Apple's New Graphics Card?

arn

macrumors god
Original poster
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
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James submitted this interesting Architosh article detailing a possible Apple graphics card in development:

Apple is apparently working on a superfast graphics card with twin-engines. Our sources tell us that the card may or may not be co-designed with Nvidia.

The article fills in whatever details it can... but of note, reconfirm's Apple's apparent interest in the Hollywood/Video Market... with recent acquisitions telling us more than Apple is publically.

Of note, they report on a Studio Summit which revealed the cheif "wants" from the industry... including powerful graphics, rack mounted units, and dual/quads.
 

Beej

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Jan 6, 2002
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Re: Apple's New Graphics Card?

Originally posted by arn
Our sources tell us that the card may or may not be co-designed with Nvidia.
Now there's a quality quote ;)

Sounds cool. An Apple branded video card would have to rock!
 

Rower_CPU

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Oct 5, 2001
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Sounds like Apple is trying to find a solution on par with nVidia's Quadra line of video cards for PCs.

From the article it looks like there is a lot of support for this type of hardware development from the Hollywood elite...interesting...
 

Mr. Anderson

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Nov 1, 2001
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If you dig deeper into the article, its got a lot to say. I especially am interested in the G5 test boxes. I hadn't heard about this. But also that the development of a dual chip graphics card means a solid effort by Apple to support the 3D animation and post production apps.

A Quad G5 with a dual chip graphics card. Now that would be a nice present for MWNY. I'm not expecting that though, but it sounds good.
 

mac15

macrumors 68040
Dec 29, 2001
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woah Nvidia make the best GPUs
no with apple thats cool
and the G5 sounds nice to
 

Xapplimatic

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Oct 23, 2001
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Re: Apple's New Graphics Card?

Each GPU is fitted out with "heaps of ram" our sources say, estimating the amount at 128 MB for DDR-RAM for each engine (GPU). Besides a curious daughter-card slot on the card, our sources say that they no very little about the rest of the card—other than to say its performance on the test box was nothing short of astonishing.
Wow! If this is Apple's sole creation, I am completely astonished! Even better that it's said to be hand in hand with a Hypertransport motherboard with dual processors (~G5).. If this is true, this year has MUCH to hold instore for Apple and Mac users alike.. :)
 

Mr. Anderson

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Nov 1, 2001
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Re: Re: Apple's New Graphics Card?

Originally posted by Xapplimatic
If this is true, this year has MUCH to hold instore for Apple and Mac users alike.. :)
Not only that, it could have wider impact. Think if the really fast dual chip graphics card was only available for the Mac. It would give Apple an advantage they don't arleady have. This could be huge.
 

jelloshotsrule

macrumors G3
Feb 7, 2002
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serendipity
this could be amazing


if only they'd make a card that has two adc's... i mean, i don't have 2 apple monitors, but it just seems like there should be one dual card with two adc ports...

ahh, can't wait to get my 15" in...
 

dongmin

macrumors 68000
Jan 3, 2002
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Apple's new direction?

All this talk of new technology is great but I'm a little concerned about the direction Apple's taking. Apple seems to be really pushing for that high-end video/animation market. Why? I don't doubt that it's a potentially lucrative market, but it's also a very small market, super-niche. A little like what SGI used to be.

Sure, there are some trickly down effects, like iMovie. But most of these new technologies and acquisitions seem limited to production-house uses. Whatever happened to "a computer for the rest of us"?

How about, instead, focussing on developing a better brower for the Mac? Mac browsers blow, in comparisons to PCs. Or introducing some new digital appliances?
 

SPG

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Jul 24, 2001
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Re: Apple's new direction?

Originally posted by dongmin
All this talk of new technology is great but I'm a little concerned about the direction Apple's taking. Apple seems to be really pushing for that high-end video/animation market. Why? I don't doubt that it's a potentially lucrative market, but it's also a very small market, super-niche. A little like what SGI used to be.

Sure, there are some trickly down effects, like iMovie. But most of these new technologies and acquisitions seem limited to production-house uses. Whatever happened to "a computer for the rest of us"?

How about, instead, focussing on developing a better brower for the Mac? Mac browsers blow, in comparisons to PCs. Or introducing some new digital appliances?
A lot more trickles down than you think, quicktime, font and display technology, graphics cards for games, so much of what you use is developed from the high end stuff. The innovation is faster when the tests are harder and 3D design and video are some of the hardest tests to pass.
The size of the market is bigger than you think when you include FCP, and DVDSP, and like it or not, just as the 90's saw the desktop publishing revolution, right now the video revolution is upon us, and I'm glad Apple isn't passing up the opportunity to lead the charge.

