If you had to choose: Thunderbolt Vs Upgradeable GPU + PCIe slots?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by slughead, Aug 11, 2013.

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Thunderbolt Vs Upgradeable GPU + PCIe slots?

  1. Thunderbolt ports + Proprietary, non-upgradeable GPUs, NO free PCIe slots [new Mac Pro]

    61 vote(s)
    32.4%
  2. Four PCIe 3.0 slots sharing 40 lanes with NO thunderbolt at all

    127 vote(s)
    67.6%
  1. slughead macrumors 68040

    slughead

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    #1
    It's fair to say that the new Mac Pro is basically designed around thunderbolt. The difficulty Apple faced in adding Thunderbolt is that allowing users to upgrade the video cards in a LGA2011 system would likely neuter Apple's ability to sell Thunderbolt displays.

    It is very possible to use a standard non-thunderbolt PCIe GPU and pipe the video signal through the thunderbolt port. However, the options are rather limited/cumbersome:
    1) Hijack the graphics chip on the CPU. This has been proven to work seamlessly on PCs, however the LGA2011 chipset Apple's using does not support CPU graphics, so this is not possible.
    2) jerry-rigg the display port into the thunderbolt controller. - This design is not yet approved by Intel, but will likely be soon, according to ASUS.

    So Apple was really left with only 3 options
    - Have NO thunderbolt at all on the New Mac Pro
    - Have thunderbolt ports with NO video signal
    - Have proprietary video cards which pipe their signal directly into the TB controller, essentially an internalized version of the #2 option above

    With these options, it was still possible to have PCIe and Thunderbolt co-exist. Again, the only issue is with PCIe GPU's not being able to display over thunderbolt.

    Obviously Apple went with the 3rd option. We're told by the Thunderbolt fans on this forum that thunderbolt is the greatest thing ever, and Apple was forced to ditch PCIe. This is a false choice--they did have options.

    However, just out of curiosity, this poll asks: If you HAD to choose between PCIe slots and Thunderbolt, what would you choose?
     
  2. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #2
    A lot of people think we've been in some kind of PCIe card heaven. I don't. PCIe support for the Mac Pro has been dismal. Where a card could be made to work, there were always compromises or work arounds. I've grappled with crappy choice and vendor support for Mac Pro PCIe cards long enough. I'm looking forward to the change. It certainly can't get any worse and I expect it to get better with the full line of Macs now supporting TB, and PC laptops slowly getting on board as well. The addressable market for TB peripherals is already orders of magnitude greater than that of Mac Pro PCIe cards which means it might actually attract some vendor attention.
     
  3. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #3
    No brainer for me - PCI slots

    I don't have a single TB device, and would like to skip it completely until something better comes along. Maybe if they ever got that LightPeak / fiber optic thing going for a normal price, I'd go for it... until then, I plan to avoid Thunderbolt until absolutely forced to use it.
     
  4. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    Also, I do think we had just entered PCIe card heaven with the growing support we have today. I agree that it was awful a couple years ago, but we have a lot more choice now than we will with the New Mac Pro, it appears. I'd say the new design pushes us back to the days of spoon-fed options.
     
  5. GermanyChris macrumors 601

    GermanyChris

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Location:
    Here
    #5
    With the rapid adoption of TB by PC OEM's we should be in TB heaven anytime now!








    :rolleyes:
     
  6. FluJunkie macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    #6
    Thunderbolt solves a problem my current Mac Pro doesn't have. It adds zero value.

    On the other hand, I've gotten a lot of use out of my PCIe slots.
     
  7. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    #7
    If it was possible to run 16x cards over TB in an external expansion chassis with no caveats or compatibility issues, then I really couldn't care less. Bring it on.

    Not a lot of cards support this, and from what I hear early TB chassis that provide this functionality are basically crap. So for now, I'm stuck with PCI-e cards. Which, frankly, given the amount of issues I've had over the years with (0), I'm not very inclined to jump just because Apple says I should.

    -SC
     
  8. slughead thread starter macrumors 68040

    slughead

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    #8
    Try 2x PCIE 3.0 or 4x PCIe 2.0.

    Expansion chassis are good for low-bandwidth cards, but anything greater than that is going to be hit pretty hard.
     
  9. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #9
    I feel like this poll is just a reworded version of the "How many would have preferred the old form factor with upgraded parts" poll, with similar results.
     
  10. GermanyChris macrumors 601

    GermanyChris

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Location:
    Here
    #10
    It is and it has..

    Maybe I'm to cynical but no amount of complaining here or on the apple site is going to change Apple direction. In the next 24 to 48 months people are either going to have to S*** or get off the pot.
     
  11. ABCDEF-Hex macrumors 6502

    ABCDEF-Hex

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2013
    Location:
    NC
    #11
    Good call

    It's also the second recent poll that is slanted toward a desired outcome.
     
  12. Tesselator, Aug 12, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #12
    Well, storage I/O speed and bandwidth is the biggest bottleneck in any system so this poll is a little more difficult than it first appears. A couple of questions need to be asked and answered before I can vote intelligently:

    • Do you need/want two video cards with tight integration?
    • If so how much will those cost if purchased separately and not as part of the nMP?
    • How much are dedicated I/O cards capable of TB2 speeds?
    • How much are the enclosures for those?
    • Are you considering that those I/O cards will deliver the same speeds through a TB2-->PCIe adapter?
    • How much are TB2 RAID enclosures?
    • Isn't that new high-speed PCI Drive part of the video card - so does that go too when you vote 4 PCIe slots?
    • How much is a replacement for that?
    • Would you like to be able to add more than 4 total PCIe devices - like up to 30 or so total?
    • How much will TB2 --> PCIe adapters be by the time you go to actually purchase them?
    • How much are the base prices of those two systems (w/TB2 and wo/TB2)?

