Aperture and 8-Core Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by tibbon, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. tibbon macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2006
    I am running Aperture on an aging 1.25 G4 MDD. Not fast at all.

    With the release of the 8-Core Mac Pros, I'm wondering if anyone who's using Aperture has gone and gotten themselves an 8-Core at the Mac Stores yet and given it a shot? Will Aperture scale to 8-Cores well? I'm NOT going to pay an additional $1700USD for the extra cores (albiet at 3.0ghz) if there's going to be a 5% speed bump. In that case I'm thinking that throwing more memory, and a better graphics card in the Quad Mac Pro would do the trick better.

    So with the new release in mind, what's the most sane Mac Pro configuration for making Aperture usable, but not going overkill at the same time. I'm shooting with a D200, so I'm producing 10.2mp RAW files if that matters.

    EDIT: The NVidia Quattro 4500 is a little cheaper than the processor upgrade... I know Aperture is very video card dependant, but does the 4500 make more sense than the 8-Core?

    I use the machine almost soley Logic 7 and Aperture. If it can run those well, I'm happy no matter what.
  2. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus


    Jan 15, 2006
    The Kop
    The way i see it the Mac Pro is more than capable of running those applications and running them well. I think the best option would be to get a better video card and more ram rather than going to 8 cores.

    Of course i have no experience with Logic or a mac pro but i run aperture on a Core 2 Duo iMac with 2gb of Ram and the 256mb X1600. Performance is not blisteringly fast but it is perfectly fine for my needs. Especially when compared to my rev A iMac G5 which was a dog with aperture.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    As a rule of thumb spend your money on RAM first. It makes little sense to have more processors than GB of RAM.

    There are two measures of performance: Speed and throughput. How long does a specific action take and how many of these actions can you do per hour. More cores means you can do more per hour but I doubt it will make the system more responsive. So if you have 600 RAW images to export to TIFF 8-cores would get the job done quickly but if you want the preview image to track the setting on a slider you may as well be on a dual core machine.

    Given a system like the one you want to buy you can use Activity Monitor to colect some hard data that can help your decision. So ask people who have quad core MPs if they ever see all four cores at 100%. If they don't adding more is usles.
  4. tibbon thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2006
    Thanks. I think using the activity monitor on my computer won't help too much. It's so much slower in comparison, and the entire system is a bottleneck in comparison to even a G5.

    Maybe if some people could give some feedback of what their bottlenecks in Aperture are.
  5. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    Get the dual 2.6 with the ATI video card upgrade. Then get yourself some 3rd party RAM and a better hard drive with 16mb of cache. OWC is a good place for both, but Newegg and Outpost (now owned by Fry's) have good deals on hdds. It's a good idea to have a scratch disk to put your files separate from the disk your apps are being run from. Don't forget a nice big one to use as a Time Machine backup.

    If you can afford the 3GHz models, go for it, but it costs a lot more for only a little speed.
  6. ksz macrumors 68000

    Oct 28, 2003
    San Jose, CA
    RAW files are big. On the Nikon D200 they are between 8MB (compressed NEF) and 16MB (regular NEF). Once they're loaded, the software has to apply a demosaicing algorithm to render them.

    The 8 CPU cores will help with the demosaicing function, but you have to load the files quickly, which means high disk I/O, and in this regard you can configure the MacPro with software-RAID-0 which will stripe your data evenly across N drives. If you have 2 drives, the I/O will be about twice as fast because half the file is read from drive 1 and half from drive 2. This is a form of "multi-threading" on hard drives.

    The more drives you have in your RAID configuration, the more you will benefit from parallelism. But keep in mind that as you add hard drives, you also increase your chances of getting a hard disk failure. If one drive fails, the ENTIRE filesystem will be damaged.

    To solve this problem there is RAID-5 which tolerates damage to one drive at a time, but RAID-5 needs to be implemented in hardware for best performance. Unfortunately, the MacPro does not support hardware RAID of any kind, not even RAID-0.

    Disks are one of the slowest components in a computer, which is why the lack of h/w RAID on the MacPro boggles me, so I continue to hold out for a new model, one that is really an update and not just another BTO option to the current lineup.
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    If you need 8 cores worth of processing power and a Quadro video card, something in this world has gone very, very wrong. Aperture (supposedly) runs decently on a MacBook Pro, which has 2 cores. The MBP uses slower processors than the ones used in the Mac Pro (in terms of both clock speed and general design), so I'm sure a dual-core Mac Pro 2.66 GHz would run Aperture like well.

