VUO - Best GPU Type, Single-Core, Multi-Core (Changed!)

OK, here’s the situation. I currently have an Early 2011 17" MacBook Pro for running VUO… it’s been experiencing a few strange power/heating related issues ever since a motherboard replacement 1.5 years ago and I can no longer trust it for live events… so I’m looking to upgrade. I am currently looking at the following systems as possible replacements.

  • iMac 2015 (i7 6700K - 4.0GHz, 16GB, AMD R9 M395X 4GB)
  • Mac Pro 2013 (Xeon E5-1620 - 4-Core 3.7GHz, 16GB, AMD D500 FirePro 3GB (x2))
  • Mac Pro 2013 (Xeon E5-1650 - 6-Core 3.5GHz, 16GB, AMD D500 FirePro 3GB (x2))
  • MacBook Pro 2016 (i7 6920HQ - 2.9GHz 3.8GHz, 16GB, AMD Radeon Pro 460 4GB)

Currently I am connecting the following to the system:

  • Logitech C910 Webcam (Datamatrix Barcode Reader)
  • Blackmagic Ultra Studio Mini Recorder (SDI/HDMI 1080p video input)
  • Dual 1080p Projectors (2x miniDisplayPort to HDMI adaptors) 3360x1080 Resolution
  • 1080p Monitor (miniDisplayPort to DisplayPort)
  • iPad 3 as touchscreen monitor via Duet App

(Attached is my intended monitor arrangement)

To help me make a good purchasing decision I am looking for opinions and insight on how VUO benefits from GPU performance, Single-Core performance vs Multi-Core count. My composition is highly graphical, with live video and images overlaid in multiple layers but is also performing tasks like decoding barcodes, on the fly calculations and soon XML access I hope.

If there’s any way you can test your composition on the system before buying, I would recommend that.

About dual GPUs: Multiple GPU 's and Vuo

I see that all of the systems you’re considering have AMD GPUs. Just to make sure you’re aware, there are some open bug reports where a bug in Apple’s AMD GPU driver leads to a bug in Vuo (crash, slow, slow).

Honestly it’s hard to predict performance because of the interactions between GPU, other hardware, and macOS version — but hopefully if someone here has a similar setup they will be able to lend their experience.

I have been running some tests on my own 2013 Mac Pro (Quad with Dual D500) for the Composition I’ve been developing and so far it’s been pretty good to me performance wise. I’ve been reading the dual GPUs thread thread however since the new Mac Pro aren’t separate GPUs but instead Crossfire GPUs I’m not sure much of it applies. I’ve been able to connect 4 displays (2x 1080p projectors with edge-blending, 1x 1080p Dell Monitor, and my iPad3 via Duet Display) and performance has been good so far for most things. I’m leaning toward a 6-core Mac Pro so if most nodes are multi-core compatible than I think performance will be even better.

Thanks, I’ve been keeping an eye on the crash/slow/slow threads as well however AMD seems to be Apple’s thing at the moment so buying a new nVidia system (Community Colleges can’t buy used equipment) with the right IO connections isn’t even in the cards for this project unfortunately.

Do we know what the exact bug is in the AMD GPU driver so that we can maybe start a support thread with Apple to get it fixed (I don’t know if they’ll listen but it’s worth a shot). Sometimes to be heard a little louder it helps to start a reddit thread and point it to the Apple Support thread; maybe a few more users experiencing the same issues would help stir the pot a little. Worth a shot.  

Until Vuo 1.2.5 is released, you also have to consider the OS version:

Basically, don’t install macOS 10.12 yet.

Compositions are indeed multi-core compatible. They use Grand Central Dispatch. Vuo analyzes the composition to see which parts can execute in parallel. For example, in the below composition, the two Calculate Amplitude for Frequencies nodes can because they don’t depend on each other’s results. Vuo tells Grand Central Dispatch that these can execute concurrently, and ideally Grand Central Dispatch schedules them to execute in parallel on different CPU cores.

multicore calculate.png

At least in 2014, MacOS didn’t actually take advantage of the CrossFire-ness (New Mac Pros support AMD's CrossFire GPU teaming, but currently only within Windows | AppleInsider). Has that changed?

We don’t know the exact bug in the AMD GPU driver, but we have some guesses and are working on implementing them to see if they fix the problem.

Since OS X doesn’t support “Crossfire-ness” I’m not sure how it works on a hardware side with Multiple GPUs than because it has 3 identified Thunderbolt Buses that all seem to be connected to the 2 GPUs. How would you determine which GPU you are plugging into to spread the GPU load?

Hmmm… and I’m not sure if it’s still relevant to their current MacOS but at WWDC 2010 they had a session on taking advantage of multiple GPUs in Open GL and OpenCL. Apparently they were using an nVidia and an AMD in a tower style Mac Pro for the demonstration. Obviously though on a setup like that you would know which GPU you were connected to for each display. Is this how VUO handles multiple GPUs too?

Admittedly, much of what they are talking about in that video is a little (or a lot) beyond me. :)

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You can see which GPU each display is on by going to System Information > Hardware > Graphics/Displays.

By default, macOS uses just the primary GPU to do the work of rendering, then it copies the rendered image to the other GPU(s) to output to their respective display(s).

macOS apps have the option to spread the load of rendering to the secondary GPUs. But that requires special implementation, which Vuo doesn’t currently have.

OK thanks for the clarification… so I imagine implementing load balanced rendering on multi GPUs in VUO would be a massive amount of work and only benefit a small portion of the VUO user base?!?

I was just about to ask about this. I tried all variations of GPUs as primary, along with variations of “displays have seperate spaces” and still cant get rendering on anything other than the intel GPU.

Would be great if multiple GPU rendering would be added in the future at somepoint.

@cwilms-loyalist, thanks for the video link. It had some helpful hints.

I don’t know how much of the Vuo community would be interested in load-balancing among multiple GPUs, but if you are interested please create a feature request and we can see how many votes its gets.

@seanradio, in Team Vuo’s experience, the GPU stats window often does not give accurate information. See my answer on Multiple GPU 's and Vuo for alternative ways to check which GPU is used. Or another way would be to unplug your NVIDIA GPUs, export a movie and see how long it takes, then plug them in and see if it goes faster. Vuo should be automatically choosing the most powerful GPU available, by virtue of macOS’s automatic graphics switching.

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thanks I’ll check out your suggestions!

I think there are probably a lot of other areas and features that would benefit the VUO community to a greater degree. I will keep it in mind a a feature request but I would want to pull resources away from some of the other areas being developed right now.  


ran a test as mentioned on the other thread. editor window is on display connected to the 970 (if that makes a difference or not)… curious what team VUO thinks…