Considering cancelling my Mac Pro order. No speed benefits in FCPX / Compressor

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by CouponPages, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. CouponPages macrumors regular

    CouponPages

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    #1
    Even before the new Mac Pro was announced, I wanted one.

    I wanted a real "Pro" series computer that would make some of my day-to-day tasks faster, and not be outdated in 6 months.

    Pre-2013, the thing that kept me from pulling the trigger was the lack of Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. To me, this meant they were either discontinuing the line, or planning something special. When they hinted something special was coming along, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my next great Mac.

    When the new design was unveiled, AND they said it was specifically designed to speed up video processing in Final Cut Pro X, there was nothing standing in my way. I ordered right away. As the previews and reviews came in, I even decided to change my order to a bigger and better model... 6 cores, maxed out the SSD, moved from D500 to D700. I was excited.

    After the benchmarks were all published, something happened. Real video editors like Larry Jordan tested the top of the line 12 core, D700 model with real world tasks. The iMac and even my 2011 MacBook pro were not only keeping up with the maxed out Mac Pro under real world video editing conditions, but often beat it with quite a healthy margin.

    As I've written elsewhere, this includes in-store tests using Final Cut Pro X 10.0.9 (Apple Stores do not run the latest version), and my 2011 MacBook pro not only beat the Mac Pro, but it beat it by a factor of 20. It took the new Mac Pro nearly an hour to export the same video my MacBook Pro 2011 did in about 3 minutes.

    Granted this was not using optimum conditions, but spoke volumes about using the Mac Pro as somebody who wants to create videos "Today". Since many of programs are not optimized for the dual GPU, we are likely to see quite a few programs with flat results like this. At worst, you would expect equal results compared to a 2011 MacBook, but 20 times slower? What other programs will be 20 times slower?

    Since I am not (yet) editing 4K, there is no immediate benefit for people like me who still have 1080p video production needs. I'm sure in a year or two I will have a 4K camera and monitor and gobs of 4K footage that will bring my MacBook to it's knees, but by then there will be updates to iMacs, MacBooks and Mac Pros that will lure me to them like a kid in a candy shop.

    I like being the first kid on the block with a new bike. Unless I find some productivity improvements to the things I do now, I may be better off cancelling.

    Does anyone else who works in plain old 1080p think this is the right / wrong thing to do? Are you seeing any actual improvements (in typical 1080p video production)?
     
  2. td2243 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    I think you nailed it. 20x slower than a laptop is downright sad. It would be different if more programs took advantage of the setup, but hat isn't the case.

    If there really is a Mac Mini update, I may let that tide me over for a year or two. I only shoot 1080p right now, and probably won't start 4K for at least two years.

    "Not innovative my ass." With two GPUs, Apple has innovated themselves out of actually be useful.
     
  3. Dranix macrumors 6502a

    Dranix

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    #3
    How should a 2011 mbp be 20 times faster then a current chip?
     
  4. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #4
    20 times slower because it can't recognise the GPU as it's older software so it won't be using acceleration at all. No wonder! The FCPX/compressor tests using the newer builds paint a rather different picture not only for the d700's but in other tests running twin AMD cards in a 5,1 tower.

    All good things come to those that wait!
     
  5. peabo macrumors regular

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    #5
    The CPU in the Mac Pro is not 20x slower than any chip in any 2011 Macbook Pro. Your test must have shown a software incompatibility with the GPUs or some other very specific problem.

    We have seen a multitude of benchmarks using different programs and none of them have been slow compared to older Mac models, and even those that are slower are only marginally so, not anywhere near 20x.
     
  6. linuxcooldude, Jan 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014

    linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #6
    For one thing, moving to FCP X 10.1 you will take full advantage of the 2013 nMP, using an older version, not as much.

    One of the reasons why some MacBook Pro's & iMacs are beating out the nMP is quicksync technology. Its an hardware encoder that can speedup export as much as 75%. QuickSync is not a feature on Xeons.

