eGPU.io Community
Old hand seeks advice and new ideas
 

Old hand seeks advice and new ideas  

  RSS

(@christopher_wells)
Active Member
Joined: 5 months ago
 

Hey Folks,

On the fence as to whether to wait for the Mac Pro or look for an eGPU for my base iMac Pro (64GB). I say wait, but not sure I want to pay those prices.

Ideally I'd like to plug something hot into my existing iMac Pro. I run After Effects, C4D, Houdini, Photoshop (80k textures) etc. In saying that 64GB of RAM is not enough either, so perhaps an eGPU upgrade might be futile.

I'll be reading user experiences to see if I can find my way through this minefield  When I built my first PC in HK 35 years ago, an 8087 was the way to go, then when I worked at Autodesk, Weiteks were all the rage. How things have changed.

Nice to meet you all.

Best wishes,

Chris from London. 

 

 

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
psonice
(@psonice)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Your iMac Pro supports 256GB, so probably worth looking at upgrades. Other than that, it depends entirely on where your workflow is constrained, and by how much. If editing is slow you need to know whether your CPU is maxed out, or if it's the GPU, or if it's just out of memory and waiting for disk.

If it is the GPU, you'll want to know if you're compute or bandwidth constrained, because with the former adding eGPUs will help, with the latter it might make things worse. Also you'll want to check if your software supports multiple GPUs, because the built-in one in your iMac is pretty fast. If it just moves all the work to the eGPU you won't see a huge speed up, and the lower TB3 bandwidth will eat into that benefit. If it supports multiple you might see major speedups.

Also worth bearing in mind whether you're constrained while editing or while waiting for rendering - if it's the latter a small render farm might be the way to go (set up a few cheap PCs with a lot of CPU cores or a few fast GPUs each and set up your software to dispatch actual rendering to those instead of your iMac). With a render farm, the actual rendering gets done elsewhere and you can work on other things on your own box.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@christopher_wells welcome aboard! 

Where do you find your current set up struggles?
I haven't really used PS in anger for years but I remember when I did it could really eat through ram when working on larger files (I was once asked to work on a 3m tall banner done at actual size 300dpi) taxing the 256gb of ram I had at the time so upgrading yours might be the first port of call.

Rough guess (possibly wrong) CPU wise the Mac Pro and iMac Pro are not going to be worlds apart - the base Mac Pro comes with a much weaker GPU than your iMac Pro so you'd be looking at a mid level MP with the dual Vega cards which will be terrifyingly expensive.

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


ReplyQuote
(@christopher_wells)
Active Member
Joined: 5 months ago
 
Posted by: @psonice

Your iMac Pro supports 256GB, so probably worth looking at upgrades. Other than that, it depends entirely on where your workflow is constrained, and by how much. If editing is slow you need to know whether your CPU is maxed out, or if it's the GPU, or if it's just out of memory and waiting for disk.

If it is the GPU, you'll want to know if you're compute or bandwidth constrained, because with the former adding eGPUs will help, with the latter it might make things worse. Also you'll want to check if your software supports multiple GPUs, because the built-in one in your iMac is pretty fast. If it just moves all the work to the eGPU you won't see a huge speed up, and the lower TB3 bandwidth will eat into that benefit. If it supports multiple you might see major speedups.

Also worth bearing in mind whether you're constrained while editing or while waiting for rendering - if it's the latter a small render farm might be the way to go (set up a few cheap PCs with a lot of CPU cores or a few fast GPUs each and set up your software to dispatch actual rendering to those instead of your iMac). With a render farm, the actual rendering gets done elsewhere and you can work on other things on your own box.

Yes I can upgrade the RAM via 3rd party, worried about the warranty consequences though.

Generally system RAM is the big issue. I can live with CPU maxing out, or the GPU for that matter (although the GPU is mostly a GPU RAM issue - needs more) because you can walk away and get a coffee - but RAM is a different matter as I have to run a memory clean up app sometimes 4 or 5 times an hour, else After Effects for example just seizes up. So if I could change one thing it would be a top up to 128GB.

Re render farms, yep, we own a visual effects facility (we do work for UK and US broadcasters), and we tend to render online when we have big jobs in, so my issues are really related to me buying the almost base iMac Pro, and trying to work out how to make it faster - save buying another (14core, 128GB, 16GB GPU etc) which works out about £9k or so. Not so much an issue for the company as we buy what the job needs, just kicking myself for buying a machine that struggles with anything intense.

