Mac + eGPU

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Mac + eGPU

Postby garytyler » Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:05 pm

garytyler Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:05 pm
I have seen this mentioned on this forum, but not in much detail. I've been doing some research and just placed an order for some hardware to build one for my Macbook Pro Retina but considering the limitations in upgrading video cards in Macs, the mod could potentially boost any Mac by a lot. The main source of information seems to be here:

http://forum.techinferno.com/implementation-guides/.

Of course, it's gamers who have done most of the experimentation so I'm still unsure how the performance is going to translate to Octane rendering but it seems worth a try. Part of why I decided to give it a shot is this product:

http://forum.techinferno.com/enclosures-adapters/7205-us%24200-akitio-thunder2-pcie-box-16gbps-tb2.html
http://www.amazon.com/Akitio-Thunder2-PCIe-Box/dp/B00LTAUTHE

With this $259 Thunderbolt>PCIe adapter, you can theoretically use any graphics card through a Thunderbolt port. The converter isn't large enough to hold high end cards and it's power supply is limited so you've got to power the card separately. It sounds sketchy at first, but it's fairly simple and there are a lot more success stories than failures, and the failures are minor. Basically, some cards work better than others. There are certain limitations on some of the Macbooks but, from what I've read, they mostly just limit the ability for the graphics card to affect enhanced live graphic abilities on some models and the reasons are pretty obvious and related to Apple firmware limitations which is fine with me because it should only be a setback for gaming purposes, not rendering.

Here's the video that originally got people excited about these things. The chassis used here runs around $1000 but the demand has led to some more affordable devices popping up, like the one I ordered.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_wAxRs0YAE

I'm curious if anyone here has used an eGPU with Octane and what the results were. Also, it just seems inevitable that there would be a conversation here about this sooner or later. I could see the trend bringing a lot of attention to Octane as renderer of choice.
Win 8.1 / C4D R16 / Maya '16 / 5x GTX 980 Ti
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby garytyler » Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:41 pm

garytyler Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:41 pm
Incase there is future interest in this, here is a photo of my GTX 780 eGPU Macbook Retina build. I just got her running today. Setup was surprisingly simple and I haven't come across any cons to this setup. Once the drivers are installed, it is essentially plug-and-play operation.

For the record, a main reason I took this route instead of building a new desktop machine is I edit video a lot and My Macbook Pro Retina handles that task excellently, especially with the internal 1TB flash drive. It's very nice to have everything running on 1 machine of course, so now I have it all under 1 roof and portable.

The cost is nice as well. It ran me $400 + video card.
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby dionysiusmarquis » Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:02 pm

dionysiusmarquis Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:02 pm
Windows only, right?
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby garytyler » Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:56 pm

garytyler Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:56 pm
Nope. It's running on Mavericks just fine. I don't plan on updating to Yosemite for a little while so I can't speak for that. I usually like to let bugs and updates catch up.
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby Evolutionary » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:30 am

Evolutionary Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:30 am
Very interesting. Good work.
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby dionysiusmarquis » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:22 am

dionysiusmarquis Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:22 am
Yes, thats very great news!
The last time I checked it wasn't possible due to OSX Driver restrictions (only possible via Driver hacks). But It makes sense, because the new Mac Pro would't be upgradable via Thunderbolt otherwise. Now I can finally start to rethink the whole eGpu OSX think.
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby garytyler » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:41 pm

garytyler Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:41 pm
It does
dionysiusmarquis wrote:Yes, thats very great news!
The last time I checked it wasn't possible due to OSX Driver restrictions (only possible via Driver hacks). But It makes sense, because the new Mac Pro would't be upgradable via Thunderbolt otherwise. Now I can finally start to rethink the whole eGpu OSX think.


It does involve some kext editing. I followed the instructions at these 2 links. I don't have much savvy with this kind of stuff but still got it up and running in no time. It makes sense that if something isn't marketed as an "eGPU", there won't be support for it. But, it also makes sense that changing these few Kext files would allow the GPU to be accessed by the OS through Thunderbolt 2, because Thunderbolt 1 & 2 are a PCIe based. From there, it operates like any GPU, only without the speed of a direct PCIe connection which appears to be negligent because Thunderbolt 2 is really fast both ways.

Also, I just upgraded to a Titan Z today. I was curious how much of a speed increase I would see. So far, it looks like an average of about a 30% speed increase compared to the GTX 780. In a normal desktop system I would possibly see more but the 6 GB vram was part of my reason for the upgrade. One thing I'm curious about is running another eGPU on my 2nd Thunderbolt 2 port. I don't see why this would not be doable for Octane rendering. If I get the cash saved up, maybe I'll give that a shot.

Also, I am able to edit 4k REDRAW video in Premiere Pro on my internal GT 750M while simultaneously rendering on Octane High Priority on the Titan Z. I call that success.
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby Jose » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:36 pm

Jose Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:36 pm
garytyler wrote:One thing I'm curious about is running another eGPU on my 2nd Thunderbolt 2 port. I don't see why this would not be doable for Octane rendering. If I get the cash saved up, maybe I'll give that a shot.


:) DO IT. it works perfectly well. My setup is one RM850 PSU, 2 Titan Black, 2 AKiTiO both with Powered Risers using thunderbolt daisy chain. ( I'm switching to 2 Titan Z this week ) Works perfect with my Octane Render C4D Plugin.

Im preparing a tutorial on how to put together all the parts and how to edit the .kext files. I will post pics later.

garytyler:
What PSU are you using?
The Titan z gets really hot when rendering?
OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 | Macbook Pro | 16GB | 2 x Geforce GTX TITAN Z | Akitio eGPU | CINEMA 4D R16 |
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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby p3taoctane » Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:55 am

p3taoctane Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:55 am
Though completely impractical.... I wonder...

If the 8 internal GPU limit that Windows has could be bypassed with 6 daisy chained boxes each running a z???

A stupid idea ... but fun to see on someone elses dime : > ))

Looking forward to your tutorial

Thanks

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Re: Mac + eGPU

Postby mmojica » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:05 am

mmojica Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:05 am
This is very exciting to see you guys pushing the graphics on OSX for use with octane.

I am running into similar problems with graphics on octane and unreal engine 4. I am definitely looking forward to your walk through Jose.

I also wanted to ask if this type of set up is possible on a newer iMac, the version with the gtx 780m in it? I would love to beef up my iMac if it is. I seem to mainly see MacBook Pro's with this egpu set up.
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