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Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking

  
 
jhapeman
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


OK, so I have the good fortune of having two new Mac Studios. I was on vacation until Sunday so I just got them set up and ran a set of basic tests. I also have two 2019 Mac Pros--a 16-core with dual Radeon Pro Vega II MPX modules and a 28-core with a W6800X MPX module. For travel and home use I have a 16" M1 Max MBP with 64GB of RAM. Finally, I have a 64-core AMD Threadripper 3990x workstation with dual Nvidia RTX6000 cards. As part of my business, we do a lot of 3D rendering, hence some of the big iron, but also a lot of studio photography shooting hundreds of images to focus-stack and/or just edit to upload to our ecommerce website. Faster processing is always a plus in these cases, and they are business expenses, so they are written off.

I needed a minimum of one new computer for a new hire coming up, so moments after the launch I ordered a loaded Studio Ultra with 8TB of storage and 128GB of RAM. After sleeping on it, I went to order lower-spec Ultra and delivery dates had already drifted out three months. Arrghhh! Luckily I was near an Apple Store on the official launch day so that morning I logged in and reserved a base model Ultra for pickup, and managed to grab one before they quickly sold out as well. I had to schlepp it home from vacation on the plane, but with the small box with a built-in fabric strap handle, it was a piece of cake.

First, some basic observations. It's much more attractive than it seemed online. A beautiful dense little cube of computing power. It's really quiet. Not silent--but you need a really quiet room to hear it. It's dense but not super heavy and has a nice heft. Lots of ports, and they're fast--I imported 1465 Sony A1 raw files with minimal previews in just 2:40. That's about 30% faster than the Mac Pro, even though they are all Thunderbolt devices, and the Sony card reader is only USB 3.2, not USB 4.0.

Speaking of speed, now on to some tests I ran with those 1465 Sony A1 raw files. I use lossless compressed raw, so that has some overhead although I'm not sure what--it's irrelevant since I used the same files on all of the machines. On to some graphs. They will all be below, so you might have to scroll back and forth. These are pretty fascinating and should be helpful for those considering the various models of the Ultra.

Rendering Previews: Both the 128GB/64GPU and 64GB/48GPU perform identically. Not surprising as this is mainly a processor-bound task and both have identical numbers of cores that run at the same frequency. What is surprising is that they cleaned up the competition--they both outperformed even the 28-core Mac Pro and the 64-core AMD TR workstation. The slowest was the 16" MBP, and it did get hot and the fans ran (in its defense, the 28-core and 16-core Mac Pro also spun up their fans, and the AMD sounded like a jet engine). Both Studios did spin up their fans slightly but it was very faint and subtle. This is one of the only tests where the M1 Max in the MBP did not scale linearly in performance--my guess is that thermal throttling was at play there.

Exporting full-sized JPEGS: Once again, the two Ultras performed identically, and while the AMD was a slight winner here, it wasn't by much. Also keep in mind that the AMD processor alone cost the same as the entire base model Ultra. Both Studios beat the top of the line 2019 28-core Mac Pro. That's remarkable.

Exporting TIFF files to Topaz DeNoise: I use Topaz DeNoise and Sharpen fairly often, although DeNoise the most often. I'm running the latest beta of DeNoise, which is close to release and fully AS native. The export plugin seems to be constrained to only using six cores, which is how Lightroom Classic used to be for many functions until some recent releases to optimize performance. I don't know if that's still the case for some functions or if Topaz is using some legacy export functionality, but it does limit the scalability of this function as the core count scales and levels the playing field quite a bit. I tested doing a larger number of files with the M1 Max, Ultra, TR and 28-core Mac Pro and it scaled linearly with file count, while never utilizing more than six cores on any of the machines.

Processing files in Topaz DeNoise: This is another surprise test, and shows what well-optimized code can do and/or the advantages of the unified memory architecture and the way the GPU cores are presented to the application when written for Metal. I was surprised to see the Studios beat even the workhorse Nvidia RTX6000. Once again, this is a video card that costs more than the base Studio Ultra. Apple has a reputation for being expensive, but these machines provide amazing power for the price point. It also shows how synthetic benchmarks don't mean a lot compared to real-world results.

