple will have an nVidea option available again.
  5. Asgorath macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2012
  6. koyoot macrumors 603


    Jun 5, 2012
    I think that right now, going with AMD Apple has finally a graphics API for gaming - Mantle/Metal, and yet - has way more powerful GPUs in Open CL work.

    I know that Mantle/Metal reduces overhead, so if you will have slow CPU you will benefit from it greatly, and Xeon CPUs are not slow, by any means. However, the gap, between GPUs and CPUs will right now get bigger and bigger. And the CPU will be bottleneck for them. Thats why Metal is so important. That is what i believe, why Apple went AMD route.

    Apart from pricing, and customizing, and licensing those GPUs... ;)
  7. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    It's not impossible, but it's looking less likely with the iMac.

    But Maxwell does still look like, in theory, a good candidate for the Mac Pro if Apple was open to it.
  8. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Seems unlikely to me. AMD are offering Apple a very good deal on those graphics chips. I highly doubt NVIDIA will undercut them and give the Quadro branding at such prices. AMD's can almost write it off as marketing - they have a huge incentive to get FirePro branding out there and this really helps.
  9. Tom-Create-Pro macrumors member

    Oct 15, 2014
  10. deconstruct60, Oct 30, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    'Fixed' is a better state than not even in the game. Any Nvidia OpenCL 2.0 implementations listed here?

    Nope. I think Nvidia has finally dragged its feet into something OpenCL 1.2 in 2014.

    OpenCL 1.2 passed in 2011. That is a 3 year delay. AMD and Intel did this back in 2013 for the last year's OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) launch.

    As long as Nvidia keeps playing the 'for CUDA to win, OpenCL has to loose (and be suppressed )' game, Nvidia is probably going to loose an increasing number of Apple design bake-offs. That is even more so the case in the subcontext of the Mac Pro, which has a pragmatically dedicated OpenCL 'engine' as an principal part of the system design.

    I realize Nvidia likes the proprietary lock-in of CUDA more, but kneecapping OpenCL isn't going to play well in the Apple ecosystem. Apple isn't buying CUDA hook-line-and-sinker. Not going to happen. In the overall PC add-in card market that approach might fly (for now), but in the embedded GPU spaces is strategy that will most likely fail over the long term.

    Nvidia playing the "we're not doing OpenCL 1.2" game in 2013 probably means it is out for most (if not all ) 2014 Mac designs.... (since those were probably being specified and initial design work done in 2012-2013 time frame ). If there was some buried skunkworks project not playing that game and working on OS X only implementation maybe. But there is little sign that has been going on and there is even less benefit in keeping that "OS X only".


    This MBP 2011 with AMD issue probably is more so the MBP. Other manufacturers in the same price quality tier as Apple who are using the same AMD parts aren't having a significant problem. Some reports are that the2011 MBP chopped down on airflow and long term it exacerbates small problems into a bigger one.

    In the older Nvidia case, it wasn't just Apple with the problem.


    AMD has a specific business unit that just does these embedded GPU/APU deals. That's one reason they also got the Xbox and Playstation wins also. It isn't just with Apple. Nvidia hasn't particularly been playing the 'partner and do hardware' game with anyone over last 2-3 years. [ The IBM/Power stuff is more of a sideshow than any serious from a broad spectrum market perspective. ]

    Going from a 100-150% mark-up down to a 50-90% mark-up probably will not lead to a 'write off'.

    The FirePro and Quadro line ups have gobs of margin until they are even remotely close to becoming break-even; let alone a loss.

    There is a marketing aspect of selling the product at a price point where it will be bought in numbers that is an upside. AMD needs numbers deployed and in-use. That draws more software titles which helps feed the next cycle.
  11. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Apple decides what GPU to use by basically determining what GPU will give them the most amount of performance, for a certain energy/heat cost. That doesn't give them a particularly anti-Nvidia bias, beyond that previous Nvidia cards had been horrible performers in OpenCL, which is important to Apple these days.

    If Maxwell performs well in OpenCL, I don't see any reason why Apple wouldn't add them back, but they may only do a new assessment every few years.

    It's not an anti-CUDA thing. And Metal/Mantle has nothing to do with anything. Metal is only available on iOS, and it's not compatible with AMD cards. As far as I'm aware, Mantle isn't available yet on the Mac. So that's not forming any of the issues here.
  12. RoastingPig macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2012
    hopefully we can keep getting native drivers in osx for the cmp
  13. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Apple has a factor of component price also. There are multiple dimensions. It isn't a process of picking of fastest component on the "foobar" benchmark.

    The E5 v2 Mac Pro is likely rather odd because it is a design "dead ender" right out of the gate. Skipping E5 v1 didn't particularly buy much ( from a CPU and design standpoint. Waiting for Thunderbolt 2 probably hurt as much as helped. ). Settling in to ride the v3 - v4 tick-tock design sequence probably happened last year.

