What's new

Cores … clarification sought

Minsky

Member
I have a lovely (old) 5,1 Mac Pro that is nearing the end :(
So.. I’m looking at what’s next. I’m looking to run fairly large orchestral templates and expect to be running around 128gb ram at least.

The 7,1 new (2019) Mac Pro would work (but is ££££) whilst the iMac is ££. But .. would the 2020 iMac i9 be good enough?
I’m told that single cores performance is the thing I need to be thinking (Logic x) and iMac is better than Mac Pro .. but is that right? I track live guitars quite a lot (being a guitarist)., but what’s the truth if it? It seems like one person says iMac is actually better whilst another says ‘duh it’s the Mac Pro!’ Really I’m seeking some clarification from you kind folks! (* I recognise this is an oft discussed thang and I have looked at previous threads but I’d love the very latest thoughts if possible). Many thanks to those kind types who might give up a few moments to help out. :)
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
The iMac Pro is pretty overpriced now even by Apple standards. I think the iMac i9 and i7 are both better, though when I was looking at them last night I could no longer find the option for upgraded graphics cards, so maybe they are about to be replaced.

I have the 2020 i9 and it’s been very good for my uses. But I needed video editing capabilities as well as audio. Many think the 8 core i7 might be the sweet spot for audio. I’ve had no issues with audio and the slower clock speed of the i9. But I don’t run lots of effects plugins and soft synths. I can say that the i9’s fan has not been a problem for me. It rarely comes on at all when working in Logic aside when I’m bouncing long files.
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
The iMac Pro is EOL. I would not be heading down that route right now if I could help it.
The 2020 imacs are good machines. Not beasts, but given you've been on a 5,1, I would think you would feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

I did a brief test just now of my 6,1 and a 2020 i9 imac, and the imac soundly beats it in pure voices / dsp benching (we have our own set of benching tools for our studios using custom kontakt libs and a bunch of vst's.) The difference wasn't huge though. For our workflow (non VEP) it was around 30% more voices and 40% more DSP processors than the 6 core mac pro.

Re single core performance.

This is most important for real-time audio performance, where as multi-cores WILL help on DSP intensive projects - especially if you are working/mixing as you go in surround or atmos. So we go for a balance - but many here would see the greatest benefit going for the first core having highest performance. YMMV. The topic is WAY bigger than a quick VIC reply.

Much in mac world is changing. All intel machines are coming to their last iterations or are the last iteration currently. If you need a machine NOW, I'd be leaning to the imac. They handle 128GB ram nicely (but no more!).

An alternative is the 6 core trash cans on the second hand market. They are still extremely capable and provide good value for their second hand market rate!

A machine with 128GB ram using m based silicon is on its way, but might be a while off. The folk I've spoken to are remaining tight lipped over max RAM capabilities of the mid tier m-based machines (being referred to as "performance" versions of M1 on rumor forums - often M1X) but every indication is that they'll be limited to 64GB Max for now.
 
OP
Minsky

Minsky

Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
The iMac Pro is pretty overpriced now even by Apple standards. I think the iMac i9 and i7 are both better, though when I was looking at them last night I could no longer find the option for upgraded graphics cards, so maybe they are about to be replaced.

I have the 2020 i9 and it’s been very good for my uses. But I needed video editing capabilities as well as audio. Many think the 8 core i7 might be the sweet spot for audio. I’ve had no issues with audio and the slower clock speed of the i9. But I don’t run lots of effects plugins and soft synths. I can say that the i9’s fan has not been a problem for me. It rarely comes on at all when working in Logic aside when I’m bouncing long files.
That's really helpful. I wasn't really considering the iMac pro. A few years ago I think that would have been a more obvious choice but for now I was looking at the standard iMac range - specifically the 27" 2020 models. Interesting that the 8 core i7 might considered the sweet spot. I always thought 'more cores = better.' I am picking up some differing opinion on that now as I research it. Good to know that your i9 is quiet though.
 
