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  • Thunderbolt and the Rumored End of Mac Pro in a VSL Universe

    From a recent Cringely article: "I expect Apple to move to a modular architecture where the building blocks for high performance computers are generally Mac Minis."

    http://www.cringely.com/2011/08/is-the-mac-pro-dead/

    If we could, let's sidestep the "will this happen?" question. Let's just think pure price point. The current Mac Pros are even more expensive than the normally heinous Mac Pro prices. 

    As someone puzzling out his next computer purchase, I'm being persuaded that a wiser purchase in the world of Thunderbolt / Ethernet / VE Pro host and slave configurations is a Mac mini, with a view to several more Mac minis in the future. Why buy the farm when you can build it one corral at a time?

    This may have been true for a while. But let's add another incentive: if the next iteration of VE Pro allows ten times the sample loading from an SSD, I'd think that the RAM limits of the current Mac minis would be less important. Functionally, would a MacMini with 4 GB work as 40 GB, from a sample load perspective?

    I value enlightened, experienced comment on the subject. My CPU ceiling on a Mac Pro 8-core 2.8 from early 2008 isn't getting any higher. 


  • Imo the author shows a lack of insight into how computers work under given tasks, and his projection seem to me to be a very unlikely scenario for quite some time. There are entire business sectors built up around the Mac Pro workhorse (advertising, film, TV, DTP) where a Mac Mini just won't cut it. RAM amount, BUS speed, expandibility and GPU power is not great enough for these tasks to be performed at a level that can compete with a tower Mac.

    Yes, the tech will move on and the next Mini will be better than the current ones, but if you follow the tech dev players and what they have in their 1-2 year pipelines, then there is nothing to suggest this is imminent. He asks why there is no new Mac Pros yet? Well, Intel are getting ready to release their next enthusiast-level line of CPUs (X79 series) in the autumn, which mark the only real architecture that will be a more than a minor incremental step up from the current Xeons, so perhaps Apple is waiting for the chips to be available and in quantity? Or perhaps the persistent rumours about Apple wanting to ditch Intel and move to the microprocessors from ARM are not just rumours? At least the latter could easilly be a significant and very time costly exercise, compatibility and motherboard design taking into consideration. I hope for the former, rather than the latter!

    The Mini is defintely a neat option for computer music though, and very much so as a VE Pro server for that matter, but if you want to use something like MIR or MIR Pro you wont be able to do it on the current models. There will have to be a significant breakthrough in compact RAM size and BUS speed for this to work, and I suspect our good friends at VSL will have come up with something even more spectacular and demanding by the time compact technologies have evolved enough.[;)]


  • I think that the Mac Pro will be here for a good while. However, the market is certainly dwindling. Things that needed a Mac Pro a couple of years ago can now be done with an iMac. Sooner or later there will be no need for server boards for most people, and although that will hit some in the industry, the number will be smaller and smaller as time goes on.

    For example, I have been using a server board with dual CPU for around 4 years. However, my next PC will probably not use a server board at all. The reasons for this are twofold:

    1. Getting the fastest dual CPU machine is great, but the next generation single CPUs are always faster, and usually come out within a year, making my machine obsolete. Obviously it still works fine, but it's not cost effective to replace a dual server machine every year. The single CPU desktops are so much cheaper, so replacing a machine every year, or even more often, is way cheaper.
    2. Server boards can utilise more RAM. This has traditionally been very important for composers who use samples. However, with SSD becoming more mainstream, developers are likely either to set lower pre-load buffers or allow the user to decide for themselves, thus making more than 12GB or so unnecessary. Again this will mean using the "normal" desktop boards will be possible for me.

    Now obviously (at the moment) I'm not using a Mac, but I think the same thinking applies. The boards available for single CPU are so much cheaper (as are the chips) that using them in the new line of Mac Pro (which would be the same as the current generation in name only) would make sense, because not only would they be much cheaper, allowing for a user base expansion that doesn't want to buy into the iMac line, but would also be able to supply the needs of most power users.

    DG


  • i have an iPhone, iPad and iMac. Here's how it worked out for me personally:

    iMac: DAW, with 8GB for Cubase incl. VSL samples (slaves) 

    PC1: 24GB  PC plus Raptors, EW samples plus whatever (Trilian etc.). Breaks all the time thanks to EW.

    PC2: also 24BG and all Raptors. VSL samples rock, never break! Only VSL samples on this box, never broke even once:)

    Did you notice there's not much the from Apple save the iMac?


  • There was an interesting approach in one of the regular columns of Sound On Sound magazine (November issue) - Notes From The Deadline:

    It addressed the general dumbing down and consumerism of everything musical, using an hypothetical future Mac release of OS and music software. It features a composer going to an Apple shop asking for the latest release of Logic Pro, only to be told of its discontinuance due to its not being what the customers needed (the company decides that), and that its more "useful" features (meaning loops, analogue synths, ES2, and other crap like that......) have been incorporated into the new flagship 'Garage Band Pro' "it comes with all the melodies you'll ever need already programmed in...", and "we had a producer in here last week who recorded, mixed and mastered entirely on an iPod Shuffle"....

    Same with the hardware. No more desktops, when even the most complicated ringtone can easily be created on the latest 'iPad 5'... "No more messing around with user-editable files, documents, folders, or any of that rubbish clogging-up your computer. Everything you create and all the ideas you have just get automatically uploaded right into our new personalized App-store for safe keeping, and we allow you to access those files from any device you log into..." (for a small fee).