Bottom line: Even for large workloads the base Ultra is an amazing workhorse and more than most will need. I suspect the only advantage for a photographer of 128GB of RAM would be if you are doing massive panoramas or HDR merging in LR and/or PS. I'd like to say image stacking as well, but unfortunately HeliconSoft has only limited AS support right now, and uses the deprecated OpenCL functionality, while Zerene is built on a Java Runtime Engine and in my testing was always slow as a dog as a result. I'm hoping that one of them will finally get around to updating their software but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have and if there's a reasonable test you'd like me to try, I can see what I can do. My personal recommendation is if you can spring for the Ultra, do so for the base model but unless you've got extra money needing to spent or massive needs for memory I'd suggest the 128GB of RAM and anything more than 48 GPU cores are unnecessary.


























Mar 21, 2022 at 09:46 PM
amv8
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Very interesting and helpful. If you get a chance to do some Photo Merge tests (HDR and/or panorama), I'd like to see those comparisons. I preordered the base Ultra on announcement day, but I'm not expecting it till late April.


Mar 21, 2022 at 11:36 PM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Great tests, thanks!
Any chance you'll be able to throw a big focus stack at these to compare using PS rather than Helicon or Zerene? In my (somewhat rare) use that is what pushes RAM to 64GB and into swap so I'm interested to see what a 128GB device will do.



Mar 22, 2022 at 05:03 AM
jhapeman
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


amv8 wrote:
Very interesting and helpful. If you get a chance to do some Photo Merge tests (HDR and/or panorama), I'd like to see those comparisons. I preordered the base Ultra on announcement day, but I'm not expecting it till late April.


I have some some panoramas I can merge, I'll test that tonight. I used to shoot more of them, but one of the reasons I stopped was how annoyingly slow it was to stack a bunch of large files, and since I'm not printing billboards, it was also generally unnecessary.

If you have a stack you want to upload somewhere for me to test out, I'd be happy to do so.



Mar 22, 2022 at 06:30 AM
braindeadmac
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Super helpful, thanks.


Mar 22, 2022 at 06:42 AM
jhapeman
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


mcbroomf wrote:
Great tests, thanks!
Any chance you'll be able to throw a big focus stack at these to compare using PS rather than Helicon or Zerene? In my (somewhat rare) use that is what pushes RAM to 64GB and into swap so I'm interested to see what a 128GB device will do.


I planned on doing some testing with HeliconFocus, so I can also do it in Photoshop. At the moment Helicon won't work with the M1 GPU; they still keep clinging to OpenCL so each time MacOS 12 is updated, it breaks, and then they have to fix it. I realize it's work to update apps...but some developers seem to resist it too long and then it's just a nightmare.



Mar 22, 2022 at 06:42 AM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Excellent .. thanks


Mar 22, 2022 at 07:31 AM
Jeff
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


I'd also appreciate a run or two of pano merging in both LR and PS. I often run up against the 512MP limit in LR, so the largest you've got would be helpful!

My order isn't due until May, so I've got a bit of a wait...



Mar 22, 2022 at 07:41 AM
jhapeman
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Jeff wrote:
I'd also appreciate a run or two of pano merging in both LR and PS. I often run up against the 512MP limit in LR, so the largest you've got would be helpful!

My order isn't due until May, so I've got a bit of a wait...


I don't have one that large. If you to upload a set of test files for me to download and test out, I'd be happy to do so. My guess is that this where the extra $800 for the 128GB will be worth it--those large panoramas/stacks.




Mar 22, 2022 at 07:48 AM
uscmatt99
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Wow I'm surprised by the performance difference between the Studio Ultra and the MBP M1 Max for some of these tasks. Some initial reviews I'd read/watched indicated there wouldn't be that big a difference with Studio Max vs Studio Ultra. Do you think this was due to the thermal advantages of the Studio, given the fans were running?