    When I consider those things I discover that the TB2 system can become about 10 times faster than the PCI 4-slot system - and not cost all that much to get there either. Also I keep drooling over the idea of using two video cards but I dunno if I would ever try it if the system didn't come preconfigured that way - so far I haven't.

    Anyway, all things considered I voted for the TB2 system. But I suppose asking intelligent questions which actually matter makes me a kool-aid drinking fanboy?
     
  13. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #13
    I'd like to know which TB2->PCIe adapter can run 3700+MB/second through it, because that's what my Areca RAID card can do.
     
  14. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #14
    Oh yay! A poll! I'm sure as Apple sees this they're going to realize how wrong they were, apologize, and redesign the entire thing.
     
  15. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #15
    All of them. They do close to 4GB/s right? Your card is only doing 3.7GB/s.



    Hehehe! Tru-dat!
     
  16. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #16
    More like none of them. They only do 1-1.5GB/s. I've seen one custom setup do 2.1GB/s, and that was in a Hollywood studio.

    How does 20Gb/s theoretical translate to 4GB/s real world? 20Gbps is 2.5GB/s theoretically, and I've not seen a single Thunderbolt - PCIe adapter for sale that runs more than one cable simultaneously to a single PCIe slot... have you? Where? I'd like to see it.
     
  17. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #17
    I agree. How many of these polls do we need???
     
  18. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #18
    Certainly not, but it's all just discussion.

    Apple has had some great success getting people to follow their cheese around the mazes, but sometimes people find that the cheese isn't worth chasing. This may or may not be one of those times. Some people will dive head-first into the new system, and others will determine it's too expensive to switch everything to Thunderbolt.

    I do what makes sense for me, and switching my two dozen drives to TB is not a wise move at all.
     
  19. carlos700 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2004
    Location:
    Omaha NE
    #19
    Thunderbolt due to having a TB display. It just really comes down to what you have money invested in.

    That being said, I don't think a ASUS Thunderbolt/EX-style solution would have been that messy/confusing for a pro machine.
     
  20. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #20
    There are better displays on the market for what Apple charges.
     
  21. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #21
    Yeah, my political science instructors would have something to say about the "neutrality" of the poll.

    But tilted or not, the poll is a no-brainer to me, because I'm one of those for whom the current tower configuration is just plain stupid and useless - a huge waste of space, aluminum, and plastic. I don't need or want third-party graphics cards, and I'd much rather have my backup and mass storage drives outside the chassis - that's what networks are for. I'd rather have the CPU up on my desk, so the fan doesn't suck up carpet lint and dust bunnies (that I have to vacuum out before swapping drives, upgrading RAM, etc), and so I don't have to crawl around on my belly under a desk to plug cables into the ports.

    While some use terms like Maxi-Mini derisively, this is the first Pro that's made me drool. (But then, I loved the Cube, too.) The form factor is right for my needs, the likely performance (thanks mostly to all that solid-state storage) is very attractive. OK, like a Ferrari, Maserati, or Porsche, it's far more horsepower than I really need (Aperture and InDesign). iMac or Mini with Fusion Drive would be the "sensible" solution. On the other hand, the thing will be so fast that I'll probably get two more productive years out of the thing before it becomes painfully slow when running the latest software.

    If this hadn't come along, I'd have continued dreaming of a new 27" iMac. So, Apple has my number, and I suspect the number of many others whose job description and salary justifies a Pro, "if only it had a small footprint." Regardless of the poll results, I think Apple's going to find two new Pro users for every one they lose.
     
  22. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #22
    I made my choice when I sold my Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors) and bought my first iMac. Now on my second iMac (2012 model, 27") and very happy.
     
  23. slughead thread starter macrumors 68040

    slughead

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    #23
    What he said. I'd like to see a thunderbolt 2 that can do 4GBps.
     
  24. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #24
    It's the pointless, eventual pointing to the poll numbers that always annoys me. Look! 2/3's of people don't like it! Apple needs to change course!

    So? It's happening, poll or not. Everyone's favorite PCI cards will get Thunderbolt versions (except the video cards, which has been talked to death), and we'll all be ok.

    It's not a story that people don't like changes.
     
  25. slughead thread starter macrumors 68040

    slughead

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2004
    #25
    I'm sorry you're annoyed by everyone else not liking the same thing as you. Apple made a choice that most of its users don't like, and yes, they need to change course.

    Even if Apple didn't have a choice to sacrifice user wants and needs for thunderbolt (which they didn't), this poll still demonstrates that it's not a welcome trade.

    As far as "just wait until all your PCIe cards are in overpriced self-powered thunderbolt enclosure form, you'll be happy as clams!".... Well I'd certainly like to see the 8GBps four port SAS controller or 3,000MBps SSD for thunderbolt 2--oh wait, that's impossible. TB is a huge step backwards: it's slower, more expensive, more cumbersome, and will make Mac Pro accessories even more rare.
     

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