Attention: Metal, Big Sur and Apple Silicon

Martin

Moderator
Dear Cheetah3D users,
I'm sorry but I have some bad news today. Yesterday Apple released macOS 11.0 and new Macs with Apple Silicon but Cheetah3D is not ready for both yet. So if your work depend on Cheetah3D please be warned and wait a little bit longer until I officially support both.

Metal: I started the switch from OpenGL -> Metal earlier this year. I waited that long since I wanted to keep as little users as any possible behind. But supporting the older versions of macOS became pretty fast a big challenge since the drivers simply were too buggy. So I had to do what I always wanted to avoid. I had to drop older versions of macOS from the system requirements list. At the moment the minimum system requirement for the Metal version is macOS 10.15 (Catalina). Very disappointing.

Apple Silicon: In the middle of the OpenGL -> Metal transition when I already had passed the point of no return Apple announced the switch to a completely new processor architecture. Although I received a DTK (developer transition kit) I actually had very little time to work with it. I first had to fill the gigantic hole which OpenGL left when I ripped it out of Cheetah3D. And contrary to what Apples marketing says porting bigger apps is anything but trivial. At least in such a short time. So I'm sorry but Apple silicon support probably won't come to Cheetah3D in 2020.

Big Sur: I usually test Cheetah3D extensively on the beta versions of new macOS releases. But due to the former two reasons that wasn't possible this year. So I can't recommend Cheetah3D for Big Sur yet. I simply don't have the confidence to do that without my own testing.

So what's my plan to solve this Gordian knot. I simply want to solve one problem after another. First Metal, then Big Sur and finally support for Apple Silicon. As always I plan to release Alpha/Beta versions as soon as possible. But these are probably still a few months away.

I'm truly sorry for the current situation. But the lack of man power behind Cheetah3D was never more obvious than today.

Kind regards
Martin
 
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Chris Heath

Member
Hi Martin

That all sounds fine to me. I’ll be sticking to my current 2010 MacBook Pro and 2012 iMac, and won’t even be updating them with new OS’s. I intend to buy the Apple silicon iMac replacement, which I suspect won’t be called an iMac. When I do, I’ll still be keeping the old Macs running for a while until all my favorite apps are running on Big Sur.
 

filip c

Active member
Apple is getting too expensive for me and I'm getting the feeling of being left behind, so I'm seriously considering switching to pc...
Cheetah is the only software that I own that works exclusively on mac that I would miss like crazy...
I'll be using the current version on my rusty mac pro (early 2009, 2 x 2,26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon, NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512 MB, 12 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC, osx 10.11.6) for as long as possible... let's see what the future brings...
 
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pegot

Active member
I'm probably going to get one of the new M1 Arm Mac Mini's, but for other reasons than using Cheetah, for which I still have my old Hackintosh running Catalina. I think Martin your order of priorities makes a lot of sense. One step at a time is a good way to walk (unless monsters are chasing you). But I believe your customer base is both loyal and understanding enough to realize the time consuming challenges ahead of you and are more then grateful for all the years of backwards compatibility you already offered us.
 

MonkeyT

Active member
I still keep a virtual machine image just so I can run Bryce. I don't give up software I love easily.

On that topic, from Parallels:
It is important to note that currently available versions of Parallels® Desktop for Mac cannot run virtual machines on Mac with Apple M1 chip. Good news: A new version of Parallels Desktop for Mac that can run on Mac with Apple M1 chip is already in active development.
When Apple Silicon Mac was first announced during the keynote at WWDC on June 22 of this year, Apple demoed a Parallels Desktop for Mac prototype running a Linux virtual machine flawlessly on Apple Silicon. Since WWDC, our new version of Parallels Desktop which runs on Mac with Apple M1 chip has made tremendous progress. We switched Parallels Desktop to universal binary and optimized its virtualization code; and the version that we are eager to try on these new MacBook Air, Mac mini and MacBook Pro 13″ looks very promising. Parallels is also amazed by the news from Microsoft about adding support of x64 applications in Windows on ARM.
 

podperson

Well-known member
FYI — the new M1 macs will likely outperform any current intel mac short of a mid-range Mac Pro or high end iMac Pro (machines costs 7x more than the new M1 mini) based on everything I‘ve read. As best I can tell the GPU will be ~6x faster than the Iris Pro, while a 1070 is ~8x faster and a 2070 is ~20x faster.
 

