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Fatwah on Western Digital
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New Mac Pro with an M2 Ultra dropped today. It's a weird system. $7000 base price, maximum of 192GB RAM. Has PCI-e 4.0 for, oh, something-or-other that isn't GPUs, no access to socketed RAM and no CPU configuration that's particularly better than the Mac Studio.

I guess the intention is to let people have a way to add BlackMagic or Red dedicated capture hardware, or for whatever high-bandwidth interface (Infiniband HDR? U.2 HBAs?) but 192GB RAM doesn't seem like much on a 24 core workstation.

As far as benchmarks, 12th and 13th generation Intel offer better single-core performance than M2 Ultra, while any of the bigger Threadrippers can outpace it for multicore workloads and also offer vastly more RAM support.

Leaves me thinking this is a very weird system to release. I imagine they're doing it now because it's finally, unambiguously faster than the Intel Mac Pros it's replacing, but who buys a $7000 workstation configured that way?

Edit: Hey it also has a Headphone jack! AND two external and for some reason one internal USB port.
 

Handruin

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Does seem like a weird base config for that price point. Only 1TB storage and 64GB ram seems hardly worthy. I'm assuming it's for all-Mac shops that just want a drop-in system to go along with their existing workflow or ecosystem with no fuss of building out a custom threadripper. The power efficiency savings hardly seems like a selling point unless if an ultra quiet environment is needed.
 

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Apple Silicon Macs always seem like lightweights in the RAM department. I know it's part of the SoC but even with the greater memory bandwidth, you can't magic away large data sets. It seems like there should be an option to add CAMM modules or something, if only to make that machine more suitable to workstation loads.
 

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I almost made a similar comment about their claimed 800GB/sec with also the same point that there's no replacement for more ram.

That 1TB SSD isn't fast enough (even though I'm sure it's fast) to page anything past 192GB.
 

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The RAM on their SoCs is just DDR5. The architecture is obviously different, but I think the only difference is the width of the bus between RAM and actual CPU. It's not a miracle. I understand that CAMM modules mitigate some of the issues with using wider, faster buses for newer memory modules, and seem like they'd be a logical fit for putting more RAM in a theoretically modular desktop platform.

I'm sure the Mac Pro is a dream system, but I have a hard time believing that someone couldn't make a Threadripper that wouldn't blow this thing out of the water. Heck, Lenovo is clearing out P620 workstations with 5955WX CPUs, 64GB RAM, 2TB NVMe and an RTX A2000 (i.e. a 3050 with a crap ton of VRAM) for an extremely reasonable $2800 right now. Buy two and double the RAM in both, or throw a couple 4090s in one, and you still have a better computer for anything that doesn't demand Mac OS.
 

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Oh I'm with ya on this. I also believe a well-equipped Threadripper would win over the Mac Pro M2 dollar for dollar and perform better.

Curious if Apple will see reduced demand like they did with the M2 MacBooks by the end of the year.
 

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I suspect that the draw is shops that started with Apple when they were small, but still feel locked-in even after growth into a business case for more compute at any price. Or making the Apple-only creatives in their marketing department feel loved.
 

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I suspect that the draw is shops that started with Apple when they were small, but still feel locked-in even after growth into a business case for more compute at any price. Or making the Apple-only creatives in their marketing department feel loved.

Weirdly, the places I'm most likely to run in to Macs are law offices and small software developer shops and one-offs for VIPs who use them as glorified Email and Powerpoint terminals. I do some work for a commercial and graphics press and even they're 100% PC.

My office has an M1 iMac because we have a full time graphics/front end web person these days, but even he admits that he asked for the wrong machine.
 

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I'm really impressed with the Lenovo Flex 14. The one set before me has a 6c/12t R5 5500U, 8GB RAM a 1920x1200 touch display that flips for tablet operation and the whole thing apparently cost less than $350. If it didn't have soldered RAM, it would be absolutely awesome for the money.
 

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Since Asrock split from ASUS 20+years ago I've preferred the direction Asrock has gone. I really like their industrial-type boards.
Sorry for the hijack from the "peanut gallery"/"cheap seats", but I've been considering the consumer-grade ASUS Prime B450M-A II mobo, and one of the features I was interested in is "BIOS FlashBack™", so if it isn't compatible with the CPU I get, I could upgrade the BIOS without having to "borrow" a supported CPU. Is that relevant or not so? TIA.
 