    But it only works on single pass and on H264. If you use multipass or another codec it won't work.

    But the advantages are not only on export/render but also doing multiple 4K streams, along with system responsiveness during the editing process. Something a laptop would have problems with.

    Over 140 professional software applications support multiple GPU's. Probably a majority primarily support CUDA, but probably ATI is supported more then we realize.


    An update for FCP X 10.1 Compressor 4.1 and Motion 5.1 was released when the nMP 2013 came out.
     
  7. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #7
    How the hell could Apple not have that ready for release along with the nMP. It's like the HW guys aren't talking to the SW guys.

    In any case, OP, it doesn't sound like that big of a deal. Just hold off until the software is updated and benchmarks show the results you are looking for. I wouldn't go run off and buy an iMac today if a nMP is what you need.
     
  8. sjinsjca macrumors 68000

    sjinsjca

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    #8
    So, "postpone" might be a better strategy than "cancel."

    Sometimes hardware has to wait patiently while the software guys catch up. That's the case here.

    Flip side: if you buy now, you will be among the first to take advantage of the new software revs that are coming.
     
  9. wildmac macrumors 65816

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    #9
    So you are going to cancel because of tests on older versions of the software?

    I assume you've seen http://www.barefeats.com/tube05.html

    But overall, we are getting a very mixed bag with the nMP. Some things are a lot faster, some are a lot slower.. some not enough data.

    It likely all depends on what your current hardware is.
     
  10. medium8080 macrumors newbie

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    #10
    You should definitely cancel your order so I can get mine faster
     
  11. Dranix macrumors 6502a

    Dranix

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    #11
    *Where* do you see a lot slower? The Current i7 are at max 10% faster then the Xeons in the nMP.
     
  12. chrfr macrumors 603

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    #12
    The updates to FCPX and Compressor are available. They just aren't on the demo machines at the Apple Store.
     
  13. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #13
    The 'store plus genius' I've found to be an oxymoron at times. The new versions of FCPX etc were available on release date but it's taken ages for the demo cans to arrive at the store never mind update the software on them properly!
     
  14. CouponPages thread starter macrumors regular

    CouponPages

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    #14
    Most likely because for video compression, there is no QuickSync to give hardware acceleration to H.264 compression.

    Without this, any (single pass) compression is CPU bound.

    ----------

    You are correct. Blame Apple. For the past month, all Mac Pros in Apple Stores have been running an image taken from an older Mac Pro, which had older software installed.

    My point is this is a clear example of the kinds of issues we will face using older (and current) software that is not designed to take advantage of the dual GPU. In many cases, there are some uses that cannot take advantage of the GPU, so they will remain equal at best.
     
  15. CouponPages thread starter macrumors regular

    CouponPages

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    #15
    Yes, exactly my point. I used the Compressor preset Apple Devices HD (High Quality), which must be a single pass. Many people use this preset.


    I agree. The point of my concern is that for those of us who are still not using 4K, there is no advantage. I'm sure in a year or two, as 4K ramps up, we will all use it. By then, there's a fair chance that next years refreshed iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro will still be there, and potentially even better.

    So it's coming down to "today" for "me" (somebody who still uses 1080p and plain H.264). The "me" of next year may need that 4K to do even simple edits, but maybe I should buy it then, because "today" I may not be much more productive with the nMP than my old 2011 MacBook Pro.

    True, but it's still an issue of what your day-to-day tasks are. Apparently, even with Dual GPU support, rendering 1080p in FCPX and compressing to typical consumer devices in Compressor, does not see significant gains, even with the support.

    Yes. But as of this writing, every Apple Store in the world is still using an image from a Mac Pro 2012, with the older software. Apparently they didn't think people would notice. When it dragged out a 3 minute task over an hour, I noticed.

    ----------

    Most likely QuickSync has a hand in it, which seems to be a great tool for average Joes like me who simply use 1080p and H.264.

