[Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

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Chris Hocking

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[Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostTue Sep 04, 2012 12:07 am

Hi Everyone,

We shot our very first short film on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera over the weekend. Massive thanks to the amazingly supportive John Brawley for loaning us his baby, Blackmagic Design and to Cail from Inspiration Studios for all of his help and support!

We shot DNG - and yesterday I started transcoding all the rushes (1.33TB's worth) to ProRes LT for the offline on my iMac. Apart from a minor bug, everything worked perfectly - but it was really slow.

After reading on John's blog that he was getting "pretty close to real time" renders on his MacBook Pro, I decided to do some testing.

On my MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011, Model 8,2, OS X 10.8, 2.5GHz Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6770M 1024MB, Apple SSD TS256C), I can get about 6-12fps. I don't have a Thunderbolt drive with me - so these files are just running off the laptop's internal SSD (about 160 MB/s write - 203.1 MB/s read), so I'd imagine maybe with an external Thunderbolt drive I may even get better results.

However on my iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011, Model 12,2, OS X 10.8.1, 3.4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2048MB, Apple SSD TS256C), with all the media stored on a Promise Pegasus R6 Thunderbolt RAID (I get about 505.2 MB/s write and 481.5 MB/s read), I can only get about 1-6fps.

As you can imagine - this surprises me! Why does the MacBook Pro out perform the iMac?

I'm am going to do some tests on a MacPro (2 x 2.93 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon, 26GB 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5770, NVIDIA Quadro 4000) running Resolve 8 (we’re waiting for the "shipping" release of Resolve 9 before upgrading) later today to see how it goes.

Is anyone else seeing the same results? Have Blackmagic optimised their code for the MacBook Pro, or am I missing something really simple? These results really intrigue me, as both the iMac and MacBook Pro are using AMD Radeon mobile graphics cards.

What surprises me even more is that as far as I know, Resolve does all the DNG processing on the CPU – it only uses the GPU if you do any colour correction - is that correct? All compressed files, including Apple ProRes and RED R3D, are decompressed by the CPU prior to grading by the GPU – so I’m assuming BMC DNGs are the same?

Can anyone shed any light on these findings?

Thanks in advance...

Best Regards, Chris!
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João Gomes

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostSat Sep 08, 2012 4:55 pm

I have an i7, 3.4GHz, 27" iMac with 16GB RAM and i also can´t get RT with Resolve 9.

Does it have something to do with the AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1024 MB graphics card instead of Nvidia?
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Peter Chamberlain

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostSat Sep 08, 2012 5:08 pm

Hi Chris, Resolve uses the GPU for debayer. Drive speed, Memory, OS, GPU type (CUDA is faster) and CPU cores and speed, they all have influence over the performance but GPUs have a great influence. The GPU you have is in the lower speed and memory range. Please refer to the Resolve config guide on the BMD support web for details on Mac and Windows configs.
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paul schefz

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostSat Sep 08, 2012 9:20 pm

i have the 2011 3.4 imac as well....haven't done any real test yet (since i don't have the camera!!!...yet...) but was thinking of getting one of the sonnet TB/PCI boxes with a high end graphics card?
i am aware that the new iMacs are not too far off but i don't think they will improve the video card THAT much....so the external box would be great because i can of course also bring it on the road with the retina MBP....
any ideas? which video card would give the best performance boost for resolve?
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Chris Hocking

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostSun Sep 09, 2012 2:39 am

Does it have something to do with the AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1024 MB graphics card instead of Nvidia?


Apple currently only ships iMac's with AMD Radeon graphics cards.

Resolve uses the GPU for debayer.


Good to know!

But that still doesn't explain why the MacBook Pro outperforms the iMac?

Please refer to the Resolve config guide on the BMD support web for details on Mac and Windows configs.


I have... the problem is, there's no real options with an iMac. On the 27-inch, the best you can do is a AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5. The guide also don't mention graphic card options at all for iMacs.

We have a fully spec-ed out MacPro for "proper" grading - but it would be good to get the iMac up to speed if possible.

but was thinking of getting one of the sonnet TB/PCI boxes with a high end graphics card?


I'm also looking into this. I've heard of people doing this online, but have never seen it working out in the wild. Does anyone here have it working at all?
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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostFri Sep 14, 2012 4:23 am

Hi Chris,

Did you ever get any final feedback on this? I'm also wondering how well my iMac will perform or whether I'll also need to update my desktop (just learned I'll have to update my laptop from Air to Pro for Scopes).

It would certainly be helpful to hear of successful reports of people using iMacs for this.
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Chris Hocking

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostFri Sep 14, 2012 4:27 am

Did you ever get any final feedback on this?


Not really - sorry!

I haven't done proper tests with the release version of Resolve 9 on the iMac - but I'm not getting my hopes up.

I have a feeling Blackmagic must have spent a lot of time fine tuning the code so that Resolve runs really well on a MacBook Pro, but it doesn't seem the iMac got the same amount of love.

Unless we can get CUDA over Thunderbolt working - I think the only real option is Windows or MacPro's for serious grading or transcoding.
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John Locke

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostFri Sep 14, 2012 4:41 am

Thanks for the reply, Chris.

That's really disappointing. Sounds like both my laptop AND my desktop aren't up to snuff. That's some serious upgrading.

I'll have to keep reminding myself..."This is an amazing camera that shoots raw 2.5K footage that costs less than $3,000" to lessen the blow of the computer upgrade costs. It's silly to whine too much considering how much we're getting now for so little compared to just a few years back...but it sure would help if I had an extra 10 grand lying around waiting to be spent.
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John Locke

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostFri Sep 14, 2012 4:47 am

Interesting find just now, though...found this statement in the DaVince Resolve Configuration Guide for OSX

An iMac can provide faster image processing than
a MacBook Pro due to the availability of faster CPUs
and GPUs in the top models. An iMac provides a
flexible and simple desktop work horse for realtime
previewing and grading material up to and including
HD video. A Thunderbolt connection can be used
for ingest of video tape and high speed disk storage.


So I'm confused.
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João Gomes

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Re: [Resolve 9 Beta 3] BMC DNG - MacBook Pro Beats iMac?

PostFri Sep 14, 2012 1:13 pm

Me too...
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