OpenCL and Scientific Computing on the Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Gonk42, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    near Cambridge
    Apple is promoting OpenCL and GPGPU acceleration of programs which to my mind is a big plus for the forthcoming Snow Leopard but at the same time the graphics hardware that you can put into the Mac Pro is severely limited. Nvidia's Tesla C1060 won't work under OS-X (EFI issues I think) and the currently available graphics cards are limited to 512M (under OS-X).

    My interest is for scientific simulation software (eg electromagnetic simulation etc) but I realise that for the majority of Mac Pro users, the only question is whether or not Adobe makes use of it in CS5 (or whatever the next release is), but even here if Windows users get acceleration from graphics cards with 3 to 8 times the gpu RAM available and Windows adopts openCL at some point Apple will be left behind.

    I am still sitting on the fence wondering whether to jump into the exciting Apple/OS X camp or whether to stick with boring but relatively safe Windows/Linux. I know bootcamp gives you a choice but I get the impression that when it comes to things like installing a Tesla C1060 there are problems even under Windows/Linux because of EFI. (I may be wrong, this is just my impression from things like the Tesla forums on nvidia's site.)

    My worries are Apples resources for development are allocated in a priority that goes iphone/ipods etc > lap tops > iMacs > Mac Pros for Graphics Professionals > Mac Pros for nerdy scientists and nvidia etc aren't going to put their resources in if Apple isn't.
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    If you ran Boot Camp, you could easily install a Tesla 1080C if you so chose.

    Mind, power might be a problem, but if people are creative enough to get dual 4870s working, you can get a Tesla working.
  3. ZunePod macrumors regular

    Apr 1, 2009
    Snow Leopard will bring OpenCL. I'm hoping that Apple will allow more than 512M GPUs, because you can't really have an outstanding Gamer's Rig without at least 1024M.

    I think Apple should make the Mac Pro into more of a Gamers Mac.

    As for scientific computing, there's loads of examples on the Apple site. One I read the other week was about a hospital in Geneva using Mac Pros to see where they should operate etc.
  4. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003

    Yeah, that's brilliant. People can piss away twice as much money for a gaming Mac to run worthwhile games a year later if they're lucky, in the form of a second-rate port or worse yet under Cider.

    If you're really serious about gaming and that's your primary reason for buying a machine, you're a hell of a lot better off with something a bit more conventional in terms of architecture and price. The Pro is a decent compromise if for example you do film work but want to shoot people in the face to de-stress at the end of the day (a good way of describing my usage), but it's a pretty awful machine if gaming is priority #1.
  5. Gonk42 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    near Cambridge
    I'd assumed that this was the case but there was a few comments on the Mac part of the Tesla forums which implied that there were problems.

    The other issue is that Tesla likes to run with other nvidia cards which means that with the Mac Pro (assuming I want to run OS-X for general use) I'd have to go for the basic card rather than the 4870.

    I suspect that things are possible but difficult whilst with the Dell T7500 for example, Tesla is a (rather expensive) BTO option.

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