Apple has some GREAT news for creative professionals.

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Praise be! The cool kid in school hasn’t forgotten about us.Apple's new iMac Pro is targeted right at creative professionals in the media & entertainment industry. The product’s introductory release statement reads that this product is for “everyone”: “From video editors to 3d animators to musicians to software developers to scientists” everyone can find something that relates to their industry or passion in the iMac Pro.

Let’s take some time to examine the specs: The iMac Pro offers a XEON CPU with up to 18 cores that clock up to 4.5GHz. Apple is utilizing AMD's Radeon VEGA Pro GPUs. Once software manufacturers adapt their applications to these GPUs, you will have a graphics card capable of 22-25 Teraflops of computing speed (really fast) compared to the wonderful GTX 1080TI which tops out at 11 Teraflops. Radeon has an architecture that's way ahead of where Nvidia is right now. We predict a GPU war is brewing as we speak. This also supports our contention that GPU rendering is truly the future in visual effects and digital media production.

The Mac is also no longer a sealed box. Apple dropped the Metal 2 SDK to allow developers take advantage of external AMD GPUs using the latest Thunderbolt 3 interface. That is 40Gb speeds you'll be getting! Apple's change will affect the current Mac lineup as they will be able to use upgraded GPUs now, with Nvidia’s new drivers, Macs will allow users to add external GTX cards like the 1080 and when the new AMD GPU ships, there will be drivers to support them too.

Expect that the new AMD graphics cards will also benefit the PC world as soon as drivers become available for Windows.

How long have creative professionals shook our heads in unison and thought to ourselves that Apple no longer cares about us? They still do, and VFX Technologies has the new iMac Pro workstations available for rental and purchase now.

Jim Reisman & Adinah Bolden

4k / UHD Post Production and the need for GPUs

For SD editing, you need nothing other than a decent computer and one or two monitors. For color grading and visual effects, using applications such as Maya, Resolve, Flame, and Premier Pro, a high-end workstation will provide a smoother and faster workflow. 4k / UHD media and above can tax a computer so having access to a top-of-the-line machine such as an HP Z840 or a Boxx Apex 4 can improve your quality of life as a creative artist. These computers are better because of their ability to use multiple GPUs in addition to powerful, multi-core CPUs. This technology is expensive but, increasingly necessary. On a project by project basis, it may be better to rent.


The importance of GPUs is that the video software mentioned above is now able to dump much of the heavy lifting onto the GPU (or even several GPUs), leaving the CPU free to do its job of delegating tasks, applications, APIs, hardware process, I/O device requests, and so on. The CPU just makes sure all the basic tasks run in harmony while the GPU takes care of crunching the more complex and intensive computation needed by the application. It is important to know that for all but the most basic video (and certainly for any form of 4K), the computer should have a dedicated graphics card for processing your editing tasks.

You may need several graphics card for any serious 4K work, especially RAW. The stock graphics card just needs to drive the number and resolution of whatever computer monitors one will use. One or more additional GPUs should be there to provide accelerated parallel processing crucial for any serious workstation. These extra graphics cards should be as powerful as one can get. Since these cards are very expensive, renting is a practical option. (Note that additional GPUs, when configured to provide acceleration cannot drive additional monitors.)

For many years, powerful GPUs were primarily only valuable to gamers drawing complex 3D worlds in real time, until software developers like Apple and chip makers like ATI and Nvidia realized they were sitting on a gold mine of untapped computational power. In response, two important standards emerged – OpenCL and CUDA.

CUDA is a proprietary specification exclusively available on specific Nvidia GPUs, including all of their professional Quadro models. Suffice it to say tests show CUDA beating OpenCL at floating-point and OpenCL ATI products beating Nvidia at integer math. Either way, they both do the same thing, make editing systems scream because they can process video way better than any CPU ever could.

We now have several models of GPUs in our rental pool and for sale. NVIDIA M6000, K6000, K4200, GTX 1080TI, GTX 1080 and GTX 980. If your computer has space to accommodate these, we can install and configure. If you need a complete workstation, we have those as well. For more information contact Jim at 800 516-4302 or email.

Much of this blog is derived from an article by Howard Gotfryd. I thank him for his insight and highly recommend you follow him on eXplora. - Jim Reisman