Mac Pro -- you can't make a cheaper one

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by keysofanxiety, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #1
    Guys, I've been adding this up and it looks like the Mac Pro is cheap as chips. No, this isn't a troll post. The D700 GPU is the FirePro W9000, according to loads of sources. I've written the specs and how much/where you can buy the equivalent hardware as a consumer.

    Okay, so let's go with the top-end Mac Pro spec. We've got:

    - 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache = £2000 (http://goo.gl/xUWxKC)
    - 64GB (4 x 16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC (can't find this anywhere, any help?)
    - 1TB PCIe-based flash storage = £1500 (http://goo.gl/kBRM51)
    - Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each = £5600 (http://goo.gl/Dsfsr2)

    So to custom-build a Mac Pro of the same spec, you'll be spending £9000+, vs Apple's £7779. AND your custom-build includes the following:

    - No RAM
    - No case
    - No motherboard
    - No power supply

    Have I added this up correctly, or is Apple's top-end Mac Pro the bargain of the century?

    Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 19.37.52.png
     
  2. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #2
    From what I've read, the CPUs are more expensive, and the GPUs are cheaper.

    Regardless, yes, it's cheap.
     
  3. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #3
    This is the incorrect bit. However, the new Mac Pro is pretty good value in comparison to other similarly specced workstations.
     
  4. TennisandMusic

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    #4
    This is just wrong.

    The video cards are consumer cards rebadged as "FirePros."

    The Radeon 7950 shows up as a D700 in OSX. Go look up how much those cost.

    The difference between the consumer cards and the workstation cards is basically the driver. And AMD does not do the drivers for the Mac Pro. You are getting consumer cards that Apple is marketing as "workstation" because they happen to be the same silicon that AMD uses, yet you are not getting AMDs driver.

    It's a MASSIVELY profitable machine, and incredibly expensive. I don't believe the second GPU can even be used for graphics.
     
  5. Diversion macrumors 6502a

    Diversion

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    Oct 5, 2007
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    Jacksonville, Florida
    #5
    There's no way the nMP is the price of a single W9000.. Therefore the D700 cards aren't W9000s at all..
     
  6. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    #6
    Source please.
     
  7. TennisandMusic

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    #7
    Look all over this board. I am not going to do your homework for you, just do a LITTLE research. They are not "W9000's."

    The D700 might be the 7970. It's one of those two. Apple marketing these as expensive workstation cards just goes to show they are relying on the ignorance of their buyers, which is really shameful IMO. It's a complete half truth. Now if you can load up Windows and they show up as the AMD Workstation cards, it might be a good deal, but on the OSX side it's just going to be an Apple driver.
     
  8. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #8
    Sorry, I meant the source for the other bit. I'm trying to find a 6GB version of the 7950. It seems to be advertised but not for sale.

    I'm curious to see how much they cost so I can adjust the Mac Pro pricing.
     
  9. TennisandMusic

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    #9
    Apple can attach whatever ram it wants to the cards really. But the graphics silicon is basically a radeon part. It's not "bad" but I see a lot of people saying Apple is doing them such a favor by selling them Mac Pros at these prices, when they really aren't. I mean, it's a fine machine, I will probably get one next year, but I know I'm going to be paying a lot.
     
  10. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #10
    Most of the Firepro's prices are markup. In since Apple is building the boards, they can remove the markup...

    So I'm not sure why it's not believable.

    Also a W9000 is a rebrand of the 7970. So the FirePro in the Mac Pro could very well be a rebrand of a 7970 and it would STILL be a FirePro W9000. Sigh. The only different between a 7970 and the W9000 is the 6 gigs of VRAM in ECC form.

    We know the Mac Pro has the 6 gigs of VRAM, we still don't know about the ECC part.
     
  11. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    #11
    Folks, here's the deal.

