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nMP experience?
  
 
Rajan Parrikar
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · nMP experience?


gdanmitchell wrote:
When it comes to the new Mac Pro, count me as very intrigued. In terms of concept and execution, it is a beautiful piece of gear. But I'm not convinced that the actual benefits for photographers are going to be worth it.

It seems like a really fine piece of computing equipment, and its specs are clearly very wonderful. Back in the day when we all, for good reason, believed that we needed a "tower" system or similar in order to get the necessary power for high end work, we would have flocked to such a beast.

But, frankly, today the
...Show more

Why does this sound so familiar? Oh, I remember now - it is similar to the tired 'argument' you make about Zeiss lenses. Why don't you also work in the other direction? One can make do with a system far less capable than an iMac and save even more money, with a penalty of time bearable for the coin retained.

On a separate note -

I received my nMP (6-core, 1TB, 64GB, D700) a few days ago. It is both an aesthetic and an engineering delight. For Photoshop (as of now) it is overkill, but boy does it fly for FCPx.





Jun 07, 2014 at 03:32 PM
15Bit
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · nMP experience?


gdanmitchell wrote:
When it comes to the new Mac Pro, count me as very intrigued. In terms of concept and execution, it is a beautiful piece of gear. But I'm not convinced that the actual benefits for photographers are going to be worth it.

It seems like a really fine piece of computing equipment, and its specs are clearly very wonderful. Back in the day when we all, for good reason, believed that we needed a "tower" system or similar in order to get the necessary power for high end work, we would have flocked to such a beast.

I quite agree - it is a wonderfully spec'd, superbly designed piece of hardware. The problem is, its also very specialised: You are paying for two GFX cards, which very few software packages are able to make use of. This, along with the choice to supply only E5 Xeons, drives the price very high. It is effectively a highly optimised FCP workstation.

I know i just bought an 8 core 3.4GHz Xeon workstation from Dell (for work, not home) and it came out cheaper than the 6 core 3.5GHz Mac Pro. At that sort of price delta, i just couldn't buy an iTrashcan, even though i would love to have that sort of compact hardware on my desk at home.




Jun 07, 2014 at 03:44 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · nMP experience?


By calling the Apple product the "iTrashcan," you suggest that your mind is made up.

It is possible to make a case for or against any of the choices, Apple or other, without "trashing" other options. I think. In fact, that when trying to make a purportedly rational (business?) decision, it is useful to excise that kind of subjective thinking from the process as much as possible.

YMMV,

Dan



Jun 07, 2014 at 03:55 PM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · nMP experience?


gdanmitchell wrote:
By calling the Apple product the "iTrashcan," you suggest that your mind is made up.

Dan


Oh, lighten up, Dan. When I spoke to OWC customer service yesterday regarding an item I wanted, the agent asked which Mac Pro, and I said, "you know, the trash can." He got it right away!




Jun 07, 2014 at 04:03 PM
15Bit
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · nMP experience?


gdanmitchell wrote:
By calling the Apple product the "iTrashcan," you suggest that your mind is made up.

In truth, Dan, my mind is made up for me by the product itself. I am not an Apple hater, though i'll confess i'm much more attracted by the Apple hardware than their OS.

And the nMP is great hardware. In the wider PC ecosystem i have always been happy to pay some extra for good hardware. But it has to offer what i want, which the nMP doesn't - it is too restricted in config, and priced at the top end of the workstation market. In short, there is no way to specify it to perform well for me whilst leaving out a lot of expensive options i don't need or want.

Now if Apple could see fit to start selling nMP's with i7's and a single graphics card, and pitch them at a price-point more like a premium Desktop PC (In effect forming a bridge between the Mini and the nMP), i would become a lot more interested. And i suspect i would not be alone - i think a lot of people would be interested in a stylish compact standalone box with similar hardware spec's to the iMac.



Jun 07, 2014 at 06:01 PM
ggreene
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · nMP experience?


Rajan Parrikar wrote:
I received my nMP (6-core, 1TB, 64GB, D700) a few days ago. It is both an aesthetic and an engineering delight. For Photoshop (as of now) it is overkill, but boy does it fly for FCPx.


I need to try out Pixelmator. Their website says it now supports multi-GPU's and multi-cores. If Apple would ever update Aperture that combo could be a very nice alternative to LR/PS.

15Bit wrote:
Now if Apple could see fit to start selling nMP's with i7's and a single graphics card, and pitch them at a price-point more like a premium Desktop PC (In effect forming a bridge between the Mini and the nMP), i would become a lot more interested. And i suspect i would not be alone - i think a lot of people would be interested in a stylish compact standalone box with similar hardware spec's to the iMac.


