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Architosh publishes Mac professional workstation survey results

In this special feature report, Architosh publishes the results of its first workstation survey conducted in late 2014 and aimed at understanding the pro (professional) desktop needs of numerous customers Apple refers to as Mac pros. Not to be confused with the product Mac Pro, today Apple’s Mac pros work across its iMac range in numerous industries, including and importantly to this publication, the Architecture industry.

Continued from page 3

Looking at Variances in Data by Industry

6 out of 10 participants were in the Architecture market. As an industry, architectural users have a large set of core common workflows built around a relatively limited set of dominant applications.

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This is quite different than say, the 3D industry where there are many more applications and much more diversity of workflow scenarios. We wanted to evaluate any key differences. Here is what we found.

Use of GPU hardware acceleration using OpenCL or CUDA

  • In Architecture 62.5 percent said they use OpenCL or CUDA (average is 68 percent for study)
  • In Industrial/Product Design 92.31 percent said they use OpenCL or CUDA
  • In 3D/VFX/Film 92 percent said they use OpenCL or CUDA

These results reflected comments and interview data and our own knowledge of the software in the market. While we believe the Product Design and 3D/VFX and Film professional understands GPU hardware acceleration better than the Architectural professional based on incorrect information communicated in interviews and comments.

Number of monitors used

  • 48 percent of Architecture professionals use 2 monitors (orange bar), while only 5 percent use 3
  • 66 percent of Engineering professionals use 2 monitors, while 8.3 percent use 3
  • 66 percent of Construction professionals use 2 monitors, while zero percent use 3
  • 46 percent of Industrial/Product Designers use 2 monitors, while 15.4 percent use 3
  • 60 percent of 3D/VFX/Film pros used 2 monitors, while 10.5 percent use 3
  • 50 percent of Science & Medicine professionals use 2 monitors, while 12.5 percent use 3, and 12.5 percent use 5

Use of iMacs – Integrated Monitors

  • 27 percent of Architecture pros are using iMacs (green bar)
  • 16 percent of Engineering pros are using iMacs
  • 0 percent of Construction pros are using iMacs
  • 7.6 percent of Industrial/Product Design pros are using iMacs
  • 7.9 percent of 3D/VFX/Film pros are using iMacs
  • 12.5 percent of Science & Medicine pros are using iMacs

The overall data in the survey is likely too small to draw any reasonably accurate conclusions about the numbers of monitors used by industry, other than to discuss the Architecture and 3D/VFX/Film pros. (see image 15 below)

15 - Architosh workstation survey report. Number of monitors per industry.

15 – Architosh workstation survey report. Number of monitors per industry.

The one group that we truly have enough data on (Architecture) can be analyzed with a higher degree of confidence. We would expect the Architecture market to be utilizing the iMac quite extensively.

With Industrial and Product Designers using many more monitors it makes sense that the iMac use would drop dramatically. Same is true for 3D/VFX/Film pros.

How long do you keep your hardware

  • 53 percent of Industrial/Product Design pros keep their Macs for five years
  • 37 percent of Science & Medicine pros keep their Macs for five years
  • 28 percent of Architecture pros keep their Macs for five years
  • 21 and 31 percent of 3D/VFX/Film pros replace their machines in 2 and 3 years, respectively
  • 25 and 37.5 percent of Science & Med pros replace their machines in 2 and 3 years, respectively

From the data Architects keep their machines on average 3.4 years, very close to other data we have collected here at Architosh over the years. For 3D/VFX/Film pros the data is similar at 3.3 years. For Industrial/Product Designers the data is 4 years. However, we have an inadequate number of participants in the survey from that market to feel confident about that figure.

Ideal GPU Configuration per Industry

  • For the Architecture industry the most popular choice was dual, high-end GPUs (24 percent)
  • For 3D/VFX/Film pros the most popular choice was also dual, high-end GPUs (38.9 percent)

As you can see from the data in the graph shown, the dark brown is the preference for dual, high-end GPUs while the apple green color is for triple, high-end GPUs. In comparing the two professional market areas below, architects, by and large, need less powerful GPU configurations. (see image 16)

15 - Architosh workstation survey. GPU preferences by industry.

16 – Architosh workstation survey. GPU preferences by industry.

Other than Industrial/Product Design, the other markets don’t have enough data in the survey for us to feel good about generalizing them. Industrial and Product Designers who use more MCAD and PLM tools seem to be able to get by with a single, high-end GPU (orange in chart), but so to do many architects. They also get by even more with a single, mid-range GPU (turquoise color).

Ideal CPU Configuration per Industry

  • Construction industry pros need the least CPU cores among all pros in the survey
  • The industries are similar with the exception of 3D/VFX/Film, which is oriented towards processor cores

An 8-core Mac is the most popular choice among the entire survey, as noted earlier. However, there is some real variance among industries, as can be seen in the image below. (see image 17) What stands out in the chart is the Construction professional and the 3D/Film professional. They are nearly opposite in nature, and understandably so.

16 - Architosh workstation survey, number of CPU cores per industry.

17 – Architosh workstation survey, number of CPU cores per industry.

3D/VFX/Film pros are the most demanding of their systems and desire maximum CPU power. Half of all such pros wish for 24-32 cores, which Apple does not provide in any of its systems, including the new Mac Pro which taps out at a 12 core single Xeon. The number one complaint among 3D pros who said the Mac Pro did not meet their needs was lack of a dual Xeon model (insufficient CPU cores).

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Many professionals in Engineering, Science and Medicine desire dual Xeon Mac Pros in order to reach at least 24 processing cores.

next page: Participant Feedback and Architosh Conclusion

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