    FirePros are custom versions of consumer GPU's. Or, consumer GPU's are custom versions of FirePros. What differs is the memory controllers (memory bandwidth), clocks, ECC VRAM (sometimes), and possibly other small hardware changes. Likely also the FirePro are special binned parts, meaning they test at the high end (stable) of the spectrum from the production line. The markup you are paying is for the custom drivers, which are for a particular market and are much more rigorously tested and written (one hopes).

    The D300, D500 and D700 aren't exactly FirePro silicon, they are yet another derivative, but surely they trace their lineage through the FirePro line. What about the software? Well, it's Apple software obviously, and Apple most often provides software free. So from the beginning I've been saying it makes no sense to call the nMP D line the same as the FirePro, and they certainly won't cost the same. That would be ridiculous for apple to charge $3,400 for each D700. And indeed they don't.

    However, the D700/W9000 is based from the 7970 6GB. How much do those cost? About $850 for the 6GB versions, or $1,700 a pair. AFAIK the D700 pair are costing us about $2,000 total, and they are workstation class (hopefully with ECC VRAM).

    So what do we have? All together as a package yes the nMP is a deal compared to HP & Dell workstations. The one thing you give up is upgradable GPU's, and internal cards and drives.
     
  12. keysofanxiety thread starter macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #12
    Can I just say that if you load up Windows and they don't show as being AMD Workstation cards, but 7970s instead, Apple will have a lawsuit on their hands.

    All of the sources showing the 7970s as the D700s when updating to Mavericks is exactly why you said -- the drivers. The hardware between them is quite similar. But I think it's more likely that Mavericks can't tell the difference and reads it as such, rather than Apple using consumer GPUs and branding them as workstation GPUs.

    Oh well, we'll see soon enough when people start Bootcamping it.
     
  13. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #13
    I'm pretty sure why Apple is giving them custom model numbers is because they've taken FirePros, and at least on the lower end ones, they've tweaked the clocks and VRAM lower. So in the case of the D300 and D500, they roughly correspond to actual FirePros with a little bit of downsizing.

    The 7970, the W9000, and the D700s likely share the same driver stack because they're basically the same.

    Likely someone decided just to have that driver report all 7970 based cards as FirePro D700s in since there will never be an official 7970 shipped. If you put a W9000 in it would likely report as a FirePro D700 as well.
     
  14. Diversion macrumors 6502a

    Diversion

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    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Jacksonville, Florida
    #14
    Why is it not possible they are just custom GPUs.. a little bit of this card, a little bit of that.. It's not the first time Apple gets exclusive hardware. I get what you're saying though, Firepros are marked up because corporations/businesses are paying for it, not a home user.
     
  15. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2013
    #15
    Yes that's what I'm saying.

    Getting hyper about "FirePro's are the same as consumer GPU's" is silly. One, they're not. Two, even if they were, so what? Companies do that all the time, selling the same exact hardware priced radically different based on software. You're paying what the market will bear and what it costs to make. And "make" means more than just turning silicon.
     
  16. Tutor, Dec 19, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013

    Tutor macrumors 65816

    Tutor

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2009
    Location:
    Home of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
    #16
    HereYee! HereYee! The court's in session -

    'Cause here comes the judge. A Radeon HD can reveal itself as a D300 or D700, and I'd surmise as even a D500. Check out the submission dates and device ids in the pics, below. Apple's GPUs are neither fish (W****) nor cow or sheep (R79**), but rather could be fish with hoofs, water bound sheep or cows with fins and might even be modified in other untold ways.
     

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  17. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #17
    They are the same. In a lot of cases, you can flash a Radeon to a Firepro. The hardware is the same.

    This entire debate about it being a rebranded Radeon is silly. All Firepros are rebranded Radeons with larger amounts of ECC memory.

    Do some research. The chips are the same. Every so often Adobe will disable something on a consumer chip through the drivers to force people over to FirePros, and you can hack the drivers or flash the card to un-block the feature.
     
  18. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2013
    #18
    I'm not sure you understand what I'm saying, and yes I've done plenty of research. It doesn't matter though ...
     