    Get a dual-core system, and spend your money on RAM and harddisks. Actually, get a quad-core. You seem to have money to burn on a new system, so you may as well.
  8. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    Best advice I've seen. Aperture LOVES memory and doesn't show that much difference with a few extra digits of processor speed. I have the 2.66Ghz with 3GB of RAM. I through in and extra 2GB once and saw a difference instantly (then my friend came back from his trip and I had to put his RAM back :D )

    a 2.66 or 3.0GHz Quad with 3-5GB of RAM will do you QUITE well. As for the video card. The 7300GT will choke on Aperture. The X1900XT is a vast improvement -- the Quadro may be even faster, but maybe not worth it for the extreme extra cost. Personally, I think I have the best "comprimise" system for optimum efficiency and the most economical price (in this class of computing for photography.) But, that's why I chose it! :p

    [I also found that running a 30" display (or multiple displays) and Aperture almost requires the X1900XT to perform well. If you're planning on running multiple 30"s, I'd get the Quadro.]
  9. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
  10. bearbo macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006
    can someone confirm/correct me?

    the last time i checked, aperture (or any 2-d software, like photoshop & illustrator) doesn't depend on graphic card...

    or am i mistaken?
  11. Silentwave macrumors 68000

    May 26, 2006
    Gainesville, FL
    You're wrong when it comes to Aperture. It sends a LOT of stuff to the graphics card.

    A lot of apps don't, but Apple decided to use all sorts of neat things in there that farm out stuff like previews and the like to the GPU.
  12. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I have a MP 2.66 w/ 4G of RAM and Apeture runs like a dream. I would be more concerned with Video card and RAM.
  13. tibbon thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2006
    Wow, lots of good advice.

    I've used a Firewire 800 (software) RAID 1 a bit, and that was good. I'm likely looking at building a 4+ drive SATA raid, and getting the hardware SATA raid PCI-X (or whatever) card. I never thought in my whole life i'd need this much space. I remember when I got a 40MB hard drive and it felt spacious. Even 10mb hard drives were a luxury to me at one point. Of course I still have a C64 sitting on my desk (for music).

    So it seems that one of the 4-core systems is sufficient, and the ATI card is good enough? It seems kinda expensive to upgrade the video cards through Apple, are there any ATI/nVidia cards on the market that work well in a mac that I could pick up and get more power for the money? As a silly side question, will the ATI 1900 play Oblivion well in Bootcamp? I never play games, but I put that one on my gf's iMac and really enjoyed it.

    I know that getting the memory/hard drives from Apple is always a poor (costwise) idea. Before I even started up my MDD or my G4 iBook I put more memory in them from Crucial/Newegg. Seems that Crucial is a bit expensive again for some reason, so likely Newegg this time. I'll probably put 4-6GB of memory in my system. I figure that 10.5 will (like every mac OS) really enjoy lots of memory.

    What's the deal with the multple card configurations in the Mac Pro? I see that you can basically keep throwing video cards in there (up to 4?) Is that just for more screens, or are they SLI'd? Haven't done that since I had a Voodoo 1.
  14. tibbon thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2006
    In the Boston stores (where I've been for the most part, although now I'm in NC) they normally only had a few limited configurations on the floor, and not all of them had Aperture (although that might have changed a bit). They never had one with a TON of memory and a 4500 in it. Maybe the NYC store. I'll probably be there in a few weeks and I'll see what they have on display.
  15. Glenn Wolsey macrumors 65816

    Glenn Wolsey

    Nov 24, 2005
    New Zealand
    You want to add the ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI) card. It will be the best $250 you spend.

    Even in the MacPro, the 7300 offers sluggish performance. It’s important to do this when you order the computer because availability of third party cards at this point is virtually non-existent.
  16. ahuyevshi macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2007
    I didnt go for the 8 core but went for the base 2.66 and dumped $$ into 5GB more of RAM... Aperture kicks butt with my current config. Loads quickly and I shoot mostly RAW with a 5D so 12MP... I think the 8 core would be more suited for heavy video editing then Photos

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