New Mac Pro Misconceptions

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Radiating, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    #1 It has no optical drive, you can't instal anything on it

    Incorrect, it has room for 100 seperate optical drives with all thunderbolt and USB 3.0 splitter installed, with the advantage of placing the optical drive wherever you need it on your desk. Each additional drive can be bough for $20 from amazon.

    #2 It has no expandable storage.

    Incorrect, it has room for 100 seperate external drives with all thunderbolt and USB 3.0 splitter installed, with the advantage of placing the optical drive wherever you want out of the way or on another desk. And you don't have to open up your machine to change your storage options.

    #3 But external sotrage is slow.

    Incorrect, platter based hard drives to not push the limits of USB 3.0 remotly, and there is no sotrage medium that exists which can push the limits of USB 3.0. You can get 200 MB/s from an external platter drive, with USB 3.0 enclosure, 500 MB/s with a good SSD USB 3.0 enclosure, and 1.5 GB/s with a ramdisk through thunderbolt.

    Except you can now have 60 seperate ram disks through daisy chained thunderbolt, which you couldn't do on the old Mac Pro, and 100 drives of all kinds.

    #4 But you're stuck with the dual fire pro video cards, which don't have CUDA cores.

    Incorrect, you can now add 12 or more external video cards through thunderbolt. That is far more than the last Mac Pro could even conceive of. If you wanted you could run 12 GeForce Titans.

    #5 But Thunderbolt 2 is a bottle neck and is so much slower than an internal video card.

    Incorrect, I've run a GeForce Titan through thunderbolt 1 on a Mac, and saw only a 5% performance drop compared to a custom bult PC with a 3770k . Video cards don't need all the speed of PCI express, even PCI express 1x will work for a GTX 680 with around a 15% drop.

    #6 But Thunderbolt PCI express enclosures are expensive or you have to do some DIY work.

    Correct, but this basic board that will connect a thunderbolt cable to a 16x PCIe slot is $140.


    If you want something pretty, it can run over $300, but...

    Prices will come down for the non DIY enclosures the parts are not expensive as shown above, and prices will come down very quickly, I see thunderbolt 2 enclosures coming down to less than $150 for a full 15" long 500w enclosure in 18 months. Currently for a high powered full length pci express card you need a $700 enclosure (echo express pro) + a $50 external 450w power supply (Visiontek ATX12V).

    However, Blu Ray players were $1000 when they were introduced, and those were far more complicated to make inexpensivly.

    Thunderbolt 2 external PCI express cards are the way of the future, especially with their extreme ability to be daisy chained for literaly hundreds of possible cards on one machine. It's more convenient, more portable, more flexible, and while yes it would suck to have to pay $50-$150 for every card, it's better to do that than pay $5000 for a new computer if you want more than 4 cards.

    I also can't see Apple NOT releasing their own enclosure for the Mac Pro at a competetive price, to help move progress along.

    Hopefully that reduces some anxiety for everyone. The new Mac Pro is an amazing leap forward, but it really pains me to see short sighted people complain about short term growing pains when the future benefit is revolutionary. Cheaper smaller, better, more flexible, lighter, with way more expandability than anyone could ever dream of.
  2. FSMBP macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Nice write-up.

    Can OS X recognize GPUs connected via Thunderbolt? I know people have gotten them to work in Windows but I never heard of OS X doing it.
  3. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Actually the number of optical drives and disks you can connect will pretty much be limited by the OS probably.

    If you daisy chained a bunch of Thunderbolt docks. Using the Sonnet dock as the extreme example.

    That would be 36 docks each having 6 USB 2.0 ports, 1 FireWire, 2 esata, an internal disk (ssd or hd) and an optical drive.

    That gives 220 USB 3.0 ports including the internal ports. With USB hubs, the number of drives would get ridiculous. And add to that the 36 Fiirewire and 72 esata ports.

    That gives the potential for connection of something over a thousand disks.
  4. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007

    I refer you to this:

    Thunderbolt 2 = 20Gbps each way, or 2.5GB/sec each way.

    PCI-E 3 2x = 2GB/sec each way.

    Performance difference from 4x and even 8x is plain to see in those benchmarks.