LunarMist

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All of my Ryzen 2,3,4 boards flash bios with a thumb drive and no CPU installed. Not sure about Asus brand though you can download the manuals.
 

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That feature is not well documented by the OEMs and they all use different naming conventions for the flash file, but the short version is that the MB will power on and will display video during the update process if there's an onboard port. I've done this on Asus, Gigabyte and Asrock boards but never MSI.
 

LunarMist

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I've only updated the MSI for the 5700G and 5950x. You have to use the specific port in the rear.
 

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AMD just launched Bergamo as the new Epyc architecture, which is 35% smaller than standard Zen4 and offers up to 128c/256c at up to 3GHz. There's some expectation that we'll start seeing a mix of big and little cores in future Ryzen offerings, just like 12th and 13th generation Core products.
 

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There's some rumbling of a coming 5600X3D. My guess is that they're trying to offload 5800X3D chips that didn't pass mustard with all of their cores, but if the pricing is right (i.e. less than a used 5800X3D) I may buy one so I have the 5500 to then pass down to my server. I really need the Zen3 memory controller there, running these dual-rank kits on Zen+'s IMC is murder -- I had to clock it back from 3200 to 2400MHz or it wouldn't POST.
 

jsolo

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I can't find any information anywhere if the AMD RaidXpert2 RAID mode support 4kN drives. I can't really find if it supports 4kN in normal AHCI mode either.
Sorry for bumping an old post, but just ran into this myself with strange results.

Full details can be read here - https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r33693237-Single-disk-amd-raid-mode-unrecognized-with-standard-sata

But the jist of it is, amd raid does strange things with 4kn drives used independently (single disk, legacy mode, etc). It's almost as though the driver does some sort of 4kn <> 512e conversion in software because the 4kn disk is recognized and formatted. BUT, try to read that disk when connected to a achi controller and you get a gpt protected partition status with the data on the disk inaccessible.

On the other hand, 4kn disk connected to an intel raid (z690 in raid mode) results in no POST at all. No errors message, no nothing, just blank screen.
 

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That's actually interesting to know, although I'm curious what led you to experiment with this configuration. Broken RAID1?
 

jsolo

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^^I was consolidating data/disks. Moving data from 2 6tb drives that were getting pretty high in POH to 1 8tb drive. The latter which came from a nas and was already 4kn. I would have known something was up had the amd raid behaved similar to intel, ie no post or some error message. Instead, after I got done copying data, I tried moving the drive to another bay (connected to the hba, not onboard sata) and could not see the drive contents.

Amd does a terrible job of documenting this characteristic of their raid. Intel clearly spells it out - https://www.intel.com/content/www/u...intel-rapid-storage-technology-intel-rst.html

Try finding a similar document from amd.
 

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This stuff is why I'd rather use full software RAID. I think most of us here have had a "but it was supposed to work!" moment with a RAID setup, even if it might've been back in the days of IDE devices.
 

jsolo

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It's not that big of a deal. Now that i'm informed, i'll only use 512e disks with the amd raid. Controller compatibility is more important than whatever performance improvements may be using 4kn in this use case.
 

LunarMist

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I am using the old-school dynamical disk function with the 4TB NVMe SSDs.
 

LunarMist

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My MIS motherboard had a BEta BIOS in late April, but I was not aware that the AMD cluster impacted the regular X CPUs.
Today I anxiously proceeded to update that BIOS. Fortunately the computer is still working at DDR5-6000 speed on the EXPOs. From what I can see the voltage was reduced from 1.36 to 1.31. The RAMs are still 1.4V and the timings are unchanged.
The bad part is that AMD takes forever to boot now. :mad: I guess with less voltage the RAMs are barely synchronizing with the IUD and CPU.
I can hardly imagine any "normal" person waiting that long in the 2020s. I assume Intel DDR5 boots faster and I know that MAC is right away.
I recently discovered that there was a second X670E Beta BIOS update later in May that cut the boot time dramatically (about in half). It now boots faster than ever, though still a little slower than the X570. It's now far more palatable to power down frequently, which is welcome in the summer. :)
 
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Mercutio

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Has anyone else been just loving the ~50% price drop on 5000-series Ryzens? I sure have.

