New MacBook Pro, Mac Pro may change 4K landscape

New MacBook Pro, Mac Pro may change 4K landscape

Summary: The latest results of MacBook Pro performance tests show it may likely change the pace of mobile 4K video editing. And the forthcoming Mac Pro workstation looks to carry The Mac's gains even further.

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A number of recent speed tests show the memory architecture of the new MacBook Pro combined with its proprietary SSD can more-than handle the needs of 4K video editing. And we can expect even more so with the Mac Pro.

The hardware and software issues of editing 4K video are detailed in a recent post at Alex Gollner's editing and media blog. The system must be capable of handling three or four 4K video clips at once.

 

Apple's new MacBook Pro can edit 4K video.

 

Up until now, there have been two strategies of dealing with high quality video on systems that are too slow: wait for the computer the render the video to a single combined clip which can then be played back, or to make lower quality versions that can be edited without rendering.

What could the next Mac Pro/Final Cut Pro X combination bring to 4K editing? The ability to import 4K clips and to work with them instantly – playing more than one at the same time without having to wait for rendering.

The hardware needed to enable this workflow are fast storage and system bandwidth, as well as, the performance to decode these large video streams.

According to Gollner, his disk speed tests of a 15-inch MacBook Pro 2013 with a 1TB SSD showed 878MBs reads and 943MBs writes. His mid-2009 model with a third-party SSD gave 265MBs and 206MBs, reads and writes, respectively.

Some sites have reported even faster speeds. The new MacBook Pros replaced the standard SATA storage interface with a way-faster, 4-channel PCIe 3 connection (with twice the bandwidth of the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air). This is the same architecture in the new Mac Pro.

Of course, the Mac Pro will have vastly greater video processing power. But the MacBook Pro's performance is still strong.

Gollner simulated a 4D display and then put up 4 classic rotating globe clips with Final Cut Pro. He then recorded the result. Check it out at the bottom of the blog post.

Both the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro appear ready to remake 4K workflows. They are much more complex and difficult than the well-understood HD workflows.

In the latest Film Maker magazine, Michael Murie writes about the "state of the art" in 4K workflows, covering capture, editing and playback in distribution. Currently, the editors are using proxy files instead of handling the actual 4K video, as Gollner described. The previous hardware isn't up to snuff, even with dedicated Thunderbolt capture/playback devices, such as the new BlackMagic Design UltraStudio 4K Capture & Playback system.

Many editing applications have already made the jump to 4K. Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, Final Cut Pro X, all claim to support 4K, though your computer may vary. Philip Bloom posted last week that he was unable to edit 4K with the Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 4K Thunderbolt Capture & Playback device attached to his iMac, and had to work with proxy files.

No 4K ProRes editing 4me on my iMac even w/ BMD 4K Ultrastudio on my amish doc… too taxing. Looking good though Proxy.

Blackmagic’s color grading application Resolve supports 4K footage, and some people are using it to create proxies, then they edit the proxies in their editor before performing the final grade with the 4K footage in Resolve.

However, as we see from the latest round of testing, performance from the new generation of Apple hardware should make proxies unnecessary.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Storage

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  • This argument is stupid!

    I do video editing sometimes in 1080p and 2160p and I use a system with 64gb of RAM and working files are copied to RAMDISK partition and the bandwidth craps on PCIe SSD.
    Wait, you can't get a 64gb Mac? too bad.
    warboat
    • But the computer's case is so small and elegant!

      That nice little cylinder with the hole on top is a think of beauty...

      ...well, it would be, if it weren't hiding behind all the cables and external devices plugged into it.
      daftkey
      • And video editors don't use drives?

        What? You think any video editor is going to work with internal drives only?

        How much space do you think you need for a decent HD video project?

        And what connecting 2 monitors plus video I/O for video somehow doesn't involve cables on a tower?

        Trolls go away you are clueless.
        richardw66
        • Well, certainly not video editors using the new Mac Pro...

          Even the older Mac Pro gave you "some" internal expansion options. For what its worth, Apple had been crowing this "use an external device" song since they came out with Firewire.

