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State of software support for eGPU acceleration
 

State of software support for eGPU acceleration  

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Halbertus
(@halbertus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

To all the other tech enthusiasts of the eGPU community,

I am curious in which real world applications actually gain any performance by adding an eGPU to our setups.
So far my journey running macOS has been quite disappointing:

My list of software that as of now does not benefit from eGPU in my experience:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Final Cut

I was hoping to improve my video playback performance when editing 4K Multicam projects. So far by lack of any real software support my eGPU setup feels kind of useless.

Lets hope for updates on this matter soon!

What are your experiences?

Concerning games I was able to see some load on my external RX580 improving frame count when compared to stock GPU, nevertheless I am usually still getting double the fps when booting into bootcamp and using the internal D300s of my Mac Pro. Same for the usual gfx benchmarks: unigine valley and heaven

MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015 w/ AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Mac Pro 2013 D300 + ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS ROG VEGA 56
[email protected] Dell UP2715K


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joysthokkins
(@joysthokkins)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

DaVinci Resolve🔥

rMBP 2014 750m 10.14.6
i9 9900k "Hac Pro" with Vega 56 and Sonnet Breakaway 650 with Sapphire Vega 64 –> iMac 2009 as display

DaVinci Resolve Studio 16.1b3 | FCPX 10.4.6


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Username
(@username)
Estimable Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

eGPU support:
PhaseOne: Capture One
Hasselblad: Phocus

Present: 2012 Mac mini + PowerColor RX 56 Vega Nano @10Gbps-TB1 +
PowerColor eGFX Mini 180F via TB3->TB2 adapter + macOS Mojave

Previous: 2012 Mac Mini + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder3 via TB3->TB2 adapter) + macOS


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Chippy McChipset
(@chippy-mcchipset)
Reputable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Can confirm most of the above statements.

  • Adobe apps do nothing with eGPU currently even though you may see some sign of the eGPU being recognized in preferences in some apps.
  • Final Cut Pro X 10.4.1 or later *should* work, but I'm not positive that recent bug has been worked out. If it doesn't work now, it will soon; I can almost guarantee that. FCPX is Apple's "showcase" app for this technology (in theory).
  • DaVinci Resolve 14.x and 15.x work out of the box with single or multiple eGPUs. For Windows on a native PC, if you have an NVIDIA card, pretty much everything should be supported. On macOS, I think it's limited to non-RED workflows (i.e. doesn't help with debayer process or RED transcoding but helps with everything else — can verify it accelerates Timeline Fx and grading processes).
  • I don't think it works in R19, but Cinema 4D R20 (later this year) is being designed to use multiple eGPUs, based on a demonstration late last year for Digital Arts UK.  That demo was running a beta version that was originally slated for release in January but that never happened. So now it's wait for R20 based on best info available.

Thunderbolt 3 Macs, Sonnet and OWC eGPUs, 4K Displays, etc


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Alexosaurus
(@alexosaurus)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

Hey guys, just to confirm, adobe apps don't use egpu, even if they are on the screen connected to the egpu?

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


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Chippy McChipset
(@chippy-mcchipset)
Reputable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: Alexosaurus

Hey guys, just to confirm, adobe apps don't use egpu, even if they are on the screen connected to the egpu?

Correct. Not a question of connectivity but of the apps not being optimized for the technology yet.

Thunderbolt 3 Macs, Sonnet and OWC eGPUs, 4K Displays, etc


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John_Hillier
(@john_hillier)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Besides the benefits of having more computational power to model, animate characters, partical, fluid and hair effects with an eGPU, theirs plugin software  https://pro.radeon.com/en/software/prorender/ that works with high end software. As well AMD Radeon Rays lightmapper is supported by Unity 3D  https://blogs.unity3d.com/2018/03/29/amd-radeon-rays-integrated-into-unitys-gpu-progressive-lightmapper/

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


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Twister
(@twister)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: joysthokkins

DaVinci Resolve🔥

Does your mbp run Resolve OK? Which Processor? I just bought a 2.5ghz 2014 mbp on Ebay and I'm hoping it can do better with Resolve than my 2012 mac mini which crashes the moment I try to import a file.

2012 Mac Mini 2.6/OSX 10.13.6/Sonnet Echo Express Pro TB1/Nvidia GTX 960 2GB
2014 MBP 750M/OSX10.13.6/Aorus Gaming 650ti w/TB2-TB3 adapter


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nanoBit
(@nanobit)
Trusted Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Can confirm that FCP 10.4.2 does not benefit at all. My measurements with the BruceX Benchmark:
(measurements are averages of 3 tests per configuration; hardware specs see signature)

D/C unplugged, without eGPU: 74,33 seconds
D/C plugged in without eGPU: 75,33 seconds
D/C plugged in with eGPU: 73 seconds

Results of the LuxMark OpenCL benchmark:
D/C unplugged, iGPU: 2603
D/C plugged in, iGPU: 2583
D/C plugged in, iGPU + eGPU: 17572
eGPU: 15165

This shows that OpenCL is possible to use with the eGPU (even though it is an nVidia GPU which still has some incompatibilities) but isn't used right now. 

In case anyone is interested in: I made the BruceX benchmark with Compressor 4.4.1 , too. The result is the same: no eGPU effects. Measurements:
(again every configuration tested 3 times. Used the Apple ProRes 442 Presetting to export the BurceX-File. Quit Compressor after every export to prevent caching effects. Final Cut was opened in the background, turned off background rendering.)

