1 2 Previous Next 21 Replies Latest reply on Jun 30, 2017 6:18 AM by Mike Duncan

    Cores on a Mac - what's important

    LyndsayHowarth

      Hi all,

       

      I have the opportunity to buy a new client server.... a Mac! I have tried to look at PC's but I can't even configure what is required with most suppliers.

       

      We currently have a 2012 Mac Pro 3.2gHz with 32 gig RAM and 1 TB Sata drive which is underpowered for the 20+ FMP users plus there are iOS and CWP web users and (perhaps) a few WebDirect users. Our big problem is that there are many external files uploaded and each backup is HUGE. Backing up to an external HD is too slow so we want to use the internal drive.

       

      Top of the line Mac Pro only goes to 1TB SSD... so even pumping up the cores and the 64Gig Ram won't work for us.

      Hardware

      • 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache
      • 64GB (4 x 16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
      • 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
      • Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each

       

      My question is relating to the potential purchase of one of the new iMacs... It has only 4 cores but can be configured like this:

      Hardware

      • 4.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
      • 64GB of 2400MHz DDR4
      • 2TB SSD
      • Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of video memory

      I can't wait until December for the iMac Pro and I can't see the Mac Pro with an update until long after that.

       

      HOW MUCH difference would the extra Cores on the Mac Pro make?

      What are your recommendations?

        • 1. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
          Vaughan

          You need something that allows multiple internal drives to be installed -- at least 4 preferably hot-swappable. Put in a couple of SSDs for the OS and live databases and a couple of HDDs for the backups. Set them up in RAID 10 for performance and reliability.

           

          At the moment only PC hardware offers this.

          • 2. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
            CarlSchwarz

            The main problem with your current machine is the SATA drive, if you swap it for an SSD you will get a better idea of the resources being used and what your new server would require.  Unless you know exactly where your current server is falling short??  Is it CPU or storage speed that is not keeping up?

             

            The extra cores will be good if you have lots of webdirect users, PSOS (&server schedules), or script calls/heavy use from your CWP users.  If you don't have lots of multi-core action going on then you are better off with the higher GHz of the other configuration.  More cores often means less GHz so there is a tradeoff.

             

            Note that the GPU's will not be utilised by server.

            2 of 2 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
              CarlSchwarz

              There will be better performance per $ with a PC because you won't need to pay for the expensive GPU's.  Also the flexibility allows for more internal drives, and in this case RAID which is necessary for the number of users to ensure minimum downtime.

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                wintertj

                If you are dead set against external RAID storage ... Apple only goes up to 1 TB internal PCIe on the current Mac Pro, but OWC sells a 4 TB internal PCIe SSD for it.
                OWC SSD Upgrade Kits For Mac Pro Cylinder 2013

                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                  bigtom

                  That is $5299 that might not be well spent. I think you would still be better off with a current 6 core Mac Pro and an external thunderbolt SSD RAID 10. I have used the OWC/SoftRAID SSD units and they have been super reliable for years. 6-Core Mac Pro with 4TB os SSD RAID storage will cost about the same as the

                   

                  Look at you server logs and monitors and see what is really lacking. I would say that adding SSD RAID storage for files and backups to what you have now might be a big improvement. I switched one Mac mini server from internal SATA RAID 1 to external thunderbolt RAID 10 and the performance increase was very noticable. You might not need the RAM. You might not need the Cores. Take the time to figure out what you really need instead of throwing all kinds of hardware at the issue.

                   

                  I am also with CarlSchwarz that you get more for your money in hardware with Windows on a PC.

                   

                  Again, Fast RAID storage is super important. If you can manage an 8 SSD RAID 10 you will be reading data super fast. For backups Fast external storage is also great. I have one file that is 3GB and backs up to external TB2 SSD RAID 1 in less than a minute.