    Am I missing something?
  5. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2012
  6. peabo macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2008
    Pretty sure the dual GPUs included will blow away a single gaming card anyway, and they look modular so Apple will likely offer upgrades in the future. You could always connect an external nVidia GPU just for CUDA, at which point there wouldn't be as much of a bottleneck like there would be with games, as far as I understand.

    I think a lot of people assume we will be stuck with the GPU in the new Mac Pro forever as we have been starved of upgrade options since the 5870, but now that Apple will be updating the MP regularly again, this hopefully won't be the case and it won't be as awful as it has for the past 3 years.
  7. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007

    Firstly, unless Apple supply 7950/7970 type cards at the bottom end, the performance will suck unless you spend $$$ on the upper end FirePro cards.

    Secondly, some games don't work with Crossfire (I refer you to FS-X).

    Thirdly, as my link points out, TB2 DOES NOT have enough bandwidth to supply high end GPUs at full speed, kind of defeating the point of having a faster external GPU.
  8. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Thunderbolt itself is a multiplexer/data stream aggregator. It doesn't make much of any sense to multiplex the multiplexer. Redundant .... see redundant.
  9. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    I don't believe these are misconceptions at all

    Many want internal capacity. Granted, many wanted a modular design as well. Can't please everyone.

    I prefer internal capacity and one clean box with minimal wires.

    This is like saying my house "has room" for 100 bathrooms, they just have to be located elsewhere, attached by roads.

    Ever use a MacBook Pro as a desktop? I have. Every stinking peripheral has its own enclosure, its own power cable, and its own data cable. It is a rat's nest of boxes and wires hooked up to daisy-chained power strips. Expensive, inconvenient, and ugly.

    You ARE stuck with them. Sure you can add more cards, but you can't sell the old ones to recoup their value... because you're stuck with them. And instead of a nice clean solution, you'll have the obsolete cards always there, using up power, taking up space, and generating heat. And your modern cards are stuck in an expensive external enclosure that slows things down with yet more power and data cables. There is already a performance hit for yesterday's cards, I wonder how bad it will be for tomorrow's cards?

    The new Mac Pro is a really beautiful, really powerful Mac Mini.
  10. macdud macrumors member

    Jan 16, 2011
    i think everyone knows about external solutions, USB3, TB2 etc.. the problem is external solutions are typically pricier then internal & create clutter.. i'm still excited about the new offering but it's going to cost me a fortune to upgrade, TB1 solutions are still mega expensive, i don't see TB2 coming down in price in the near future.. all this will depend on what the new MP retail/specs is going to be :eek:
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    I haven't any indications at all that Apple has changed its stance on Crossfire/SLI. there are two GPUs here in a very similar way in that there are two GPUs in a MBP. Two GPUs in a iMac. The workload of feeding displayPort inputs is probably split differently since there are 3 TB controllers to cover instead of just one. However, no indications have merged them into a logic whole.

    Doubled up OpenCL performance numbers don't require making a single logic GPU at all. In fact is the amount of data than needs to crunched is larger than a single cards VRAM you want to split the workload up into two separate pieces.

    There are two much more because can target one as a primarily GPGPU workload engine while the other does video. Or two split the work and both do a bit of each. Classic two GPU work can do right now in a Mac Pro.
    the much larger value add will be with more apps that can leverage two in parallel. If that is made the standard configuration it is more likely that will happen over time.

    Apple isn't building a gamer, super duper high frame rate box.

    It depends upon the the external GPU is being used for. Most games and more purely video output has tricks and workarounds for low PCI-e bandwidth. Frankly, chopped down and diluted PCI-e bandwidth is now the "norm" on mainstream PC designs. So some of the applications have adapted to it. .... which only leads to more chopped down and diluted PCI-e bandwidth.

    That's typically why certain benchmarks so that only loose a relative smaller percentage of chopping off lanes. it is the software doing work-arounds not that the bandwidth isn't a significant loss. For applications not opitmized for kneecapped mainstream PC designs it is going to be much bigger impact. Likewise for apps that have need to transfer larger amounts of data that can't be compressed or cached.
  12. zephonic macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2011
    greater L.A. area
    Someone please correct me if I misunderstand this, but if the displays are connected through ThB, doesn't that take up a huuuge chunk of the available bandwidth? And does it then not follow that this bandwidth is not available to other devices?
    Or is a fixed portion of the available bandwidth allocated to each connected device? If so, how much for each device and how does the OS determine this?