Linus Tech used his Scrooge McDuck money vault to buy an M2 Mac Pro to see what can be done with it. The short answer is that it'll take Network and Disk HBAs and possibly proprietary accelerator cards for video editing software and basically nothing else. The top end of Intel + discrete GPU is better in almost every way at half the cost and for anything that doesn't involve the expansion slots, the Mac Studio is only a rounding error less powerful. The M3 will probably be released this fall, but given release cycles, it's pretty clear that the Apple hardware is stuck in a weird zone where it's most competitive in mid-range hardware and scenarios where vanilla configs are the only ones under consideration.
 

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I haven't followed the prices but at 50% off they sound like amazing deals for a very capable CPU.

I was having a similar conversation with a friend about the upgrade from M1 > M2, etc and we both felt that since Apple came out so strong in the M1 release that there's been little incentive to consider upgrades in the mid consumer range because they're still so capable and barely sip power. I don't really get where Apple's play is going to be with year-on-year refreshes but it does feel a lot like the old Intel cycle with marginal gains each release. To your point, Apple may need to double down and do something stupid like an M3 multi-chip release for the high end to really hype it up like that $1K monitor stand. Their high end market must be revenue-peanuts to the midrange consumer lineup anyway. Way more people are able to consider a $1K-$3K laptop vs corporations and the studio setup.
 

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I took the opportunity at the start of the month to snag a 5700X for my main desktop so I could kick the 5500 downstairs and give my server a competent memory controller that could actually run four dual-rank DIMMs at full-speed. I should note that I wasn't at all upset or unsatisfied with the 5500's performance anyway -- everything extra the 5700X brings is just icing on the cake, and I'm of the mind that I shouldn't really be buying a new CPU just to sidegrade.
 

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The $120 5700Gs are a lot of computer for the money, especially as a last upgrade for an A320 or Bx50. They're not quite on par with a 13100 with DDR5 but it's really hard to complain when they work with seven year old hardware.

As far as getting new Apple SoCs, it really comes down to being able to order configs with better RAM options. The consumer M1s sitting in 16GB were basically a joke, even if they made a good showing against 10th gen i7s. Will there finally be a 48GB or 64GB M3 MacBook? Or is that where we draw the line for Pro hardware? The unified memory architecture makes me think 32GB is still skimpy compared to an x86 system with any contemporary dedicated GPU.
 

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I would be surprised to see a consumer MacBook air ordered at 64GB RAM, that would cannibalize their MacBook pro line.

I haven't read complaints that a 32GB config was skimpy in a MBP setup. Maybe for more extreme content creators it would be limiting. I've been using mine with 32GB for a while now and have never hit any limits. I don't do a ton of video content on it, only summer basics with 4K drone footage. I do coding in an IDE, basic photo editing, and some limited gaming.
 

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Remember that your Mac's RAM is 32GB - whatever the GPU is doing. Run a 3D game with enough complexity and maybe the CPU only has 16GB to work with. PC gamers are complaining about GPUs with only 8GB RAM, so it doesn't seem terribly far fetched there there will be some workload that will be an issue eventually.
 

Handruin

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I totally get what you're saying and the concern about the share resource for both CPU/GPU, I'm just saying anecdotally that with only 32GB RAM, there hasn't been a RAM constraint I've hit (yet). I would have gone with 64GB if I was doing large amounts of content creation. Playing games wasn't really even on my list of considerations when spec'ing this system but I still gave them a try and was pleasantly surprised how well some of them work.

I don't know if those who complain about 8GB GPUs are playing at higher than 4K or the game itself just has insanely large texture packs but that seems like edge cases for now. Even so, I can't game at 4K on my MBP as it is, so I don't know if large texture support and higher GPU memory consumption applies in that case.
 

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There's a massive complaint at the moment about how intensive the hardware requirements for new some games are, but the biggest source of this seems to be games titles that initially target the Playstation 5. Alan Wake 2 minimum spec is an RTX 2060 and Core i5 7600 and recommended is RTX 3070 and Ryzen 3700X. My theory is that the porting toolkits game devs are using must be absolute garbage, because the PS5 and Xbox One both have approximately RTX 2070-level GPUs and a fraction of the CPU and RAM of contemporary gaming PCs, but we are in fact living in the days that 8GB of on board RAM is a minimum to make a game run.


I also just noticed that, with current sale prices, Zen 4 Ryzen CPUs are cheaper than Zen 3. I suppose that means they aren't selling all that well, or that many people are still trying to wring the last life of their AM4 rigs.
 