  19. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #19
    All the controllers are the same as well?
     
  20. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #20
    I'm sure it will have a different windows pci vendor ID to a 7970, Apple more than likely bundled the 7970 code with the d700 for development probably since they had a run off with nvidia for the GPU rights.

    Most GPU workstation cards are basically the same bar more bits inside working on them than the retail models anyway. See Chip works site - the microscope never lies!
     
  21. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #21
    Typically, aside from the VRAM difference, they are physically the same.
     
  22. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    near Cambridge
    #22
    D700 Double precision performance

    The D700, according to Apple's web site, has much higher double precision performance than consumer cards (I think both nVidia and AMD/ATI cripple the double precision performance of their consumer cards to justify the expense of their professional cards for GPGPU stuff).

    They don't mention anything about ECC ram though.

    This makes me think that the D700 is a sort of hybrid. It probably won't have professional drivers available for it under Windows, but it is clocked lower (so more robust) and has better double precision performance than the consumer equivalent.
     
  23. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2013
    #23
    Right

    I saw a screenshot of the "About This Mac" window up with a D700 machine and while it noted the 6GB VRAM there was no mention of ECC.

    Probably
     
  24. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    near Cambridge
    #24
    Out of curiosity I just had a look at Scan, Crucial etc

    The 12 core processor on Scan is £1864.91 inc VAT

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/inte...-core-27ghz-80gt-s-qpi-30mb-cache-130w-retail

    Crucial already have a kit for the nMPro and it is £327.59 inc VAT for 32GB (2x16GB) so 64GB would be £655.

    http://www.crucial.com/uk/store/listparts.aspx?model=Mac Pro (Late 2013)&Cat=RAM

    The D700 are either W9000 at £2,765.28 inc VAT each or 7970s at £256.07 inc VAT each so 2xD700s are in the very wide range of £512 to £5530! (Scan prices.)

    PCie SSD drives at 1TB aren't available on Scan but if you bought 4x256GB drives it would come to about £1200.
    So the core elements come to somewhere in the range of

    £4240 to £9000 plus if you count the D700s as W9000s (controversial!)
    Power supplies, motherboards, cases normally come to around £1000 though the MacPro is small with a small power supply so you could build yourself something with 7970s for around £5000 or build yourself something with W9000s for £10,000 which brackets the nMPro £8000 in round figures.

    So not a bargain or even cheap but reasonable.
     
  25. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #25
    My 2-cents on the GPU debate... (which is about all it's worth) :)

    All current AMD GPUs are based on variants of the Tahiti or Pitcairn cores (except the R9 290X which is the first Hawaii part). You can see what's comparable to what in the table below (which I've posted many times in recent weeks). There are equivalent Wxxxx, 7xxxx, and R9 parts for each AMD core.

    IMHO, arguing about whether these cards are the same or not really only has merit if you're specific in mentioning the core... For example, it's valid to say that it appears the D700 and W9000 are based on the Tahiti XT with 2048 GCN cores. Or the 7950 is based on Tahiti Pro and it appears the D700 has the same specs as a Tahiti XT.

    I would not put much weight into what consumer cards OS X recognizes as a D300, D500, or D700. We don't know what the driver is using to ID a card - and it certainly doesn't seem to be doing it based on the core variant. The mere fact that OS X ID's a 7950 as a D700, implies it's got issues, since the D700 is clearly based on a Tahiti XT which has more cores and more memory bandwidth than a 7950 which is based on Tahiti Pro.

    There's another good article on this here...
    http://architosh.com/2013/10/the-mac-pro-so-whats-a-d300-d500-and-d700-anyway-we-have-answers/

    And if you want to read about the differences between the D300 (Pitcairn) and the D500/D700 (Tahiti) as far as compute performance goes, this article has some good information...
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6137/the-amd-firepro-w9000-w8000-review-part-1

    In particular, note the comments about how the architecture affects double-precision compute performance.
     

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