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                    taylorsharpe

                    I have rolled out quite a few Mac Pros (2013) with the main databases stored on the SSD and the backups going to external storage Thunderbolt RAIDs.  You could run the databases on the external Thunderbolt RAID, but I have found the the PCIe storage on Mac Pros is just really fast.  I've had two clients try to configure souped up Windows servers that cost more than the Mac Pros with newer Xeon processors and they performed slower than the Mac Pro did.  I chalk this up mostly to the storage situation. 

                     

                    Thunderbolt RAID is really fast, especially for backups.  In fact, it is so fast, I have found I really don't need it and started going with USB-3 RAIDs that are a lot cheaper.  If you do want to put the live databases on the external storage, then going as fast as possible of RAID with Thunberbolt would be real important.  If you do that, then you don't need to get the 1 TB SSD on the Mac Pro. 

                     

                    I still recommend you go with the database and service on the Mac Pro with 1 TB SSD and the backups be on slower external USB-3 RAID drives. 

                     

                    BTW, databases work better with RAID 1+0 than RAID 5.  So if you have a choice, don't go with RAID 5.  It returns the most available storage of the RAID choices, but that is not the best performance. 

                    2 of 2 people found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                      CarstenLevin

                      Hi Lyndsay,

                       

                      I would probably not go for an iMac as a server. It is a desktop model with monitor, getting warm, using to much power for your setup. Using the power for purposes not related to being a server.

                       

                      You can turn right or left now, and both could work OK for you.

                       

                      The cheap option may be worth considering

                      The Mac mini has been scaled down by Apple, but the mini is still not a bad solution for many FileMaker solutions at smb*

                      It's not directly cheap, but it will perform very very well and take no room and no power. Please ad an external USB3 drive for extra off disk backups.

                      mini.png

                       

                      The pro option

                      This may not be faster in your real life setup. But it is what FileMaker will recommend and there are good reasons for that.

                      A server class 1U rack server, Windows Server 2012.

                      Nothing speak against that except price (especially for the MS licenses)

                       

                      Our experience - an alternative

                      Most of our larger customers use PC/Windows servers and it is working perfect with FileMaker. But we also have some Mac-only sites. At one of those demanding very high performance we have a 2 year old Mac Pro with 64 GB RAM (or was it 32 ... dont remember), internal SSD, external Thunderbolt Raid + Thunderbolt backupdisk (+ off site backup scripts). It is lightning fast!!!!

                      It is also expensive and do not fit in a rack for servers.

                       

                      Best regards

                       

                      Carsten

                       

                       

                      *The Mac mini is not server class. It has no redundant power supply and components like drives are not specified to run 24/7/365 ... I would as a minimum replace the internal harddrive every 3-4 years ... but then perhaps instead buy a new mini

                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                        Vincent_L

                        Hi, For Filemaker Pro / Go (not webdirect) 4 cores is enough for filemaker, because, unfortunately, in practice it's not efficient using many cores (beyond 4). What matters is, considering equal generations, Frequency, the higher the better.

                         

                        For storage, the best is Apple excellent internal SSDs. Depending on you database size you may only need 512 SSD

                        RAID is bad for filemaker database, it introduces latency, and Filemaker is latency bound.

                        Frequent backups towards a fast external device is best : use an USB 3 SSD, you'll get 400MB/s. You can go higher with thunderbolt, but be sure to use 4 or more Hard Drive, or at least 2 SSDs to warrnt the Thunderbomt speed.

                         

                        So the highest CPU iMac with internal SSD is the best MAC for the task.

                         

                        But it's not the best solution.

                         

                        The best solution is a PC (but I don't like the OS), or a Hackintosh. Then you'll use a 7700K overclocked to 5 Ghz, and M2.Nvme SSDs

                        • 9. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                          bigtom

                          I have pushed a lot of FM stuff on the 4 core 2.6i7 mac minis. Hyper threading is a thing and you might find the Mac Pro 4 core is great for you. They are discontinued but plenty of refurbished ones left at Apple.