LunarMist

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I don't see a link in there, but seriously the RTX 20 series is 5 years old and the RTX 30 is three years old. 8GB of RAM is pretty minimal for any graphical OS nowadays. Good cell phones had 8GB about 5 years ago and computers about 15 years ago IIRC. Are you really expecting that new software will run well on old hardware? Why don't people like the PS5, since it is cheaper than a computer?
 

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A lot of gamers do incremental upgrades and have a mix of older and newer parts in their systems. 8GB RAM on a video card is absolutely normal if you just got one but up until recently, it's been considered the high end of such things.

The issue here is that the games that are being ported due to console-first dev cycles is that it makes PC gaming worse in yet another way, by expecting PCs to just muscle their way past the limitations set in place because developers aren't bothering to optimize their work at all. A PS5 has about RTX2070-grade graphics. Logically, we should be able to say that anything that runs well on a PS5 should run equally well on a PC with an RTX2070 and yet that is emphatically not the case.

Qualcomm provided specs for a laptop SoC that they say beats the absolute pants off the current (13th gen, anyway) ULV i7 today. Maybe we'll all have another platform option soon.
 

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It's Qualcomm, so I have about a mountain of salt to take their claims with. They've had their chance to be the market leader in performance and they blew it. Windows on ARM won't take off until the Qualcomm exclusivity contract finally ends because their desktop/laptop offerings don't perform any better than their phone chips and even their phone chips aren't all that fast anymore. I wish high end Samsung models sold in the states had the Exynos chips their int'l counterparts have, and not just because the Exynos ones are the ones all the custom ROM dev work is being done for.

I've made the decision that my current main rig is, as it stands now, in its final form. There will be no more incremental upgrades to this, it is staying a 5700X/A770LE with 32GB of RAM for the next three to five years and then I'm replacing it in its entirety. Hopefully by then Intel has buttoned up the actual 14th gen chips or has something even better out, or AMD has abandoned their asmedia USB controllers, because until then, I'm completely uninterested.
 

LunarMist

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A lot of gamers do incremental upgrades and have a mix of older and newer parts in their systems. 8GB RAM on a video card is absolutely normal if you just got one but up until recently, it's been considered the high end of such things.

The issue here is that the games that are being ported due to console-first dev cycles is that it makes PC gaming worse in yet another way, by expecting PCs to just muscle their way past the limitations set in place because developers aren't bothering to optimize their work at all. A PS5 has about RTX2070-grade graphics. Logically, we should be able to say that anything that runs well on a PS5 should run equally well on a PC with an RTX2070 and yet that is emphatically not the case.

Qualcomm provided specs for a laptop SoC that they say beats the absolute pants off the current (13th gen, anyway) ULV i7 today. Maybe we'll all have another platform option soon.
I thought you meant the system RAM, not the video. But you did not answer why not just buy the PS5?
 

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I thought you meant the system RAM, not the video. But you did not answer why not just buy the PS5?

In my case, I detest gamepads and the model of relying on a manufacturer to provide legacy compatibility. Millions of Nintendo fans will be happy to sit and explain how aggravating is that Nintendo won't sell them old titles they've already bought on one platform or support them on newer hardware, so they have to keep a 20 year old console in good working order for one or two titles (side note: a pretty anemic five year old Celeron with Iris graphics can probably run every single Nintendo game in emulation. Nintendo's high end console uses a Tegra SoC from 2014).

There's a PS5 in my house because Nadia has one, and I DO have an old PS3 running Linux that I use to extract audio from SACDs. That being said, the $500 PS5 barely gets used because Microsoft has done an amazing job with Game Pass, a cross-platform play option that lets gamers keep certain games for as long as they're subscribed, and play them either on PC or Xbox. I think Xbox is also a better deal for backwards compatibility as well. The only reason to use the Sony console is the rare game that is released on that platform and not any other.

Plenty of people like consoles and the usual dig at PCs from their side of things is that gamers don't want to learn how to maintain and secure computer just to play games. Even that is a bit of nonsense. Both Sony and Microsoft consoles regularly have enormous, tens of gigabytes, updates and sometimes they DO fail and make a game unplayable for someone. And even an old PC can play older games just fine even if they can't run the latest and greatest thing.
 

LunarMist

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I have little to no clue of most of the subtleties, but you have money and education in all the technology and software.
Gaming is a luxury and most people will accept whatever they can get with a reasonable TCO.
I doubt that a high percentage is on a Ryzen compared to XBox, PS or Intel systems.
 
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