    If a couple of 1080p (forget 4k) displays share that 10Gbps with a few HDD/SSD's I'd suppose you'd bottleneck pretty quick.

    I'd hate to think how much of that bandwidth three 4k displays would take up.
  13. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    If you're just looking at 1080P, the first one would be connected via the HDMI port that it has.
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    There are indications that these GPU cards are equivalent to the current Mac Pro's daughtercard for RAM/CPU/Northbridge. That they are basically just a subset of a larger logically single motherboard that just has three parts.

    These not standard PCI-e card format cards. There is no indication they use any standards based connectors what so ever.

    They have a socket (or tracing to attach a socket ) on the back to attach a PCI-e SSD card. Does that sound like any other open market GPU card? Nope.

    They can be removed. The current Mac Pro's daughter card can be removed. That doesn't means upgrades came with. Its primarily purpose as to enable different BTO configrations to be sold. There is lots of indications this is exactly what these GPU "cards" are.

    There are fewer standards based slots/sockets on the inside of this box. ( no classic PCI-e socket, no SATA sockets, etc.). The DIMM sockets are even arranged a bit differently than normal along the individual sockets themselves appear standard.

    Apple could have easily saved themselves a giant ton of "Drama" if these cards are actually standards oriented cards. That fact they didn't say anything speaks volumes. (thunderbolt compliance issues probably means they aren't and Apple is hoping folks pay attention to all of the other more upside features.)
  15. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    Where are all the PCI lanes coming from..we're still at 40 total right, 32 for graphic's, 2 for network, 1 for USB. Thats 35 and I'm forgetting something. What lanes are eGPU's running on especially multiple eGPU's and storage and and and..
  16. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Yes and no. ;-).

    First, in the current Thunderbolt implementation a whole 10Gb/s channel is reserved just for the TB encoded DisplayPort video data. That is a good thing because it won't get in the way of the 10Gb/s for the encoded PCI-e data on a differnt channel. So yes video is soaking up a ton this bandwidth.... but it always has been and arrangements made for that. So that is the "yes" part.

    Pragmatically no.

    Each Thunderbolt controller controls its own seperate network. Each two port pair is sharing network throughput ( so 10Gb/s coming and 10Gb/s going out doesn't really mean 20. It means data can get from one end of the network to the other quickly. )

    So with 3 controllers if hooked up video to one pair and hooked up data devices to another pair again you have a very independent set of channels so that no traffic of one is going to have any significant impact on the other.

    Thunderbolt v2.0 muddles the picture also. To get the new 20Gb/s speed they are hyping they logically bounded what were two separate channels into one. The overall network throughput didn't change at all. However, it is now the case that large bulky video ( multiple 4K streams ) can share with moderate PCI-e data traffic. Likewise marginally higher PCI-e data traffic will some a bit of an increase ( likely up to x4 PCI-e v2.0 ) but can now have more device to device ( not neessarily all devices to host) traffice than can see more throughput. Also likely going to get better a bit better latency (and/or isochronous performance ) out the system since responses from remote devices will arrive quicker at the host. ( presuming there is nothing hogging the network. )

    While Intel made a big deal about adding 4K video capabilities to TB v2 they said nothing about boosting the speed of the PCI-e "on ramp" onto the TB network. I think that is indicative that the PCI-e interface is still four lanes (x4 ) of PCI-e. If video data when up and the channels are bonded and PCI-e didn't go up then likely not increasing both at the same time. So there will usually be enough to go around.

    If you hook 12 RAID-0 SSD arrays up to a single TB network and run 2-3 4K video streams you probably run into problems. That isn't going to happen all that often because that is a bucketload of hardware to buy to push TB that hard.

    Another the whole you can do 100's devices on this new Mac Pro is likely smoke. Maybe a 100 slow ones ( like USB 2.0), but not 100 bleeding edge fast ones. TB would crumble. Probably in a quirky fashion.

    The TB v2.0 hardware is will have to be smarter on how it multiplexes and juggles the mixed traffic. v2 is likely implemented on a smaller process technology so there are more transistors to throw at hardware to track all this stuff and make it work without driving up the cost of the controller IC package.

    Yes bandwidth on the network is shared.

    Somewhat. There are isochronous elements to TB that try to keep devices getting their 'fair share". However, if put a whole bunch of bandwidth hogs on network it runs into problems just like any other network.