I'm a low volume shooter, so those metrics don't apply to my use case much, though they are enlightening to be sure. I'm curious how the Studio Ultra fares against the MBP Max for pano/HDR as well as for general editing. How does the speed of rendering when adjusting sliders compare between the two? I know it's subjective, but you do have me reconsidering my initial choice of going with a Studio Max base model.



Mar 22, 2022 at 07:57 AM
 


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Jeff
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Jeff wrote:
I'd also appreciate a run or two of pano merging in both LR and PS. I often run up against the 512MP limit in LR, so the largest you've got would be helpful!

My order isn't due until May, so I've got a bit of a wait...

jhapeman wrote:
I don't have one that large. If you to upload a set of test files for me to download and test out, I'd be happy to do so. My guess is that this where the extra $800 for the 128GB will be worth it--those large panoramas/stacks.


Sounds great, I'll PM you when they are available. I'll need to look for a specific set of files that I know that the iMac was able to merge (it's weird, often LR can merge most files except for UWA, and sometimes PS can accomplish it if LR fails; then sometimes PS goes haywire and cannot figure out that images in a simple pano actually overlap).

Cheers,

Jeff



Mar 22, 2022 at 08:03 AM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Thanks for your efforts.!!!

My focus is landscape for fun with 45mpx canon r5. I always use AEB x3 and use photomatix in batch for perhaps a ~99 pictures per site. [And then cull and decide whether to redo usng manual blending].

My current 2017 5k imac 32gb 4.2mhz is bugging me for slow on photomatix. It takes at least an hour to go through 99 pics to produce 33 blended. The other software I use a lot is adobe dng converter [to solve a problem my old application software that does not recognize my raw] and DPP batch [to get adjusted Tiff's for photomatix]. They take comparable times.

I did benchmarking of my imac 2017 32gb and m1 with 8gb; and M1 was 30% faster on HDR and 10% slower on DPP. I would hate to spend $2500 and lose my 5k monitor for such a modest gain/loss.

I wonder if you can do 20 x 3 batch of AEB photomatix in your slowest and fastest computer so I know whether I should upgrade. Similarly on DPP and adobe dng would be appreciated too but less important than Photomatix.

I am thinking of studio with max chip just for Photomatix. Any comments on photomatix and studio max would be appreciated.



Mar 22, 2022 at 09:11 AM
jhapeman
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Scott Stoness wrote:
Thanks for your efforts.!!!

My focus is landscape for fun with 45mpx canon r5. I always use AEB x3 and use photomatix in batch for perhaps a ~99 pictures per site. [And then cull and decide whether to redo usng manual blending].

My current 2017 5k imac 32gb 4.2mhz is bugging me for slow on photomatix. It takes at least an hour to go through 99 pics to produce 33 blended. The other software I use a lot is adobe dng converter [to solve a problem my old application software that does not recognize my raw] and DPP batch [to
...Show more

I switched to Sony a few years ago, but I gave up on DPP ages before that as it was just dog slow on any platform--PC, Mac, you name it, and the benefits were minor at best. I also stopped using Photomatix probably more than a decade ago when the merging in Photoshop and LR got so good it was pointless to me to use an alternate piece of software. That means I can't help on those fronts, sorry. It doesn't help you that DPP isn't M1 native, either.

BTW, do NOT believe the crap on the Internet that you don't need the RAM with the M1 architecture. That may apply for basic use like productivity apps and web browsing, but it is most definitely not the case with tasks like stacking and bending that are very memory intensive. I am quite sure you would see a big performance difference if your M1 had 16GB and not 8GB of RAM.



Mar 22, 2022 at 09:53 AM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


jhapeman wrote:
I switched to Sony a few years ago, but I gave up on DPP ages before that as it was just dog slow on any platform--PC, Mac, you name it, and the benefits were minor at best. I also stopped using Photomatix probably more than a decade ago when the merging in Photoshop and LR got so good it was pointless to me to use an alternate piece of software. That means I can't help on those fronts, sorry. It doesn't help you that DPP isn't M1 native, either.

