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2013 Apple Mac Pro: Video User Comment

2013 Apple Mac Pro

High-end video user Robert B writes:

One of your observations regarding the new Mac Pro is incorrect. The new Mac Pro is NOT designed for video editors.

Real 4K video, and 4K DPX video in particular requires fast and vast RAID arrays, ideally PCIe SAS direct connected. Thunderbolt 1 tops out at 1250MB/sec. A 16 drive SAS RAID delivers 1800MB/sec. Thunderbolt 2 is twice the speed, but where are the Thunderbolt 2 RAID boxes, and how big will the market ever be for Thunderbolt 2 RAID enclosures?

Direct attached SAS or NAS is a vast data market served by many PCIe card and RAID enclosure manufacturers. Thunderbolt is a design fetish niche served by a couple of manufacturers. If you wonder how big the professional data market is or will ever be for Thunderbolt RAID enclosures, look at the Thunderbolt connector itself, and marvel how easy it would be for it to fall out or be pulled out accidentally. Apple could have looked at a SAS connector and asked why professional video editors and data wrangle insist on a positive lock connector.

Apple is "asking" video editors to dump their existing SAS RAID boxes, and either buy a Thunderbolt RAID enclosure or a Thunderbolt to PCIe expansion chassis. The Pied Piper is pie-eyed on its own Kool-Aid if it imagines professionals will keep being dumbed down, first by FCP-X, and now with the Mac Pro mini maxi-cable-expansion box-clutter.

What video editor or image editor wants to be stuck with one Apple chosen frozen video card? Faster, better, cheaper video cards come to market at a speed that would befuddle Apple's MAcPro refresh record, currently coming up on three years.

The new MacPro is a goofy portrait of a narcissistic infatuation with "design" over working reality. What was so unhip about a 6 slot PCIe 3 MacPro with 12 RAM slots and 4 internal SATA 3 drive bays? Who at Apple got fired for suggesting such functionality?

I'll drive my current 12 core MacPro into the ground, as I make the transition into either a generic Windoze or Linux box, joining the unhip mass of video and visual effects professionals who long ago waved goodbye to the bloating Mac OS and high prices of "professional" computers sold by what's now a super-cool phone company.

MPG: Uncompressed 4K with outrageous bandwidth requirements are the province of specialized gear and hardly relevant even in high end terms, being beyond high end! Even uncompressed 2K is a rarity for the vasty majority of video users, and its data rate is only ~230 MB/sec or so. What I mean by “video” is not Hollywood movie production or full-on 4K stuff with $300K of gear to shoot it. Plenty of video is done on laptops and iMacs. The Mac Pro extends that range considerably. Really serious video users should be using racks of cheap Linux boxes.

The vasty majority of professional video shooters are using small cameras or DSLRs or similar to shoot commercial videos, weddings, and so on. Such video can be very high quality and requires modest (even trivial) data rates for 1080p.

The big hit is when transcoding or adding effects, as well as GPU memory, and for the two fast GPUs on the new Mac Pro will “rock”. Two GPUs onboard with specs that rock by current standards will make many happy. These specs are WAY beyond the budget of the vast majority even now.

But for high-end 3D and similar users, the concern is the inability to upgraded the GPUs: even a year from now there might be a faster option.

As far as Thunderbolt, there is no rule that says dual ports cannot be used. TB1 would thus provide 2500 MB/sec and TB2 would provide 5000 MB/sec. One case or two, it’s a matter of suitable hardware, which has to evolve, just as SAS has to evolve. That is the problem for some.

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