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Images, Graphic Design, and Digital Photography Discussion of all things graphics.

Mac Pro ---- Overkill for 3D application?


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ttaylor37

 
Member Since: Mar 07, 2010
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Got my first Mac in September....iMac 24", 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1067MHz DDR3...thought it would be a nice change from PC and was not disappointed. Then I found myself with a new job opportunity working with graphics and 3D animation. Got the CS4 Master Collection and also started working with Blender 3D. Found out real quick that my iMac just didn't have the punch I needed for the 3D stuff. My new boss told me to find something that would give me the processing power I needed. Having been mislead a bit by the salesman at the Apple Store about being able to upgrade the iMac (also my fault for not researching) I was hesitant about getting another Mac so I went with HP.

Got the HPE-180t with the i7-920 quad core 2.66GHz with 12 GB DDR3-1066MHz SDRAM. This system cut the rendering time for animations down by half but still left me dissatisfied....so....

Last week I got the Mac Pro 8 core (2 x 2.26GHz 16GB 10066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB Graphics Card). Imagine my surprise when I found that my rendering didn't improve very much. Here's some more specifics.

There is a benchmark page (eofw.org/bench) dedicated to showing how various systems compare after running a test on the Blender application. You can change a few variables such as how many threads you can run based on the number of cores. Also you can use either 32 bit or 64 bit Blender application.

The iMac ran the test at 00:01:04:00 (1 minute 4 secs) on a max of 2 threads on the 32 bit app.

The HP ran at 00:00:25:00 on a max of 8 threads on the 32 bit app.

The Mac Pro ran at 00:00:21:00 on max of 16 threads on the 32 bit app. On the 64 bit app it ran at an impressive 00:00:05:82 (ok..that's like wow fast..but wait).

So the Mac Pro blazes the test on the 64 bit Blender app...but when it came down to real world application of rendering my animations you could not tell any difference between the HP and MAC PRO and very little difference from the iMac. When I look at the activity monitor during rendering I see that the Mac Pro is only using about 150-201% CPU (out of 1600%?)...about 88% system memory being idle...and up to about 350MB of real memory...not much of the processing power available.

Does anyone know what gives here? Is there anyway I can dedicate more processing power to work on this application or is the application itself limiting the processor power that can be applied.

Sorry for the long thread but really need some help here. Thanks.
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Jamie-Jamie

 
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I don't mean to sound critical, but... is there something terribly wrong with a time of five seconds?
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Throwing more cores at an application doesn't exponentially increase the performance..think more cooks in the kitchen..

Most applications are only now beginning to fully utilize 64-bit power and dual/quad cores..so if Blender or other software ACTUALLY use each of the available cores for all the work that needs to be done, the usage would go up and your task would be finished that much sooner..

But this isn't automatic..

Regards
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttaylor37 View Post
So the Mac Pro blazes the test on the 64 bit Blender app...but when it came down to real world application of rendering my animations you could not tell any difference between the HP and MAC PRO and very little difference from the iMac.
Exactly! Many times benchmark results don't always translate well to real world results.

That's why when computer benchmarking articles are written (comparing two or more computers)...they usually try to include some standardized benchmark tests AND real world tasks within specific applications to get a true indication of the capabilities of a computer.

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martyp

 
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You are using a standard 3D card too, I'd recommend getting Quadro FX card for the Mac Pro if you are doing this professionally.

You'll have better rendering onscreen and have full OpenGL acceleration, these cards are basically the standard for 3D modelling.
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chas_m

 
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Agreed with all of the above, but the basic problem is software. The software you're using doesn't appear to be able to utilise more than 4 cores (at least based on what you've written here).

You should probably have a chat with the Blender forum people to see if there's some other way to get more performance out of the 8-core machine you have, or wait for a real 64-bit version of the app (which would thus automatically leverage more cores) to appear.
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thomas998

 
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I think you have missed one small detail in your quest for quicker renders. The software determines how many processor and how much memory the program is going to use. While the imac was the bottleneck to start with you've now moved to the point where the software is the bottleneck.

If you are going to be doing very specific work on your computer and using a specific piece of software to do that job. You would be best served to start with determining what the software supports.

I have 1 old single core PC that runs rings around any dual core I have on a piece of specialized software simply because the software was never made to use dual core processors. If I chained 8 quad-core together I couldn't beat the speed of the old PC because the software would only use 1 processor no matter what I gave it.

Unless I'm mistaken there is no Blender release yet that would give you full use of all the power you have, it would be limited... You might try running windows 64 version on your machine and it might give you an improvement... there are more people doing development work on windows 64 for quad cores than on Mac OS versions... I don't know if they have a stable version for either released though.
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