OP
Minsky

Minsky

Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
The iMac Pro is EOL. I would not be heading down that route right now if I could help it.
The 2020 imacs are good machines. Not beasts, but given you've been on a 5,1, I would think you would feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

I did a brief test just now of my 6,1 and a 2020 i9 imac, and the imac soundly beats it in pure voices / dsp benching (we have our own set of benching tools for our studios using custom kontakt libs and a bunch of vst's.) The difference wasn't huge though. For our workflow (non VEP) it was around 30% more voices and 40% more DSP processors than the 6 core mac pro.

Re single core performance.

This is most important for real-time audio performance, where as multi-cores WILL help on DSP intensive projects - especially if you are working/mixing as you go in surround or atmos. So we go for a balance - but many here would see the greatest benefit going for the first core having highest performance. YMMV. The topic is WAY bigger than a quick VIC reply.

Much in mac world is changing. All intel machines are coming to their last iterations or are the last iteration currently. If you need a machine NOW, I'd be leaning to the imac. They handle 128GB ram nicely (but no more!).

An alternative is the 6 core trash cans on the second hand market. They are still extremely capable and provide good value for their second hand market rate!

A machine with 128GB ram using m based silicon is on its way, but might be a while off. The folk I've spoken to are remaining tight lipped over max RAM capabilities of the mid tier m-based machines (being referred to as "performance" versions of M1 on rumor forums - often M1X) but every indication is that they'll be limited to 64GB Max for now.
There's a lot of great information here, thanks! Yeah, I think I'm realistically looking at an intel machine to tide me over until 2nd Gen Mac Pro M1 / M1x (or whatever it becomes) - maybe 3-4 years. I make my money on these machines (in audio) so I need something pretty solid. I could get by on 128 GB (I mean I'm on 96 now so it's be a bit of a leg up on that, though not ground breaking). I had my 2010 5,1 into 'Create Pro' for an update / upgrade so it's now 3.46 6 Core (Xeon) on Sierra. For some reason I don't love iMacs but in terms of power (that's not a New Mac Pro) they would seem to be the obvious place to go. I think I probably do need to move to a new machine now, my system is glitchy and there are issues with sharing files with my co-writers etc.

Re Cores: Right, I'm mixing etc (Tv stuff etc) but not in Surround and not using Atmos. I do track live guitars so I understand what you're saying about opting for a solid single core performance but balancing it with a decent number of cores for DSP.

That's the great unknown, isn't it? I was reading that Apple may have deployed new chips across the range by end 2022 BUT ... that may not be 'useable' Ram configurations. We can't know I guess. In the meantime I'll aim at getting something that works which doesn't feel like dead money in investment terms. Thanks for your superb thoughts!
 
OP
Minsky

Minsky

Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I got a Hackintosh one year ago to fill the gap between now and pro M1 (2, 3) Macs. It emulates an iMac Pro 12core with 128GB and I payed between 3 and 4k €.
That's interesting. Can you tell me more about that? Like where did you get it? Did you have it built for you or do the build yourself? Are you finding it stable? What's your OS? Sorry ford so many questions!
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
That's interesting. Can you tell me more about that? Like where did you get it? Did you have it built for you or do the build yourself? Are you finding it stable? What's your OS? Sorry ford so many questions!
The Morganaut tutorials are excellent. And the machines are very stable / completely fine for use in anger. I wouldn't personally deploy them in a multi-studio setting, but there are studios in london that have...
 

thevisi0nary

Active Member
I know the prevailing wisdom is to get what you need when you need it, but any Intel Mac you get now is going to be incredibly antiquated compared to every machine out there within less than a year. Just something to consider.
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
I know the prevailing wisdom is to get what you need when you need it, but any Intel Mac you get now is going to be incredibly antiquated compared to every machine out there within less than a year. Just something to consider.
Thats not really true.
Apple are going to be supporting the intel based machines for a long while yet. And they won't be antiquated - for example the 2 year old (current) mac pro still hits very similar high marks to any equiv HEDT machine from HP or Dell. And in some cases are better. That kind of machine just doesnt stop being amazing. Most places I know that have invested in mac pro workflows are looking at 7 year life cycle with 5 years worst case scenario / risk management in place. And that is for purchases made today.
Any 27" imac you get is still going to be an extremely capable machine in 5 years time. The issue I see going forward is less antiquation, but more developers who stop building for intel OS, and instead only release M based builds. I can see this happening for the smallest devs (and possibly new devs) first. Larger places like Native Instruments and Steinberg for just two examples, are not dropping intel support any time soon. Read : I think the 5 year timeline is very very safe.
This same intel 27" imac will go up against the similar age intel windows machines in terms of their performance. Windows machines of similar age are NOT going to seem antiquated in even 3 to 5 years. Tech isn't moving as fast as it once did.

