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  #21  
Old 01-04-2020, 04:16 AM
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Michael Carnes Michael Carnes is offline
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

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Originally Posted by basehead617 View Post
As a music guy myself, I'm a bit interested in this comment. I work with lots of VIs and low latency/low buffer size has never been more important to me. I find it difficult to play parts with proper feel at anything more than 64/128 buffer. Do you not play any of the parts in live on a keyboard, you just draw them?
I'm surely going to have to experiment with the buffer sizes. But my keyboard skills are marginal at best (I came up as a guitarist) so I spend a fair amount of time at the computer fixing things up. I'll often put things together as score and then export MIDI from that. At any rate, my guitar chops aren't of much use either in the sort of music that interests me.
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  #22  
Old 01-05-2020, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

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Originally Posted by Exponential Audio View Post
I'm not doing film scoring (I'm a regular old composer), but my needs aren't all that different from you guys doing scoring. I've set up a new Mac Pro (7.1) with 16 cores and 384GB of memory. My virtual instruments now live internally on a Sonnet 16-channel PCI card--4 M.2 cards set up as RAID 0. My old Trashcan was an 8-core with 64GB. Virtual instruments lived in an external T-Bolt enclosure, on SSD drives also set up as RAID 0. There are no HDX cards in this system: I'm fully native.

I took a large piece which I'd previously built on the Trashcan, using the Dolby Atmos renderer (no external RMU). The piece has 198 active tracks, a lot of Spitfire and NI instruments, along with some pre-recorded tracks. There were a pair of Stratus3D reverbs, 4 Symphony3D reverbs and a couple of Excaliburs. There's some pretty aggressive Atmos panning throughout a large and complex piece.

I was not able to do any meaningful work without freezing a lot of instrument tracks. The minimum load time (with most tracks frozen) was on the order of 15-20 minutes. The piece ran and rendered, but it was right on the edge of what the Trashcan could do. I really didn't want to go the VEPro route, with a herd full of computers that I had to keep synchronized. It's obviously a workable solution that lots of people use, but I'm at the stage of life where less stuff is a good thing.

It's a whole different story with the new Mac Pro. I took the same piece and unfroze all of the instruments. Loading time has never taken as long as two minutes, usually somewhere around 1'55". There's lots of RAM left over, so there are a lot of ways I could tweak Kontakt if necessary. For now, I'm simply sticking with defaults. The piece runs perfectly and you can see from the attached screen caps that the machine is cruising. I should point out that I had email, safari, Slack and a couple of other things running that I'd turn off in most cases.

The first screen cap is the Pro Tools activity monitor, during a busy session. According to this monitor, I never hit 40%. Of course, you should take this screen with a grain of salt. Years ago I had a talk with Andy Hall (long since gone from Avid) about this load monitor. It conveys a lot of information, but it's not an accurate reflection of how the cores are loaded. And to the best of my knowledge, it doesn't say anything about the load outside of Pro Tools.

The second screen cap is the MacOS core activity history (which covers a couple of minutes). If you don't know this display, it can be a little confusing. It shows a single physical core as 2 cores. This accounts for hyperthreading. You can see there's a little hyperthreading going on, but not much. This is a much better way to see the load of everything on your computer. I think this shows the Dolby renderer working in the first 8 physical cores, with Pro Tools more evenly spread across all 16. It also shows all the system stuff and background apps I was running. There's a little CPU spike that I don't understand: it didn't happen on a repeat playthrough.

There are some obvious differences between what I'm doing and what you film scorers are doing. I'm running the soft Atmos renderer. You're more likely to be using an external RMU or perhaps no renderer at all. I'm not running any video and that's going to be a requirement on your side. But I think it does show that you can put a very large template into one machine and either defer freezing until later (or perhaps avoid it completely).

Hope this as been worth the read.
Pretty nice! Thanks for the update-:)

G
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  #23  
Old 01-09-2020, 08:56 AM
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

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Originally Posted by Exponential Audio View Post
...16 cores and 384GB of memory.
Contemplating buying the 2019 Mac Pro. Main questions are:

1) 12 or 16 cores?

2) How much RAM? I have 32 in my current setup. Sometimes PT complains about not enough physical memory. On the other hand 384GB seems excessive? At least because I not composing for film, "only" mixing and producing. I use a fair amount of VI's but not an entire orchestra.

Any thoughts on # of cores and RAM amount?


Peter
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  #24  
Old 01-09-2020, 09:28 AM
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

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Originally Posted by Peterjk View Post
Contemplating buying the 2019 Mac Pro. Main questions are:

1) 12 or 16 cores?

2) How much RAM? I have 32 in my current setup. Sometimes PT complains about not enough physical memory. On the other hand 384GB seems excessive? At least because I not composing for film, "only" mixing and producing. I use a fair amount of VI's but not an entire orchestra.

Any thoughts on # of cores and RAM amount?


Peter
I'd really hesitate to advise you: I'm only offering my own experience. I wanted a machine that could support me for years and I spent quite sometime analyzing where my sturdy Trashcan couldn't keep up. The system I purchased is what I came up with.

But I'll take a crack at helping you spend your money. I'd definitely go with 16 cores. Upping the core count later on might involve a motherboard replacement (if not, it will still be pricy). As far as memory, that's something you can upgrade later on at lesser expense. 32GB might do you, but even for what you describe I might go for a little more.

But before you pull out that credit card, I'd suggest you get to know the Activity Monitor program that's part of your system. Let it run while you're doing your work and see exactly how hard you're pushing your processor and how much memory you're actually using. Shouldn't take you long to get the hang of the tool and it will give you great insight on how hard your system is working.
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  #25  
Old 01-09-2020, 09:36 AM
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

We will get ours tomorrow. 16-core, 96 RAM, 2TB SSD and then a Promise Pegasus J2i 8TB with room for an additional Drive. Slow spinners over SATA but for backups only. Even if you get the 4 or 8TB SSD option it's still just two physical drives. I would prefer 4 x 1 or 2TB to spread the risks.

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  #26  
Old 01-09-2020, 10:38 PM
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Peterjk Peterjk is offline
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

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Originally Posted by Exponential Audio View Post
But before you pull out that credit card, I'd suggest you get to know the Activity Monitor program that's part of your system. Let it run while you're doing your work and see exactly how hard you're pushing your processor
Great idea EA. Except for the fact that my current system is already down. :-( Mostly likely a CPU failure :-(

But from what you wrote I hear that you would spend more money on CPU now, and then maybe more on RAM later. Maybe 48GB of ram now on a 16-core?
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  #27  
Old 01-10-2020, 01:36 AM
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

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Originally Posted by Peterjk View Post
Maybe 48GB of ram now on a 16-core?
Maybe it'll last long enough that you get your memory order delivered
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  #28  
Old 01-10-2020, 04:48 AM
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Michael Carnes Michael Carnes is offline
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Default Re: New Mac Pro for Scoring - real world measurements

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Originally Posted by Peterjk View Post
Great idea EA. Except for the fact that my current system is already down. :-( Mostly likely a CPU failure :-(

But from what you wrote I hear that you would spend more money on CPU now, and then maybe more on RAM later. Maybe 48GB of ram now on a 16-core?
The base configuration for the 16-core is 32 GB. That's the way mine came and it ran. But I already had memory on the way, so I didn't run it for long at 32. I popped out those sticks and set them aside. I think 48 might be a comfortable starting place for you.
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