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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

Mac Pro Questions


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DrQuincy

 
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- Do you need to run software that is written for dual processors to get the benefit or do you get extra speed on everything?

- How do Xeons differ from Core Duos other than they can run alongside another processor?

- With dual processors what sort of speed increase do you get?

- When configuring a Mac Pro it offers you up to 16 gig RAM, 4 graphics cards and 4 hard drives. If I only originally get say 2 gig or RAM, one hard drive and two graphics cards can I add extra cards, RAM and hard drives without changing the motherboard?

- Other than running extra displays is there any advantage to having more than one graphics card?
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mac57

 
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Hi DrQuincy (I loved the Quincy MD show too! - great userid!):

1/ You do need multithreaded software to get the real advantage from multi core chips. However, since these chips are still darn fast, even non threaded software will run faster, just because each core is faster. As a quick metric, it seems to be accepted that a Core2Duo GHz is equivalent to about 1.4 Pentium GHz. So, even non threaded, you will see a performance improvement over Pentium based PCs. For the G5 Macs, not so much, since another rough metric is that 1 G5 GHz is pretty equivalent to 1 Core2Duo GHz.

2/ Have to leave this to someone else. Honestly don't know!

3/ See the answer to /1!

4/ Yes, a key benefit of the Mac Pro vs. most other Mac models presently available is its nearly complete upgradability.

5/ The major benefit of multi video cards is multi displays. If you have one display you will not see much (if any) benefit. NOTE: this answer is based on what I have read elsewhere; I can't comment based on experience. I would invite other readers who have more than one card to chime in!

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DrQuincy

 
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That's very useful, thanks.

Do many applications support dual processors then? I mainly use CS studio, Final Cut Studio and Combustion.
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yogi

 
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CS Studio isn't native to Intel processors to begin with, so it will run rather slow due to the translation from PPC to Intel being done on your system.

AFAIK, none of those apps are made for two cores, as that would mean they REQUIRE two cores, and currently there are too many macs that have only one core.

Making two seperate versions of the same program is probably not profitable for software companies, thus you won't find many applications optimized for multiple cores.

Anyone, correct me if I'm wrong.

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the CS3 is coming out soon or could already be out.

office is turning universal

but with a mac pro you shouldnt notice tooo much difference. it will be mostly affected by large aps like yours - photoshop etc.,
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For running CS, you will have enough processing power that it not being coded for Intel cores won't slow it down too much. I run CS2 on my MacBook Pro C2D 2.33Ghz without a hitch. Can't hardly notice the difference between CS2 and CS3Beta.


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1. In order to take FULL advantage of multi-core processors, you need software specifically written to do so. However, modern operating systems have the ability to assign a specific core to single thread programs. So even though many programs are designed for single core processors, you will still notice a performance boost as OS X will assign each program to one of the two cores. This way you won't have just one core doing all the work while the other sits around.

2. Xeons are Intel's line of server processors. They generally have more cache and can run in a multiple CPU setup (SMP) but architecturally are very similar to the consumer line (i.e. Core 2 Duo).

3. Dual processors aren't the same as dual-core. With a SMP system, you need programs written to take advantage of more than a single processor. The vast majority of consumer programs will NOT utilize a second processor and I believe neither the consumer version of OS X or Windows can assign programs to individual processors, only their server versions. So unless you're using programs that take full advantage of multiple processors, you're wasting your money.

4. You will have the option to upgrade later.

5. There are two uses for multiple video cards. One is the ability to run more than 2 monitors. The second reason is the more common purpose for which people get multiple video cards. In Windows, you can use two video cards to run something called SLI or Crossfire, which is essentially two video cards working as a single one. This is mainly useful for games. However, for Macs, having multiple video cards is useful for 3D imaging programs, especially CAD, since these programs rely on your video card to render images/video rather than on your processor.
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mr g5

 
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there is no SLI for osx, right now multiple graphics card only help in ONE way, more monitors. this my change with osx 10.5.