    You would think there would be a market for a GPU that can do what QuickSync does, but apparently the D700s have no hardware compression, so there is no bump in that part of the video editing experience, which unfortunately is often one of the slowest parts of the workflow.
     
  16. CouponPages thread starter macrumors regular

    CouponPages

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    #16
    I originally blamed the store people. I spoke to their Audio / Video Pro guys, who hated the fact that they even put them out with the wrong software, but they have no power to change it.

    So, I kept moving up the chain, "Blue Shirts, "Black Shirts", Managers... Then called flagship stores on 5th Avenue in NYC and found out that it's something controlled at corporate. They alone push out software images to stores.

    I then called corporate, Tweeted the issue with all the popular hashtags #MacPro, #AppleStore etc., posted in popular forums, wrote daily emails to Tim Cook and Phil Schiller, used the Mac Pro feedback form on the site... Nothing. They didn't seem to care that the Mac Pros are all using old images.

    It's not a priority for them. All that came from it is people thinking I'm blowing it out of proportion (which I am) and overreacting to an insignificant and unimportant part of demonstrating it in public. After all, when you go to the store, you can see it and touch it.

    This is just the start. A bigger revelation came when I decided that instead of trusting my own test (I have documented the specific test that created the one hour vs 3 minute test in another topic), I would look for a trusted benchmark specifically as it relates to Final Cut Pro X under real-world conditions.

    What I found was pretty flat Final Cut / Compressor speeds from some respected people like Larry Jordan. In particular, comparing his 12 core / D700 to a well stocked iMac. The iMac beat the 12 core D700 Mac Pro using the latest Compressor 4.1 in quite a few tests. In the cases where the Mac Pro won, it wasn't a grand slam.

    http://www.larryjordan.biz/mac-pro-video-compression/
     
  17. Dranix macrumors 6502a

    Dranix

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    #17
    Glad it doesn't do hw encoding sucks quality wise.
     
  18. CouponPages thread starter macrumors regular

    CouponPages

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    #18
    QuickSync is not broadcast quality, but great for a lot of less demanding workflows.

    It's just strange that the $6000 street price for a pair of GPUs like the D700s with 7 TFLOPS of performance are not able to assist in the compression of video. My point is there is a market for a company that can make a card that can compress quickly... while still giving you high quality.

    Another strange thing is that to remain compatible with some CODECs, Compressor not only doesn't tap the GPUs, but is a 32 bit application. I would think some CODECs would benefit from loading massive blocks of video at a time into RAM and / or the video RAM on the GPU.

    *** UPDATE ***

    Apple Stores are now using an updated image for the new Mac Pro, which includes FCPX 10.1 and Compressor 4.1. I will post benchmarks later today I haven't cancelled yet. (Still hoping to at least match my MacBook Pro 17" Late 2011).
     
  19. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #19
    Singlepass does not give you the highest quality or the smallest files sizes. Particularly fast motion video.

    But Larry Jordan also said if you primarily compress video your better off with an iMac.

    Editing video is a different story.

    If you are editing video, yes, their would be an advantage 4K or 1080p. iMac & MacBook Pro's will still use mobile integrated graphic cards, thats their disadvantage. iMacs & MacBook Pros are refreshed more often then Mac Pros so in many things they may be better at until the next new Mac Pro comes out.

    I still think your hung up on exporting and rendering of the video and bypassing the editing portion entirely. Regardless if you use 4K or 1080p.

    So what about editing? What system do you think would be faster?
     
  20. Merlin65 macrumors member

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    #20
    Is this reverse logic? Tell everyone the nMP is slow in big headlines (small print for the reference to old software) and hope enough people cancel their order to move yours up the queue? :)

    As for the emails to Tim Cook, etc. have a re-read of how you ended them. Your best chance of getting your message across is keep it simple and professional - references to the Apple store staff having to "get permission from their Mommy" perhaps doesn't read well :)

    Not sure the old software in the stores has hurt the nMP order book.

