9 Replies Latest reply on Mar 18, 2014 4:07 PM by ECBowen

    Need advice on Mac-based work setup

    SpeedyNY Level 1

      Hi, hoping for some advice on the best Mac-based system to purchase for our 6 design workstations. We are jumping from CS5 to CC. We do GFX for multiple tv stations, motion GFX, compositing, 3D, editing, print design. SPEED is important and we only buy new computers every 4 years or so. Typical workflow has the following open simultaneously: AE, PR or FCP, PS, ID, AI, Firefox, Outlook, and maybe also Word or Text Edit or Quicktime. We do short but complex stuff, 60 seconds tops.

       

      We’ve got one test system set up so far. These are the specs of our test system; putting all projects and assets on the thunderbolt RAID:

      Mac Pro 10.9.2      3.7 Ghz Quad-Core    Intel Xeon E5      12 Gig DDR3

      30 Inch Apple Cinema Display Display  2560 X 1600    AMD FirePro 2048 MB Graphics

      HDMI to DVI converter for 2008 Apple Studio Display

      Drive: Areca 5026 RAID-ed RAID 5    each slot has a 1TB    Toshiba 7200 RPM 32MB cache SATA 6.0GB/s drive, connected by thunderbolt 2.0

      Blackmagic card: UltraStudio 3D thunderbolt device running the 9.6.7 Black magic drivers, connected thunderbolt 2.0

      Panasonic HD pro tv monitor

       

      PROBLEM: with this setup we’re disappointed in both rendering and render to RAM speed, and RAM preview at full res is dropping frames on some projects. Turning on multiprocessing does not make it any faster, and won’t render at all in certain codecs (like DV50). I have 12GB of RAM, and reserved 3GB for other applications. With multiprocessing on I have 8 CPUs, leaving 2 for other applications, reserving 2GB per CPU.

       

      Designers render locally on their own Macs while multi-tasking on print projects, run web browsers, outlook etc.

       

      QUESTIONS:

       

      1. What is the best fastest system AE can take advantage of? If we get 6 or 8 or 12 core Mac Pros (instead of the quad core) with more RAM, would AE be able to access that speed, and if so up to how many GB can it use, only up to 2GB per core or can it use more?

       

      2. Should we replace the graphics card with an Nvidia CUDA? Is the ray-tracing engine something we’ll need with Cinema 4D work?

       

      Thank you!

        • 1. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
          Todd_Kopriva Level 8

          > 1. What is the best fastest system AE can take advantage of? If we get 6 or 8 or 12 core Mac Pros (instead of the quad core) with more RAM, would AE be able to access that speed, and if so up to how many GB can it use, only up to 2GB per core or can it use more?

           

          Yes, After Effects will take advantage of multiple fast CPUs and all of the RAM that you can install.

           

          You also want to have a decent-sized SSD connected over a fast bus for the disk cache. The new Mac Pro does very well in that regard.

           

           

          2. Should we replace the graphics card with an Nvidia CUDA? Is the ray-tracing engine something we’ll need with Cinema 4D work?

           

          The After Effects ray-traced 3D renderer has nothing whatsoever to do with Cinema 4D.

           

          Do not make any buying decisions based on the  After Effects ray-traced 3D renderer unless you already know for certain that you have a need for it. Since you're asking, it seems that the answer is that you don't.

           

          See this page for information about hardware for Premiere Pro and After Effects: http://adobe.ly/pRYOuk

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
            SpeedyNY Level 1

            Thank you for the quick response Todd and the great links. So to make sure I understand correctly:

             

            - you suggest adding a third, SSD drive just for disk cache, in addition to the RAID we have for all assets/project files, and the built-in hard drive of the Mac itself (which has the applications).

             

            - I'm not familiar with the ray-tracing engine since we are coming off CS5 which didn't have that feature yet. But from what you tell me it's not needed to properly render C4D files in after effects.

            • 3. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
              ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

              Unfortunately the nMPro is not good for AE. The 2x GPU modules dont help at all. The Majority of AE processing is all CPU based and you require enough ram to handle the threads you want. Quad Core is definitely not where you want to be for complex compositions. The 10 or 12 Core would be far better but the AMD GPU's are pointless to both AE and C4D. Having a 2nd CPU module would be far better. Ray Tracer is CUDA only so that means Nvidia only. There are render options for C4D such as Octane that are also Nvidia based. I would highly suggest a PC system for the AE systems since you will have far better CPU, Ram, and GPU options for those applications. You will also have better storage options in general without having to share TB bandwidth with other devices. The key factors are you want atleast 2GB of ram per thread. That means if you get a 10 Core Xeon then you have 20 threads and want 64GB of ram. 32GB wont cut it. BTW 12GB is to little for AE comps of that size. You should be atleast 32GB even with a Quad Core. Complex comps really require more threads so expect to use atleast the 10 Core Xeon on any real AE system.

               

              Eric

              ADK

              • 4. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
                Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                > Unfortunately the nMPro is not good for AE.

                 

                I wouldn't put it quite like that.

                 

                Yes, you are right that the GPUs in these new Mac Pro computers do very little for After Effects, since After Effects uses the GPU for very little.

                 

                But the new Mac Pro does have a nice, big SSD directly connected over a fast bus, and that is great for the After Effects disk cache.

                • 5. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
                  Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                  > you suggest adding a third, SSD drive just for disk cache, in addition to the RAID we have for all assets/project files, and the built-in hard drive of the Mac itself (which has the applications).

                   

                  If you have the disk cache on the same SSD as your applications, that can work just fine, since the disk cache isn't being read from and written to at the same time that the applications are being loaded from disk.

                  • 6. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
                    ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                    True the better word would have been ideal or best rather than good. The reason I said good is because so much of the nMPro configuration has little to no performance gain for AE or C4D. The same SSD drive you have in nPro you can get in the PC plus some and also raid them for even faster performance. Having a SSD OS drive that reads 1GB/s is well beyond diminishing returns. The latency of those drives is close to the same as SSD's so there is no advantage there. I would much rather have a standard SSD for the OS which is about peak performance as your going to use on an OS programs drive and a raid 0 SSD array for media. That would be a far better configuration for AE and a system in general. Once again though that is far easier, cheaper, and better a configuration on the PC. It is better if people know they are sacrificing performance for Form factor and OSX rather than assume all is better or the same and find out after the investment. Atleast then editors make the choice eyes open.


                    Eric

                    ADK

                    • 7. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
                      Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                      I agree, Eric.

                      • 8. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
                        SpeedyNY Level 1

                        Thanks guys. We are pretty dedicated to Mac and OSX. But the message I'm getting loud and clear is more CPUs and more RAM, and that otherwise we have a pretty good set-up.

                        • 9. Re: Need advice on Mac-based work setup
                          ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                          AE CC does not have a 2 or 4GB limit per core for ram. You can shift well over that if the frames require. 2GB is often fine for 1080 frames and complex comps. 4K+ frames can go much higher depending on the complexity of the comps. Consider more layers and FX adding to complexity.

                           

                          Eric

                          ADK