Now, this isn't to underplay the importance of the new M based machines. It is a general disagreement with this kind of rhetoric which is rife online, and simply not justifyable.
 

Technostica

Subscription! Get off my lawn.
Thats not really true.
Apple are going to be supporting the intel based machines for a long while yet. And they won't be antiquated - for example the 2 year old (current) mac pro still hits very similar high marks to any equiv HEDT machine from HP or Dell. And in some cases are better.
The CPUs on those were outclassed even when first released.
In some cases AMD were beating them by more than 100 percent.
The GPU side of things was more interesting, but storage, RAM and processors were behind AMD and dramatically so in some areas.

The bar was set low which makes it easier for them to beat it with an ARM based system.
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
The CPUs on those were outclassed even when first released.
In some cases AMD were beating them by more than 100 percent.
The GPU side of things was more interesting, but storage, RAM and processors were behind AMD and dramatically so in some areas.

The bar was set low which makes it easier for them to beat it with an ARM based system.
I guess you and I have very different ideas as to what antiquated means. And what it means to use technology in both businesses and personally to create stuff.
I will happily talk for hours about tech and the like. New stuff is amazing. Yes, AMD have had some real wins lately (although there's all sorts of hoops to jump thru to use AMD for high end audio machines unfortunately - but thats significant costs for larger scale organisations).

However, I push back against the whole "its not cutting edge so its antiquated" kind of idea. Buying tech for personal machines - sure - I get wanting to go the latest / eek out that extra 20%. But that is not for everyone (read, most composers just want a machine that works well and takes the technology out of the way of creativity.). Where the tech just works. And that means the VAST majority get prebuilt machines. And wouldn't know how to even make the hardware they have a tonne better than it is. VI-controllers are an exception. They're engaged a lot more (though there's tonnes here running machines that they are not engaged with on a technical level as well)

The whole apple vs intel vs amd arguments are kinda done as far as I can tell. Important in some ways, but a little boring now - we heard it all yeah? If folk can use the stuff they buy to make what they want to make without worrying about every last technical detail, they will. Its one less thing to worry about (unless the tech side is a hobby. Or they're a creative that works on the technical side as well.)

So - I kinda *DO* get where you are coming from, but I don't think it really is something that most composers need to take into account for a current purchasing decision. Our studios purchased imacs not too long ago because thats what was needed. They're certainly not antiquated in that they will do the job well for the 5 years we need them to.

(And we also love the new m1's for edit rooms. We love our mac pros. I dig the high end HEDT windows machines we've used for some experiential installation. One machine in particular is now 3 years old, but damn its a beast and will last another 5-6 years at least at the very highest end of audio mixes from a technical point of view. I do not care that the 10940 is a few gens old. It works amazing for what we use it for, and the cost of upgrading from a studio point is a damn side higher than just chip replacement.
 

eakwarren

Eric Warren Hobbyist Composer
It'll be interesting to see M1X performance revealed tomorrow in Apple's event and subsequent benchmarking scores. Not for the scores themselves per se, but to understand the amount of improvement over M1. I've heard it may be similar to Intel's tick - tock cycles, where one cycle leaps ahead with a die shrink, and the next optimizes. Rinse and repeat.

If it's significant, then that may affect the "antiquated" argument. Yes, in recent years processor performance innovation has slowed, but could this portent a new era of Moore's Law? (No clue if it will or not.) Five years from now if performance has improved at Moore's pace, and devs have translated that performance into code functionality, "antiquated" could be an accurate description of today's tech.

