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Any iMac users out there?

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#1 Mike 200K

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 02:41 PM

I can guess, but one of you might actually KNOW....

 

"Late 2014 5K iMac" is pretty good friends with Pixinsight, but how would the 2020 behave?

 

Thanks

Mike



#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 03:02 PM

I use a 2017 5K iMac with Pixinsight and it works great.  Not sure why 2020 would be any different.

 

-Dan



#3 ezwheels

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 03:05 PM

I use a 2017 5K iMac with Pixinsight and it works great.  Not sure why 2020 would be any different.

 

-Dan

Same here, 2017 5k iMac core i7. I also built a dedicated Windows 10 PI machine this fall and that is substantially faster but they both work as intended. 



#4 Marcelofig

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 03:10 PM

Go to the PixInsight Benchmark and select OSX as the Operating System. Then compare your old iMac processor with the 2020 model.

https://pixinsight.com/benchmark/


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#5 andysea

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 04:40 PM

If you are thinking to upgrade your iMac I would say wait a bit longer. The iMac is way overdue for a refresh and I think there is a strong possibility that it will be the next computer to be equipped with the M1 chip or maybe its next iteration. I suspect that it will be quite a jump in performance.


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#6 whwang

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 05:56 PM

The 27 inch model of iMac was released in August.  It's actually quite new.  For those who worry about the compatibility issue of Apple Silicon in its first couple of years, the 27 inch intel iMac is indeed a very good option.

 

That being said, waiting for the M1X or M2 iMac isn't a bad idea either.  For iMac, it will probably take another year though.



#7 Marcelofig

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 07:52 PM

If you are thinking to upgrade your iMac I would say wait a bit longer. The iMac is way overdue for a refresh and I think there is a strong possibility that it will be the next computer to be equipped with the M1 chip or maybe its next iteration. I suspect that it will be quite a jump in performance.

 

I'm in the same boat, but we have to keep in mind that the wait for PI to have a native version for the M1 chip will be long. And while the first tests of PI running under Rosetta 2 are promising, full testing is yet to come.

 

And there are already some drawbacks, for example for PI to work under Rosetta 2 it is necessary to delete the Starnet module (and they are not interested in fixing it, they will go directly to the native version).



#8 Lead_Weight

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Posted 28 November 2020 - 07:56 PM

If you are thinking to upgrade your iMac I would say wait a bit longer. The iMac is way overdue for a refresh and I think there is a strong possibility that it will be the next computer to be equipped with the M1 chip or maybe its next iteration. I suspect that it will be quite a jump in performance.

Completely agree here. Any M1 version is going to substantially blow away the intel versions. Supposedly a redesigned version with an M1 variant will be coming out in the 2021 mid year event. The current M1 computers are surpassing the intel machines even running the same program under emulation, let alone any native version. If you can hold out at all, it would be worth your time. 


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#9 Mike 200K

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 09:06 AM

thanks guys, waiting for the M processor. just ordered more RAM for that old box, lets see how this changes my waits!



#10 airscottdenning

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 03:04 PM

Late to the party -- I do PixInsight on a maxed-out 2018 Mac mini --  6-core i7, 64 GB RAM, big SSD.

 

It's pretty good and beats the crap out of the much older iMac I used previously. 

 

But for preprocessing and especially for stuff like StarNet and Deconvolution, I really wish it was 10x faster. 

 

I suspect it will be awhile before M1 (actually M3 or so) macOS can really crank on PixInsight. Maybe more importantly someday (soon?) PI will start leveraging GPUs. Apple guards their software-hardware integration pretty tightly so Apple Silicon GPUs may *never* be fully supported by PI.

 

For myself, I will wait for GPU integration in PI and then build a threadripper box for PI. I will stick the ugly, noisy PI-box in the basement without a monitor and just VNC into it from my nice Mac. I think this will work better than PI on an M1 mac.


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#11 Mike 200K

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 08:58 AM

Threadripper????

 

(I gave up being a geek after XP, never looked back)

 

a quick google search offers machines between 1 and 9k, and I am worried about mal- and bloatware that I just don't want to deal with....

 

would you be kind enough to tell me a bit more about your plans? size, daily management....

