1 2 3 Previous Next 30 Replies Latest reply on Jun 17, 2012 2:51 PM by cortical

    Lack luster Mac Pro update

    taylorsharpe

      Anyone else disappointed with the new Mac Pro? 12 cores sure is nice for handling many users on a FM server. However, database are often more limited by disk speed limitations and without Thunderbolt, that sure is a bottleneck in database performance.

        • 2. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
          RonSmithMD

          Well, yes, I was disappointed. but really they haven't killed it (and they can kill things... look at the 17inch MacBook Pro). So really we're presently in the same limbo and the minor upgrade doesn't mean anything either way at this point.

           

          Here's what I would like to see if we couldn't assess as a FileMaker community. I have three possible setups in mind. Can we figure out the speeds for these.

           

          BTO Mac Mini with fastest CPU/8gb Ram, SSD Primary drive, and Thunderbolt Pegasus RAID setup

          BTO iMac with fastest CPU/8gb Ram, SSD primary drive, and Thunderbolt Pegasus RAID setup

          BTO Mac Pro with fastest CPU/8gb, Ram and OWC 480gb PCI SSD Primary Drive

           

          Is anybody game for helping evaluate these configurations as real world best options?

           

          Ron Smith, MD

          ron@ronsmithmd.com

          • 3. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
            SteveNoble

            I was planning on replacing my mac mini (used for FileMaker Sever) with the next generation Mac Pro. Yes I was dissapointed and I will not shell out that kind of money for an "antique" computer. So we will wait and see. Also disappointed in no upgrade for iMac. I was planning on replacing at least two imacs, maybe up to five. I will put that on hold as well. I may do the unthinkable and switch to PC's, at least on the server.

            • 4. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
              PeterWindle

              get a few old mac pros, add some fibre chanel cards, create your own xsan cluster and wham!

              ok, I'm dreaming a little bit, I have never tested this in the real world, but it would be nice to see it happen.

              • 5. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                taylorsharpe

                Yes, but that was the traditional expensive enterprise way of doing things.  Thunderbolt offers even faster speeds than fiber channel without the big time expense.  In reality most of my customer needs will be met with a Mac Mini and Pegasus Thunderbolt.  Now you have to choose if you want disk or CPU speed when choosing between Mac Mini or Mac Pro.  Then again, I don't see PC servers with Thunderbolt yet. 

                • 6. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                  PeterWindle

                  I would imagine that disk speed would be the same on both MacPro and Mac Mini if the drives are external thunderbolt, right??

                   

                  So, then it would all come down to CPU processing speed and RAM.

                   

                  RAM, I would say is more important than CPU speed for a server...? I'd be interested to know if anyone has some real world performance results Macmini, MacPro and PC's - running server, especially with version 12.

                   

                  and yes, not many PCs have thunderbolt.

                   

                  Given that the new MacBook Pro's 15" can take a WHOPPING 16 gb of RAM and a very decent processor, I'd say we'll also see a new mac mini and mac mini server soon enough. Until then, the current macmini server has a QUADCORE processor, hook that up to an external thunderbolt RAID and you've got excellent bang for your buck.

                  • 7. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                    SteveNoble

                    I may not have a clear understanding of the benefits of thunderbolt. My understanding is that thunderbolt connects 2 hard drives faster than other connections. In my case I need only one drive plus one for backup. The mac pro can hold serveral (I think 4 drirves interally, which I assume is faster then USB or thunderbolt).

                     

                    What I look for is the fastest speed, most ram and reliable hardware. We have had two mac mini's (not serving filemaker) that have gone out on us. Thats primarily why I want something more robust.

                     

                    FYI, I was glas to see Apple remove the "new" from the mac pro on the apple store. I think calling the changes made to the mac pro "new" was dishonest and not very Apple like.

                    • 8. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                      PeterWindle

                      I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the speed of thunderbolt connection means that external drives and other devices connect at, what would essentially be, the same speed as an internal device.

                       

                      Yes, it can diasy chain devices, but for a server, this is possibly not a good idea.

                       

                      MacPro has plenty of room internally, but it comes at a premium price.

                      Two dead mac minis? Really!?? I have had three of them over the years (currently running a dual core server) and they have never missed a beat.

                       

                      yes, I know about the "New" thing. Pretty funny I think!

