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What's the deal with eGPUs?

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What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:49 am
by jellyjim
Hello

eGPUs have just entered my radar (Thunderbolt connected enclosures that host a fast graphics card). Something expensive and shiny for my Mac that I probably don't need? How could I have missed such wondrous treats until now?! Take my money!
:headbang:

The fact it'll power Rise of the Tomb Raider [*1] to giddying levels of realism doesn't quite justify the money, close but not quite.

My main platform is Logic plus UA Apollo. Obviously the Apollo won't use the eGPU as it does all its number crunching in-house but will Logic make use of it? Will third party plugins? Does it vary by developer or is it a decision Logic or the OS makes? Or are the gains just graphics related; Logic 'draws faster' or whatever?

What do eGPUs actually do in the context of a DAW, specifically Logic?

[*1 OT: In case you didn't know the three titles in the Tomb Raider reboot (Tomb Raider, Rise of and Shadow of) are all fantastic gaming experiences and are available for the Mac, huzzah!]

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:03 am
by desmond
Your Mac already gives you a display for Logic.

Making an external graphics card perform that task doesn't give you any particular advantage, and regular apps aren't that graphically demanding to require anything over what you already have.

If you needed to provide 15 monitors or something, then you're going to want more graphics power, but it's not something you buy for running Logic - there are much more fun ways to waste your money... ;)

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:04 am
by jellyjim
desmond wrote:Your Mac already gives you a display for Logic.

Making an external graphics card perform that task doesn't give you any particular advantage, and regular apps aren't that graphically demanding to require anything over what you already have.

If you needed to provide 15 monitors or something, then you're going to want more graphics power, but it's not something you buy for running Logic - there are much more fun ways to waste your money... ;)

I thought the point was the GPU takes over some of the audio related DSP?

and Tomb Raider :bouncy:

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:07 am
by jellyjim
I remember stuff some years ago about GPUs becoming as powerful or more powerful than CPUs so why not use them for other tasks

Is that not what this is about? Maybe not then!

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:15 am
by desmond
jellyjim wrote:I thought the point was the GPU takes over some of the audio related DSP?

I don't know where you go that from...

jellyjim wrote:I remember stuff some years ago about GPUs becoming as powerful or more powerful than CPUs so why not use them for other tasks

Is that not what this is about? Maybe not then!

Yes, they can be used for particular types of computation. However, without getting too technical, the architecture of how a graphics card works is not suited to continuous real-time processing of audio - which is why we've never seen* plugins or DAWs have extra processing load put onto the graphics card in your computer.

* with one or two exceptions that didn't really work that well

TL;DR - An eGPU is not an extra audio DSP processor for your DAW.

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:18 am
by jellyjim
desmond wrote:
jellyjim wrote:I thought the point was the GPU takes over some of the audio related DSP?

I don't know where you go that from...

jellyjim wrote:I remember stuff some years ago about GPUs becoming as powerful or more powerful than CPUs so why not use them for other tasks

Is that not what this is about? Maybe not then!

Yes, they can be used for particular types of computation. However, without getting too technical, the architecture of how a graphics card works is not suited to continuous real-time processing of audio - which is why we've never seen* plugins or DAWs have extra processing load put onto the graphics card in your computer.

* with one or two exceptions that didn't really work that well

Ah ok, cool, so 'that' never happened basically. I probably saw an article some years ago suggesting the possibility.

I'm not allowed to spend £500 just to make Tomb Raider look prettier then? Sad face. :(

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:20 am
by wireman
jellyjim wrote:I remember stuff some years ago about GPUs becoming as powerful or more powerful than CPUs so why not use them for other tasks

Is that not what this is about? Maybe not then!

GPUS can perform a very large number of identical calculations at once. This is great for video and photo manipulation. In not so sure that for audio there are cases where doing such calculations all at once makes sense. Note that I wrote "identical" which is not quite true but as soon as the work diverges the GPU becomes very hard to program for.

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:03 pm
by zenguitar
jellyjim wrote:I'm not allowed to spend £500 just to make Tomb Raider look prettier then? Sad face. :(

Don't worry, you are allowed to spend £500 to make Tomb Raider look prettier. You just aren't allowed to use 'improved Logic performance' as an excuse'.

:thumbup:

Andy :beamup:

Re: What's the deal with eGPUs?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:04 pm
by jellyjim
zenguitar wrote:
jellyjim wrote:I'm not allowed to spend £500 just to make Tomb Raider look prettier then? Sad face. :(

Don't worry, you are allowed to spend £500 to make Tomb Raider look prettier. You just aren't allowed to use 'improved Logic performance' as an excuse'.

:thumbup:

Andy :beamup:

haha, thanks Andy