Nobody knows what the future holds. Will a machine purchased in 2021 do 2021 tasks? Sure! Will we be doing 2021 tasks in 2026? Sure! However, will there be 2026 tasks that 2021 machines aren't able to handle? I sure hope so! :2thumbs:
 

Technostica

Subscription! Get off my lawn.
The CPUs on those were outclassed even when first released.
I guess you and I have very different ideas as to what antiquated means.
I didn't state that they were antiquated which is more of a subjective term.
But the Mac Pro was embarrassingly outclassed in CPU terms on release and that is an objective measurement.
They still had enormous power then and now and for some people they were the perfect choice.
But when you are looking at very high end and high price workstations, that level of performance deficit is staggering.
For HEDT and DAW, not generally an issue, but for the really heavy lifting, they weren't even in the game.

Anyway, highly doubtful that we'll see a workstation platform from Apple today.
But their 2nd gen ARM platforms should be very interesting.
They set the bar so high with the first gen that expectations are high.
 

thevisi0nary

Active Member
Thats not really true.
Apple are going to be supporting the intel based machines for a long while yet. And they won't be antiquated - for example the 2 year old (current) mac pro still hits very similar high marks to any equiv HEDT machine from HP or Dell. And in some cases are better. That kind of machine just doesnt stop being amazing. Most places I know that have invested in mac pro workflows are looking at 7 year life cycle with 5 years worst case scenario / risk management in place. And that is for purchases made today.
Any 27" imac you get is still going to be an extremely capable machine in 5 years time. The issue I see going forward is less antiquation, but more developers who stop building for intel OS, and instead only release M based builds. I can see this happening for the smallest devs (and possibly new devs) first. Larger places like Native Instruments and Steinberg for just two examples, are not dropping intel support any time soon. Read : I think the 5 year timeline is very very safe.
This same intel 27" imac will go up against the similar age intel windows machines in terms of their performance. Windows machines of similar age are NOT going to seem antiquated in even 3 to 5 years. Tech isn't moving as fast as it once did.

Now, this isn't to underplay the importance of the new M based machines. It is a general disagreement with this kind of rhetoric which is rife online, and simply not justifyable.
Not saying it wouldn't be a good machine in it's own right, but compared to everything coming out like we saw yesterday I just think that it implicates the value prospect.
 

Tronam

Member
Despite being Intel based the Mac Pro is not EOL and supply chain rumors suggest they'll be releasing another update to that system next year with newer Xeon chips. They know these systems have a longer than usual lifecycle and will likely continue supporting them for at least 7 years. We will probably see an Apple silicon based version of the Mac Pro alongside it at some point over the next year or two though.
 
OP
Minsky

Minsky

Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
Just curious, how is your 5,1 nearing the end?
Well it's perhaps circumstantial. Actually it's slowing and there are a ton of 'glitches' and problems with fw ports dropping out etc (not good for my Apollo). Mainly my issue is that my writing partner uses a bang-up-to-date version of logic, so when he sends me projects they don't work properly. It's kind pf getting too a place where I can't work / have to keep re-starting the machine etc.
 
OP
Minsky

Minsky

Member
Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Despite being Intel based the Mac Pro is not EOL and supply chain rumors suggest they'll be releasing another update to that system next year with newer Xeon chips. They know these systems have a longer than usual lifecycle and will likely continue supporting them for at least 7 years. We will probably see an Apple silicon based version of the Mac Pro alongside it at some point over the next year or two though.
I agree. Whilst they'll 'support' them .. their main focus will be (I think) the newer ones with apple chips. If I'd had a 2019 Mac Pro for 12 months or more I wouldn't worry - it is as it is.. but I don't want to drop £10k on that kind of machine now I think.
 

Tronam

Member
I agree. Whilst they'll 'support' them .. their main focus will be (I think) the newer ones with apple chips. If I'd had a 2019 Mac Pro for 12 months or more I wouldn't worry - it is as it is.. but I don't want to drop £10k on that kind of machine now I think.
Unless I was running a business and needed one for mission critical work, I'd definitely wait knowing we're probably less than a year away from an Apple Silicon Mac Pro announcement. We might even see it as early as WWDC next summer.
 
Top Bottom