While on the surface it might seem like Apple is making a huge mistake not at least offering NVIDIA on their new system, it looks look those dual AMD workstation FirePro GPUs have a few tricks up their sleeve, especially as it relates to OpenCL support on both Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve 10 and Adobe's new CC software suite. Both are major players right now in the video space, and there will be some serious hardware acceleration thanks to these processors.
Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic, mentioned this on the forum:
We have been testing with DaVinci Resolve 10 builds and this screams. Its amazing and those GPUs are incredible powerful. I am not sure what I can say as I am only going off what Apple has talked about publicly here in the keynote for what I can say right now, however there is a whole new OpenCL and DaVinci Resolve 10 has had a lot of performance work done to integrate it and its really really fast. Those GPUs are very powerful and have lots of GPU memory so this is the Mac we have been waiting for! We have lots of Thunderbolt products too so video in and out is taken care of.
We will have more details once the guys get back from WWDC and we get some more info from Apple on what we can talk about etc.
Overall we could not be happier!
So that's a great sign, and while Resolve 9 lacked the support for AMD GPUs, Resolve 10, which should be released this year, is remedying that problem. That means when Apple releases the new Mac Pro with its integrated workstation FirePro cards (likely W9000), it will take full hardware advantage of AMD and NVIDIA solutions.
It also looks like Adobe is giving full hardware support for the new graphics cards, as well as many of those currently in use. Here's what the GPUs can do in Adobe's Creative Cloud software:
Thanks to its support for OpenCL, Premiere Pro CC makes it possible to harness the power of your AMD GPU to play back clips on the timeline in real time – even in 4K and beyond. The latest AMD FirePro W-series professional graphics cards are ideal for such demanding production jobs. With up to 6 GB of dedicated graphics memory, industry-leading memory bandwidth and PCI Express 3.0, the top-of-the-range AMD FirePro cards help you to scrub through RED or ARRIRAW footage without stuttering or needing to drop to lower resolution.
Premiere Pro CC isn't the only Adobe application to support heterogeneous system architectures to speed up your workflow. After Effects, SpeedGrade as well as Photoshop's Mercury Graphics Engine also take advantage of your AMD GPU for blazingly fast performance on even the largest of images when using the new Blur Gallery or demanding tools like Liquify or Puppet Warp. And since it's based on open standards like OpenCL and OpenGL, there's no need for graphics hardware using proprietary programming languages anymore.
While it was looking like NVIDIA GPUs would still have a significant advantage (we'll have to wait for benchmarks with Apple's hardware), Adobe and Blackmagic are both pushing to make their platforms hardware agnostic and perform exceptionally with both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. This is a huge step for anyone running anything other than NVIDIA hardware. Apple's apparent dislike for NVIDIA has been ongoing, but it's looking like it won't actually hurt them, or their users, in this case.
We'll have to wait and see if NVIDIA still has an advantage over AMD when it comes to hardware acceleration (it's certainly possible that some things may still be slower or may not work as well on AMD), but it's looking like at least the somewhat artificial barriers for support have been lifted.
- Premiere Pro CC Supported Hardware -- Adobe
- Adobe CC -- FirePro Graphics -- AMD
- New Mac Pro with AMD GPUs -- Blackmagic Forum
[Disclosure: Blackmagic is a No Film School advertiser]