12 core Mac Pro tests

Activity monitor showing 24 flat out processors

“The 12 Core shows up as 24 CPU’s, all flat out in compressor!”

My new Mac Pro arrived yesterday so I spent my evening installing apps and getting it set up ready to take over as my main editing machine. Once I had the basics installed I couldn’t resist running a few tests to see how it compared to my old machine…

The specs are as follows:

Mac Pro Quad Core (2006)
– Two 2.66 Ghz Dual-Core Intel Xeon ‘Woodcrest’ Processors
– ATI Radeon HD 4870
– 8GB 667MHz DDR2 RAM
– WD Corsair ‘BLACK’ Hard Drives

Mac Pro 12 Core (2010)
– Two 2.93 Ghz 6-Core Intel Xeon ‘Westmere ‘ Processors
– ATI Radeon 5870 GPU
– 16GB 1333MHz DDR3 RAM
– 512 GB Solid State ‘SSD ‘ drive

I set up compressor on both machines to use a quick cluster which allows compressor to use the full power of all of the available cores. For the test I compressed the ProRes 422 version of my recent short film ‘Adrift‘ into a 1280×720 H.264 file. I used the same file and compressor settings on both machines.

Both machines used a standard WD ‘BLACK’ hard drive for the encode. The new mac does use an SSD drive for the system but it wasn’t used in this test to make things fair. Later testing actually showed very little difference in using the SSD anyway.

The Results
Mac Pro Quad Core: 17:22
Mac Pro 12 Core : 02:32

As you can see, quite a staggering improvement, mostly due to the following…

The 12 core shows up as 24 processors – all running flat out in compressor.

Regarding the SSD, as noted above it didn’t seem to make any difference in this test so I can only assume apple claims of improvements in rendering relate more to full uncompressed files. It does make a dramatic difference to boot times and app starts though, my mac boots from the start sound to the desktop in 17 seconds.

With all this processing power it’s a shame that Final Cut Pro still doesn’t see most of it. I tried rendering a Timeline and Final Cut managed to use a measly 6% of the available CPU resources. Apple should be ashamed for the state of their pro apps at the moment considering they are one of the few NLE manufacturers who actually makes their own hardware!

Here’s a few more pics.

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13 Responses

  1. Excellent Blog!! That’s fantastic and informative blog. Thanks for sharing.

  2. ian rigby says:


    We have the new 12 core as well and I have not been able to get the virtual cluster running at all. it will not begin to break the video apart into segments and multiprocess at all. We have an 8 core that does it fine with all of the same settings!! How did you set yours up and did it work right from the get go?

    Thanks Paul

    • Paul Joy says:

      I just enabled the service sharing, set the instances and it worked straight away. Q master can be a bit clunky at the best of times, did you try clearing the jobs? Sorry not in front of mac at the moment so can’t remember actual function name.

  3. Alex Flemmings says:

    Just by the spec of the new “Big Rig” i know you know that you’re a Pro. I need some advice as a new editor. Can you send me in the right direction of a good raid 5 or 6 configuration for HD editing. I am a 12 core 2.9 also with a 512 SSD, but I saved money by staying at 6 gigs RAM for now seeing that FCP is not 64 bit yet. Is the Drobo a poor mans fix for HD editing or is it still too slow, Someone said used Caldit…. can I use a NAS server like the Synology DiskStation DS1511+ to cheat and use it as a editing Raid 5 setup. What kind of set up do you have… whats the damage( pockets) we looking at?

    Help me oh wise one…lol

    • Paul Joy says:

      Lol, I’ve been called lots of things but I think that’s a first with wise :)

      I don’t think you could edit direct from a drobo, they are designed for redundancy not speed. I’m using one of my 512GB SSD’s to edit from and if I need more scratch disk space I’ll also use an e-sata G-RAID drive.

  4. Brendan Bellomo says:

    That’s awesome. Just ran a similar test on my 2.93 GHz 12-core w/ 24GB + ATI Radeon 5870, great results. Seems to be the same time w/ 12 instances and 24 instances [in QMaster]. Have you found out what is the ideal, overall, number of instances for a compressor cluster?

  5. Tej Babra says:

    Wow Blazing performance in compressor. It makes my 2 year old Mac Pro look really old.
    Great write up Paul !

  6. Marcello says:

    Paul, witch card do jou use for your overview on external monitor?

  7. Adam says:

    that is amazing. So how exactly is the new 12 core showing up as 24 in compressor? Is that a Hyper-threading thing or something else?

    • Paul Joy says:

      Yes, this is from apples website…

      “The Intel Xeon processors support Hyper-Threading, which allows two threads to run simultaneously on each core. So, for example, a 12-core Mac Pro presents 24 virtual cores that are recognized by Mac OS X. Performance is enhanced because Hyper-Threading enables the processor to take better advantage of the execution resources available in each core.”

  1. 15/09/2010

    […] machines compared to using a dual core or no? In compressor you'll see a massive improvement… 12 core Mac Pro tests | Paul Joy __________________ Blog: https://www.pauljoy.com Company: […]

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