New AMD cards in Mac Pro 4.1-5.1. Go or no go?

William Payne

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Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
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Wanganui, New Zealand.
The new AMD cards like the WX5100 for example, can they work in the older Mac Pro's. I know with Nvidia PC Cards we are lucky to have driver support.

Are we just completely out of luck with AMD? I mean Apple use AMD cards anyway.
 

William Payne

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Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
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Wanganui, New Zealand.
Never mind I spoke with AMD via their Facebook page. They basically said that while they could not see any reasons that the card wouldn't work, they could not guarantee access to all the features of the card due to no driver support.

I will look into Pascal quadros instead.
 
Last edited:

HiroThreading

macrumors member
May 1, 2017
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Totally depends on your workload. If you run lots of OpenCL enhanced apps or like Final Cut Pro X, then you're probably better off with an AMD GPU.

Something like a stock 280X or 7970 with a flashed ROM would be a good idea.

I'm not quite sure what macOS support looks like for the latest Polaris cards.
 

William Payne

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Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
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Wanganui, New Zealand.
Totally depends on your workload. If you run lots of OpenCL enhanced apps or like Final Cut Pro X, then you're probably better off with an AMD GPU.

Something like a stock 280X or 7970 with a flashed ROM would be a good idea.

I'm not quite sure what macOS support looks like for the latest Polaris cards.

To be perfectly honest. While its not a necessity, the new cards are very appealing due to display port 1.4 which will allow to jump the gun in preparation for when that becomes normal. 5k capable via one port is super appealing. The room that gives you for editing lower resolutions is huge.

I use more Adobe apps then I do apple. Though I do want to get Final cut as my video editing is minimal and I don't want to pay the monthly fee for premiere.

The AMD cards looked appealing really only due to price for compared to Quadros.
 

HiroThreading

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May 1, 2017
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To be perfectly honest. While its not a necessity, the new cards are very appealing due to display port 1.4 which will allow to jump the gun in preparation for when that becomes normal. 5k capable via one port is super appealing. The room that gives you for editing lower resolutions is huge.

I use more Adobe apps then I do apple. Though I do want to get Final cut as my video editing is minimal and I don't want to pay the monthly fee for premiere.

The AMD cards looked appealing really only due to price for compared to Quadros.
Have you got a good 5K monitor though?

If you've already invested in 5K, then sure maybe it makes more sense to go with an Nvidia based GPU with DP1.4 support.

If not, then the AMD options seem more reliable. You can then upgrade to 5K in the future (and also upgrade your video card) -- especially since Apple has recommitted to creating a pro display and customisable Mac Pros. Apple will also with 95% certainty stick to AMD GPU support. So we should see better support for generic PCIE AMD cards.
 

William Payne

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Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
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Wanganui, New Zealand.
Have you got a good 5K monitor though?

If you've already invested in 5K, then sure maybe it makes more sense to go with an Nvidia based GPU with DP1.4 support.

If not, then the AMD options seem more reliable. You can then upgrade to 5K in the future (and also upgrade your video card) -- especially since Apple has recommitted to creating a pro display and customisable Mac Pros. Apple will also with 95% certainty stick to AMD GPU support. So we should see better support for generic PCIE AMD cards.

Nope I don't have a 5k display just yet. I know what you are saying and I am looking forward to the new display and new Mac Pro. I won't wait for it though. I do want to get the most of my cMP until that day comes.

Thanks very much for your input I really appreciate it. I understand the tech side but obsess over it so I am not fully informed regarding what will work with what.
 

Fl0r!an

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Aug 14, 2007
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I highly doubt that OS X supports DisplayPort 1.4 until a Mac with such a port ships (which won't happen until the next Thunderbolt spec includes it or Apple starts building a Mac Pro with normal PCIE GPUs).

As far as I know there's still no DP 1.3/1.4 display to test with, but juding from the HDMI 2.0 situation (there's still no software support in OS X at all...) I wouldn't expect a lot.
 
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William Payne

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Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
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Wanganui, New Zealand.
I highly doubt that OS X supports DisplayPort 1.4 until a Mac with such a port ships (which won't happen until the next Thunderbolt spec includes it or Apple starts building a Mac Pro with normal PCIE GPUs).

As far as I know there's still no DP 1.3/1.4 display to test with, but juding from the HDMI 2.0 situation (there's still no software support in OS X at all...) I wouldn't expect a lot.

I really don't know about that. But I do know that Nvidia is offering pascal driver support for Mac's so that people can use the new Titan Xp
 
Jul 4, 2015
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It's never that simple or great:


Hahahahahahaha. Beta driver forever and ever. Been saying it for two years but the forum salesboys keep on hyping. I would not be surprised if an Nvidia department is scamming this niche community via a network of forum miscreants.
 

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William Payne

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
931
359
Wanganui, New Zealand.
I really should mention that I don't plan on running any graphics cards externally.