                          • 10. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                            wimdecorte

                            Vincent_L wrote:

                             

                            Hi, For Filemaker Pro / Go (not webdirect) 4 cores is enough for filemaker, because, unfortunately, in practice it's not efficient using many cores (beyond 4).

                             

                            In my experience, only the solution design prevents it from utilizing the available cores.  And even without WebD, if you use PSoS and/or server-side schedules then having more cores will make a huge difference.  So don't limit yourself to just 4.

                            2 of 2 people found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                              wimdecorte

                              Lyndsay Howarth wrote:

                               

                              Hi all,

                               

                              I have the opportunity to buy a new client server.... a Mac! I have tried to look at PC's but I can't even configure what is required with most suppliers.

                               

                               

                               

                              I'll echo what was said previously: you'll get a LOT more server for the $5,000 in the Windows side.  So perhaps reach out to someone to help you spec out a decent Windows server to compare specs and cost.

                               

                              Also: base the specs on the current stats.log as much as you can.  If it is not turned on currently in FMS, turn it on.  It will give info the exact nature of the current bottlenecks.  Combine that with your knowledge of the solution and the projected growth in extra modules, extra users, more data, you can then use that to extrapolate a bit.

                               

                              No use spending money on processing power if disk i/o is slowing you down.

                              2 of 2 people found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                                CarstenLevin

                                First: I agree with Wim ...

                                 

                                Consider: Either going low ... 1,200-1,500 USD for a very well configured mini or do as Wim suggest: Go high with a Windows 2012 server. And for 5.000 I am pretty sure you get more than you need ... especially if you do not need a very large RAID system.

                                 

                                We are having one installation with a 10,000 USD (60,000 DKR) server + a large RAID and a fast WPE in front. This machine is performing like a devil (I like devils), and support 250 simultaneous users with set of very complex solutions.

                                 

                                Best regards


                                Carsten

                                • 13. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                                  Vincent_L

                                   

                                   

                                  In my experience, only the solution design prevents it from utilizing the available cores. And even without WebD, if you use PSoS and/or server-side schedules then having more cores will make a huge difference. So don't limit yourself to just 4.

                                   

                                  I said in practice, because only solution tailor made to use the core can benefit them. So 90% of solution will behave like I said. In fact it seems to ma that if you've one master table (like a product table), that's used everywhere, FMS won't be able to use more than one core to serve that table (unlike MySQL).

                                  So if you use one table everywhere, like you probably do because it makes sense. Then you'll be stuck at one core for data serving.

                                  PSOS / server side schedule will use more cores, but will be throttled to the one core serving of the main file. Yet, if their task is not bound to that file serving, it will use the core.

                                  But, unless you use a lot of PSOS / Server side schedules, involving completely unrelated tables, you won't get that much speed benefits.

                                  Plus it's not recommended to use several simultaneous instance of PSOS / ServerSide scheduling script, because if they use common tables, they'll lock each other out.

                                  So, it's often much better to serialize server side script execution, than running simultaneous task.

                                   

                                  So for most people, what I describe is what happens

                                   

                                  The OP uses a 3.2 Ghz Mac, sure progress were made, but not that much in per Ghz performances. So advising her to use something with a lower CPU frequency is very dubious.

                                  • 14. Re: Cores on a Mac - what's important
                                    taylorsharpe

                                    One comment about cores is that FM can spin off processes to separate cores for a type of parallel processing (actually, just multi-threading, not really parallel processing).  But it can only send one whole process to a core.  It cannot split a process to use two different cores.  Multiple processes going on at the same time can get efficiently spread across as many cores as you have.  If you're just doing a Find in FM, that will only use 1 core for that one process.  Having multiple cores will never speed up that one find.  But if you have 50 people hitting the server at the same time, distributing those processes across as many cores as possible certainly makes the database feel more responsive.  So with a few users, multiple cores is not going to speed things up.  But when you have a bunch of users, having as many cores as possible helps a lot!

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