Mac Pro Linking for a Video Wall

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by eish2306, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. eish2306 macrumors regular


    Apr 30, 2013
    would this work?

    Mac Pro 1 would be the power house - fully specked - either 8 or 12 core not sure if I want to sacrifice speed for cores or cores for speed, with 64 ram, and upgraded video cards.
    Mac Pro 2 would power the video wall and would be a basic spec mac pro with 4 cores and 12 ram, with a small hard drive (to be used as a scratch disk

    My Question is could mac pro 2 essentially run in a target disk mode and so allow mac pro 1 12 screen ( or 6 4k screens) or any combination - eg 8 thunderbolt screens and 2 4k as shown?

    If this is possible would there be a limit? could you chain a third mac in with another 6 screens for a 12 screen video wall?

    as well as getting the screen power could the processors be linked so as to offload some of the processor tasks to a second screen?


    if that is not possible, could I just connect them and use some other software to utilise the screens via third party software, maybe as simple as using teleport to fully control the second mac pro (not what I want at all but it would work) in that case would both mac pros have access to both 5bigs?

  2. ChuckBlack, Feb 4, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  3. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    nMP can only run 3 @ 4K and of those I think only 2 can be at 60Hz.

    Sadly, you would have to use an older Mac Pro to have more screen real estate available.

    Using an oMP you could use 2 @ 7950 and get 4 @ 4K @ 60Hz pretty easily. Not sure if HDMI on those could run 2 additional 4Ks at 30Hz, I'd have to check. In any case, using 2 @ 7950s you could run 4 @ 4K @ 60 Hz and 4 additional displays somewhere between 2K and 2560x1600. You could even add 1 more card like a GT640 and get 3 more displays for a total of 11.

    The nMP has specific numbers of screens it can run at specific resolutions, pretty sure Apple has this listed on it's site.

    Note, oMP 4K at 60Hz requires 10.9.2, in 10.9.1 limited to 30Hz.
  4. thedarkhorse macrumors 6502a

    Sep 13, 2007
    Chaining mac pros at this point is kind of unheard of, though I wouldn't discount the possibility of it through specific(and possibly expensive) software in the future.

    If your screens are 1080p or less you might be able to get away with using these: . It turns 1 mini displayport into 2 1080p capable HDMI ports. There is also matrox triplehead2go digital SE which can give you 3 outputs, but I don't know about using multiple tripleheads on the same machine as it requires specific software to set up, and I've never seen any options for multiple tripleheads when I've used the software. I've never used the zotac myself but apparently they don't require specific software to set up as the computer just sees it as 2 daisy chained DP monitors, which is why I theorize that you could use multiple adapters simultaneously.

    As for 4k along with all these screens you might be able to do 8 1080p with the zotacs + 2 4K through the other 2 TB ports but all of this is still theory at this point since I don't know of any documented case of anyone trying this many screens yet with the nMP. You might have to be the guinea pig.
  5. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    I have been thinking about my earlier post and realize that I have no way of knowing that a 7950/70 can run 2 @ 4Ks @ 60Hz.

    I would need 2 @ 4K displays capable of 60Hz to say that with certainty and 1 is enough for now.

    I was thinking about how MST works and it is streaming multiple display outputs into one, so in theory it could be using the capability of the 2nd MDP port to add 60Hz support to the first. In short, the pixel clock capacity has to be coming from SOMEWHERE.

    So if it is borrowing from DVI port, maybe it can run 2 @ 4K @ 60Hz but we won't know until someone gets 2 4K displays and a 7950/70 running 10.9.2 and tries.

    In any case, there are 8 output ports on 2 7950/70s so they can certainly do 8 @ 2K.
  6. mickvwijk, Feb 20, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014

    mickvwijk macrumors newbie

    Feb 20, 2014
    It's interesting that you're posting this, iv'e also been trying to find a solution for the exact same setup, and have come up with one possible solution and one plausible.

    Option 1:

    With the new mac pro, you can use AirPlay and an Apple TV to turn your TV or HDMI screen into an external monitor.
    You could try contacting Apple or actually try to set up multiple external displays using this method. If it works, your Apple TV's would essentially act as an external wireless GPU.

    Option 2:

    This option involves some DIY/modding, you would need to purchase the following hardware:

    • Thunderbolt PCIe expansion unit, i suggest the Sonnet Echo Express SE II
    • A 600w or more modular PSU, such as the Corsair AX760
    • Two SAPPHIRE HD 7950 3GB GDDR5 MAC Edition graphics cards
    • Two PCIe riser cables
    • And a small PC case, such as the Fractal Design Node 605 ot the BitFenix Phenom micro-ATX
    You will then need to take the guts\board out of the Sonnet unit, mount it in a case, install the PSU and GPU's, connect the GPU's to the board using the riser cables, and connect the GPU's to the PSU using 6 pin connectors, connect the work of art to your mac pro with a thunderbolt cable and voila.

    You should now be able to run 8 displays from the external GPU unit, the only drawback is that the Sonnet board only has two 8x PCIe slots, which will not be as optimal as 16x slots, but as long as there are currently no units with 16x slots, there isn't really another option. And when you want to add additional displays, just build another unit and you can add another 6 to 8 screens, or 4 4k screens.

    Let me know what you guys think, and i hope this helps.
  7. mickvwijk macrumors newbie

    Feb 20, 2014
    Hey eish,

    I think the best and most cost effective way to run your setup is the following.

    Run a piece of software, such as Synergy or Teleport that allowing you to share your mice and keyboard between your mac pro's.

    Synergy also allows to share clipboards, check out this review:

    You can then also split your HDD on your second mac pro into two partitions and run one partition as a network drive to be utilised as a target disk.

    The same can be apply to your 5big's, share them across your network allowing both macs to utilise them.

    The only thing with this setup is that your video wall running as an independent machine. But this solution does allow you to scale easily.

    I hope you can give some feedback on what you think, i'd really appreciate it.
  8. eish2306 thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 30, 2013
    Are you limited to one Apple TV display or is it limitless, I am tempted to go buy a few and if it doesn't work take them back :)
  9. rambo47 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 3, 2010
    Denville, NJ
    Is there a Fiber Channel option for linking the new Mac Pros?

    Edit: Never mind. I see the new Thunderbolt2 blows FC out of the water for speed. What was I thinking??
  10. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
  11. ZombiePhysicist macrumors 6502a


    May 22, 2014
    MacVid, you can get this card, it will drive 6 4k displays. It's a single card slot that is VERY low power (it doesn't even use a single extra power plug from the Mac Pro), so, you could have 4 of these in a cMP, for 24 4k displays. SICK. It now works great under 10.9.3.

    BTW, any chance you could flash a pair of these for me? And one of these:

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