The "computer for the rest of us" is called the iMac and it's portable equivalent is the iBook.
Apple make a browser? Isn't that how MS got in trouble?
 

eirik

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Mar 17, 2002
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suspicion

A more knowledgeable person than I noted sometime ago in a post regarding video cards that the video RAM per se doesn't do that much for speedy performance. More doesn't necessarily make it better. The poster said that, in games at least, the RAM is used to store textures (?) or something so they don't have to be regenerated.

So, whoever that poster was, made the comment in the context of game performance. I really don't know about 3D and video editing with respect to increased video RAM.

I'm waiting for a major upgrade to the PowerMac line, as well as some kind of PVR peripheral/software package (fully-baked). So, I'm using a Windoze2k by Dell these days.

My point? Last winter when the price of main memory RAM was so low, I bought the max that this and my other PC could handle. Thus, my Windoze2k has 768MB of SDRAM100. In the months since I installed the RAM, I've never seen more than 25% of the RAM being utitilized. (I'm just starting to learn Photoshop; so that ought to challenge it much more.)

This all relates to Apple's rumored super GPU in that if having more and more RAM in my Win2K had little if any impact on performance, would the presence of 2 x 128MB of DDR significantly help? Bear in mind when you answer this, do YOU know what specific functions, processes, and threads that video cards ACTUALLY execute; do YOU know what the video memory is ACTUALLY used for? I honestly can't answer that well.

I remember a very informed poster from within the last three months or so indicating the adding video RAM makes GPU's much faster is something of a myth. Again, this was in the context of games performance. So, if this too holds in 3D and video editing, then this 2 x 128MB sounds a bit suspicious.

Hey gurus, what do you think?

Eirik
 

Rower_CPU

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Oct 5, 2001
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eirik-
VRAM as it applies to gaming is very different than for 3D rendering...

From what I understand, the performance of the vid card ties into three things: 1) GPU speed, 2) VRAM speed and size (overall bandwidth, GB/s), and 3) CPU speed...

Now a vid card with 2 x 128 MB DDR RAM would have twice the theoretical memory bandwidth as a 128 MB DDR RAM card...
I'm sure some of the guys who do 3D work can weigh in on how this benefits them...
 

Xapplimatic

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Oct 23, 2001
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Re: suspicion

Originally posted by eirik

This all relates to Apple's rumored super GPU in that if having more and more RAM in my Win2K had little if any impact on performance, would the presence of 2 x 128MB of DDR significantly help? Bear in mind when you answer this, do YOU know what specific functions, processes, and threads that video cards ACTUALLY execute; do YOU know what the video memory is ACTUALLY used for? I honestly can't answer that well.

I remember a very informed poster from within the last three months or so indicating the adding video RAM makes GPU's much faster is something of a myth. Again, this was in the context of games performance. So, if this too holds in 3D and video editing, then this 2 x 128MB sounds a bit suspicious.
Eirik:

More RAM would make game performance faster (3d gaming).. The RAM is used primarily for 3d texture mapping.. The more detail, the more memory needed. The higher the resolution etc.. In short, the more the card can store in its own high-bandwidth access memory, the less the card has to interface with the computer's slower buss and memory architecture. Less time wasted accessing stuff that could all be cached in the faster on-card memory means the card has more time to spend on things that matter like the actual mapping and higher frame rate throughput. Usually more memory = better performance in this particular area.

Dongmin:

As to why Apple should pursue high end video effects market and graphics systems.. I think that's simple too. It gives Apple a lock on something really prestigious. Not only is Apple probably aware that this puts them in favor with Hollywood and assures them lots of free advertising, it also gives them an edge in designing their regular computer systems as well. Trickle down hardware design. What is learned above, so applied below. Etc.