    To a large extent (except some initialization at boot and fielding some hot-plug events ) the OS have no idea Thunderbolt is there. Thunderbolts job is to transparently act like a PCI-e switch and a DisplayPort conduit. Other than the ability for devices to randomly dissappear/appear it is suppose to not matter.

    HDDs no. Even SSDs unless accesing them all concurrently, no.

    It is alot which is why Intel had to break down the wall and snarf bandwidth that was dedicated to PCI-e data and low latency service.

    Frankly, 4K data works better on DisplayPort 1.2.

    But has pointed out above part of the Mac Pro "work around" this problem is multiple TB controllers. Just segregate the data connections like you woud if kept GPU card edge connectors seperate from FW/eSATA/USB connectors.
  17. mrxak macrumors 68000

    Apr 16, 2004
    Drifting through space in a broken escape pod
    I think the biggest misconception about the new Mac Pro is that we have any information about it at all, except what we can suss out looking at a few pictures online.

    We were not told any specifics about the two GPUs. We know that one possible configuration is two, unspecified FirePro cards. We don't know how they work, what they are, or how they're connected. We were not told any specifics about how the Thunderbolt ports are configured. We were not told anything about the CPU, other than it's a next-generation Xeon.

    Let's also not forget that this is still under development, though obviously in the final stages. They may very well make some changes before it's announced for real.

    There may be all manner of configuration or upgrade options. I for one am reserving judgement until I see actual spec sheets and price lists. I've seen and read everything I can, but I still feel like I know nothing at all.
  18. deconstruct60, Jun 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009

    E5 40
    C602 8 (the chipset has another x8 lanes and that is typically where x1 and x2 I/O controllers are attached. That is typically also where the x4 TB controller is also attached. )

    Likely on E5 so 8 left. ( easily split into two x4 bundles )

    Probably out of C602 (IOHub's x8 budget ) so 6 left.

    USB 3.0 needs one. USB 2.0 would need zero, but aren't using those.
    so C602 budgets down to 5

    Bluetooth/Wifi down to 4 .

    So suprise the C602 has x4 left.... hmm a match for a TB controller x4.

    The other forgetting is two more controllers.

    x4 and x4 that needs to come out of the E5's budget and alas all gone.

    The last thing though is the PCI-e storage drive.

    perhaps another x4. and woud have to shared with...... either TB controller or GPU cards. (GPU cards are a candidate because the card are mounted on the back.... 'stealing' x2 or maybe even x4 from them probably would not be that much of a drop off in most contexts. ).

    The TB controllers could all be grouped to the E5 lanes and the PCI-e card moved to the C602 but really just shuffling the deck chairs at that point.

    To a large extent probably doesn't matter much because likely stepped down to v2.0 anyway. Once on v2.0 it really doesn't matter which hooked up to. Also bouncing through multple layers of PCI-e switches so already incurring incremental delays.

    ( the SATA controller in the C602 is completely idle... it is not likely there is ton of traffic going better chipset and CPU but conceptually it is a small amount. Ethernet ... USB 3.0 ) .
  19. FluJunkie macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2007
    This entirely depends on what use you're intending to put them to. I'd also suggest writing off the Titan as "a single gaming card" is a somewhat flawed summary.
  20. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    How would the GPUs work any differently from the refrence board or deployed implementation? The other implementation specifics sure. But what these GPUs employ oompa loompas running around on nano sized treadmill? You send current and data into the GPU and data in video and other forms comes out.

    Again why are the ports configured any differently (from an external perspective) than other Thunderbolt ports? All Thunderbolt implementations must Intel's certifcation tests to use the Thunderbolt name. That means the ports are going to be pretty much uniform in characteristics or else the certification process is deeply flawed.

    If talking about how the controllers are hooked up. Again it isn't going to substantially different in a general sense than other TB controllers are hooked up.

    No. Were told it has up to 12 cores. That actually narrows it down. ( there are several upcoming next generation Xeons processors ).

    Other than BTO tweaks I highly doubt that. the notion that Apple is askng for feedback on how to complete this Mac Pro and if folks howl loud enough Apple is going to go back and make the box 30% bigger or make some substantive change is well grounded.

    This sneak peek is as much about the new Mac Pro as telling the folks who may require large amount of HDD internal storage that product has been cancelled and they need to make plans for something else or buy a current one sooner rather than later.