    Let's not kid ourselves. The computer tower is still the professional's tool of choice - even Mac mini is nothing if not a mini tower. Personally, due to finances I have to resort to the most powerful iMac available (and I'm glad it has some considerable power at least). However, I would go for a proper tower anytime: Processing, RAM capacity, bussing, cache, general architecture, expansion, sturdiness, you can keep it separate and cool in an enclosed area (you don't even have to hear it), your desk is much emptier and features much better monitors (that can pivot for those 50-60 stave-scores, especially now that Sibelius features a Microsoft-type ribbon - brrrr - wasting even more vertical space...) without the iMac being in the way, etc. etc. etc.

    Now if Apple can reduce the Mac Pro power and flexibility to the size, say of that beautiful cube they had brought out all those years ago, and call it Mac midi(?), then maybe we can all say goodbye to the Mac Pro without any withdrawal symptoms. Until then, we can only hope that Job's legacy, and the new top brass at Apple won't be entirely pre-occupied with how to stimulate and satisfy the average 19 year-old cheerleader's needs...


  • You can get a 16 GB upgrade for the Mac Mini from the company called OWC headquartered in illinois.

    There is a long (and current) discussion of using the Mac Mini i7 quad server and Logic 9 in the logicprohelp website forum.  Search "MMS" to find it.  There are about 70 posts in the thread.

    Finally, on that same forum somewhere I found the link to this file:  EvanLogicMultiCoreBenchmark.logic.  All you do is download the .zip file for this, then load it into logic as a new "song."  Unmute tracks one at a time to discover the capacity of your current computer set up before Logic crashes.  The fellow with the Mac Mini set up who started the thread above says he got 65 tracks out of his combo of iMac and MMS.  He says the MMS is just an an ordinary quad Mac with Lion OS preloaded; to turn it into a server you need to run a special set up program that comes with the MMS -- so no special computer knowledge required, and you can run it as a regular Lion computer if you don't run the server set up program.

    If you are handy with a screwdriver, the OWC people offer SSD upgrades, to 6 GB transfer rate at 480 GB size, and two can be installed in the MMS.  I don't know if there are any issues with installing the OS on an SSD as the boot drive.  I also am NOT looking forward (I have ordered an MMS as you may have guessed, to use as a slave for VSL and VE Pro) to anticipated problems with the VSL software under Apple's new OS X Lion.  I have no relationship with OWC, but have had good experience so far -- just passing along information folks.

    Cheers.

    Steve


  • FWIW, almost all mac development at VSL is done with MMS Quad-i7 on Lion.


  • I looks like a great answer.  You just add addition Mac Minis as your needs grow.  Interesting to hear you folks use one.

    S


  • I am currently building a system along the lines of what is described here.

    Mac mini servers as slaves, macbook pro as DAW.  All with 16GB ram in each (it has come down to very reasonable prices the last few weeks.)  SSD's all round.

    So far, testing on the mac mini has shown it to be a very capable system - especially considering is weight.  (I travel for some of my composing work, and want to be able to do EVERYTHING with my portable system! I have 2 mac pros in the studio currently...)

    I will test the current mac mini server to breaking point, work out what part of the tech the breaking point is, and then order further mac minis with specs that "balance" the machines as much as possible.  Thus, is it RAM, CPU or drive space on the SSD's that limits the system first?  I'm still testing, but I'm getting remarkable results.


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    From Mac Rumors yesterday (March 1, 2012):

    "An update to the Mac Pro is of course also contingent upon Apple deciding that it is worth keeping the line alive. The company late last year was reportedly "questioning" the future of the Mac Pro line, examining whether it should continue offering the professional-level workstation as sales have declined amid a continued shift toward notebook machines and specs that had gone stale while waiting for Intel to release updated processors."

    In this same article, MacRumors discusses the soon-to-premiere Xeon E5 as a possible reason why a refresh to the Mac Pro line is coming.


  • So...

    The new Mac Pro comes out, and Thunderbolt isn't even on it. We are left with obtuse comments on an even newer Mac Pro which may come out sometime next year. 


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    @plowman said:

    So...

    The new Mac Pro comes out, and Thunderbolt isn't even on it. We are left with obtuse comments on an even newer Mac Pro which may come out sometime next year. 

    Meanwhile, the new MacBook Pro has two Thunderbolt ports and two USB 3 ports... Our world is upside down.

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    @plowman said:

    So...

    The new Mac Pro comes out, and Thunderbolt isn't even on it. We are left with obtuse comments on an even newer Mac Pro which may come out sometime next year. 

     

    The "new" Mac Pros weren't exactly new either. Just a slight updating of the chips to those that the rest of us have been using for ages, and a drop in price.

    The comments about the supposed new Mac Pro next year did not even specify that there was a new Mac Pro next year. All Tim Cook said was that there would be something very exciting  for the Pro users. That could mean anything. I think that all those people waiting for a new Mac should just get one now, and stop worrying about what's coming up. After all, I doubt that most people would even get close to maxing out the current offerings. [;)]

    DG


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    @DG said:

    The comments about the supposed new Mac Pro next year did not even specify that there was a new Mac Pro next year. All Tim Cook said was that there would be something very exciting  for the Pro users. 

    DG

    Have you seen this : 

    This could be part of  NEW MACPRO !!!! ??????? [;)]

    50 procs in the box !


    MacBook Pro M3 MAX 128 GB 8TB - 2 x 48" - 1 x 27" screen --- Logic Pro --- Mir Pro 3D Dolby Atmos --- Most of the VI libs, a few Synch... libs --- Quite a few Kontakt libs --- CS80 fanatic
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    @DG said:

    The comments about the supposed new Mac Pro next year did not even specify that there was a new Mac Pro next year. All Tim Cook said was that there would be something very exciting  for the Pro users. 

    DG

    Have you seen this : 

    This could be part of  NEW MACPRO !!!! ???????

    50 procs in the box !

     

     Yes I saw that. It looks absolutely fantastic. Never get used in a Mac Pro though.

    DG