Radian

New member
FYI — the new M1 macs will likely outperform any current intel mac short of a mid-range Mac Pro or high end iMac Pro (machines costs 7x more than the new M1 mini) based on everything I‘ve read. As best I can tell the GPU will be ~6x faster than the Iris Pro, while a 1070 is ~8x faster and a 2070 is ~20x faster.
The gpu is +- 20% less powerfull then a Radeon 5500. So I don't have high hopes. It will run things, but not as revolutionary as they say. I would wait and skip the first generation. It always turns out to be a test generation.
 
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podperson

Well-known member
OpenGL is available but deprecated on Apple Silicon.
The gpu is +- 20% less powerfull then a Radeon 5500. So I don't have high hopes. It will run things, but not as revolutionary as they say. I would wait and skip the first generation. It always turns out to be a test generation.
The first gen Apple Silicon Macs *crush* more expensive intel models that are still on sale. I certainly wouldn’t buy a last gen, slower, more expensive Mac Mini or Macbook Air over the new M1 options. Future products will always beat what’s actually available, of course (except for Google Pixel phones, apparently).

BTW the 5500 is a late 2019 discrete mid-range GPU. Having roughly similar performance to it on an integrated GPU is actually pretty staggering.
 
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podperson

Well-known member
Back in 1995 I remember an Apple engineer at WWDC observing that the fastest 680x0 Macs ever made were PowerPC 604 macs running apps under emulation…
 

joel ruiz c

Active member
I'm taking my chances and updating to Big Sur right now (downloading..) if Cheetah doesn't work well it is not a big deal to me since I don't use it for work, and I'll be getting a Mac Mini as soon as they come out in Mexico to run the Affinity suite more than anything, but I'll be keeping my iMac 4K for Cheetah and everything else that is not ready for the M1.

No problem for me. I'll be ready to buy Cheetah 8 as soon as it comes out.
 

Helmut

Well-known member
* As to Big Sur: I have mentioned in an old thread that C3D crashed (quite consistently) in previous beta version somewhere in the middle of a render. It still crashes with macos 11.0.1. Clearly, I recommend that you are extremely careful when updating the operating system on a Mac you use for rendering. I have experienced no problems in standard 3D modelling with Big Sur. However, I was busy with a medical database since spring and have done no challenging C3D work in a while.
* Also note that any cherished 32 bit applications are dead with Big Sur.
 

Radian

New member
OpenGL is available but deprecated on Apple Silicon.

The first gen Apple Silicon Macs *crush* more expensive intel models that are still on sale. I certainly wouldn’t buy a last gen, slower, more expensive Mac Mini or Macbook Air over the new M1 options. Future products will always beat what’s actually available, of course (except for Google Pixel phones, apparently).

BTW the 5500 is a late 2019 discrete mid-range GPU. Having roughly similar performance to it on an integrated GPU is actually pretty staggering.
Agreed but not on the 5500 mid-range. I personally have a 5500 and even 5500XT later-on. It's pretty low-end.
 

podperson

Well-known member
Agreed but not on the 5500 mid-range. I personally have a 5500 and even 5500XT later-on. It's pretty low-end.
We’ll see.The M1’s theoretical performance is about 1/2 of the 1080, which runs horrifically hot in a laptop. My 1065-powered gaming laptop has to be throttled down to make it comfortable to use. And Apple can get more performance per terraflop out of its GPUs thanks to a superior architecture (UMA, etc.)
 

podperson

Well-known member
* As to Big Sur: I have mentioned in an old thread that C3D crashed (quite consistently) in previous beta version somewhere in the middle of a render. It still crashes with macos 11.0.1. Clearly, I recommend that you are extremely careful when updating the operating system on a Mac you use for rendering. I have experienced no problems in standard 3D modelling with Big Sur. However, I was busy with a medical database since spring and have done no challenging C3D work in a while.
* Also note that any cherished 32 bit applications are dead with Big Sur.
Cherished 32-bit apps have been gone since Catalina…
 

Somian

Member
Thanks for the update!

I won't update to Big Sur for a bit then. I'm also not considering getting an apple Silicon Mac right now, but it's really tempting. According the to benchmarks, the CPU in the MacBook Air is about as fast as the CPU in my iMac Pro while being passively cooled (!). This also means that the "Apple is getting too expensive" has become a different story because you can, apparently, get a Mac mini for $699 that matches the multi-core performance of a 8-core intel desktop, beats everything else on the market in single-core and has the GPU performance of a dedicated entry-level desktop GPU. The Mac mini is still expensive but, if I can believe the benchmarks, finally competitive with PCs at the same price point.