Hey I am just exploring options here, asking questions and discussion is how you find things out.
 

HiroThreading

macrumors member
May 1, 2017
51
42
I really should mention that I don't plan on running any graphics cards externally.

Hey I am just exploring options here, asking questions and discussion is how you find things out.
The same caveats would apply to an Nvidia GPU installed into a PCIE slot.

Perfectly fine question to ask -- glad you did. :)

The big issue here is that Apple continues to lag when it comes to GPU, particularly API, support. If only Apple would adopt newer OpenGL standards and Vulkan, then maybe we might see better and more stable gaming performance on macOS.

As it stands now, there aren't many devs committed to old OpenGL standards or Apple Metal (outside of iOS).
 

William Payne

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
931
359
Wanganui, New Zealand.
The same caveats would apply to an Nvidia GPU installed into a PCIE slot.

Perfectly fine question to ask -- glad you did. :)

The big issue here is that Apple continues to lag when it comes to GPU, particularly API, support. If only Apple would adopt newer OpenGL standards and Vulkan, then maybe we might see better and more stable gaming performance on macOS.

As it stands now, there aren't many devs committed to old OpenGL standards or Apple Metal (outside of iOS).

Displayport1.4 is 32.4Gbits/s transfer speed which unless I'm wrong is still within the transfer speeds found in PCIE 2 that is in the older Mac pros. PCIE 2.0 in a x16 slot is 8GB/s which is 64Gbits/s. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

As for gaming on a Mac. That is 0% important to me. Not even a factor of importance in my mind for my needs.
 

HiroThreading

macrumors member
May 1, 2017
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Displayport1.4 is 32.4Gbits/s transfer speed which unless I'm wrong is still within the transfer speeds found in PCIE 2 that is in the older Mac pros. PCIE 2.0 in a x16 slot is 8GB/s which is 64Gbits/s. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

They're different data busses for different purposes.

DisplayPort is what a GPU uses to output to a monitor. Like after it works on all the image and 3D processing, it needs to spit out what you eventually will see on a monitor. So it uses buses such as DisplayPort, HDMI and so on. These busses in recent years have become a bottleneck as we've seen bigger and bigger resolutions (1080p, 4K, 5K and VR), which is why we need to see updated standards come in.

PCIE (and Thunderbolt since it's technically based on PCIE) is essentially the bus that connects a CPU to a GPU. It's the bus which the CPU uses to tell the GPU what to render. We usually don't run into bandwidth limitation problems with PCIE -- especially if you install your GPU in a slot that offers at least 8 (each lane at 5 Gbps) lanes of PCIE 2.0. More is always better, but the difference is negligible.
 

William Payne

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
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Wanganui, New Zealand.
They're different data busses for different purposes.

DisplayPort is what a GPU uses to output to a monitor. Like after it works on all the image and 3D processing, it needs to spit out what you eventually will see on a monitor. So it uses buses such as DisplayPort, HDMI and so on. These busses in recent years have become a bottleneck as we've seen bigger and bigger resolutions (1080p, 4K, 5K and VR), which is why we need to see updated standards come in.

PCIE (and Thunderbolt since it's technically based on PCIE) is essentially the bus that connects a CPU to a GPU. It's the bus which the CPU uses to tell the GPU what to render. We usually don't run into bandwidth limitation problems with PCIE -- especially if you install your GPU in a slot that offers at least 8 (each lane at 5 Gbps) lanes of PCIE 2.0. More is always better, but the difference is negligible.

Factoring in everything you just said then where is the caveat of having a card in PCIE slot? You said the same caveats apply as having it run externally.

Using your post as an example you mention that the bottleneck is the DisplayPort not the PCIE lane. If the port is the bottle neck and it is a port of the fastest standard available then there really is no bottleneck.

The speed issues in that video were a case of being forced to run via a thunderbolt 2 connection. That will cause a bottleneck due to the speed limitation of thunderbolt 2 when being used to transfer data that would otherwise go via a PCIE slot.
 

HiroThreading

macrumors member
May 1, 2017
51
42
Factoring in everything you just said then where is the caveat of having a card in PCIE slot? You said the same caveats apply as having it run externally.

Yes because the performance you will get from a Titan Xp installed into say a Mac Pro 5,1's internal PCIE slot will be similar to if you installed in an external Thunderbolt enclosure on a Mac Pro 6,1. There would of course be differences arising from things like CPU performance of the two machines.

What I'm trying to say is that if a card has performance issues in an external Thunderbolt enclosure, it willl also have similar performance issues if it were installed in a PCIE slot.

Using your post as an example you mention that the bottleneck is the DisplayPort not the PCIE lane. If the port is the bottle neck and it is a port of the fastest standard available then there really is no bottleneck.

But as I said in my post, the two busses are for completely different purposes.