 

Its not a Mac, so one probably should not stick it into the basement and forget it....(like an airport with 8GB drivesmile.gif

 

thanks!



#12 airscottdenning

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 10:02 AM

Threadripper????

 

(I gave up being a geek after XP, never looked back)

 

a quick google search offers machines between 1 and 9k, and I am worried about mal- and bloatware that I just don't want to deal with....

 

would you be kind enough to tell me a bit more about your plans? size, daily management....

 

Its not a Mac, so one probably should not stick it into the basement and forget it....(like an airport with 8GB drivesmile.gif

 

thanks!

Hi Mike,

I certainly didn't mean to offer advice to everyone -- just my own plans for future PixInsight work.

Threadripper is a brand of processor sold by Intel rival AMD. They feature large numbers of compute cores (as many as 64 cores in a single chip), and are popular with gamers. I propose to build a no-name linux machine based on one of these chips and load it up with memory and SSD. 

PixInsight is built with lots of CPU cores in mind. Many processes that are very slow in PixInsight run MUCH faster on lots of cores, so in general the more cores you can use the better. My late-model Mac mini has 6 cores and runs 12 threads in PixInsight. It's a HUGE improvement over my older 2-core Mac. Based on PixInsight benchmarks published at the PixInsight website, the best performance for this application is on Threadripper machines running linux.

No, they are not macs. And yes indeed I propose to put it in my basement. I don't need a monitor and keyboard attached to my proposed PixInsight machine. I just need a way to get it to process astro-images. I propose to use VNC or NoMachine for this purpose, as I already do for my Raspberry Pi out at the telescope.

I don't want a big ugly linux server with loud fans in my beautiful 1924 Arts-and-Crafts study. I will continue using my mac for web browsing, email, Word, Powerpoint, photos, music, and Zoom. It's got a lovely big monitor and the silent mac mini is hidden away inside the mahogany desk.

So the plan is to configure and build a PixInsight server that will be out of sight except when I venture down among the spiderwebs to fool around with it.

Yes for sure, a machine like this will cost thousands of dollars. You could certainly spend that kind of money on a high-end mac, or an Astro-Physics Mach 2 mount, or even a brand-new imaging camera with nice filters instead. 

I like to tinker. I have a bunch of Raspberry Pis that I use for various astronomy tasks. It seems like a fun project to me to separate my PixInsight processing from my day-to-day computer, and do it on a dedicated machine that runs slow stuff like preprocessing and deconvolution and StarNet++ dozens of times faster than my mac. I hope this will let me poke around with options in PixInsight and experiment and get better at processing my images.

But I never meant that my plans should be good advice for every amateur astronomer.  

Different strokes!

Scott


Edited by airscottdenning, 02 December 2020 - 10:12 AM.

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#13 LuxTerra

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 07:41 PM

Completely agree here. Any M1 version is going to substantially blow away the intel versions. Supposedly a redesigned version with an M1 variant will be coming out in the 2021 mid year event. The current M1 computers are surpassing the intel machines even running the same program under emulation, let alone any native version. If you can hold out at all, it would be worth your time. 

This is both true and not totally true. The situation is a bit complex and as with most valid engineering answers, it always depends. Just for clarification.

 

BLUF: At a given power level (~25W peak), Apple's M1 is beating everything, but in "unconstrained" power, it's just matching Intel and slower than AMDs Zen3 per core by about 5%. In multi-core, it depends, but only because Apple has so few cores compared to at least AMD (M1 is really 4+4x core not a traditional 8x core like AMD sells and that matters for multi-core workloads). The only Intel laptops which can match the M1s performance for short periods of time are the Tiger Lake/Willow Cove stuff that sort of was released in September. Very few people have those. Most people who aren't reviewers are comparing against much slower designs.

 

 

Details:

The Apple M1 is a low-end, low-power SoC. It's not designed to compete with something like a desktop/workstation class processor from Intel or AMD. Those CPUs draw huge amounts of power until they basically thermally throttle/stabilize. For example, Xeons or Threadrippers or Ryzen 5000s. The M1 is designed to compete with mobile, i.e. laptop and mini desktop, CPUs. For example, Intel's Tiger Lake 1185G7s or AMDs mobile Ryzen 4000s.