BTW, do NOT believe the crap on the Internet that you don't
...Show more

Thanks - I have a buddy with a 16gb ram mini. I will try my test at 16gb. I would buy the studio max in a minute if I was confident that it would be >2x as fast. The m1 8gb was underwhelming.



Mar 22, 2022 at 09:58 AM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


ArtisRight Youtube has done a set of benchmark and photo tests from the M1 Air (8gb I think) all the way up to the maxed out Macbook Pro that are worth checking out. He now also testing the Studio.


Mar 22, 2022 at 10:02 AM
jhapeman
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


I dug up an old set of 27 images I took 14 years ago with my Canon 50D as I could remember that one in the past was a trickier stack (lots of fall leaves so it used to cause LR to have issues finding the alignment). They're only 15Mpx images, and the final stack is only 52Mpx, but its a test. I'm at the office at the moment, so I can only compare these three machines:

Mac Pro 28-Core, 384GB of RAM, Radeon Pro W6800X Duo with 64GB of shared VRAM

Time to create initial preview: 45.40 seconds
Time to merge final image and create 1:1 Preview: 42.81seconds

Mac Studio Ultra, 64GB of RAM

Time to create initial preview: 29.42 seconds
Time to merge final image and create 1:1 Preview: 30.06 seconds

AMD 64-core 3990x, 128GB of RAM

Time to create initial preview: 30.76 seconds
Time to merge final image and create 1:1 Preview: 39.57 seconds

Once again, this Studio continues to impress! I'll add results from the other machines tonight and add a new slide








Mar 22, 2022 at 11:24 AM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


I ran a set of pano and hdr merges a while ago on 4 machines, link below. If you like I'll see if I can locate them and put them in a dropbox for you to try. They went from a simple 6 shot HDR to a 54 shot HDR/Pano.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/BNVtXvVkUUGNGNBk9




Mar 22, 2022 at 11:29 AM
jhapeman
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


And another data point on HeliconFocus. They use OpenCL and it's broken right now in their release version on MacOS 12.3, but then again the boost from OpenCL turns out to be really minor vs. a good CPU. See below

Stack 58 Sony A7RIV images, Method B:

Studio Ultra 64GB (no OpenCL): 18.75s
28-Core Mac Pro (no OpenCL): 23.31s
64-Core AMD (no OpenCL):22.50s
28-Core Mac AMD W6800X OpenCL: 13.98s
64-Core AMD Nvidia RTX6000 OpenCL: 18.96s

I am honestly shocked that the Studio Ultra stacked the images at the same speed as the RTX6000. I suspect that the OpenCL is just pretty poorly optimized, and a good CUDA driver would be much better, but then again, no doubt a native Metal driver for the Studio would perform well too.



Mar 22, 2022 at 11:30 AM
jhapeman
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


mcbroomf wrote:
I ran a set of pano and hdr merges a while ago on 4 machines, link below. If you like I'll see if I can locate them and put them in a dropbox for you to try. They went from a simple 6 shot HDR to a 54 shot HDR/Pano.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/BNVtXvVkUUGNGNBk9



I'd be happy to run those with my machines if you upload them somewhere.

BTW, one thing that is just a pleasure with this Studio is how absolutely SNAPPY everything in MacOS runs. Those of you who have M1's know what I mean, but using it next to the 28-Core Xeon it's just amazing to see how instantaneously the Studio boots open, apps like Photoshop are just BOOM open.

If this is how good this thing is, the new MacPro is going to be something to behold.



Mar 22, 2022 at 11:33 AM
seaSharp
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Mac Studio Ultra Benchmarking


Any chance to see how DxO's DeepPrime noise reduction performs on the Ultra? That's definitely slow on my 8 core Xeon + Quadro setup - curious how much faster it would be on these systems..


Mar 22, 2022 at 11:37 AM
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