The preview of the new MacPro has, not surprisingly, polarized “the Internet”. It is however exactly the computer I thought Apple would produce for a new MacPro. Well, the tubular design was a surprise, but the lack of internal drive space, expansion slots were no surprise. But the lack of NVIDA “cards” and therefore CUDA support, has alarmed many, quite needlessly.
CUDA is a language NVIDIA developed to allow app developers to directly call the card’s hardware layer. It is this layer of direct call that Adobe leveraged so well with Premiere Pro CS5 and the Mercury Engine. At the time they were developing the Mercury Engine, OpenCL was way too immature to use a foundation. CUDA was the only viable alternative.
Since then OpenCL has matured and does for Final Cut Pro X, what CUDA does for Adobe’s Mercury Engine. Similarly, NVIDIA have been adding more OpenCL support to their hardware, and Adobe have been adding OpenCL support to the Mercury Engine.
More relevant and important is that the specific AMD GPU Â -that’s doubled up in the new MacPro Â – is a powerhouse performer for Adobe Creative Cloud apps (specifically Premiere Pro), outperforming the current best NVIDIA card.
Others worried that Blackmagic Design’s Resolve required CUDA and yet, Grant Petty, Blackmagic’s CEO said on their blog:
We have been testing with DaVinci Resolve 10 builds and this screams. Its amazing and those GPUs are incredible powerful. I am not sure what I can say as I am only going off what Apple has talked about publicly here in the keynote for what I can say right now, however there is a whole new OpenCL and DaVinci Resolve 10 has had a lot of performance work done to integrate it and its really really fast. Those GPUs are very powerful and have lots of GPU memory so this is the Mac we have been waiting for! We have lots of Thunderbolt products too so video in and out is taken care of.
I’m guessing that “whole new OpenCL” might also be a clue to the ease of future integration. So, no Creative Cloud problems: Resolve’s issues, resolved. And the Foundry bringing their 3D painting app to OS X.
It seems to me that the concerns over a lack of direct support for a proprietary hardware call, are misguided. It appears there is not only improved OpenCL in the OS, but improved support for it on NVIDIA hardware as well. Crisis averted, again.
UPDATE: Adobe’s Al Mooney weighed in on his Adobe blog:
Finally, please note that Premiere Pro CC has support for multiple GPU configurations on export (only one is used during playback) so having more than one GPU will speed up your output times. This means that â€“ you guessed it â€“ Premiere Pro will utilize the dual-GPUs in the new Mac Pro when exporting to an output file. Indeed, our very own David McGavran will be talking about our OpenCL improvements at WWDC on Thursday.
I added the bold! You think Adobe might know a little about OpenCL these days?