 

Because new designs don't roll out coherently across the entire product stack, you can get mismatches. For example, AMDs desktops are now on Zen3 core design as Ryzen 5000, but Threadripper (its big workstation brother) is only on Zen2 as Threadripper 3000. However, AMDs mobile solution is also only on Zen2 as Ryzen 4000. Marketing does their best to make ever product stack sound like it's the best! It's better to discuss actual feature sets like core designs; e.g. Zen3 vs Zen2. Thus, the desktop level AMDs are on Zen3, which in most tasks is the fastest core around. However, the workstations and laptops, for now, are still on Zen2 which is a good 10-15+% slower.

 

Intel is in the same boat. Most of their products are on some version of Sunny Cove (one gen old now), but what everyone is comparing the M1 against is the Tiger Lake products which use the latest and greatest Willow Cove cores. Some of their current products are on even older core designs (which incidentally is what your average user would compare against). It's also, if you remain only in Apple's products lines, what you'd test against. I.e. Apple has no Tiger Lake/Willow Core offerings right now, only older options, of which the M1 easily beats.

 

Now all this plays into the design of Apple's chassis which are specifically targeting a power/heat specification, which we can roughly relate to Thermal Power Dissipation (TDP) in watts. Now, this is complex, so I'm glossing over a lot here. Roughly, the 12" MacBook was a ~7W design, the MBA is a ~15W design, the 13" MBP up to a ~35W design, and the 16" MBP a ~45W CPU + ~30-50W GPU design, although in practice its really closer to a 75W design and processors just throttle. The Intel MacBooks greatly exceeded these numbers under Turbo and only sort of respected them after thermal throttling and dropping to their base clock speeds. The MacBook doesn't exist anymore because it's not needed. The MBA is now fanless as it's replacement and the iPads fill out the ultra-compact requirements of the MacBook. This leaves Apple with 15/35/75W chassis designs. The M1 is up to a 25W, but the MBA throttles a bit on longer workloads because it really only can cool a 15W SoC. This is fine for most users because the don't hit all cores at 100%. The 13" MBP chassis is designed for up to 35W and has no problems handling the 25W M1 thermals.

 

This leaves the question open as to what Apple will do next to fill up the chassis it already has. The M1X rumors suggest exactly this with Apple likely doubling the fast cores to a 8+4c CPU and unknown about the GPU. If you look around, the GPU draws about 8W and the rest of the CPU the remainder split better fast/slow very unevenly. This isn't so clear cut since it's challenging to separate out power draws on such an integrated device. For the remaining 10W of TDP in the 13" MBP, Apple could double the fast CPU cores or double the GPU, but not both without exceeding the TDP. However, exceeding the TDP only matters for really long workloads and so it's not really a problem.

 

My money (speculation) is on the M1X being an 8c+4c CPU with 12-16c GPU; peak TDP of around 45W, but slight throttling to get under 35W sustained. That should also be the entry level 16" MBP, but makes very poor use of the ~75W TDP. Thus, my money (speculation) is that there will also be an M1Z (purely a naming guess) chip that's 12c+4c CPU + 16-24c GPU to fill out that 16" MBP chassis. I'm fairly certain that the M1X will come out in March 2021 (aligns with Adobe PS release, rumors already point that way, etc.), but the M1Z I just speculated on may not happen until Apple comes out with the M2 later in 2021. However, it seems unlikely that Apple will only have one SoC option in a 16" MBP unless they intend to replace it in the Fall with an M2 redesign. Scaling these up is totally within TSMCs 5nm process node capabilities. The M1 is not a tiny IC at ~125mm^2 (an 8c Zen chipset is on the order of 80mm^2 depending on generation), but it's well under Intel's monolithic dies which are closer to 200mm^2 in the mobile space and far larger as you move up the stack. Some of the largest consumer dies you generally can buy are products like Nvidia's GPUs which can be in the 400-600+mm^2 range; these push the reticle limits on the high end.