Agreed. The iMac's display seems to always be the glaring weakness in that design for a number of reasons. Take that out of the picture and let people choose their own display.



Jun 07, 2014 at 07:47 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · nMP experience?


15Bit wrote:
Now if Apple could see fit to start selling nMP's with i7's and a single graphics card, and pitch them at a price-point more like a premium Desktop PC (In effect forming a bridge between the Mini and the nMP), i would become a lot more interested. And i suspect i would not be alone - i think a lot of people would be interested in a stylish compact standalone box with similar hardware spec's to the iMac.


Apple has been in the high end "desktop computer" market in the past with the Mac Pro line. Back in the day the less expensive systems (like earlier iMacs, and many others), while fine for basic work were not powerful enough for things like serious photography and more. So lots of folks (including me at several times) got those big old Mac Pro systems. I used them for photography, for audio production work, for servers, and more.

But as the capabilities of so-called low end hardware increased, and as the market evolved to make it possible to produce very high performance systems at price points that could not have been imagined before, Apple focused its efforts on smaller systems such as the laptops and the iMacs. Now, if the underlying power of the different classes of computers had remained the same, this might have represented a sort of re-focusing away from so-called power users toward "consumer" users.

But what actually happened was not quite so simple. Because the capabilities of the systems that began as underpowered but portable computers and the systems that began as underpowered by cute and inexpensive computers rose to a level that made them capable for much more serious work, folks who purchased "tower systems" in the past (like me) realized that the real-world advantages to use were minor and not worth the other downsides of those system or were not significant at all.

So, it isn't quite so much a matter of Apple refocusing away from users who require powerful systems with plenty of memory, access to large amounts of storage, great graphics systems, and access to powerful peripherals... as it was that these qualities migrated "down" to the lines that had been regarded as mid- or low-level in the past.

Now it is true that there is still a smaller and smaller segment of users who really do need the very fastest (measured by overall system operation, access to software, etc) systems, and the new Pro system seems to meet their needs if they want to get there via Apple hardware and its Unix-based OS. But this is and will continue to be a much smaller market segment I think. And because Apple feels (and it sure seems like the market agrees) that everyone but the very high end will be served quite well by iMacs, souped-up as necessary, I doubt that they see any need to downgrade the new Pro system for buyers who don't need the no-holds-barred power that it was designed to provide.

By the way, I've almost always owned Mac systems myself, but I've taught applications on both Windows and Mac (OS9 and OSX) platforms, and my answer to the Mac or PC questions (which comes to me frequently for professional reasons) is not always to get a Mac.

YMMV,

Dan


Edited on Jun 07, 2014 at 08:13 PM · View previous versions



Jun 07, 2014 at 08:12 PM
OntheRez
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · nMP experience?


15Bit wrote:
Now if Apple could see fit to start selling nMP's with i7's and a single graphics card, and pitch them at a price-point more like a premium Desktop PC (In effect forming a bridge between the Mini and the nMP), i would become a lot more interested. And i suspect i would not be alone - i think a lot of people would be interested in a stylish compact standalone box with similar hardware spec's to the iMac.


There's an idea with remarkable merit. No doubt the nMP is an engineering and perhaps even an artistic tour de force, but at the moment the software to support it lags well behind (excepting FCP). Something between the mini and the nMP would probably do well in the market, but I think Apple believes the iMac is the answer to that and is unlikely to change. Would love to hear from someone who has run the latest version of Pixelator on the nMP as it supposed has been optimized for the GPUs and the multicores.

Robert



Jun 07, 2014 at 08:12 PM
15Bit
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · nMP experience?


Dan, you are right in everything you say - hardware became so fast and so integrated that almost all systems became "good enough" years ago for most people. That said, Apple have long had an obvious hole in their product line-up: The mid-range tower / desktop. Now I can quite understand why they wouldn't want to compete in this market space in the last 10 years or so, but to my mind a lower spec nMP would be sufficiently unique that they could pick off a good number of "PC" buyers without hurting sales of their other models.

As a disclaimer, i've never owned an Apple desktop. I did get quite close to buying one of the G3/G4 towers many years ago, but since they moved over to Intel hardware my needs have always fallen into that "product hole" in their model lineup. I would probably have an Apple laptop now if my job didn't come with a free lightweight Dell, though.



Jun 07, 2014 at 08:46 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · nMP experience?


15Bit wrote:
Dan, you are right in everything you say - hardware became so fast and so integrated that almost all systems became "good enough" years ago for most people. That said, Apple have long had an obvious hole in their product line-up: The mid-range tower / desktop. Now I can quite understand why they wouldn't want to compete in this market space in the last 10 years or so, but to my mind a lower spec nMP would be sufficiently unique that they could pick off a good number of "PC" buyers without hurting sales of their other models.