The high-profile high-performance of video industry leaders also catches the imagination of a very large segment of regular Windoze users --> gamers. If Apple has the absolute best to offer for highest performance 3d stuff, PC gamers will start buying Macs to play Quake 3 instead. There are people who spend all their spare dollars just to stay at the top frame rates at the highest resolutions in their favorite games... High-end 3d effects is a highly coveted market, and I think a lucrative one for Apple to tap into be it Hollywood or home have-to-have keeping above the Jones types. It will also spur the Mac gaming market and bolster the number of offerings.. It's good all around.
 

thedude

macrumors member
Sep 22, 2001
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FInally!!! I just hope that the card is a best in breed type deal. I would hate to see people staying away from maya osX because of a sucky vid card. My only concern is price. currently, 3dlabs Wildcat III 6110 is (at last check) $1800. If apple decides to package a card in a production g4/5 with dual procs, price is going to be through the roof. Right now an sgi FUEL (o2+ are less) is priced at 12 grand. If apple can bring it in for 5-8 grand sgi is going under for sure. Unix command line, a GUI that actually works, dual g5's and a kick ass vid card...wow... And if SGI goes under, I wonder if they'll sell AliasWavefront? hmmm.....
 

freedom

macrumors member
editing videos/movies

This seems really cool.
If apple releases something like this
I will buy a dv-cam and start making
my own films! I know that I already can
do that with an iMac, but what this
also would do for Photoshop-performance…
Pro machines are the testing ground for
consumer products, as said above,
and don´t you remember all speculation
about the new iMacs?
Pro vs Consumer blaha blaha blaha…

Xapplimatic, you´re damn right that
attacting Hollywood would mean
"free" advertising.
Apple will benefit from this!
As a kid I always wanted an SGI…

If this also mean that a few hardcore
PC-gamers will convert, that means
that some gamedeveloper will have to as well…
Right?!
 

tastybrains

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2001
4
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IL
You are comparing the RAM on your motherboard with the RAM on your graphics card, which is completely ridiculous.

In the old days, more Video RAM meant higher-resolution display capability. This is because your video card maintains a complete record in RAM of every pixel displayed on your screen (the "frame buffer"). For instance, just to keep track of each pixel currently being displayed on a 24-bit 1280x1024 display would require (1280x1024x24)/(8*1024) = about 4mb.

Obviously modern graphics cards have way more than enough memory to display almost any reasonable resolution and color depth. Much of the remaining memory is used to store textures (a "texture" is the pattern that fills an object -- the more detailed, the more realistic the result). This can help games to a certain extent, in that they can use much more detailed graphics without a huge performance hit because the textures stay loaded into the video RAM for fast retrieval. Think of this concept as being analogous to CPU cache. It is used for fast retrieval of frequently-used data and as a workspace for the application of various low-level hardware-accelerated tasks.

I am not exactly sure how this would pertain to the final product in high-end animation, since each frame would probably have to be individually rendered with a level of non-repetetive detail that would lessen the benefits of the GPU. Of course, pre-production work (editing, viewing previews, etc) could be significantly accelerated. As far as gaming is concerned, the primary benefit would be higher texture quality (an absolute requirement for the next generation of game engines, exemplified by the new Doom).

The simple upshot is that new games will be much more photorealistic and still able to be rendered in real time.
 

Pants

macrumors regular
Aug 21, 2001
194
3
Originally posted by Rower_CPU
eirik-
VRAM as it applies to gaming is very different than for 3D rendering...

From what I understand, the performance of the vid card ties into three things: 1) GPU speed, 2) VRAM speed and size (overall bandwidth, GB/s), and 3) CPU speed...

Now a vid card with 2 x 128 MB DDR RAM would have twice the theoretical memory bandwidth as a 128 MB DDR RAM card...
I'm sure some of the guys who do 3D work can weigh in on how this benefits them...

hmm....theres a bit of a law of diminishing returns with vid card memory - more isnt always noticeable. Secondly, the approach taken to 3d (game) rendering in the current crop of cards has been argued to be a little wasteful - the performance of the kyro ][ class of cards was as good as that for the contemporary nVidia cards, but with a much lower clock speed due to its different (tile based) rendering system. And again, bigger textures are a bit of a 'fudge' - bigger textures dont imply more realistic scenes. Plus plus plus - just bunging on more ram and a faster chip does not a better vid card make.

I suspect any vid card made for industry use isnt going to be the kind of thing you or I will be able to afford ar actually want. After all, how many of us desire a Sun or SGI vid card?
 

freedom

macrumors member
That wasn´t really my point…

An industry high-end vidcard would be
too expensive for most of us…
All I wan´t is an ongoing evolution…
Sooner or later this technology will
drop down to us "regular users".
I really can´t use that much power
at the moment, but who knows what
the future holds in hand?!?
Time for lunch!
I can sometimes appreciate flaming
as long as flamers explain what was
wrong and educate us with less
knowledge at hand!
 