    Maybe you should cancel :)
     
  21. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #21
    Prior versions of Compressor have been 32 bit.

    I've never been able to verify if Compressor 4.1 is 32bit or 64bit. How do you know for sure?
     
  22. CouponPages thread starter macrumors regular

    CouponPages

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    #22
    Rendering and exporting are, by far, the slowest part of my workflow. I've never cared much about occasional stuttering or background rendering becuse it normally doesn't interfere with my ability to efficiently edit 1080p.

    Occasional stutters slowly fade as the background rendering slowly catches up, but most of the time, I'm focused on the content, flow and timing. I need to make sure things start and stop when and where I want them to and that the preview is relatively close to the real thing. By the time I export & compress, the background rendering is normally at 100%. In my benchmark, I simulate this by timing the background render of each of the 3 steps (place generator content and retime to 8 minutes, place lower thirds and retime to 8 minutes, apply filter to main content). To make things fair, I don't render until each of these are done. Then, I make sure nothing else is running and render a master ProRes, then load it into Compressor with the Apple Devices HD (Better Quality) preset.

    Based upon the in-store demo, neither seemed faster. The MacBook / iMac and Mac Pro took pretty much the same time to place content and background render.

    I'm hoping the optimized version 10.1 will make the render times drop and the Compressor 4.1 test at least come close to the MacBook 2011. (I still want to buy ... I'm just trying to be sure it's an improvement based upon today's needs.

    (crossing fingers and heading to test):D
     
  23. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    I noted that in 10.1 that even on my 5,1 then seems to be quicker then 10.0.9.
    Compressor was still a pain on the new version so stuck with exporting a master file from FCP X and then use Handbrake on that export.

    The nMP really does need 10.9.1 and the latest 10.1 and others to make sense
     
  24. CouponPages thread starter macrumors regular

    CouponPages

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    #24
    My original beef was with the store for not taking the time to do it because they needed permission to do it. I thought all they needed to do was click the update button. Now I know it was because Apple pulls all the strings.

    As for the title of this thread. I made it a point to mention FCPX / Compressor as the reason. I know this thing kicks ass for engineers, researchers, number crunchers, photographers, etc.

    The reference to the older software is a footnote because:

    1. It's not a priority for Apple or it would've been on the demo units a month ago.

    2. I also read quite a lot about FCPX / Compressor real-world benchmarks that compared my workflow (1080p, compressed to H.264) to that of other models, including the iMac, Macbook Pro Retina, etc. and none showed any major improvement in speed. For example, the Larry Jordan review was based on the loaded 12 core / D700 sample Apple sent him. If his 12 core D700 could not consistently outperform his older iMac, what chance does my 6 core have to beat even my MacBook 2011?

    3. I still hope to see more GPU enabled apps... especially rendering and compressing video in the future, but even if Apple dropped the ball by putting older software on it, if compression and rendering do not generally benefit from a GPU, then how much better will the updated versions be? Even if it gets 20 times faster than the demo... it will tie my MacBook 2011. (Still hoping it will crush it).

    4. Lastly, the sobering reality is until somebody invents a GPU that renders and compresses high quality video, people like me who are looking to improve that task are not going to notice any productive benefits...

    [heading over now to try it... not expecting a miracle, but hoping for better results.]

    PS. I will post an example of my benchmarks on YouTube at some point, in case anyone wants to see the progress in real time. Maybe people can post their times to compare.

    ----------

    I've considered switching to HandBrake. If nothing else, if it exclusively uses the CPU, it would have 2 more cores if I still get the Hex-Core.

    I'm just not sure of the quality vs Compressor. How does the quality compare?

    ----------

    I guess I was inspired by "Can't innovate anynmore... my ass" :D
     
  25. Dranix macrumors 6502a

    Dranix

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    #25
    Handbrake uses x264 the *best* available h264 encoder on the world.
     

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