          You are aware that in the "not Apple" world, there are cases and workstations that can hold many, many internal hard drives (some of them can hold up to sixteen 2.5" SAS server drives, connected to a hardware RAID card, with the same or smaller footprint as the older Mac Pro). That would fit the bill quite well without having to string a bunch of crap across your desk.

          Not to mention, the drives would be a lot more reliable than SSDs or other consumer-level drives that Apple generally installs in their "Pro" computers. Sure, backing up regularly mitigates that risk anyway, but it is always nice when disaster just doesn't happen in the first place. Easier to just get your work done, rather than fix things and get your work done.

          Unless you are suggesting putting all those external hard drives on the floor with the Mac Pro or on some other table in your office? Sure that would work, but wouldn't you rather have that real-estate available for other purposes? Not to mention, with external drives you're still limited by Thunderbolt's bandwidth (admittedly, there is a lot there, but it still has a limit). Not to mention, for setting up any kind of RAID for performance you would need to either use software RAID over Thunderbolt (added CPU overhead and latency from the external connection, and still limited to the TB bandwidth) or use an external enclosure with a hardware RAID system internal (still limited to TB bandwidth, and now adding another large device to your desk).

          "And what connecting 2 monitors plus video I/O for video somehow doesn't involve cables on a tower?"

          Sure, there's always going to be "some" real-estate taken up by monitors and cables and your video camera or other capture device. Why though, would that make it okay to be forced into giving up even more desk real estate to external drives, RAID enclosures, DVD drives, or any other device that could be housed in the case you keep on the floor?

          It is generally a symptom of wearing Apple-coloured specs when you're thinking in terms of "what's wrong with this - I can work around it just fine" instead of "how is this better for me?" I have to say, there isn't a lot in the new Mac Pro that is better than the old Mac Pro, except maybe aesthetics. Specs may push you that way when you want to upgrade, but those specs could have just as easily (or even more easily, probably) been put into the older, more functional tower.
          daftkey
          • Re: there are cases and workstations that...

            ... are noisy and heat dissipating as hell!

            Who in their sane mind wants that stuff on their desk?

            For this kind of tasks, I have machine rooms full of racks, full of hundreds of spinning drives, GPU servers, etc. I can sit in a quiet and comfortable room, with "only" the "insignificant" Mac Pro sitting on my desk and the rest connected via optical Thunderbolt cables to the server room.

            Computers are these to serve you, not the other way around.
            danbi
          • Depends on the build...

            There are desktops that are incredibly quiet but still incredibly powerful. I have a full tower machine at home with six drives in it (two are SSDs) and is fanned-out to the max, and it makes very little noise.

            The nice thing with big cases, is you can put bigger, slower fans in them to dissipate heat, and you can put many in there (can also water-cool them - Apple's been known to use this trick in the past as well). I haven't seen one in action yet, but I would venture a guess that the smaller, sleeker Mac Pro is actually louder than the older, bigger, metal monster that it is replacing.
            daftkey
          • Good for you, danbi...

            "For this kind of tasks, I have machine rooms full of racks, full of hundreds of spinning drives, GPU servers, etc. I can sit in a quiet and comfortable room, with "only" the "insignificant" Mac Pro sitting on my desk and the rest connected via optical Thunderbolt cables to the server room."

            Nice luxury to have, I'm sure. In my past life I remember specing out Xserve RAIDs for the very same purpose and connecting them up to Power Mac G5s and Mac Pros via FibreChannel. You know how many of those systems I'd sold in a decade? Two. Both to a TV station (the second set of RAIDs was just an upgrade to the first). Even in that space, Final Cut Pro was really just a rough cutting tool - they generally did their work in Media100 and Avid systems.

            Do you know how many single-tower rigs I sold in that same time span (approximately a decade) for the purpose of pro audio (Pro Tools, Logic, or Nuendo generally) or video editing (FCP)? Hundreds. Most people in this space don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a dedicated server room (or borrow the one at whatever University they happen to be studying at). The one or two towers and/or laptops is their studio, so they need to be able to support that editing workflow on their own without the backing of a render farm.
            daftkey
          • you must be awesome then!

            do you take that server room with you to LAN parties?
            warboat
          • You just beat my comment with a one-liner...