As a disclaimer,
...Show more

That's an interest point, that a less-powerful desktop model would seduce more Windows users who are comfortable with that form factor.

While I'm sure there are some folks who might wish to move from the Windows world to the Mac world who might hesitate and believe that the desktop/tower form factor is necessary for sufficient power, I'm betting that there are far more who are attracted by the slim form factor of the large monitor iMacs. I'm also certain (with a bit of experience to back up my hunch) that Apple has looked at that possibility pretty carefully and developed some data suggesting that the appeal of their products doesn't come very much from emulating PC designs.

(The closest they have come to doing a design specifically with PC users in mind, though a different sort than the ones you are thinking of, was the mini. The concept was that it was very inexpensive and small and that PC users could attach their existing monitor, keyboard, mouse, and so forth. But that's a very different sort of beast than we are discussing here—though they do make fine little file servers!)

Dan,

who is going to try to not participate much more in this discussion, if at all, since he knows how easily he could end up being drawn into a discussion of computers rather than of photography! ;-)



Jun 07, 2014 at 10:34 PM
 

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Rajan Parrikar
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · nMP experience?


15Bit wrote:
Now if Apple could see fit to start selling nMP's with i7's and a single graphics card, and pitch them at a price-point more like a premium Desktop PC (In effect forming a bridge between the Mini and the nMP), i would become a lot more interested. And i suspect i would not be alone - i think a lot of people would be interested in a stylish compact standalone box with similar hardware spec's to the iMac.


The old Mac Pro has become very appealing right now to many people because of the price-to-performance ratio. What you don't get there is Thunderbolt but other than that performance-wise it matches, even exceeds, the nMP at a much lower price.

My friend Thomas Pindelski has studied this extensively and even sells used units fitted with powerful processors. See (*) -

http://pindelski.org/Photography/technical/mac-pro/


*I have no financial incentive in this, purely provided here for informational purpose.







Jun 07, 2014 at 11:37 PM
jbregar
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · nMP experience?


I think you over-estimate the market for the 'headless iMac'. For most people, the screen in the iMac is excellent... lots of them are even photographers.

The false consensus effect makes us over estimate how typical our beliefs are. Most people out there just want a computer that works with a minimum of fuss. A built in, good looking screen reduces the footprint and hassle of the machine.

The new Mac Pro is a great machine if you use software that can take advantage of its hardware to the extent that it makes the price reasonable. Most people would be MUCH better served with an iMac. Even power users.

You can always use the built in screen for palettes or the like. Dual head is where it's at.



Jun 07, 2014 at 11:58 PM
Paul Mo
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · nMP experience?


Based on some of the comments, I guess what so many of us are truly waiting for is an improvement in software - speed.


Jun 08, 2014 at 12:27 AM
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · nMP experience?


OntheRez wrote:
... Unlike Alan I didn't get the impression that he doesn’t recommend the nMP, just that he feels the price/performance point is between the 6 and 8 core models. If I read him correctly he is now using one (or more). This is highlighted by his lengthy article on how to transition to the nMP. ....


If you had been reading his blog in the months leading up to his buying the new Mac Pro and the weeks waiting for it to arrive then you would appreciate that he was less than impressed by the change in form factor which results in many external devices and drives and cables cluttering the place up and lots of little case fans and little case power supplies replacing the big and reliable and quiet Mac Pro case. His work would benefit more from superior computing power than multiple graphics processors. He was forced into it in order to keep his web presence current and relevant, but for the photography work he was doing he was quite happy with the previous generation Mac Pro for most things. He was suggesting that people seriously consider the benefits of the old model against the cost and inconvenience of the new model, especially if they could get a refurbished unit at lower than normal cost.

It was also my impression that he really dislikes the way Apple makes arbitrary decisions about usability of their new gear and software that mess people around when instead they could make life easier with better considered and better implemented upgrades.

- Alan



Jun 08, 2014 at 07:07 PM
OntheRez
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · nMP experience?


Alan321 wrote:
It was also my impression that he really dislikes the way Apple makes arbitrary decisions about usability of their new gear and software that mess people around when instead they could make life easier with better considered and better implemented upgrades.



Alan,

I don't keep up with his blog (one can monitor only so many things) but have no doubt that what you're saying is accurate. The entire pushing of the innards to the desktop is in keeping with a long Apple tradition. Jobs wanted the "computer as toaster" with the original Mac. In fact I remember it took no small amount of black magic even to get into the case. The opening of the Mac with the IIc was a major break thru. Apple has gone backwards first with the iMac and now unfortunately with the nMP. I you don't need/want anything more than what can be stuffed into the trashcan, then you have an elegant solution. For those of us with multiple input devices, multiple backup schemes, and/or multiple monitors then the whole things becomes some sort of hydra of cables and wall worts. It's bad enough now with my 2010 MP but at least I can keep most of it under the desktop and use channels and cabling tricks to keep things under control. The nMP? I would love to see how a professional set up deals with this problem.