                      • 9. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                        taylorsharpe

                        Thunderbolt is not offered on Mac Pros, which only support SATA, SAS, USB 2, or FireWire 800. 

                         

                        Internally, most computers now connect hard drives using SATA III and a few like the Mac Pro also support SAS.  Thunderbolt is faster than both of these, by a lot!

                         

                        Of course removing the serial bottle neck doesn't improve performance unless you have hard drives that can take advantage of the speed.  That is why most Thunderbolt drives are RAID systems to pump through more speed.  Even using slower SATA drives in  Pegasus Thunderbolt drive is faster than the fastest SSD's.  And they come with either 4 or 6 drives. 

                         

                        Since database performance is closely tied to disk performance, a faster serial connection can be more important than the CPU. 

                         

                        XSANs using micro channel used to be how people got really fast performance.  But Thunderbolt now offers faster connections than micro channel and they can be connected with relatively cheap RAIDs like the Pegasus.  With my Mac Mini and a Pegasus, I easily get more than 600 MB/s.  High end SSD's rarely get more than 500 MB/s, most get real time numbers much slower.  The latest SATA III only has a theoretical max of 600 MB/s and I'm already getting more than that on my Pegasus.  And that is why using internal drives is slower than a Thunderbolt RAiD.

                        • 10. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                          PointInSpace

                          Yes, but that was the traditional expensive enterprise way of doing

                          things. Thunderbolt offers even faster speeds than fiber channel

                          without the big time expense. In reality most of my customer needs

                          will be met with a Mac Mini and Pegasus Thunderbolt. Now you have to

                          choose if you want disk or CPU speed when choosing between Mac Mini

                          or Mac Pro. Then again, I don't see PC servers with Thunderbolt yet.

                           

                           

                           

                          Thunderbolt and Fibre Channel are two totally different beasts.  Fibre

                          Channel is a true network, Thunderbolt is not.  You cannot have multiple

                          hosts on Thunderbolt.  You cannot use Thunderbolt for a SAN.

                           

                               - John

                           

                          --

                          • 11. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                            taylorsharpe

                            Yes, Thunderbolt is not a network and it is not going to operate on a SAN (Storage Area Network) like Fibre Channel.  But most FileMaker shops are not large enterprise level organizations with a SAN.  Thunderbolt is a great RAID solution and much less expensive than Fibre Channel and that is why it is a good fit for many FileMaker servers.  Plus the Fibre Channel PCI cards that come from Apple only support up to 4 Gb/s and Thunderbolt does 10 Gb/s on copper and in theory, 100 Gb/s on fiber (not yet available).  Literally a Mac Mini Server at $1000 plus a Pegasus Thunderbolt RAID at $1000 makes a very fast server for only a little over $2,000.  Even the smallest SANs cost tens of thousands of dollars and I suspect most enterprise SANs are all six figures and more.  This means inexpensive consumer hardware like Mac MIni's and Thunderbolt drives like Pegasus can make for very inexpensive but well performing systems.  That is why Thunderbolt is so relevant to FileMaker developers. 

                            • 12. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                              BobGossom

                              Taylor,

                               

                              It does sound like Thunderbolt could be a great addition to a database server. Unfortunately, the other things you'd be looking for in a higher end server just aren't available on any Apple computer with Thunderbolt. I'm talking about added processors, dual NICs, redundant power supplies, and higher level QC.

                               

                              The minis are great little boxes - we recommend them for smaller companies - but their internal components and quality control have remained at the consumer level.

                               

                              Oddly, Tim Cook confirmed a letter he wrote saying that a really great Mac Pro like product will come out late in 2013. Odd, because Apple "never" comments on future promises, and odder because 18 months in the tech world is a really long time. (http://tech2.in.com/news/desktops/mac-pro-refresh-to-come-later-next-year-confirms-tim-cook/315862)

                               

                              It certainly sounds like the end of the line for the Mac Pro. It's pretty telling that Apple didn't even add USB 3. My understanding is USB 3 is now built into Intel chips.

