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Stop the CUDA panic! Adobe CC, Resolve, et al work fine on the new MacPro! [Updated]

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  -that’s doubled up in the new MacPro  – 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 – you guessed it – 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?






58 responses to “Stop the CUDA panic! Adobe CC, Resolve, et al work fine on the new MacPro! [Updated]”

  1. Terry S.

    Hopefully this will put to rest all the fears of the cynics that believed that Apple does not care about Professionals!

    I am really impressed with Apple. They really took the leap and built one brilliant machine! If any system could be the Windows Workstation killer – this is it!

    They removed the flaws of the compact design. Remember the Cube? Even Lee Clow (TBWA/Chiat/Day), God bless him, promoted the design – and it was a wonderful design – but plagued with poor air-cooling issues. And many owners found their machine burning up on their desk. Apple revolutionary “Thermal Core” and innovative fan design fixes this problem. The quietness of the fan will have be tested in person – but Apple claims they fixed that issue too. How many have roaring PowerMac/MacPro towers in their studios? All those fans get revving – man is it loud! Unless you can work well in a refrigerated room, most of us have had this issue.

    Thank you Apple for putting 6 Thunderbolt ports on this machine! For all you who wanted the latest connectivity – we got it now! USB 3.0 (4x), TB 2.0 (6x), GigE (2x), HDMI 1.5. No FireWire but who is really using FW now. But if you do there is already an adapter for that.

    I cannot wait until next year’s NAB – this will be a real game changer for the industry!

    1. Shameer M.

      Unfortunately, from what I have been reading, there are as many cynics today as there were before the unveiling of this new Mac Pro. It is a shame. This thing looks like a beast.

      1. Terry S.

        I hear you friend! You revolutionize their editing software for the modern capture devices, cameras, and delivery methods, you practically give away the best Creative Tools on the market, and now totally improve and surpass every workstation made so far – and all they do is complain! I really give up these people who won’t see that they have an awesome thing here – this year is really about the Professional user and Apple Software development, Adobe Software, and Apple Computer development teams have really stepped up to the plate. It’s crazy not to embrace it all!

  2. Christian Wilby

    Just installed FCPX, Motion 5 and Compressor 4 on Mavericks and they all opened – very fast… God alone know what they will be like in the new Mac Pro 🙂

  3. David Maier

    So… what gives you the idea the FireGL outperforms the best Cuda cards? The link that you posted gives a comparison with the one of the smallest, cheapest entry level Nvidia Quadro cards on the market.
    You can also read up on the abysmal performance of Open CL with AMD compared to CUDA on certain applications. Can it be fixed with driver update. Maybe, maybe not. But, as usual, the lack of choices is very bad and yet another attempt by Apple (just like TB) to bully you into one and only one way of doing tings and if you don’t like it – hit the highway. Unacceptable to me, I am not happy.

    1. Philip

      I was wrong about the GPU comparison but you are wrong about OpenCL as it will be in that computer when it ships. If you’re not happy, go buy something else. It’s simple, but I think you’ll find the overall design of the new MacPro is more than the sum of the parts in isolation. That’s what you’re not taking into account.

      1. Andrew Richards

        You weren’t wrong about the comparison. The W5000 is a the entry level FirePro for the W-series, the smallest and cheapest in the line. It competes directly with the K2000, thus the comparison in your link is a fair one. Perhaps AMD cherry-picked a comparison for that page that favored them the most, maybe the higher end cards didn’t show as well against their Quadro competition at higher price points, who knows? I looked for an unbiased comparison at AnandTech, but all I could get was an article previewing a shootout:

  4. Bill Thompson

    Now, if only Apple can get Final Cut Pro X to do something radical like scroll the timeline during playback, or let me view audio and video palettes at the same time, or have a feature from the 80s called “Custom Guides” that let you put “guides” on the viewer so you can “line things up”.

    The difference between Apple’s OS X app development before becoming a huge seller of phones and pads and after becoming a huge seller of phones and pads is stark.

    Apple used to justify the premium for their hardware by developing amazing software, and Windows sucked bad. Final Cut Pro was the industry standard for years. They dropped the ball on that, big time. So if you are an Adobe customer and a Resolve customer, what does the new Mac Pro get you that you can’t get with a Windows PC and how much more does it cost you?