Re your other comments, tbh I've not spent time looking at C/GPU utilisation, simply because RAM issues always hit me first.

Appreciate your insight and suggestions.

Chris

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
(@christopher_wells)
Active Member
Joined: 5 months ago
 
Posted by: @eightarmedpet

@christopher_wells welcome aboard! 

Where do you find your current set up struggles?
I haven't really used PS in anger for years but I remember when I did it could really eat through ram when working on larger files (I was once asked to work on a 3m tall banner done at actual size 300dpi) taxing the 256gb of ram I had at the time so upgrading yours might be the first port of call.

Rough guess (possibly wrong) CPU wise the Mac Pro and iMac Pro are not going to be worlds apart - the base Mac Pro comes with a much weaker GPU than your iMac Pro so you'd be looking at a mid level MP with the dual Vega cards which will be terrifyingly expensive.

 

As mentioned earlier, the main issue is RAM. Because we work on big enterprise VFX jobs, everything we touch is pretty humongous size wise. 4k video is fine, the issue for example is wrapping 80x80k textures over spheres for v high res globes for broadcast. Cinema 4D handles it without breaking sweat, but After Effects throws a GPU RAM hissy as soon as you load textures in approaching its 30k hxw limit.  So I need more RAM and more GPU RAM. Prob means a new machine by the time I've opened the box, add new memory, plus finding a reliable 16GB eGPU setup.

Wrt Photoshop, if I load in anything above about 30k x 30k and then select an area with the Magic Wand tool, I might as well hop off to bed for a couple of hours before it comes back job done.

I do believe that these are generally Adobe issues. They seem to have been caught short with the move towards 4k and 8k, not so much in handling the video itself, more the associated increase in image sizes that will support  4k and 8k 100% crops.

Very interested to hear your comments on the Mac Pro. I was wondering how mine would compare with the lower specced Mac Pros. As you suggest, anything meaty is going to be silly money, plus of course, you still need a screen on top of that. Surprised that Apple doesn't give some idea of relative performance - eg where the iMac Pro and Mac Pro overlap - it must be impacting iMac Pro sales whilst folks wait for a release, which in the end might prove at the lower end that an iMac Pro was the right choice in the first place.

Many thanks,

Chris

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
psonice
(@psonice)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@christopher_wells

Didn’t realise the iMac Pro ram isn’t (easily) user upgradable. You can probably just ask the Apple store to upgrade it though, maybe give them a call and ask. 

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
(@christopher_wells)
Active Member
Joined: 5 months ago
 
Posted by: @psonice

@christopher_wells

Didn’t realise the iMac Pro ram isn’t (easily) user upgradable. You can probably just ask the Apple store to upgrade it though, maybe give them a call and ask. 

Alas not - it's been a bone of contention since day 1.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
psonice
(@psonice)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Hmm, the bit I read said authorised repair places can upgrade them. And it is possible, there are standard memory slots inside, it's just hard to access them. It's a bit naff if Apple aren't doing upgrades, but have you checked if there's an authorised repair place nearby? Might be worth asking there. Basically you can buy the memory and install it, you just want somebody certified by Apple to do it so it preserves the warranty.

Alternatively you could do it yourself, from a quick search upgrade kits are available. Probably best done after warranty, and only if you're comfortable taking things like this apart. I've done it with older iMacs (which were fun, you had to lift the screen off with suction cups), the current models are glued which will be less fun.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
(@christopher_wells)
Active Member
Joined: 5 months ago
 
Posted by: @psonice

Hmm, the bit I read said authorised repair places can upgrade them. And it is possible, there are standard memory slots inside, it's just hard to access them. It's a bit naff if Apple aren't doing upgrades, but have you checked if there's an authorised repair place nearby? Might be worth asking there. Basically you can buy the memory and install it, you just want somebody certified by Apple to do it so it preserves the warranty.

Alternatively you could do it yourself, from a quick search upgrade kits are available. Probably best done after warranty, and only if you're comfortable taking things like this apart. I've done it with older iMacs (which were fun, you had to lift the screen off with suction cups), the current models are glued which will be less fun.

Thanks, my business centre say upgrades aren't offered, but you're right, I've seen the service centre thing mentioned online too, but no firm details.

As you say, something for when the warranty has expired.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote