OS X 10.9.3 breaking Mac Pro graphics card compatibility with critical video editing apps

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Apple’s new expensive line of Mac Pro computers seem to be causing a headache for a tiny fraction of the Mac userbase. According to several professional video editors who have contacted us or posted information to various online forums, the recent OS X 10.9.3 update is breaking compatibility between some Mac Pro graphics cards and video editing applications such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve…

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Pixelmator 3.1 brings 16-bit image support for Mac Pro, integrated photo printing and more

Pixelmator 3.1 Marble

Pixelmator have released the latest version of their app today, version 3.1. As usual, it is available exclusively in the Mac App Store for $29.99. Codenamed Marble, this update brings several enhancements to the image editor including specific Mac Pro optimizations such as 16-bit image support.

Primarily, Pixelmator 3.1 optimises for the new Mac Pro’s hardware. Apple has used Pixelmator before to tout the Mac Pro’s performance benefits, and the developers are clearly keen to push this further still.

The “exclusive” support for the new Mac Pro enables the simultaneous use of both GPU’s  for even faster composition and rendering. In fact, the app can compute the autosave data whilst the image is being rendered. This translates to significant speed improvements across the app.

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iFixit teardown praises new Mac Pro for repairability, upgradability

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Following a quick look from Other World Computing last week, iFixit has published its teardown of the new Mac Pro.

Unlike any other Apple product iFixit has reviewed this year, the firm gives high praise to the repairability of the Mac Pro. The system uses no proprietary screws and RAM is accessible without the need for any tools.  Add in the socketed, upgradable CPU originally found in the earlier teardown, the Mac Pro is the most repairable computer in Apple’s lineup by far.

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“Small, fast and in a league of its own” – the early Mac Pro verdicts are in

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Audiovisual professionals may have had a very long wait for a new Mac Pro, and that wait may not be quite over, but from the early hands-on reviews it seems they’re unlikely to be disappointed.

The real performance of the machine is currently only being seen with Final Cut Pro, which Apple optimized to take full advantage of the dual GPUs, but it’s a near certainty that Adobe and others will follow this example.

With a price tag of anything up to $14,000 if you completely max it out, this is not a machine that will be seen gracing too many living-rooms, but for those earning their living from audio and video and where time is money, the early hands-on reviews suggest that the Mac Pro lives up to its promise …  Read more

Final Cut Pro updated to version 10.1, 4K monitoring, Mac Pro optimisations and more

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Alongside the release of the new Mac Pro, Apple has updated Final Cut Pro in the Mac App Store to take advantage of the machine’s immense raw processing power. Specifically, Apple says that playback and rendering has been optimised for the Mac Pro’s dual GPUs.

Final Cut 10.1 also adds 4K support, including monitoring across Thunderbolt 2 and HDMI displays as well as 4K titles, transition and generators. The update also adds a whole slew of other minor features and changes to the modern (if controversial) video editing suite.

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Sketchiest of Apple television rumors suggests 4K 55- & 65-inch screens next year at $1500-2500

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One of the many Apple Television concepts out there (image: theverge.com)

Among the less likely of the many rumors surrounding  Apple’s long-expected move into full televisions is one reported in Bloomberg today, suggesting that Apple will launch 55- and 65-inch 4K televisions in the final quarter of 2014 with pricing in the $1500 to $2500 range.

Masahiko Ishino, an analyst at Advanced Research Japan Co, claims the displays will be made by LG, the GPUs by Samsung and the frameless glass cover made from Corning Gorilla Glass 3, with Foxconn assembling the products …  Read more

NVIDIA graphics chip promises four times the speed, but not until 2016

nvidiaNVIDIA has announced its latest GPU, Volta, that promises 1Tb/s of memory bandwidth—almost four times the speed offered by its current top-of-the-range Titan GPU. However, don’t expect to see the chip appear in a Mac near you until 2016.

Reporting from the GPU Technology Conference in San José, Forbes explained the speed of the chip would enable it to process all the video on a full Blu-ray disc in just 1/50th of a second.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang told the conference:

Volta is going to solve one of the biggest challenges facing GPUs today, which is access to memory bandwidth. We never seem to have enough! This is unbelievable stuff.

The speed is made possible by stacking DRAM layers on a single chip and drilling holes through the silicon to connect them. This far ahead, the company has sensibly avoided committing itself to either a price or a more specific release date.

The new iPad runs 10 degrees hotter, visualized

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I mentioned in my review that the new iPad runs a little hotter than the iPad 2. While it is not a game-changer on its own, it is certainly something to note when choosing between an iPad 2 and a new iPad. Those extra graphics cores powering all of those beautiful little pixels likely cause the extra heat. For me, the heat was strongest on the left side of the device where the motherboard strip is.

Dutch website Tweakers.net (via Engadget) did 5 minutes of GL benchmark on both an iPad 2 (right) and the new iPad (left). According to the website’s measurements, Cupertino’s new flagship slab reached 33.6C (92.5 Fahrenheit) versus 28.3C (82.9 Fahrenheit) with the iPad 2.

As you can see from the image above, the gradient of heat gets strongest where the motherboard is positioned toward the bottom.

Update: Apple responded today with a canned:

“The new iPad delivers a stunning Retina display, A5X chip, support for 4G LTE plus 10 hours of battery life, all while operating well within our thermal specifications. If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare.”

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Report: Apple to return to Nvidia for Mac Pro graphics in Nehalem update

It looks like Apple could (again) select the graphics giant Nvidia as the primary GPU provider for the upcoming Mac Pro hardware refresh. According to a mostly speculative story by MIC Gadget based on unnamed industry sources, new Mac Pros will feature Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chipset fabbed on the chip maker’s latest 22-nanometer Trigate transistor technology (no surprise there). According to Intel, 22nm Ivy Bridge silicon claims a 37 percent speed jump and lower power consumption compared to the chip giant’s 32 nanometer planar transistors. ‘Trigate’ Ivy Bridge chips can feature up to eight processing cores and are more power-savvy, so they should help scale frequency, too. On a more interesting note, MIC Gadget speculates Apple could switch back to Nvidia as the primary supplier of next-generation GPUs for the new Mac Pros.

Nvidia has their “Kepler” platform due out around the same time as Intel is making their changes, and our sources within the company indicate that they have chosen to have Nvidia lead the charge so to speak on the graphics front.

Eagle-eyed readers could mention that AMD recently released the Radeon HD 7970 graphics card powered by the Tahiti GPU (its nearest rival is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 590), with observes deeming it Apple’s go-to graphics card for future Mac Pros. Indeed, traces of support for Tahiti-driven AMD GPUs are found in Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3, at least indicating people might be able to upgrade their future Mac Pro with this card. Oh, and it’s great for Hackintosh builders, too.

Also indicative is a March 2011 Snow Leopard 10.6.7 update that enabled support for a bunch of AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx cards, not all of which were in Macs at the time. On the other hand, a speculative switch to Nvidia would not be out of character as California-based Apple is known for frequently switching between Nvidia chips and those manufactured by rival AMD…

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iPhone 4S clocked at 800MHz, still crushes iPhone 4 (and everyone else) as advertised

The first SunSpider and BrowserMark benchmarks 9to5Mac told you about yesterday confirmed the iPhone 4S as being “twice as fast”, per Apple’s tagline. Today, AnandTech published a more thorough analysis based on Javascript, CPU and GPU benchmarks of Apple’s latest handset. Thanks to the dual-core A5 chip first outed with iPad 2 this Spring, Javascript performance on iPhone 4S “finally catches up to Tegra 2 based Honeycomb devices, while general CPU performance is significantly higher than the iPhone 4″ – about 68 percent, to be precise.

More importantly, Geekbench results (seen below) tell us that iPad 2 is clocked around “25 percent higher than the iPhone 4S”. Overall, the Apple-designed dual-core A5 chip inside iPhone 4S is estimated to run at 800MHz versus iPad 2’s 1GHz A5 processor. This isn’t entirely unexpected due to the battery concerns and the handset’s much smaller 5.25 Whr battery. Furthermore, Apple says iPhone 4S has “up to seven times faster graphics” versus the advertised “nine times faster graphics” on the iPad 2 – another proof that the two device’s graphics processing units are not clocked equally.

As we predicted, Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR SGX543 graphics units ticking inside the iPhone 4S is also significantly speedier compared to the ARM-based Mali-400 GPU found in the Samsung-designed 1.2GHz Exynos 4210 processor (they recently announced the improved 4212 chip) used in the Galaxy S II smartphone. By all accounts, the iPhone 4S has the fastest graphics in a smartphone yet. Anand Lal Shimpi and Brian Klug explain:


Chart courtesy of AnandTech

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Sony debuts Light Peak product in Europe with external GPU

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It looks like the report that Apple has a lock on Light Peak technology for a year was wrong.  Sony has gone ahead and announced their first Light Peak product in Europe and perhaps most interestingly, it contains an External GPU.  TIMN summerizes:

The vertically standing peripheral (pictured above) uses Intel’s Light Peak (yes, the same thing as Apple’s Thunderbolt) via a proprietary port and USB 3.0 socket to connect to the laptop. And not only does it provide an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of VRAM, but also allows you to connect up to three additional displays via its HDMI and VGA ports.

One of the promises of Thunderbolt was External GPU video cards.  Imagine hooking your Thunderbolt-equipped, Sandy Bridge MacBook Air (with crappy integrated Intel GPU) to an external Thunderbolt GPU which drives a few 27-inch screens?

I like where this is going.

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New Flash 10.2 to see 10x improvement in performance


Here’s a demo showing a 10X reduction in CPU usage:

The video is from November but Adobe’s John Nack reports that Flash video sites across the web are updating their content to be optimized for the new version of Flash which purports to deliver video with 1/10th the CPU utilization of the current Flash plug-in.  YouTube, the biggie, is on board.  The original Flash 10.2 beta was released two weeks ago.

Good news, though: the new Flash Player 10.2 (download the beta) offers a new, video-playback-optimized mode called Stage Video.  Building on top of the GPU acceleration added earlier this year, Stage Video can leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering pipeline, from video decoding to scaling/blitting, enabling best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can dramatically decrease processor usage and enables higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.

Stage Video requires Flash developers to update the code in video players, so simply updating to the new player won’t automatically improve CPU usage on all sites, but YouTube has already updates its player & others will follow. If you’re a Flash developer and want to start experimenting, check out this tutorial from Lee Brimelow.

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