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-   -   News: New Mac Pro Models Out (http://www.openphotographyforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8661)

Sean DeMerchant March 25th, 2009 08:28 PM

New Mac Pro Models Out
 
New Mac Pro models with Intel's latest quad core/octo-thread processor are out:

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/hom...family/mac_pro

Sean DeMerchant March 25th, 2009 08:29 PM

Albeit, from a practical standpoint for photographers they are of little value as Photoshop will not support 64-bit on OS-X and cannot well utilize 4 cores, still yet 8 core w/ 16 threads. For video work it is likely a dream machine. But for the time being all high end Photoshop machines run Windows Vista.

separating my opinion from the facts,

Sean

Asher Kelman March 25th, 2009 09:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sean DeMerchant (Post 72948)
Albeit, from a practical standpoint for photographers they are of little value as Photoshop will not support 64-bit on OS-X and cannot well utilize 4 cores, still yet 8 core w/ 16 threads. For video work it is likely a dream machine. But for the time being all high end Photoshop machines run Windows Vista.

So, is the CS4 disk either Mac or PC or cross-platform? We can always run PS in emulation mode.

Asher

Sean DeMerchant March 26th, 2009 12:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Asher Kelman (Post 72950)
So, is the CS4 disk either Mac or PC or cross-platform? We can always run PS in emulation mode.

PS CS4 is either Mac or Windows AFAIK, so you have to buy a Windows copy if you want 64-bit (i.e., large memory) support. 64-bit also provides a small performance boost (8-12%) on small memory (<4 GB) operations.

On top of that, 64-bit PS is only supported on Windows Vista (it may work in XP-64, but it is not supported).

The worst part is these new systems are even more expensive than the previous generation of Mac Pros (well the bottom of the line is cheaper IIRC, but the dual CPU version is more expensive).

The systems look nice, but in practice one can get a Core i7 based system running Vista for half the cost of a Mac Pro making a new Mac Pro a questionable value at best as one could buy a new system today and a new faster system in year or two for the same amount of money.

some thoughts,

Sean

Asher Kelman March 26th, 2009 12:30 PM

So Sean,

We now have to add the cost of Vista itself and an extra license for CS4 to go the fastest on a PC machine. What PC would you suggest that would end up a better deal than sticking with a Mac? How much faster would that be than using a latest version Mac but not the top of the line?

Asher
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sean DeMerchant (Post 72981)
PS CS4 is either Mac or Windows AFAIK, so you have to buy a Windows copy if you want 64-bit (i.e., large memory) support. 64-bit also provides a small performance boost (8-12%) on small memory (<4 GB) operations.

On top of that, 64-bit PS is only supported on Windows Vista (it may work in XP-64, but it is not supported).

The worst part is these new systems are even more expensive than the previous generation of Mac Pros (well the bottom of the line is cheaper IIRC, but the dual CPU version is more expensive).

The systems look nice, but in practice one can get a Core i7 based system running Vista for half the cost of a Mac Pro making a new Mac Pro a questionable value at best as one could buy a new system today and a new faster system in year or two for the same amount of money.

some thoughts,

Sean


Jack_Flesher March 26th, 2009 01:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sean DeMerchant (Post 72948)
Albeit, from a practical standpoint for photographers they are of little value as Photoshop will not support 64-bit on OS-X and cannot well utilize 4 cores, still yet 8 core w/ 16 threads. For video work it is likely a dream machine. But for the time being all high end Photoshop machines run Windows Vista.

separating my opinion from the facts,

Sean

Sean,

Let's not forget that "as photographers" we may utilize several programs other than Photoshop where the newer Mac Pro machines help significantly. Even then, CS4 currently smokes through massive operations on my MacPro, benchmark times right up there with the fastest Vista64 machines. The bigger issue in my mind is that CS4 is burdened with a bunch of old code (I heard over 80 million lines total) and things like scratch disk utilization are still a major bottleneck regardless of platform.

Cheers,

Sean DeMerchant March 26th, 2009 01:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Asher Kelman (Post 72985)
So Sean,

We now have to add the cost of Vista itself and an extra license for CS4 to go the fastest on a PC machine. What PC would you suggest that would end up a better deal than sticking with a Mac? How much faster would that be than using a latest version Mac but not the top of the line?

