Hawaii GPUs and nMP

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Cubemmal, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    So AMD has released new GPUs. Of note is that Crossfire is now PCIe 3.0 based, that is no special bus required. Of course Apple could plumb that bus in addition to PCIe, but now I think it's moot. How they managed dual GPUs has been an open question, and with those small daughter boards it wasn't clear what they would do.

    My prediction then is the new "FirePro" cards will really be Hawaii RX GPUs with embedded crossfire enabled. This would imply that under Windows BootCamp gaming it would work and be formidable.
     
  2. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

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    #2
    There is little so far and in AMD's presentation last week that suggests that Hawaii based FirePro cards are coming soon. FirePro drivers under Windows will likely be FirePro drivers. If Apple is selling FirePro cards they should appear as FirePro in both OS X and Windows. It would be trivially exposed as not being FirePro if not the same in the two boot contexts.

    It doesn't buy AMD anything either to have this mismatch boot context with shipping products either.

    The Hawaii derivatives that are FirePro will likley come with more memory than these and different Windows drivers. It will likely ship later than the more gamer focused configs just like previous generations have.


    Was the cable the real impediment to implementation/support in OS X ? Far more likley the cost/benefit analysis over the increased driver complexity means that Crossfire ( and virtual composite physical screen ) got left out. That increased complexity doesn't particularly go away with move to PCIe for interconnect.

    Apple has sold Mac Pro with more than one video card before. They may have been BTO configurations but they are existed for years. Selling minimal two configurations is far more a change in configuration selection choice than something magically enabled by the lastest greatest AMD Hawaii GPU feature. 15" MBP and iMacs shipped with two GPUs standard for several years now. There wasn't anything "newfangled" that OS X was doing. The primary change in OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) is more so that OpenCL is available standard across all 2013 Macs. If there is a "motivator" for the 2nd GPU being also made standard, that is far more likely it.
     
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #3
    From what I've read, the bridge was never really required for Crossfire (or SLI) it was more to provide a bit of extra bandwidth between cards. With PCIe 3.0 bus bandwidth available this bridge is completely unnecessary, even with older AMD cards.

    So, I don't see any reason you won't be able to take full advantage of crossfire in Windows, but I would still expect the GPUs offered in the new Mac Pro to be last gen Tahiti based chips. I suspect new AMD GPUs are too late for the 2013 Mac Pro.
     
  4. Cubemmal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Yeah that's true, but I didn't say my opinion which is that I think Apple calling these FirePro is mostly marketing spin. Correct me if I"m wrong, but my understanding is that FirePro is drivers and maybe GPU ECC VRAM. If true in this case the drivers are all Apple as as is the inclusion of any support hardware like VRAM. In other words FirePro is a AMD marketing strategy and doesn't mean much if a 3rd party (Apple) takes their chips and repackages them.


    As part of Apple's supply chain they certainly have/had full knowledge of AMD's product line. If they wanted to supply the latest chips there in theory isn't any reason not to. Considering that nMP is all new/highest performance on everything else it would look odd for the GPU's to be last gen.
     
  5. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #5
    It is certainly more complex, but hopefully Apple can get AMD to help them with the drivers. It just seems silly to have hardware (rather expensive hardware) in the computer that many people who buy the computer won't use. I think that if Apple weren't looking to implement SLI/CF in the near future, they would be giving the option of a single card, as opposed to dual cards standard. Maybe it won't be there on release, but I think it will, as 'one more thing' Mavericks has.

    The main reason that up until now I thought there would be no CF is that there was no bridge visible in the nMP pics. Now with AMD saying they are no longer required, I think it will happen.

    That's not really a fair comparison. The old MPs came with options for multiple low powered GPUs, purely (and obviously) so they could use more than one monitor. I do not think that Apple have ever provided the option of having two performance-enthusiast level GPUs.

    The comparison with the iMac and 15" MBPs are obviously flawed, because they have different GPUs (which would be impossible to CF/SLI) purely for graphics switching, performance vs power saving reasons.



    Now, as my final note, I am hoping that when the nMP is released, it at least has an option for two top end Hawaii cards. But I think the chances of that happening are very small. A slightly more realistic hope is that the GPUs (and CPU) will be replaceable, and there is an indication that either Apple, or 3rd parties will be creating and selling (with a hopefully not too unreasonable markup of course) new Apple proprietary GPUs. So we can later buy 2x R9 290X's and slap 'em in.
     
