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2019 Mac Pro 12-Core transcoding RED to ProRes using multiple GPUs

January 8th, 2020 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Searching for a justification to buy a 2019 Mac Pro? I think we found one: Transcoding RED to ProRes. It is not only CPU intensive, but if you add Noise Reduction, the GPU gets involved -- which begs the question, "What GPU should I use and how many?"

TEST MULES:
2019 Mac Pro 12-core 3.30GHz W-3235 CPU, 96GB of 2933 MHz DDR4 ECC memory
2017 iMac Pro 18-core 2.30GHz Intel Xeon W-2190B, 128GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 ECC memory

SHOCKING DISCOVERY
A production company was stunned when it saw how fast a 2019 Mac Pro 12-Core with the Pro Vega II Duo GPU could Deliver 8K RED with two Noise Reduction Nodes (DaVinci Resolve) compared to an iMac Pro 18-Core with Pro Vega 64X GPU. Even adding an eGPU to the iMac Pro with a Vega 64 GPU failed to catch up to the Mac Pro's render time. (LOWER Time in Minutes = FASTER)

GRAPH LEGEND

2019 Mac Pro + Vega II Duo = 2019 Mac Pro 12-Core with AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo GPU module (32GB of HBM2 memory each)
iMac Pro + Vega 64 'Duo' = 2017 iMac Pro 10-Core with AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64X (16GB of HBM2 memory) plus Razer Core X eGPU with Vega 64 GPU
iMac Pro + Vega 64X = 2017 iMac Pro 10-Core with AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64X (16GB of HBM2 memory)

DaVinci Resolve Noise Reduction with Four Fast GPUs

DaVinci Resolve Noise Reduction with Four Fast GPUs

THE QUEST
So a quest began to see how many GPUs of various sorts could be stuffed in the 2019 Mac Pro and how fast they could assist the CPU in transcoding 1 minute 52 seconds of 8K source media courtesy of Pollen Studio.

GRAPH LEGEND

Vega II Duo = AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo GPU module (32GB of HBM2 memory each)
VII 'Duo' = two AMD Radeon VII GPUs (16GB of HBM2 memory each)
5700 XT 'Duo' = two AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT GPUs (8GB of GDDR6 memory each)
Vega II = AMD Radeon Pro Vega II GPU Duo GPU module but only one Vega II active (32GB of HBM2 memory)
VII = AMD Radeon VII GPU (16GB of HBM2 memory)
5700 XT = AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT GPUs (8GB of GDDR6 memory)

 

DaVinci Resolve - Deliver 8K RED Source Media to 8K ProRes 4444XQ
(LOWER Time in Minutes = FASTER)

DaVinci Resolve Noise Reduction with Four Fast GPUs

DaVinci Resolve - Drop Timeline Resolution to 4K and Deliver 4K ProRes 4444XQ.
(LOWER Time in Minutes = FASTER)

DaVinci Resolve Noise Reduction with Four Fast GPUs

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

You can reduce the transcoding time of an 8K RED source media from 28 minutes on an iMac Pro 18-Core to 10 minutes using a 2019 Mac Pro 12-Core with one Vega II GPU and 3 minutes with four internal GPUs.

As you can see from the graphs, we tried various combinations of GPUs in our quest for the fastest transcoding scenario.

Though the dual Radeon VIIs (along with the Pro Vega II Duo) was the fastest setup, the VII fans go crazy if you put the Mac Pro to sleep. But sleep is overrated. We've got work to do.

You might wonder what two Pro Vega II Duos could achieve. However, a second Pro Vega II Duo costs $5600 USD. A pair of Radeon VIIs (just as fast) currently cost $1100 USD. I'd rather invest the extra $$ in an Afterburner or XDR display.

Big Mahalo to Pollen Studio for their assistance and for providing the 8K Source Media.

Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to email me, Follow me on Twitter @barefeats.

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OTHER GOOD SOURCES
Trans International sells memory and storage for Macs.

Other World Computing sells memory, eGPUs, storage, and used Macs.

B&H Photo Video sells Apple products, GPUs, eGPUs, displays, storage, etc.

MacVidCards modifies GPUs to provide Apple Startup and Boot screens.

Funding of 2019 Mac Pro test unit for BareFeats Mad Scientist on his 75th Birthday

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copyright 2020 Rob Art Morgan
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