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Commentary: Why the new Mac Pro will rock for ArchiCAD but not for Revit

Are you excited about running Revit on a new Mac Pro under Boot Camp? You might want to really review that decision first…or switch BIM programs if it means that much to you

So let’s get something straight. People who have followed this publication for a long time know that we don’t pull favors or punches for anybody. Yes we are loyal–but to the facts. Other than Apple, who we are in business to fall in love over, our neutrality on matters matters! 

A Multi-Core Monster: Your new Mac Pro

So to make things clearer. We adore Autodesk. We adore Nemetschek Vectorworks. We adore Graphisoft and we adore anyone who makes great stuff for Apple’s platforms in the Mac and iOS space.

And speaking of making…

Autodesk doesn’t make Revit for Mac OS X. Yet. But let’s pretend for a second that it did. Would the new Mac Pros run it as well as other leading and contending BIM packages? What about ArchiCAD?

A BOXX Story

Over at super-workstation maker BOXX. And yes, it’s impossible not to adore them–we just don’t have a good reason to write about them–they have published a report (PDF) on configuring the ultimate Revit workstation. And the conclusion after reading this report is that the new Mac Pro wouldn’t be the best workstation for Revit even if it was available on the Mac.

01 - The new Mac Pro. At 2,999.USD it will debut as one of the most expensive Mac Pros ever but clearly the most powerful.

01 – The new Mac Pro. At 2,999.USD it will debut as one of the most expensive Mac Pros ever but clearly the most powerful.

According to BOXX, Revit doesn’t do anything with multi-cores (or at least very little). Nor does it utilize super powerful workstation graphics cards either. The ultimate workstation for Revit is a single-processor Intel quad-core i7 with over-clocking to upper 4 GHz range. The deep caches and multiple high cores of Xeons–like those in the new Mac Pro–don’t add any performance value for Revit like a faster clocked single CPU. And the i7 is able to be over-clocked to something approaching silly.

ArchiCAD 17 however is an entirely different story. The latest version of ArchiCAD will utilize many cores quite well with its multi-core, oriented background processing performance algorithms.

The new Mac Pros come in Xeons that are quad, 6, 8 and 12 core options. While the clocks must slow a bit for the additional cores a BIM program like ArchiCAD will utilize the new Mac Pros cores really well.

Graphisoft director of global marketing, Akos Pfemeter, told Architosh back in June that its BIM program will absolutely take advantage of all 12 cores in a new Mac Pro.

“Multiprocessing support is critical for the BIM database heavy processing, which involves model generation,” says Pfemeter. “And the 12 cores of the Mac Pro will also be utilized for ArchiCAD’s brand new background processing support for both data caching and populating model changes across the BIM.”

 [see, Architosh, "CAD/3D Industry Responds to Apple's New Mac Pro," 22 July 2013.]

Mac Pro Flexibility

Apple has really done it this time. It’s giving users a more closed system but it is also giving pro users for the very first time more CPU and GPU configuration options than ever before. You can pair the mighty D700 with the quad-core Xeon or you can go more efficient with D300 or D500.

You can scale your CPU choice from a typical quad-core (which is baseline these days for a performance processor…and by the way the baseline according to BOXX for a Revit workstation) or you can add 2, 4 or 8 more cores to the mix. It depends on your precise workflow and budget for a new workstation.

Will a new Mac Pro be an awful mistake for a killer Revit machine (running under Boot Camp)?

Apple would say no and BOXX would probably say likely. The one thing that BOXX understands is how certifications of pro apps work and because of that they know just what kind of hardware configurations work best for particular pro apps. This is something that Apple should begin to get better at beyond the film, compositing and photography and music apps it knows a lot about.

The pro world is bigger than just those markets. A lot bigger.

In the final analysis, the new Mac Pro–and we know so much more now–will rock a program like ArchiCAD but will likely not rock Revit all that much.

 

[Editor's note: We made some typo corrections today at 12:25, 29 Oct 2013. Sorry about that folks!]