            ..you sir, win the internets! :)
            daftkey
      • How is a single cable to a disk array not elegant?

        Can you elaborate on why you are implying a need for multitudes of external cables?
        I can get an external cage with PCI slots AND drive bays, with additional I/O ports, that runs off a single TB port. So again, where are all these cables you claim are necessary?
        .DeusExMachina.
        • Compared to a rats nest, sure, its elegant...

          "Can you elaborate on why you are implying a need for multitudes of external cables?"

          How else are you going to plug in your DVD burner (or two) and external hard drives? I don't think wireless technologies have come that far yet.

          "I can get an external cage with PCI slots AND drive bays, with additional I/O ports, that runs off a single TB port. "

          True. Or you could have all those PCI slots and drive bays built into the workstation running your video editing software, and have zero TB cables (and associated overhead - or did you think that conversion from TB to external RAID and PCIe was costless?) involved. You could also save yourself a bit of floor/desk space in not needing two cases for what amounts to permanent storage.

          Cables are only part of the equation - and a very minor one at that.
          daftkey
          • @daftkey

            Great until you want to take your work with you to another office, or on holiday and use your MBP. Then the ability to take a TB array is far and away worth that extra cable on your desk....
            paddle.
          • Not disputing the fact that external drives have a purpose...

            ..and that is exactly the purpose for which they were built.

            However...

            It is one thing to buy an external drive and use it as a portable medium because that is what works best for you. It is entirely another to buy one because you have no other choice in the matter.

            Having a video editing rig with a dozen internal hard drives doesn't remove that choice - you can always add externals to that rig if you choose, and have the best of both worlds.
            daftkey
          • LOL yeh right!

            As if you're going to cart around a disk array with you.
            how hard is it to simply copy what you need to a 3TB portable drive or two?
            warboat
          • Um, did you bother to read? Do you even know how TB works?!?

            "How else are you going to plug in your DVD burner (or two) and external hard drives"
            With a single enclosure with multiple drive bays, and even a PCI slot, IN A SINGLE BOX, WITH A SINGLE CABLE.

            "Or you could have all those PCI slots and drive bays built into the workstation running your video editing software, and have zero TB cables (and associated overhead."

            Or, the flip side, you could waste huge amounts of space reserved for internal storage devices you will never use. It is a trade off. You can't presuppose the one, just to make a point. But even if you did, a Mac Pro with an external card cage is STILL smaller in footprint than your dedicated all-in-one box, and does NOT have a tangle of "multitudes of external cables". So you are wrong. Period.

            As to overhead, what overhead? You make more and more clear with every post that you don't know how TB works, and thus have no business commenting on it like you do. TB, as an external implementation of PCIe, has NO additional overhead vs. PCIe. Zero, zilch, nada. Period.

            Yes, it is costless. There is not "conversion" to PCIe. WTF are you babbling about?!? TB IS PCIe.

            But you could be excused your ignorance re: TB, since that requires a bit of technological knowledge, that, despite your feigning, you clearly do not have. But your floorspace one, not. All that requires is simple math. Add up the size of the base of the Mac Pro. Add to that the size of an external enclosure that can house the drives of which you speak. Guess what? It's smaller than a standard ATX case.
            .DeusExMachina.
          • OK now, lets scale it up!

            now we're using an array of Mac Pros.
            how do we stack them up?
            in a custom wine rack?
            those external drive cages and power supplies start to get a bit messy as you add more Mac Pros.
            It's not meant for that? oh, sorry, I thought it was "PRO"?
            warboat
          • First, being rack mountable is NOT the criterion for being a pro machine

            Second, you have ZERO information to indicate that they are not rackable.
            More to the point, this machine is not intended for use in server farms, they are intended as workstations. Yes, PRO workstations. Workstations are NOT typically rack mounted.
            Which you'd know if you EVER worked in video production instead of just pretending you did.
            .DeusExMachina.
        • so the Mac Pro is really a 2+ box solution?

          how is that more elegant than a one box solution?
          warboat
          • Um, no.

            Who said anything about external enclosures being required?
            .DeusExMachina.
          • And… here's comes the logical fallacy of moving the goal posts in 3, 2, 1…

            .DeusExMachina.