  6. spaz8 macrumors 6502

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    #6
     
  7. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #7
    Agreed. Apple has announced the GPU compute power to be up to 7 teraflops which is approximately two top Tahiti XT GPUs. If they were planning to use Hawaii that spec would be more in the ballpark of 10 teraflops.
     
  8. Cubemmal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Well that's compelling evidence, sounds like it'll be the older chips.

    From a marketing standpoint I have a hard time seeing why Apple would want to only target the tiny graphics pro market with this. Expanding into the prosumer space seems like a necessity, and the reduced BOM should make that possible - I'm thinking a $2k starter price. Another is features, it seems like they need more than OpenCL to appeal to the prosumer. But maybe the prosumer doesn't matter, which seems suicidal.
     
  9. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #9
    I'm not sure what you mean by "expanding into the prosumer space"? What features are missing that would appeal to prosumers?
     
  10. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #10
    In my opinion,

    A low price, which is the most important thing. And also seems to be unlikely.

    Second most important thing would be upgradeable CPU, GPU, RAM and SSD. CPU and GPU seems unlikely, but not impossible, to be upgradeable.

    The back-up in number 3 is up-to-date components. Especially if they can't be upgraded. And doubly especially if it is very expensive. Dual R9 290X will be still feeling fast one or maybe even two years after dual 7970's start to feel slow, purely because they are 50% faster, and 2 years newer.
     
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

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    #11
    Drivers , ECC VRAM being able to be switched on , and capacity of VRAM. Typically there is also a longer warranty and different support queue. This second set probably would not be there for an Apple made derivative (at least for OS X mode. Perhaps the Windows mode support queue is there. )

    Those are three very real things, not spin. Yes there is shared circuit design but for a vartiery of workloads the capacity make a difference ( ECC also but a more limited subset).


    No. That doesn't follow. First, the drivers aren't all Apple whether a FirePro is present or not. AMD and Nvidia are in the current driver process. They will be in the one in the future too. FirePro doesn't particularly make much of a difference. There are probably some extra certification test to run through to make sure that Apple's custom build/form factor still leaves with equivalent cards but highly doubtful there is something different on the OS X side.

    The boot camp / Windows drivers for the cards would be the same drivers for AMD's card if there are no ( something like Crossofire for FirePro is a no op if the connector isn't there. If not active it is just vestigal software. No reason to create anything different for Windows if it doesn't get turned on. )

     
  12. deconstruct60, Oct 2, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

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    #12
    Nvidia and AND already do the low level drivers. There is little to no evidence that "Crossfire/SLI was too complicated for Apple to figure out"
    so Apple didn't do it. Far more likely it was ( and still isn't ) done because getting the far more broadbase drivers done and high quality is a much higher priority.



    Why is it not going to be used? You presenting the case that as API abstraction of a virtual device be put in so that applications can transparently leverage it and make use of dual cards. Just as easily an API ( GCD , OpenCL ) can be put use by the corer library and apps. Apple has move core graphics calls either up into CPU or down into GPU on previous OS X updates. The 10.9 updates to the OpenCL drivers have hooks for heterogenous memory access across PCI-e so data can be pulled in and computed without explicit copies (i.e., Apple has pushed agressively for some pre OpenCL 2.0 aspects early )

    Also talking about non use over most of the service life of the machine.



    Configurations like this:

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/maximus.html

    have been becoming more common in the Workstation market over the last couple of years. It isn't a "just started" trendline.

    The other trend line coming is that once again monitors will drift back toward a 1:1 ratio with video cards. Monitor resolution being stagnant while GPUs get increasingly faster is over.



    Highly unlikely that Mavericks has "one more thing" that isn't some graphics visual veneer thing. Mavericks will get some upgrades downstream 10.9.4 or 10.9.5 that has upates driven by new hardware, but doubtful there are major features being suppressed. On a yearly upgrade cycle there is little to no reason to do that. Major updates are constantly rolling out in next 12 months anyway. Extremely better to put the full OS out. Let developers/beta folks gets the bugs out. Release. Get more bugs out. Then go no to next update. rise and repeat.


    The connectors on the whole card are different from the rest of the discrete card market. There is no evidence of socketed edge connectors. The PCIe connect doesn't look to be on the "long" edge. Looking for common mainstream connectors when it isn't a mainstream design isn't going to say much one way or the other.