Pentium Killer

macrumors member
Apr 10, 2002
39
0
Berlin
Sure this sounds cool...

and we all would like such a beast,with a dual G5 but I would be also happy if a single G5 came out this summer,and still I have my doubts,but who knows(Steve I assume);) ;)
 

teabgs

macrumors 68030
Jan 18, 2002
2,853
0
behind you
Here's another thing about video/3D

The Hollywood market though specialzed and "small" is a very HUGE market. They need AS MUCH POWER AS POSSIBLE. If apple can come out with this suppossed beast of a machine and post-production and animation houses were to buy them it would give apple SO MUCH MONEY AND PRESS. Its not like they'd buy a $5000 station for each user. They'd be buying so many , so much more expensive machines.

PLus, they'd upgrade them a lot more often then most users do, this creates a steady permanent flow of money to Apple. This will be used for R&D and in turn produce faster updates. Even if those updates are only afffordable by the Hollywood market the benefits would trickle down to others when upgrades came about. Hollywood would get newer machines and we'd be able to get the previous machines at a huge discount from their origional prices.

This could be one of the greatest feats of apple ever...if played out right AND true.

Side note: How cool would it be at the end of the credits of an animated feature to see "Made On A Mac" with the Apple Logo Underneath?
 

wymer100

macrumors member
Apr 16, 2002
53
0
The idea of dual GPU's isn't a new idea. Both 3dfx and ATI have offered dual GPU's, Voodoo2 and Rage MAXX respectively. The biggest problem will be making both chips work efficiently and making sure the drivers aren't buggy. Apple may simply be making a dual GPU card to drive 2 ADC monitors, hard to tell. I am glad that apple is really addressing the issue slower chipset performance. The biggest problem with the current crop of G4's is the current chipset. The G4 and GPU's are as good as you can get (gaming-wise).

People are correct when they say there is trickle-down effects for persuing the high-end 3d environment. Developing a DDR bus and faster chipsets cost about the same if you are doing it for the hollywood or joe-public. Apple might was well go after the hollywood market to get additional bang-for-the-buck. Steve Jobs knows how big the 3d market has gotten and will get. Just look at movies like Shreck and Monsters, inc. Apple is being smart about their approach. At least they are getting feed-back from hollywood and increasing their chance for success. Hollywood isn't going to jump to apple until the platform is better than their current systems.
 

Mr. Anderson

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Nov 1, 2001
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Originally posted by Rower_CPU
Now a vid card with 2 x 128 MB DDR RAM would have twice the theoretical memory bandwidth as a 128 MB DDR RAM card...
I'm sure some of the guys who do 3D work can weigh in on how this benefits them...
As someone who dabbles in 3D animation, I know for a fact this will have a huge impact. The more RAM, the more realtime objects you can preview and use. All of the big apps use OpenGL to display polygons, and are there for limited on how many they can actually display by the video card. If Apple wants to go Hollywood, they need big machines, capable of handling extremely complex models and scenes. Shrek pushed the limit of this and has pretty much set the standard for future full length animations.

As for rendering the final output, that's done by the CPU, not the graphics card, so the speed and power of the machine come into play here. Can anyone say quad G5?
 

Mr. Anderson

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Nov 1, 2001
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Re: Here's another thing about video/3D

Originally posted by teabgs

This could be one of the greatest feats of apple ever...if played out right AND true.

Side note: How cool would it be at the end of the credits of an animated feature to see "Made On A Mac" with the Apple Logo Underneath?
I totally agree and it would make me proud to be a Mac Owner to see that at the end of the credits. They're at the end of mine, problem is I have a much smaller audience, but someday that all might change.
 

serpicolugnut

macrumors member
Jun 13, 2001
47
0
Atlanta, GA
Half the problem...

The lack of a "serious" 3D graphics card for the Mac is currently only half the problem. The other half is that Carbon 3D appllications currently suffer from really bad open GL performance. Lightwave and Cinema 4D both have awful OpenGl redraws in the OS X versions. Which is a major shame, because OS X finally gives users of these applications the stability and rendering speed that OS 9 never could. I'm a Lightwave user (with a G4/800DP w/ GF3 card), and the performance is so lame it has me seriously considering adding a AMD Box just for Lightwave.

The kicker is that some Carbon applications feature great OpenGL performance, like QuakeIII. It has better frame rates under OS X than under 9. Maybe it's the individual developers (NewTek, Maxon) responsibility to optimize their apps OpenGL perfrormance, but from what I've heard, it needs some serious work under OS X.