 

The Mini will get that M1X, but the Mini Pro would only see the M1Z. I don't expect to see higher end desktop/workstation options until M2 is released. I think they'll skip this M1 generation. All this seems sort of obvious once you assume that Apple will: 1) want to update their other mobile Mac products sooner rather than later and 2) wants to manage the risk by separating the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon from chassis redesigns. Both assumptions seem reasonable and align with the M1 approach to date.

 

Summary: Apples cores are performance competitive with the best from AMD/Intel, but it doesn't have enough of them (yet) to compete with performance orientated desktop/workstations from AMD/Intel. The scaling up will happen and it remains to be seen just how far Apple will push it. Because of the lower power draw and clever design, there appears to be no technical reason they can't scale up to within practical limits.


Edited by LuxTerra, 03 December 2020 - 07:48 PM.

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#14 GSBass

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 01:33 PM

I’m a Mac guy but got dragged back in to pc when I bought the 462c this year, it’s exciting to see the M1 and what Apple will do in the future but Now the programs I need run on Intel so I just ordered a tiger lake with 16 gigs of ram and a large oled screen to support my capture and processing .... guess I’ll look again in 3 or 4 years and see if any programmers in our hobby have started to write for the Mac.... or I suppose it’s possible Apple develops such a strong lead that even emulation will beat the speeds of native Intel machines



#15 Lead_Weight

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 04:26 PM

I've been using the 462c with ASICap from ZWO on my Mac. Works great. 



#16 GSBass

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 05:25 PM

What do you use for stacking and wavlets?

I've been using the 462c with ASICap from ZWO on my Mac. Works great. 



#17 Lead_Weight

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 08:25 PM

Planetary system stacker for stacking, and PixInsight for wavelets.

#18 LuxTerra

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Posted 07 December 2020 - 11:41 PM

Enjoy!

 

Summary of Latest Apple M1 Estimates:

Using this data, https://semianalysis...r-the-industry/, Apple could build the rumored M1X with 16+4c CPU / 32c GPU for about double the M1 die, or about <250mm^2. Now that's being generous, since you don't necessarily need to double everything on the M1. That should be a reasonable die. Using AnandTech power data (https://www.anandtech.com/show/16252/mac-mini-apple-m1-tested), this chip would have a TDP of ~100W. Again, that fits in the 16" MBP, but might run the fans a bit. Performance would be about 16x Zen3 cores, but without SMT, which will be interesting to see it play out. I wonder if Apple will scale the Icestorm cores with the Firestorm since those are basically giving similar average performance gains as SMT (~20%). Using the Tom’s data (https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gpu-hierarchy,4388.html) the GPU performance would be similar to a RTX 3070! (M1 is about 20% and inline with a GTX 1650, so 4x should be around 80% but scaling won't be perfect). Regardless, that’s a crazy laptop.

 

Now, Apple could go insane and build a very big die, but still well under the 5nm TSMC reticle limits. Double the above to a 500mm^2 die, with 32c+4c / 64c! Now, that’s going to be expensive and yields won’t be great this earlier on the process, but Nvidia (and others) regularly builds 400-600nm dies, so it’s not impossible. Just not cheap. Double would be a TDP of 200W, which is again a lot, but still less than many Intel chips these days. A 16c Ryzen 5950x draws ~170W by itself, so totally doable. Won’t fit in a laptop, but certainly fits in a Mini or iMac. GPU performance would be ~1.5x a RTX 3090! Imagine a 32c Zen3 Threadripper, minus SMT, and better than RTX 3090. I personally don’t think Apple will do this with M1/A14 and will wait until M2/A15 later. Instead of a single die, they’ll likely find a way to go chiplet like AMD, but this is just how crazy good the M1 really is.

 

Now, beyond that for Mac Pros, until TSMC 3nm, Apple would need to expand out the hypothetical chiplets or use multiple SoCs. Two is easy and reasonable, but four wouldn't be impossible. That would be a 2-4x (32+4c CPU / 64c GPU) at 2-4x 200W (total of 400-800W). Now that's a lot, but within workstation norms. Even if Apple goes this far, doubt we'd see it until 2022 with an M2.


Edited by LuxTerra, 07 December 2020 - 11:46 PM.

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