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Zmotive

Future of GPU Acceleration (Mac)

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Thanks for the great work you guys continue to do on this product; I know it's been a tough year for Cycles development for reasons posted elsewhere.

That said as I look at the new early adopter release, it tracks pretty closely with the new version of Cycles being readied for Blender 2.8 final release. One of the things noted on their pages (and I'm not sure how much control Insydium would have for Cycles 4D) is that OpenCL on Mac is no longer supported. This is due to Apple's change over to Metal and don't mean to debate or rehash any of that.

My questions are simply these: 

1) Do I understand correctly that on the Mac, right now, the only GPU acceleration would be for host configurations that work with NVIDIA GPUs and CUDA?

2) It's not spelled out anywhere on the Blender pages (that I saw) or on Insydium's pages, but are there plans to build in Metal support for Cycles and/or Cycles4D, so that AMD users may benefit? I'm hoping this is the case, especially given MAXON's bent towards AMD technologies (like Pro Render). But I also realize if this is the plan it might take quite a while.

Any insights appreciated. Cycles4D being the environment I'd prefer to use for an XP-focused workstation, whether or not there are plans for Metal makes a difference in which type of host hardware I purchase (Mac or PC). As it's very likely whatever Apple's next "Mac Pro," it's not going to support NVIDIA GPUs, modular or otherwise.

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Unfortunately, future builds in Mac may not contain OpenCL support (due to Mac bad drivers that doesn't compile OpenCL kernels for Cycles and requires many work arounds that are not a real solutions, while they run fine on Windows and Linux!), and Apple won't help (it is all in Apple's hands, nothing we can do).

Pro Render is a different story, it is maintained by AMD, so they do the work arounds internally (possibly write assembly code for areas that Mac compiler fails in!!), this is not pratcical and shouldn't be the case (if compiler can't compile a working code, then it is not a real compiler...it is just a bugged compiler that Apple was so lazy to fix, so they just went into creating their own API for GPGPU which is Metal, and they forgot about the more important one which is OpenCL..).

the current core that we use is from October which still supports OpenCL on Mac, but on Release it will be the latest core which doesn't support OpenCL on Mac anymore.
as I know how Cycles core is done, extending it to a different API (like Metal) can be done, but it will never happen 🙂 (as it is simply not a cross platform solution).

as I know Blender users will rage also about this, so only Apple should reply with a solution for their bad drivers. or they ship NVIDIA GPUs.
I recommend, always buy PC whenever you can, with NVIDIA GPU.

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Thanks Mohamed.

Sounds like the only Cycles and Cycles 4D GPU solution on Mac will be NVIDIA (via 3rd party eGPU solutions — i.e. unsupported hacks), or a miracle occurs and Apple starts supporting NVIDIA cards with their next Mac Pro. But the writing has been on the wall for a long time between NVIDIA and Apple.

NVIDIA initially caused problems when Apple was trying to drive OpenCL adoption so they're not totally blameless, but as I say no point in rehashing any of that now. Plenty of time has past since those days and since then Apple has given a big FU to anyone in the Mac community who wants to use NVIDIA hardware. Apple thinks Apple knows best, as usual. The ole "people don't know what they want until we show them" BS Steve Jobs used to say. Meanwhile fingers in ears, hands over eyes. Can't wait for their "modular Mac Pro" to show up and be exactly what no one asked for. Very likely some Thunderbolt-enabled cluster-F.

Ultimately I think Apple's plan is to design and manufacture their own GPUs with help from TSMC, and I guarantee those won't support anything but Metal. A year ago PC seemed like an 80/20 proposition. 80% chance it was a smart move, 20% chance sticking with Apple / waiting for next Mac Pro was smart. Now that seems more in the range of 98 / 2 proposition. PC all the way at this point. Sad, really. All of this (with Apple's resources) was easily avoidable.

Edited by Zmotive
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