    It is going to be more tough of a sell for Apple to throw the "Pro card" price premium at what is more likely just a mainstream implementation. AMD has the much more weighted 'two birds with variant features' stone strategy than Nvidia does ( which does a another more computational focused variant along side a gamer focused one in a given architectural generation. ). Doubtful that Nvidia would give Windows OS "pro driver" support at the price points Apple is going to want.

    It should be available if boot into Windows. Whether Mantle comes to Mac is more so an OS thing once have the AMD GPU in place pre-conditional. I doubt Apple is fan of hardware lock-in Mantle any more than hardware lock-in CUDA.

    Apple can optionally tweak their Imagination Tech PowerVR GPU implementations as much (or as little ) as they want. Locked into their own implementation isn't an issue for them. The iOS gaming platform is already orders of magnitude that then whole Mac market. Apple already has a gaming platform that generates money. Making Macs gaming focused machines is likely still a low priority. Good enough; sure. But a major focus, not.

    The iOS "run one focus app at a time" paradigm leads itself to OS layer bypassing Metal. OS X isn't one app at a time paradigm.
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    I thought that one premise was that Nvidia was going to keep writing drivers for PCIe cards even if they stopped getting Mac design wins. That the robustness and broad economic viability of the Mac add-in GPU card market would deliver drivers far into the future automagically.

    If Nvidia got squeezed out of the entire Mac line-up then the future flow of drivers would start skating on thin ice. As long as there are some wins, somewhere in the line up, kludges will probably work longer term. The market isn't going evaporate quickly but it also isn't guaranteed long term either.
  15. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    True, but cost is just passed right to the consumer. :)

    I'm not sure cost is a huge thing for Apple. Driver development might be (for example, Crossfire GPUs have flat out not happened.) But I'm pretty sure they just want the fastest GPU that will fit their power profile.

    If a mix of GPU brands is the right move for the different tiers (maybe AMD is winning at mid-range, but Nvidia is at high end) they haven't been scared to mix and match too.

    Good point, but even it just being a Windows only feature means Apple likely isn't inclined to factor it into any decisions.

    Right. That's the disconnect with Metal on the Mac. Metal is possible on iOS because Apple strongly controls the actual hardware down to the silicon implementation. Metal would never work on the Mac unless Apple started making their own Mac GPUs. OpenGL already has enough trouble as a single standard as it is, and it's high level.
  16. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Apple's stacking their 30+% margin on top puts some limits. Mac Pro customers are a bit more price insensitive than I thought a year ago, but I suspect the current Mac Pro prices are close to the limits ( e.g, kneecapping the entry Mac Pro with only 3 DIMMs instead of 4 and stripping off VRAM from the AMD Pro card base lines they modified for the D300/D500 ). Cost is on the table otherwise the configurations would look different.

    Oddly Crossfire is enabled in Windows. Someone in the product management has bought into notion of "better gaming in Windows" buys some share worth putting work into. In OS X, no. It probably isn't worth the added complexity costs.

    That is back in the now antiquated context of the GPU card work being done by other folks. Now that Apple has to incur the design of the cards. I don't see some convoluted product matrix happening at all. In every other embedded GPU design that Apple does there is one GPU vendor select per major design bake-off cycle. Those have all been single tracked.

    When the R&D is largely punted to 3rd parties (either outsourced and/or after market opportunities)... sure. Apple will buy into that. Apple take on substantially higher inventory and return on investment risk.... not lately.

    The problem in the workstation market is that is is much smaller than the overall classic PC market ( personal computers excluding the tablets ). There are still substantial titles that carry weight that are Windows only because the Mac's sub 10% of the low millions workstation market is just to small to motivate ports to OS X. So BootCamp mode is a bit of a factor.

    And as above... some yahoo thought Windows Crossfire was a "check the box" feature for the current Mac Pro. It isn't a prime factor, but if it is something "almost free" in the BootCamp support they have to do anyway then don't have to really push it into OS X either.

    Mental/Mantle aren't a free pass long term. OpenGL is a more complicated stack but it deals with a boarder variety of hardware. I think that Metal/Mantle will lead to a flotsam of out of touch games over time. On iOS I don't think Apple cares. They will have taken their 30% cut of sales and will de-support the older hardware anyway over time.

    Mantle has already bumped into the tip of the iceberg.

    "... Because Tonga is based on a new GPU – and a newer version of GCN no less – the developers of Thief and Battlefield 4 have not had the opportunity to optimize their games for Tonga products. ..."
    For the new card and non-aware software, Mantle isn't buying a whole lot in performance.

    Gaming consoles don't change architectures every year. Perhaps there will be more shared gaming engine development over time but fast hardware development and low level APIs are in conflict over the long term from a maintenance and support perspective. How AMD makes that work long term will be interesting.

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