Is the data that's being sent from the CPU to the GPU over PCIE/Thunderbolt the same as the data that's being sent from the GPU to the monitor?

No -- completely different.

The DisplayPort bottlenecks I referred to are with respect to outputting images such as 5K 60Hz/144Hz or 8K 60Hz and so on.

The speed issues in that video were a case of being forced to run via a thunderbolt 2 connection. That will cause a bottleneck due to the speed limitation of thunderbolt 2 when being used to transfer data that would otherwise go via a PCIE slot.

That is a caveat, yes, but going from TB2 to PCIE 2.0/3.0 x16 will not increase performance by some crazy scale as 1.5 or 2.

For example, a while ago Anandech benchmarked the performance of a GTX 980Ti connected via TB2 compared to PCIE. They found a difference at most of say 5%.
 

AidenShaw

macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
18,650
4,646
The Peninsula
For example, a while ago Anandech benchmarked the performance of a GTX 980Ti connected via TB2 compared to PCIE. They found a difference at most of say 5%.
A link would be so nice....

Since you just joined today - you should notice that most people don't say "Anandech benchmarked" without including a link to the Anandtech post.

I include links because many people want more background - and occasionally I've mis-interpreted something and I'll be corrected.
 

HiroThreading

macrumors member
May 1, 2017
51
42
A link would be so nice....

Since you just joined today - you should notice that most people don't say "Anandech benchmarked" without including a link to the Anandtech post.

I include links because many people want more background - and occasionally I've mis-interpreted something and I'll be corrected.
Without any sass, I think I provided enough info for people to do their own google search if they're interested. :)

In any case, here's a link:

https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GTX_980_PCI-Express_Scaling/21.html

Thunderbolt 2 is equivalent to 2.0 x4, IIRC.

The Anandtech article I was referring was actually a test of a GTX 780 Ti. The 980 in the TPU review I just posted is a better illustration of my point.
 

William Payne

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
931
359
Wanganui, New Zealand.
The DisplayPort bottlenecks I referred to are with respect to outputting images such as 5K 60Hz/144Hz or 8K 60Hz and so on.

That is exactly what DisplayPort 1.4 is designed to do. Nvidia is obviously confident enough in it to state that their Pascal quadro's for example the p2000 can run 4 x 5k 60hz monitors at once. They even advertise it.

http://images.nvidia.com/content/pd...Quadro-Pascal-P2000-US-03Feb17-NV-fnl-WEB.pdf


I personally am not after a titan, I am only interested in Quadros or AMD equivelant cards but the titan was a good example to use.
 

HiroThreading

macrumors member
May 1, 2017
51
42
That is exactly what DisplayPort 1.4 is designed to do. Nvidia is obviously confident enough in it to state that their Pascal quadro's for example the p2000 can run 4 x 5k 60hz monitors at once. They even advertise it.

http://images.nvidia.com/content/pd...Quadro-Pascal-P2000-US-03Feb17-NV-fnl-WEB.pdf


I personally am not after a titan, I am only interested in Quadros or AMD equivelant cards but the titan was a good example to use.

Yes, but then as Fl0rian mentioned, DisplayPort 1.4 is not supported in macOS yet. We'll have to wait until Apple ships a Mac (Pro?) with DP1.4 equipped AMD FirePro cards.

Furthermore, the Thunderbolt 3 spec (when in DisplayPort mode) only goes up to DisplayPort 1.2 -- why Intel failed to include even 1.3 is beyond me...
 

William Payne

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
931
359
Wanganui, New Zealand.
Yes, but then as Fl0rian mentioned, DisplayPort 1.4 is not supported in macOS yet. We'll have to wait until Apple ships a Mac (Pro?) with DP1.4 equipped AMD FirePro cards.

Furthermore, the Thunderbolt 3 spec (when in DisplayPort mode) only goes up to DisplayPort 1.2 -- why Intel failed to include even 1.3 is beyond me...

My question then is, is 1.4 support a Apple issue or an Nvidia issue. What controls the compatibility of the DisplayPorts, the graphics card drivers or the operating system.

I am genuinely curious about that as I have found nothing regarding what governs that.
 

William Payne

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 10, 2017
931
359
Wanganui, New Zealand.
I just asked AMD regarding what actually allows Display Port 1.4 to work. Now I did not ask from a Mac perspective just a general computer perspective.

They said that as long as your monitor supports DisplayPort 1.4 and your GPU has those ports and your GPU drivers are current then it should work at 1.4.

I asked also whether it needed operating system drivers to work, they responded that GPU drivers are enough to allow use of 1.4
 

HiroThreading

macrumors member
May 1, 2017
51
42
I asked also whether it needed operating system drivers to work, they responded that GPU drivers are enough to allow use of 1.4

But as Fl0r!an mentioned, Apple is the one that writes the AMD drivers/kexts for macOS. So it still remains to be seen...

It should be fine for Windows however.
 
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