Snow Leopard on Prev. Gen MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ACiB708, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. ACiB708 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    #1
    Hi all, as most of you know Snow Leopard will implement Grand Central and OpenCL Technologies, which use the GPU's processing power to do everyday tasks. My question is, will Prev gen MBP's 8600m GT GPU support this tech? thanks!
     
  2. Quu macrumors 68020

    Quu

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    #2
    NVIDIA cards from the 8 series and up will fully support OpenCL.

    To be clear, any NVIDIA card that starts with a 4, 5, 6 or 7 (like the 7300GT) will NOT be able to be used with OpenCL but any card starting with 8 (8800GT, 8600GT and so forth) will. This also includes the 9 series (9600GT) and the newest 200 series (260, 280).

    Similarly the last generation of ATi cards (3xxx series) and the current 4xxx series will also support OpenCL. The X1600 which was in the original MacBook Pros will not be able to make use of OpenCL unfortunately they are 1 generation to old.
     
  3. Animalk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 27, 2007
    Location:
    Montreal Canada
    #3
    I never bothered to look up whether or not my MBP in my sig would take advantage of these software technologies. I was planning on keeping my MBP for at least 2 more years but this changes everything in that respect.

    My MBP, though almost 2 years old, is no slouch and runs everything i need at very fast speeds. Not being able to take advantage of OpenCL capabilities of future important software will make my MBP seem very slow.

    The speedup advantages that OpenCL brings to software, when properly harnessed, can not be emphasized enough.

    I wonder if the older cards have hardware and/or driver design limitations that prevent them from supporting OpenCL with the same resources they are using to support the newer cards. Or is it simply a fact that Apple and/or gpu manufacturers not wanting to use any of their resources in supporting older cards. This is something I will need to look into.
     
  4. MrZebra macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    #4
    If they don't die before SL sees the light of day :p
     
  5. Akzel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    #5
    Hahaha, good one!
     
  6. ACiB708 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    #6
    That's great news! well at least for me. Can't wait to see the improvements Snow Leopard brings
     
  7. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    #7
    [citation needed]
     
  8. Quu macrumors 68020

    Quu

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    #8
    The issue is that the older card the X1600 has hardware that is simply incompatible. It uses fixed in place Pixel pipelines and shaders which cannot compute anything except graphics. This changed with the range of cards directly after the X1600 (The HD 3xxx series) which do not have pre-fixed Pixel Pipelines, instead they use a unified architecture of Shader Units which can be used to process general information.

    ATi have called there implementation 'Stream' it is to ATi what CUDA is to NVIDIA. OpenCL is similar in that respect. It requires a unified architecture GPU it cannot work on a GPU that is fixed at computing Pixels, it needs to be a general use processor.

    As I say previously the 7 series of NVIDIA cards and below all used fixed pixel pipelines dedicated to the job of pushing out and shading pixels. The 8 series (which have been shipping since late 2006) the 9 series and the 200 series are all fully capable of making use of CUDA and thus OpenCL. The HD 3xxx and 4xxx series from ATi are similar in they also support 'Stream' which means they are able to be used with OpenCL. Any cards before this used a fixed in place pixel processing pipeline and cannot be used for computing anything else.

    If you check the wiki on any of these cards or even the manufacturers own pages you will see the same. I've been building computers for years and years (on the windows side) and have been following GPU development very closely since around 2003.

    To be clear once again. If your current graphics card supports CUDA (NVIDIA) or Stream (AMD-ATI) then it will FULLY support OpenCL.
     
  9. lordthistle macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Location:
    Italy
    #9
    I do not think that we will see the full advantages of the new libraries as soon as Snow Leopard comes out. We were bombed with messages about the extreme power of 64bit processing, but, as of today, there are very few applications that show any significant difference in performance, while true 64bit OSs are still far away from being largely adopted.

    I am sure you can keep using your MBP for some more years without any particular limitations caused by OpenCL and the GPU. Consider the bugs OpenCL will have too: we are at 10.5.6 and the graphics behaviour of nVidia-based notebooks is not that good. I have a SL-ready unibody MBP but I do not think I will upgrade before a lot of minor releases.
     
  10. Animalk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 27, 2007
    Location:
    Montreal Canada
    #10
    Thanks for the explanation. It was exactly what I needed to know.

    This is a good point you are making but even with this in mind, I cannot retract my high expectations for OpenCL as I have seen a couple of demonstrations of OpenCL (or possibly another similar architecture) and they are quite mind blowing. Unfortunately, reality is we will have to wait and see how this all plays out as you are pointing out.
     

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