    It’s the same question everyone makes when buying a dedicated workstation, except now you have this whole “no internal drive bays and no PCI expansion slots” added to the formula. You want 20 workstations with everything self contained, or do you want 20 Mac Pros and 20 external Blu-ray drives, and 20 PCI chassis for Red Rocket and AJA cards, and 20 external SSD hard drives…?

    I have a 2008 Mac Pro and I’ve been able to use this thing for 5 years BECAUSE of the PCI slots. If the new Mac Pro is $4K, I’m going to be pissed in 2 years when the next big GPU comes out and I can’t get it.

    1. Philip

      You do realize just how slow your 5 year old MacPro is compared to *any* current mac (including the MacBook Air). The upgrade thing is a fallacy because you can’t upgrade the internal bus or other design features. Buying and holding a computer for five years is just insane, and very bad economics.

      If you’ve got 20 workstations you should be using a SAN via TB/Fiber. If you have 20 people burning blu-ray every day, then you’ve got some incredibly bad workflow designs going on. (You need my help in designing a workflow that’s efficient, it would seem).

      Or, perhaps more accurately, you’re playing the old “straw man” game to give you an argument. I don’t buy it Bill.

    2. Chris Wilby

      I too have an 2008 Mac Pro and the expansion capabilities in it have been relatively wasted on me. I wanted it for the cpu grunt and the ability to change graphics cards when they got better. Never really needed all of that wasted space. I have a esata raid for my HDs hanging out the back. The new Mac Pro will be an absolute godsend for people like me. Bill I’m afraid your a dying breed… there’s always Windows if you fancy giving it a go :-0

  5. peter gabriel

    forgive me if someone has already made this comment but the whole CUDA issue really has more of an impact on After Effects users as I believe it is necessary for raytracing.

    1. Philip

      I think you’ll find that’s not true of AE CC. Adobe have been doing a lot of OpenCL work – enough that they’re presenting on the topic to WWDC this week.

  6. My 2008 Mac Pro with a 5870 handles native REDCODE RAW way better than my brand new maxed out 15″ rMBP. So don’t discount old Macs as “slow”. 5 years is normal for keeping a workstation, not insanely long.

    This new Mac Pro will be a killer machine, I’ll buy it the moment it is released, but don’t pretend every new Mac is any more powerful for video editing than my 2008 tower.

    1. Terry S.

      Ben – I think Philip is correct with the modern macs surpassing the older Mac Pros – especially with workflow. And having a workstation for 5 years is a long time – believe me. I’ve done it! Never again! In five years your OS upgrades 3-4 times, your creative tools upgrade 4-5 times to the point that they won’t support your system. It’s a fatal move my friend! No way to run a business. 2 years is tops for me now.

    2. Andie

      “My 2008 Mac Pro with a 5870 handles native REDCODE RAW way better than my brand new maxed out 15″ rMBP. ”

      LOL… what complete nonsense. I also have both and nothing could be further from the truth! You clearly don’t even know that RED is *CPU* and NOT GPU intensive! Maybe try using something other than USB 2.0 or get your rMBP checked… big time.
      A classic Balser.

  7. A big part of the criticism around this MacDarthPro is utterly ridiculous.
    It’s too small. It will have too many wires in the back (just like my MacPro has right now). It looks like a trash can. It’s going to be noisy (you did hear it, right?). It’s too expensive (huh?) No expansion options (6 TB ports!). No CUDA (thx Philip). It has just 4 USB ports. USB ports! …and the crazy train goes on & on.
    All this without really testing or working with Lord Vader at all.
    I guess they really don’t want Apple to make a comeback to the pro market, at all costs.

    1. Terry S.

      Snow – I think they all are still mad at Apple for Final Cut Pro X. But they should not hold the Hardware development team responsible for this. Besides FCP X is a fantastic app and is developing nicely and will suit most needs of the industry soon. The new Mac Pro is one Rock Star of a Machine! They really should give it a chance. I think most just wished they could make a PCI-Express Card solution for Thunderbolt 1.0/2.0 (which seems unlikely). Apple wanted to create a machine that would set a new standard for now and the future of releases. We’ve had that huge case for ages now. We need to move on!