D/C unplugged, iGPU: 92,33 seconds
D/C plugged in, iGPU: 95 seconds
D/C plugged in, eGPU: 98,33 seconds

Setup: MacBook Pro 2018 15" 2.6GHz Radeon Pro 560X on macOS 10.14 & Windows 10 (Bootcamp); Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350 with a Zotac GTX1080 AMP! Edition


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mar_kelp
(@mar_kelp)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

FYI - the Activity Monitor in OS X now has the option to show GPU Activity. You need to display it from the menu item (View->GPU History). Once it is up it will graph the GPU usage for each of your active GPUs (mine shows separate graphs for my RX 580 eGPU and Intel Iris Plus 650 in my 13" MBP). This is an easy but not detailed method to see which Apps or plug-ins are taking advantage of the eGPU….

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + RX 580 Gaming Box + macOS 10.14.3 and Windows 10 (BootCamp with rEFInd)


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Chippy McChipset
(@chippy-mcchipset)
Reputable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: mar_kelp

FYI - the Activity Monitor in OS X now has the option to show GPU Activity. You need to display it from the menu item (View->GPU History). Once it is up it will graph the GPU usage for each of your active GPUs (mine shows separate graphs for my RX 580 eGPU and Intel Iris Plus 650 in my 13" MBP). This is an easy but not detailed method to see which Apps or plug-ins are taking advantage of the eGPU….

Yep I've done that as well in some of my testing. It also helps to understand in the apps that do support eGPU, which features benefit and which don't.

Thunderbolt 3 Macs, Sonnet and OWC eGPUs, 4K Displays, etc


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hyperlinked
(@hyperlinked)
New Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

I know Capture One Pro is supposed to be supported, but when I tried the BlackMagic eGPU with my 2016 MBP and an LG 5K Ultrafine monitor, the results were dismal for catalog management (browsing photos) and modest for exporting images. 

I saw about a 20% improvement over the onboard Radeon 460 of my 2016 MBP when exporting images, but when browsing my rather large photo catalogs, it was actually SLOWER. Previews took longer to generate and there would be more stutters when navigating. Trying to advance too fast through the catalog would result in preview images to be blacked out. I got the eGPU to help me speed up my editing workflow and it did exactly the opposite and by quite a significant factor too.

I mostly used the BlackMagic eGPu with my MBP in clamshell mode so the only display that had to be driven was my 5K Ultrafine monitor. 

Browsing in Capture One Pro is highly CPU dependent. I presume that the eGPU is of little help because the pixels have to go back into Capture One Pro before going back out to the monitor and browsing isn't really that taxing on the onboard GPU so adding an eGPU merely adds an additional source of latency. 

I have no idea what I'm talking about BTW. I'm just guessing because I'm having a hard time understanding otherwise how a GPU that has 2x the processing power of my onboard GPU is actually making things slower.

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


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Chippy McChipset
(@chippy-mcchipset)
Reputable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Not to be a downer but if you have the option of returning the Black Magic eGPU, I would. Check out one of the well-liked "open" solutions found on this board: Sonnet 550W / 650W models, AKiTiO Node and Node Pro, etc. From there you can add a much more powerful card, then a year or two down the line, upgrade the card, no problem. Presumably you bought the BlackMagic box within the last 30 days, so worth considering IMO.

It's not a great solution for pro workflows. Not sure why Apple agreed to promote it other than the fact it uses an AMD card. It's outdated out of the box and not upgradeable. Probably its best attribute is that it's going to be a little quieter than other eGPUs, and I guess it "looks cool" if that's a criteria for you.

Thunderbolt 3 Macs, Sonnet and OWC eGPUs, 4K Displays, etc


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JLSMedia
(@jlsmedia)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: Chippy McChipset

Not to be a downer but if you have the option of returning the Black Magic eGPU, I would. Check out one of the well-liked "open" solutions found on this board: Sonnet 550W / 650W models, AKiTiO Node and Node Pro, etc. From there you can add a much more powerful card, then a year or two down the line, upgrade the card, no problem. Presumably you bought the BlackMagic box within the last 30 days, so worth considering IMO.

It's not a great solution for pro workflows. Not sure why Apple agreed to promote it other than the fact it uses an AMD card. It's outdated out of the box and not upgradeable. Probably its best attribute is that it's going to be a little quieter than other eGPUs, and I guess it "looks cool" if that's a criteria for you.

As someone who is getting rid of a loud gaming PC and wanting to move to an eGPU solution to take care of both work and fun needs, quiet is definitely a huge selling factor. I've been looking at the Blackmagic, it's a little underpowered for sure, but it does run whisper quiet with a ton of IO and a card good enough to do the basic to mid level stuff. It scrubs video in FCPX much more smoothly, it boosts speeds of any dGPU Apple with put in their laptops for at least a few years longer I would think, it takes tons of heat and noise out of the laptop and puts it into the eGPU making your system last longer, and the same perks apply to any gaming needs as well. (Specially if you can stream and game using it, which would torch the innards of a MBP) So tho it's definitely a bit slower than a Vega 56, it's still beefy enough to handle most peoples needs I would think, and that sounds like a very Apple move. I'm sure they'll update with a Vega 56 next year as well, also sounds Apple to roll stuff out a lil slower.

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


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Chippy McChipset
(@chippy-mcchipset)
Reputable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

If quiet operation is a big deal then it does make more sense, but I can tell you running a much more powerful Radeon RX Vega 56 card in one on of the boxes with the large cooling fan like the Sonnet, is definitely quieter than most desktop PCs. It's not going to be as quiet as the Black Magic probably (especially if microphone nearby) but they're fairly silent and only spin up to noticeable levels when being hit by a big workload for an extended period of time. I wouldn't say they're recording level silent but in terms of annoyance / being noticed, they're pretty quiet.

You're probably right about updating to something equivalent to Vega 56 next year, though.

Thunderbolt 3 Macs, Sonnet and OWC eGPUs, 4K Displays, etc


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