                               

                              I'll miss it. I work on a 4+ year old Mac Pro (have replaced the drives just on general principle) and was waiting on this refresh to upgrade. I like the Pro partly for the added processors - but also for the monitor support. I currently work on two 23 inch monitors, but would like a third to hold those lovely modal FMP windows. It's not a lot of money to add a monitor card to the MacPro, but I haven't wanted to invest in a upgrade to an older box; I was waiting for a new one... My understanding is the Minis with Thunderbolt can only support 2 monitors.

                               

                              I read that Apple is recommending that high end users buy a MacBook Pro and connect it to a monitor; hardly seems like a "pro" setup to me.

                               

                              Bob Gossom

                              • 13. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                                PointInSpace

                                Yes, Thunderbolt is not a network and it is not going to operate on a

                                SAN (Storage Area Network) like Fibre Channel. But most FileMaker shops

                                are not large enterprise level organizations with a SAN. Thunderbolt is

                                a great RAID solution and much less expensive than Fibre Channel and

                                that is why it is a good fit for many FileMaker servers. Plus the Fibre

                                Channel PCI cards that come from Apple only support up to 4 Gb/s and

                                Thunderbolt does 10 Gb/s on copper and in theory, 100 Gb/s on fiber (not

                                yet available). Literally a Mac Mini Server at $1000 plus a Pegasus

                                Thunderbolt RAID at $1000 makes a very fast server for only a little

                                over $2,000. Even the smallest SANs cost tens of thousands of dollars

                                and I suspect most enterprise SANs are all six figures and more. This

                                means inexpensive consumer hardware like Mac MIni's and Thunderbolt

                                drives like Pegasus can make for very inexpensive but well performing

                                systems. That is why Thunderbolt is so relevant to FileMaker developers.

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                My point was that you were comparing apples to oranges, and I wanted to

                                make this clear.  One would not use Fibre Channel for a DAS (Direct

                                Attached Storage) solution.

                                 

                                I personally would highly recommend against using a Mini as a server as

                                well, small shop or not, but YMMV.

                                 

                                     - John

                                 

                                --

                                • 14. Re: Lack luster Mac Pro update
                                  PointInSpace

                                  Bob -

                                   

                                  Kind of confused as to how, on one hand, you say that Tim Cook confirmed

                                  a new Mac Pro next year yet, on the other hand, that that sounds like

                                  the end of the line for the Mac Pro?

                                   

                                  USB 3 requires the new Ivy Bridge chipset, of which the Xeon version was

                                  only just released.  Why it's going to take until 2013 for Apple to

                                  implement is anyone's guess, though.

                                   

                                       - John

                                   

                                   

                                  Taylor,

                                   

                                  It does sound like Thunderbolt could be a great addition to a database

                                  server. Unfortunately, the other things you'd be looking for in a higher

                                  end server just aren't available on any Apple computer with Thunderbolt.

                                  I'm talking about added processors, dual NICs, redundant power supplies,

                                  and higher level QC.

                                   

                                  The minis are great little boxes - we recommend them for smaller

                                  companies - but their internal components and quality control have

                                  remained at the consumer level.

                                   

                                  Oddly, Tim Cook confirmed a letter he wrote saying that a really great

                                  Mac Pro like product will come out late in 2013. Odd, because Apple

                                  "never" comments on future promises, and odder because 18 months in the

                                  tech world is a really long time.

                                  (http://tech2.in.com/news/desktops/mac-pro-refresh-to-come-later-next-year-confirms-tim-cook/315862)

                                   

                                  It certainly sounds like the end of the line for the Mac Pro. It's

                                  pretty telling that Apple didn't even add USB 3. My understanding is USB

                                  3 is now built into Intel chips.

                                   

                                  I'll miss it. I work on a 4+ year old Mac Pro (have replaced the drives

                                  just on general principle) and was waiting on this refresh to upgrade. I

                                  like the Pro partly for the added processors - but also for the monitor

                                  support. I currently work on two 23 inch monitors, but would like a

                                  third to hold those lovely modal FMP windows. It's not a lot of money to

                                  add a monitor card to the MacPro, but I haven't wanted to invest in a

                                  upgrade to an older box; I was waiting for a new one... My understanding

                                  is the Minis with Thunderbolt can only support 2 monitors.

                                   

                                  I read that Apple is recommending that high end users buy a MacBook Pro

                                  and connect it to a monitor; hardly seems like a "pro" setup to me.

                                   

                                  Bob Gossom

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                  --

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