  8. I do not write a leave a response, but I browsed through some comments here Stop the
    CUDA panic! Adobe CC, Resolve, et al work fine on the new MacPro!
    . I do have a few questions for you if it’s allright. Is it just me or does it give the impression like some of the responses come across like they are left by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting at other places, I would like to keep up with everything new you have to post. Would you make a list of every one of your social community sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    1. Philip

      I mostly post here. I’m on Twitter at PhilipHodgetts, and facebook/philiphodgetts will also find me.

  9. Philip, do you have a link for the stats of AMD’s current card outperforming the fastest nVidia card?

    That AMD page compares the FirePro to the K2000… which is hardly the fastest nVidia card!

  10. rich

    To CUDA or not to CUDA…. more to the point

    The design of the new mac pro reflects Apples desperation to be seen as “revolutionary”. A point not too subtly underlined by them calling 10.9 Mavericks.

    Apple don’t care whether it has internal expandability or not – it looks revolutionary.

    And they don’t care if you care… they are revolutionaries… that innovate

    1. Chris Wilby

      What? Are you serious?

  11. John the Rabib

    Honestly I just wish Apple,would get with the program and cater for existing users who wish to upgrade without buying truckloads of replacement gear that effectively will double the immediate buy in price.
    Providing the opportunity for customers to easily adapt workflow and existing ancillary hardware to suit existing purchased software, and max out that soft wares performance is not something Apple should be ignoring or avoiding. The insane mismatch between software and hardware generations is counter productive. The ability to install graphics cards and drives that best suit the production needs of today, without sacrificing tomorrows needs is poor development practise.
    Folks have hung out for better hardware because the recent MacPro hardware doesn’t effectively max out existing software or workflow needs. The new 2013 MacPro presented will push some existing software to these limits whilst breaking many other tools, but will also fall short of future software a needs without delivering an effective future upgrade path.
    For those who think the graphics cards are the bees knees, and that thunderbolt is an adequate upgrade path, the issue with thunderbolt for external PCI-e graphics is latency. Already there are indications that thunderbolt severely restricts upgrade options – only graphics cards that have the ability to slow down and sync with the thunderbolt bus can be used, and thus effectively only de-tuned cards can be used. Unless the new MacPro is priced at less than an mid spec iMac, the annual upgrade cost to remain current will be the dearth of the MacPro with only hobbyist showoffs and large organisations purchasing it.
    Looks good but one step shy of meeting the needs of the entire MacPro userbase who have been hanging out for a MacPro refresh.
    The addition of a single additional Internal PCI-e port (3.0, or 4.0) would add just enough flexibility to facilitate mass upgrades. I can’t imagine any purchaser being put of by a small increase in form factor size to meet the space or cooling requirements to provide for such a card. Addition of this slot would not detract from the external expansion industry, rather complement it, by enabling the user. The cost to Apple to provide for this change um increased sales and profits. The alternative er- five years of the 4,1 and 5,1 MacPros being sold secondhand, or mass migration to unix and windows boxes.
    Get With Our Program Apple, PLEASE.

    1. Philip

      I will – once again – point out that in no Mac ever have you been able to run more than 2 Graphics Cards at full speed. Not one thing is being taken away on that front.

  12. Kittihawk

    Using an old Mac is also more environmentally friendly – does that ever cross anyone’s mind? The amount of materials from rare earths to gold in these things, not to mention the production hours it took someone to make and the fuel and water used and the transport used – come on people this is the 21st Century – we are wrecking the planet – do your bit!

    I’ve been using a 2007 mac pro quad core intel, upgraded occasionally, with new graphics card and Solid State main drive and it runs Premiere Pro CC absolutely fine on all media from Red to AVCHD. The only problem I have is that this model will only upgrade to Lion and not Mountain Lion so it probably is near the end of its life as an editing machine BUT after that I will still run it for photos and word processing etc.

    1. Philip

      Holding on to older computers is definitely environmentally friendly but it’s highly non-productive. You’ll find any modern mac will seriously outperform (like better than double) any current Mac Pro. They are dog slow compared with any iMac or MacBook Pro.