    I think you are deeply underestimating the length of the design/test/validate process. There aren't that many many months left in 2013 to go back and make substantive changes. At this point they should be spending far more time and effort confirming that this devices actually works as the plan outlined it was suppose to work.

    It isn't good that you can almost guarantee that will be quirky problems with the box when it does finally ships. ( e.g., the Mac Pro that had audio quirks for months after launch. )

    Configs aren't changes. Those configs were already mapped out. It is highly doubtful at this point Apple is going to go run off and go get something they had not already planned to get.

    There is no sign at all that there are common used standard sockets to add anything substantive to the device. No SATA. No PCI-e slots. No reference design PCI-e card is going to fit because are required to use Apple's thermal solution. The expectation that something huge is going magically appear because Apple just now had an "aha, I should add YYY to this" at this point is unsupported. Any "aha" moment is a candidate for version 2 now.

    So there may be Nvidia options float around in the background. I wouldn't bet on that, but not impossible. But it would have already been looped into the plan.

    There is alot of info. Apple does make some things more cloudy on purpose so has to raise the "surpirise" limit. But most of the "surprise" of the Mac Pro probably has already been let loose.
  21. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    Almost no one has asked those questions. It is obvious that lots of things can be hardwired to the new MP. The questions have been more about the wisdom of external verses internal equipment.

    Some of the disappointed users would rather have one big case with one power supply and a minimum of external wiring. Your post reads more like something Apple would release in response to user criticism.
  22. Phrygian macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2011

    all i got from this post is "if you want to spend exorbitant amounts of money, you can hook up external drives and cards".

    Whats the point of this new design, which as far as i can tell is all about thermodynamics and ascetic appeal, if everything from optical drives, storage and graphics cards have to be hooked up external.

    Gee thanks though, i'll be real sure to drill holes in my desk to hide these things somewhere?

    What is the point? If I wanted a Supercharged mac mini, i would have asked for that. I wanted a workstation.

    My next power rig is a PC. thats just me. At what point does apple's innovative yet ridiculous design principles become too expensive? I love OSX, but its not worth it if i can't afford the RIDICULOUSLY OVERPRICED hardware, followed up by potentially thousands of dollars in extra equipment because apple wanted to design a pretty ash tray of a computer.
  23. lucasfer899 macrumors 6502


    Sep 23, 2012
    I'll voice a bit, I am approaching being a pro user very quickly, and I do not use barely any local storage on my desktop. All my files are on a server connected by 10Gigabit ethernet, I can access and work on them remotely. I have one 240GB SSD, and that is plenty.
    I use 4 displays, they are all connected to one dual GPU graphics card.
    I use all the threads of my 6 Core chip regularly, along with hitting caps of my 16GB of ram.

    The new Mac Pro offers everything I need and want, and it is tiny! I havent used an optical drive lately, and while I do use firewire, that's fine, as there are adapters for Thunderbolt. Again with the 10GB Ethernet, that works fine with TB. I work on videos and photos in photoshop and sony vegas, I would like to move to final cut, but I dont have a powerful enough mac. (My mac is a crud macbook pro).

    TL;DR New Mac Pro is more powerful than I need, has more expansion than I could ever have in my wintel tower.
  24. MacVidCards, Jun 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013

    MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    I have reported you for posting this disturbing photo. But it is VERY reassuring to note that in a mere 18 months something useful might be available. Is that a Cupertino Twang I detect ?

    Apple Apologist Crew Inc. out in FORCE today. Watch where you step !!!

    Attached Files:

    • th05.jpg
      File size:
      494.5 KB
  25. mrxak macrumors 68000

    Apr 16, 2004
    Drifting through space in a broken escape pod
    You misunderstood a lot of my post. I'll address just a few points to clarify.

    GPUs: Are they linked as a single logical unit? How do they connect to the motherboard?
    Thunderbolt: There's the whole two GPUs, three controllers thing. How does the video signal get split up?
    In Development: I'm not expecting major changes, nor do I consider configuration options to be changes. But if they had every detail set in stone, they would have given us more details and given a shipping date. Clearly something is still being done.

    My main point is that we have very little information to go by and there's more questions than answers. I think anyone making bold claims or decisions would be wiser to wait and see.

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