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GPU, API's, Specs and Workstations

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There is much to be said in this life for keeping your powder dry; for not making a fuss until you really have to, in the hope that when you do someone will sit up and take notice.

Such a moment happened recently, when I was viewing Intel's presentation of the new 6e generation CPU's sept 2, 2015 IFA in Berlin. With hardly any brute acceleration in clockspeed or extra number of cores (4 max.). Is the future for the CPU?

This site is about "what does a user need to work with a renderprogram".

Most of the information on the internet and in Magazines is about what is needed for Gamers. So it is a big challenge to dig into this matter for Renderers and alongside to 3D modellers. Although the needed hardware specs are quite different.


GPU's, API's and workstations



All new introduced 48 Intel cpu's are equiped with Intel Integrated Graphics!

Intel is busy to overtake the main CPU market with this sort of "rubbish graphics" instead of the fantastic Nvidia's and the in my opinion slightly lower rated but good quality/price wise AMD discrete / external Graphic cards. Intel is changing there portfolio every four months of their HD Graphics line, with a pile-up of type numbers. And with lots of interesting secret Beta names.

But is it 'rubbish'? Yes and no. Technically it was in the past, but overtime (apart from still connected with lower rated RAM) it is improving all the time. Even equippped with the latest versions of API's like DirectX 12, OpenGL, OpenCL etc. The used chip surface of the modern GPU is larger, then the whole Quad CPU core part.

With the Apple's Timothy Cook's show, sorry Keynote of recently and with the new Apple computer lineup, one can hardly miss it: the NVDIA's are fading out, Integrated Graphics is mainstream with some AMD exceptions.

• Because we have to live with it, wouldn't it be time to revalue the System Requirements for render programs and 3D-modellers?

From "integrated graphics not supported" read with several Render- and 3D programs into: "Except the new versions with the following type numbers . . . "

Quite a lot of 3D- and render-customers do not know of these limitations and lock-outs. These technical texts are difficult to understand, despite all the webpages.


SketchUp Pro 2015, 3D-modeller

"We don't recommend using these integrated graphic 'cards' with SketchUp at this time". The phrase at SketchUp Pro site for this popular 3D modeller version 2015. Including with phrases about history and in the past people got troubles.


With render program Artlantis "Graphic chipsets are not supported".


Indigo render system requirements

With AMD Opteron and Athlon 64 or better (WIN) and no mentioning at all for the Mac platform.


Lumion requirements with PassMark points.

This is a good attempt to let the customer evaluate the needed hardware.


Maxwell Render system requirements.

2 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor with AMD Athlon 64 or better. And with Macintosh no mentioning of any GPU at all. This is the standard Render program in the world, the system requirements are questionable and doubtful.


See also our lineup of 28 modern Renderprograms

No Render program without the use of a 3D modeller program. So the hardware specs must be chosen carefully.


Metal the new API from Apple is promoted not only on mobile, but now also on all desktops and Macbooks. OpenGL and OpenCL is over and done, when Apple thinks that it is time. Apple was once the promotor and starter of OpenCL, now they are cleared from the Khronos Group with their support.

The actual answer lies in the hand of the software makers, are they willing to follow and invest in those winding Apple paths?

Examine the history books about the DirectX API and the recollection of AMD with introduction of Mantle. Resulting in a wake-up call from Microsoft into DirectX 12.

Open and universal in platform is the best, but without support of the big firms it will become hard to invest in new program lines for the Khronos Group. We see a trend to split the computer market even more into platforms and brands. Regardless the extra needed work for software vendors to sell their software crossplatform.



It was a big mistake that the fashionable Mac Pro 2e gen. does not have NVDIA GPU support. A professional workstation (price tag) without any possible alteration or support of GPU's, apart from two common AMD 's GPU's. There is no true workstation on the Apple platform, if you employ the definition ingredients for a workstation. Why is GPU (NVIDIA) support so vital for (any) computer? Because of the fast growing Render programs with GPU CUDA support. And with the OpenCL ones including AMD & NVIDIA. An SU-customer does not buy a new computer only to do 3D-modeling, making renderings is second in the row of presenting those design models.


Definition workstation

A workstation is a computer which could be Upgraded during a timespan of 3 - 4 years hardware- & software wise. An open, fully equiped workhorse to meet with a wide variety of workflows. From CPU oriented tasks to GPU crunching in for instance GPU-oriented Renderprograms.

But everyone is working with another definition and explanation for 'workstation'; see the doubtful interpretations of HP, Apple, Dell and many others. Or listen to the sales force in the computer shops: " . . . many of our laptop's are workstations, you can work with it".

Glad to hear your opinion and to looking forward to see that render programs can be developed further. More Open and more crossplatform and with clearer understanding of the connection between Hardware - GPU's - Application software - Operating systems - API's.