    If Apple got to market where they are selling 500K of these a year and 100+K folks of that set need super high frame rates ... it could possiblly happen. Far more likely is that the numbers will be much lower than that. Ultra high gamer frame rates aren't going to sell many more systems for the additional complexity.


    Apple hyped 4K. Multiple 4K monitors means????? Even one 4K monitor will be better served by moving non graphics required for just that specific monitor to somewhere else (e.g., secondary screens, computations, etc. )


    This isn't aimed at "enthusiast". It is aimed at folks who have computational work to do.


    There is a realm of usefulness where both cards are not locked into doing exactly the same thing. In that dimension it is the largely the same. Two different uses for the two GPUs. There is no reason other than the "two entry" and "two top level" card configurations that the two GPUs cards in the Mac Pro have to be the same two FirePros. In fact, it be surprised that outside the lowest/highest configurations that they are.


    That would be nice. It just doesn't match up with the highly consistent track record for both "Pro" card releases and "OS X specific driver" releases.
    Far closer to the track record in 2010 when Mac Pro shipped ( July) with the HD 5x70 series when the 68xx series shipped 2-3 months ( October).


    Extremely likely. That is primarily directed at repair/serviceability. However, ....

    Later ( after 2014 Mac Pro are old and start to be retired and sold for parts) yes. Short term? Probably not. Especially if folks "rant" complain to Apple for a solution.

    Apple doesn't build "alternative" GPUs for iMac , MBP . They'll switch suppliers every generation or two if something better shows up. Same issue here. It is extremely doubtful they are just going to willy nilly approve stuff that isn't highly designed to be coupled to their thermal solution to be slapped into the new basline Mac Pro design. 3rd party daughtercards never came for the 2009-2012 Mac Pros. These GPU daughter cards are in the same general class. This new design is primarily built about there not being arbitrary components being slapped inside the box.
     
  13. MacVidCards Suspended

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    #13
    You're right, it wasn't same day back then, it was Mac first. The PC/Windows boys had to wait. No excuses.


    "Apple is proud to be able to introduce the most powerful graphics processing unit on the planet first on a Mac," said Philip Schiller, Apple's
    vice-president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "The all-new Power Mac G4 with Velocity Engine, when combined with the incredible NVIDIA
    GeForce3 GPU, delivers industry-leading computing and graphics performance to Mac customers."

    http://www.bluesnews.com/a/121/nvidia-introduces-geforce-3
     
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

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    #14
    At least it is an example in the same century as the current one. OK go back to 2001. In January before MacWorld Tokoyo.....

    http://www.apple.com/pr/library/200...ac-G4-with-733-MHz-PowerPC-G4-Processors.html

    Gets the "old" GeforceMX 2 introduced with the new Mac Pro equivalent from that era. So not particularly adding much to the "Apple won't ship 'old' right before 'superceded' " premise.

    So then get the MacWorld Tokoyo and an update to the BTO configs. (base line configs are still the previous offerings. ). This also appears to be first PowerMac with Nvidia even available as a standard config option ( So Nvidia was trying to crack into being included.)

    At the scheduled Intel "dog and pony" show around the same time ....
    "....just 5 days after the original announcement for the Macintosh platform, NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA) announced today the GeForce3TM GPU (graphics processing unit) for the PC. The GeForce3 GPU is based on a radical new graphics architecture that will offer breakthrough graphics to multiple markets, including the desktop PC and the Macintosh® platforms. ..."
    http://www.nvidia.com/object/IO_20010530_5676.html

    If Intel's show had been 5 days earlier the announcement probably would have been before. 5 days apart is about the same time. The date gap here is far more scheduling at convention halls than market priorities.

    But sure.... just how much could the market dynamics have changed in the last 12 years?
     
  15. slughead macrumors 68040

    slughead

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    #15
    This. The move from PC drivers /cards to use the PCIe bus instead of the physical bridge does virtually nothing to the likelihood of crossfire being created for OS X (which remains very low).

    The dual GPU in the nMP is likely just for OpenCL and multiple monitors, not for crossfire.
     
  16. MacVidCards Suspended

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #16
    You asked "when has that ever happened", not "when has that happened in last 5 years" I answered with a perfect example, it doesn't take 500 words to say "whoops, I was wrong".

    Try it.

    Anyhow, that was when.

    It's ok to be wrong every now and then, I occasionally am too.
     

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