As for the line you've quoted above, I share the frustration and have vented it frequently at Apple's feedback link, but who knows if it is even read. What is really needed is an alternate to the dumbed down interface that a user must specifically choose (preferably with various options) if they need to do something beyond conducting a "virtual life." Unfortunately I'm not optimistic.

Robert



Jun 10, 2014 at 05:24 PM
15Bit
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · nMP experience?


Robert,

I think the nMP is designed for a networked environment, not so much as a standalone workstation: You cache the files on the superfast SSD to process and then offload them back to the local disk array or cloud when you finish. Then you don't get the mess of cabling.

The one semi-surprising omission from the spec is 10Gbit ethernet, but i guess you can bond the dual 1Gbit connectors to bring up the transfer speeds?



Jun 10, 2014 at 06:11 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · nMP experience?


OntheRez wrote:
For those of us with multiple input devices, multiple backup schemes, and/or multiple monitors then the whole things becomes some sort of hydra of cables and wall worts.

What is really needed is an alternate to the dumbed down interface that a user must specifically choose (preferably with various options) if they need to do something beyond conducting a "virtual life." Unfortunately I'm not optimistic.


I use multiple input devices, multiple backup schemes (three, actually), multiple monitors... and I do not relate to your comment at all.

If you don't like the "dumbed down interface" (which seems to most of us to be a very efficient and effective interface), you are free to drop into the terminal application and futz with the underlying system to your heart's content.

Regarding "do something beyond conducting a 'virtual life'", I wonder if it has occurred to you that perhaps some of us do that? Consider the possibility. ;-)

Dan

(An old story often comes to mind when I read posts like this one. Once, many years ago, a person I know who was a dedicated MS OS user—he worked at MS at a high enough level to occasionally meet with Bill—decided that he was interested in a Mac. So, with the help of some Apple folks I knew, we set him up with an Apple laptop.

A bit later I got an angry call from him. He was really, really upset that he couldn't figure out where in this "dumbed down interface" to enter the alphanumeric configuration strings for his modem. Remember modems? He said much of what you say about the Mac OS—which you are free to dislike, by the way. Once he calmed down a bit I pointed out that he could go to the modem control panel (today called "preferences") and select his modem from the popup menu. He ended up being quite happy that he could set up the modem so easily. There is no reason that it should be difficult.

Complex, arcane interfaces are occasionally necessary. That's why, for example, the terminal app is on your Mac. But they are not virtuous things.)



Jun 10, 2014 at 06:53 PM
aubsxc
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · nMP experience?


gdanmitchell wrote:
Complex, arcane interfaces are occasionally necessary. That's why, for example, the terminal app is on your Mac. But they are not virtuous things.)


Speak for yourself. As a long term (25+ year) Unix user, I can get a lot of my work done more efficiently through the CLI/terminal using the immensely powerful built in command and scripting tools in Unix than I can through any dumbed down interface using a GUI.



Jun 10, 2014 at 07:04 PM
butchM
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · nMP experience?


I think if I had to accomplish most of my tasks in the digital realm via the terminal app ... I would not be enjoying the experience as much as I do now. While the CLI/terminal method may indeed be more powerful ... I seriously doubt the end results would be much better than resorting to the "dumbed down interface using UGI" method of completing the tasks.


Jun 10, 2014 at 07:24 PM
Rajan Parrikar
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · nMP experience?


OntheRez wrote:
I you don't need/want anything more than what can be stuffed into the trashcan, then you have an elegant solution. For those of us with multiple input devices, multiple backup schemes, and/or multiple monitors then the whole things becomes some sort of hydra of cables and wall worts. It's bad enough now with my 2010 MP but at least I can keep most of it under the desktop and use channels and cabling tricks to keep things under control. The nMP? I would love to see how a professional set up deals with this problem.
Robert


I have just set up a nMP and my requirements match what you cite above - multiple input devices, multiple backup schemes, multiple monitors (on occasion). The hydra problem is easily solved with cable ties, both twist and Velcro, a little thought about layout and 10 minutes of your time. A Tripp Lite USB3 hub attached to the nMP keeps things well organized and within easy reach; you don't have to reach for the backside everytime you need a port.

Also - I don't know what you mean by dumbed down interface. I love Mac OS X, quibbles notwithstanding, and wouldn't have it any other way.




Jun 10, 2014 at 08:00 PM
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