As for the cheetah 3D updates, It sounds to me like the bottleneck is really the Metal port. If everything else uses libraries that are available on Apple silicon, I hope there won't me much more hurdles.

As podperson mentioned: if openGL is available but deprecated, would it technically be possible to compile a version for Apple silicon and continue using openGL until they probably completely throw it out in a couple of years?

I think that apple's marketing means is that it's really easy to "port" apps that only use the latest versions of their libraries already. In this case it's indeed only a matter of recompiling. I can see how re-writing an entire renderer for a 3D package from openGL to Metal isn't easy, though. Metal is much more low-level than OpenGL.

I think apple usually supports stuff for about 7 years and Metal has been around for 5 years, so if openGL can still be used this should still give Martin another 2 Years to port Cheetah3D to Metal.

For now, perhaps you should update the system requirements? It still states "macOS 10.8.5 or newer" and 1 GB of RAM and doesn't say anything about Intel-only.
 

aaronparr

Member
Martin, that sounds totally reasonable. Thank you.

FYI regarding the new macs: they max out at 16 GB of RAM.
That probably doesn't matter to people here, but its a no go for me due to the amount of virtualization I have to run for work.

Something to keep in mind, as otherwise the new machines sound amazing.
 

Hasdrubal

Active member
I think apple usually supports stuff for about 7 years and Metal has been around for 5 years, so if openGL can still be used this should still give Martin another 2 Years to port Cheetah3D to Metal.

I really do hope that it will Martin take not that long to port Cheetah to Metal as 2 years, and what he writes seems to me like a sound plan (as usual).

Other firms with far more man power do exactly the same, warn their users that there are some problems to be expected with Big Sur and that they are not ready yet for Apple Silicon (on the other hand, Apple demonstrated that with Rosetta 2 there will still be support for older software as they demonstrated with Maya).

As I understand it, Big Sur will come in two flavors, one for the Intel Macs, one for the new M1. Somebody with more knowledge please tell me if OpenGL there still will be supported other than through Rosetta 2 (which is an emulator and therefore slower than something that runs natively on a system).

The only firms I know off that are ready for the new hardware are those who had massive help from Apple for this transition (Maxxon and Adobe for example).

About all the rest:

Yes, the new hardware seems quite promising, some benchmarks even amazing, the price at least halfway reasonable (well, I'll first have to see what that will cost in my country). But we don't know yet when pro-hardware comes out, I still guess some 2 years, and we can't even guess how that will compare to other things available then. Maybe Apple will give us the most power for the buck, maybe not. It is possible that their pro hardware will blow away the competition, yes, but as the others are also very capable, we just don't know what they will have available (or at least announced) by then. And look it the actual prices they ask for their imacpros and macpros, I don't have much hope that it will be affordable (at least not here around compared to something with similar computing power).

16 GB RAM max: It is possible, though, that with more hardware efficiency with 16 gb is as much possible as today with 32 or even 64 gb. We don't know yet.

So we have to wait and see.
 

MonkeyT

Active member
As I understand it, Big Sur will come in two flavors, one for the Intel Macs, one for the new M1. Somebody with more knowledge please tell me if OpenGL there still will be supported other than through Rosetta 2 (which is an emulator and therefore slower than something that runs natively on a system).
From the Art Technica review of Big Sur:
Both the OpenGL graphics API and the OpenCL compute API have been officially deprecated in macOS since Mojave, and neither API had actually been updated for many years before that. Apple would rather you use Metal for all that stuff, thank you.

Nevertheless, Big Sur keeps both APIs as they have been since roughly 2013; OpenGL at version 4.1, and OpenCL at version 1.2. They will apparently be supported even on Apple Silicon Macs, which means that legacy apps that still use these APIs and run in Big Sur (and don’t have problems being translated by Rosetta) will continue to work as they do in Catalina. Don’t count on these APIs to be present in the operating system forever, but Apple isn’t forcing the issue just yet.
What give me the most hope about Mac's future in 3D is the wave of powerful 3D sculpting apps for iOS. Given the improvements in the M1, I'm betting those developers might be intrigued enough to expand their apps, but mostly, those apps are building an audience for 3D work that hasn't gained much awareness in the Mac world since Apple focussed on iOS. Now that it looks like more programming can be shared between the two platforms, we might see some serious 3D innovation via that intersection.

I, for one, still believe that Bryce would be an astounding app on an iPad. Hope never dies.
 
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