Asher

Currently, the best deals are on the bottom of the top of the line Intel Core i7 CPU systems. I went with the Gateway FX6800-01e which is not the greatest system. There are cheaper systems from Dell, but they did not have the good reviews when I was buying. The top of the middle of the line has faster CPU performance, but lags in memory performance.

On thing to remember is that PS is primarily slowed by waiting for memory and not by the CPU. The current Core i7 systems with an X58 chipset support tri-channel unbuffered memory. The Mac Pros utilize FB-DIMMs which are lower performing than unbuffered memory. FB-DIMMs add ECC and a greater maximum RAM amount. Other manufacturers also have systems, but Dell and Gateway had the best prices the last I knew (cheaper than building the system yourself).

The new Mac Pros are dual socket with the memory controllers integrated into the CPU. So the new Mac Pros have two memory controllers and nearly double the theoretical memory bandwidth. But the new Mac Pros are NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) systems which means that if CPU A has to contact CPU B to get at a block of memory, then the memory access latency becomes even slower.

But my real issue is that a cheaper system today and cheaper system in a year or two will provide more performance than an underutilized system today that will be a slow system in a year or two.

@Jack:

As I noted earlier, for video work the new Mac Pros are dream machines, but not for PS where large memory support lags. This only really matters to those who work on huge image files (MF scans, stitches). The lack of 64-bit support also loses the minor ~10% performance gain of going with x64 over x86.

But my real analysis is based on the increased price and lower clockspeed (2.26 GHz in dual socket). The upgrade cost ($1400) to simply get a dual CPU system with 2.66 GHz CPUs, the slowest Core i7 speed, exceeds the cost of a 2.66 GHz Core i7 system. The Mac Pros are also likely to be more reliable in the long term. But since I am advocating buying multiple systems over time for the same money I do not see a great advantage there. But, if one needs more than 12 GB of RAM, then the Mac Pros shine.

In short, the new Mac Pros (and the old ones) are fast, but the new Mac Pros do not make fiscal sense for PS CS4 (no large memory support and the x86 performance loss versus x64). And the whole point of large memory support is to get PS to use the OS'es disk caching mechanism rather than PS'es so that when you have 6+ GB of RAM you can keep PS from writing to disk at all (the real goal of getting rid of the idiotic memory management inherited from the Mac OS days (pre-OS-X)). After all, if my work fits in RAM, then the disk should never be touched which PS fails at miserably.

Albeit, if one uses LR or other tools, then 64-bit is already here on OS-X. Personally, LR was a terrible disappointment to me with a far less efficient workflow than PS has for my needs.

some thoughts,

Sean

Sean DeMerchant April 8th, 2009 02:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack_Flesher (Post 72990)
Let's not forget that "as photographers" we may utilize several programs other than Photoshop where the newer Mac Pro machines help significantly. Even then, CS4 currently smokes through massive operations on my MacPro, benchmark times right up there with the fastest Vista64 machines.

I believe it. Do not get me wrong, the underlying hardware architecture is the same and they are well priced for a machine of that quality. My real issue is that they are not worth the upgrade for Photoshop from the old Mac Pros. They are great machines, but memory utilization for PS on OS-X is still CS3 style.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack_Flesher (Post 72990)
The bigger issue in my mind is that CS4 is burdened with a bunch of old code (I heard over 80 million lines total) and things like scratch disk utilization are still a major bottleneck regardless of platform.

Additionally, the new Mac Pros only have 4 memory slots per CPU socket rather than 6 per CPU socket. Hence you can either have a memory configuration maxed out with single channel memory access or have 25% of your memory slots empty and have triple channel memory. The lack of the extension of triple channel memory to six slots also makes large memory configs expensive (24GB = 12x2GB ~ $400 USD). I short, the upgrade is lackluster for photographers without the PS x64 shift.

CS4 x64 bypasses this legacy code and skips using the scratch disk if it can:
The primary advantage of using the 64-bit version is to access amounts of RAM beyond what Photoshop can access when the 32-bit version is run. You can take advantage of more than 4 GB of RAM only when you are on 64-bit Windows, using 64-bit Photoshop. If you use files large enough to need more than 4 GB of RAM, and you have enough RAM, all the processing you perform on your large images can be done in RAM, instead of swapping out to the hard disk.
- http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/view...nalId=kb404439
A CS 4 and some additional RAM should keep an older Mac Pro running solid.

some thoughts,

Sean


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