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DrQuincy

 
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This is great info - thanks! One thing puzzles me though . . .

. . . why bother having dual Xeons on a Mac Pro because most people aren't going to be running server software on there? For me, I deal with large files for print and huge video files but what's the point in two processors if media intensive apps like InDesign, Photoshop, FCP can't use it? Am I missing something?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrQuincy View Post
This is great info - thanks! One thing puzzles me though . . .

. . . why bother having dual Xeons on a Mac Pro because most people aren't going to be running server software on there? For me, I deal with large files for print and huge video files but what's the point in two processors if media intensive apps like InDesign, Photoshop, FCP can't use it? Am I missing something?
Leopard!

OS X.5 will have full 64 bit and multithreading support form top to bottom so the OS can split tasks across multiple processors. When you consider that most applications utilise system calls to do almost everything (such as using Core Image to handle visual media) we will see a huge increase in application performance.

The demo given to developers was to show WoW Burning Crusade running on Leopard with 40% better framerate than on a similar specification Vista Box (both in OpenGL rendering mode I would presume) purely due to the Leopard box utilising multiple CPUs whereas the Vista version just maxes out a single core.

(you may think that WoW framerate would depend entirely on the Gfx chipset but it does in fact depend heavily on the CPU(s) to process all the many users - in the demo they had over 100 players on screen at once)

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DrQuincy

 
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So really Apple have released the Mac Pros a little ahead of Leopard?

Again, once Leopard is out will you see a general performance increase on everything but more so on apps that have been specifically optimised for 64bit / dual processors?

If you ran four heavy apps on Leopard with dual dual core Xeons is Leopard savvy enough to give each thread to a single core?
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Amen-Moses

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrQuincy View Post
So really Apple have released the Mac Pros a little ahead of Leopard?

Again, once Leopard is out will you see a general performance increase on everything but more so on apps that have been specifically optimised for 64bit / dual processors?

If you ran four heavy apps on Leopard with dual dual core Xeons is Leopard savvy enough to give each thread to a single core?
Tiger will do that!

What Leopard will do is give more than one processor to an app if it can make use of it, without the app even being aware of it.

What this means in practice is that let's say you are using Tiger and have an app producing a DVD and Photoshop processing an image, the other two processors will be pretty much idle (maybe one core running iTunes and Safari using maybe 25%). In Leopard any system calls made by the two heavy apps can be spread over onto the spare processing capacity of the other cores so it will actually start to make sense having 8 or even 16 cores (Intel have just built an 80 core just as a demonstrator) in a desktop machine.

I think that is probably the only reason Apple haven't announce 8 core machines yet, the OS just won't make good use of them for anything practical.

Of course only well behaved apps will have this boost but seeing as how this was demonstrated months ago to the developers I imagine any big hitters (Photoshop for definite) will already have been rewritten where needed to make the most of this (i.e replace custom graphics routines with Core Image calls).

Amen-Moses
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leapord will do it better but tiger does a good job also.

The only program I use that maxes out this system is shake,

FCP does not for some reason even during rendering, it never goes above 250% CPU. My guess is that the HD can not feed data to the CPU's fast enough.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amen-Moses View Post
When you consider that most applications utilise system calls to do almost everything
Consider? I can't even translate it.

What I heard was: "Wait for Leopard to buy your Mac Pro." Thank you for the advice, I intend to heed it! Even if I don't understand why. :ninja:
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vlj9r

 
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I feel your pain about deciding what to get. I just took delivery of a macpro 2.66 this past thursday and it's killing me to stare at the sealed box.Friday morning two sites are reporting that apple is redesigning the mac pro to be be smaller and faster. So I guess I will hang on to it for two weeks and then call for an RMA. I'm willing to wait another month or two but I definitely don't want to get stuck with an older model if a new one is about to come out.

That happened to me last year. Right after buying the macbook and the imac20 core duo, the core 2 duos were announced.

I think my luck is worst than Leo Laporte's..

jr
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