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After looking at the sketchy details of the all new Mac Pro, one thing is for sure: Apple will be selling a lot more iMac Pros. Perhaps that was by intent. I had expected a basic functioning Pro at about $6k. Had to be more than the iMac. I’m disappointed. 8 core. 32GB RAM. 256GB SSD. No video. ≈$6k.

The group of photogs and graphic folks I sort of “support” has been holding on for this new Pro. I ran a hot-rodded 2010 Mac Pro until buying the ‘15 iMac. We have mostly top-end 27” iMacs. Largely 2013 with a couple of 2015. I haven’t found a full spec/price listing for this new box, but it appears that with 64GB, basic video and a 1TB SSD, we’re looking at ≈$8,000 + monitor. Gulp. No one of us is into video, but the mushrooming size of DSLR files and the increasing complexity of processing demands bigger gear. Video people who snark at “mere” photographers, consider this:

I’m increasingly developing big panoramas. The latest is 24” x 76”. It’s comprised of 72 photos yielding 24 “cells” of 3 HDR images each. The first set is built using Aurora HDR, then propagated 24 times. That yields 24 images. Takes a bit. One source image is developed in PhotoLab. These settings are then extended to all 24 images. My fully loaded 2015 iMac chugs for a couple of minutes doing the processing. Fan roar. I then take the whole thing over to PTGui, play with it for awhile and stitch them together. Another fan-whirling coffee break. Finally it arrives in Photoshop final development. By this time, I have an image file about 1 GB in size. Photoshop labors with this monster. I have to go out of house to print.

So, I need more power. A nicely set up iMac Pro 10-core, 64 GB RAM, 2TB SSD, and the 2nd-level video is $7,350. Apple would give me a generous $800 for my box on a trade-in. Smirk. Aside: It is disgusting and demeaning to offer the all new, all dancing Mac Pro with a mere 256GB drive. Just checked Newegg. A 2TB SSD is $250 to $450 depending on warranty. I bet Apple can get these in quantity for ≈$50. The cost of installation at the factory may be more than the price of the drive. Apple wants $600 to move from a 1TB to 2TB. Head shake.

I suspect that an equivalent Mac Pro will be at least $2K more. What makes this whole thing truly enticing is that refurb iMac Pros with the above specs are selling at <$6k. So we’re going to the pro iMac. The challenge with the above machine is that it "only” has 1TB of storage. When one has a library of 15,000 images, now at 1.5 TB, the smaller drive doesn’t make sense. Maybe add a Thunderbolt 3 four-bay enclosure? I'm currently running a similar rig on Thunderbolt 2 for the library. There is a pause in processing when a call to disk is made. I’ve searched and have found no comparisons of data transfer speed between v 2 and v3 via a 2 - 3 adapter, but it can’t be as fast. Anyone have this data?

Anyway, gals and guys, iMac Pro time?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I’ve searched and have found no comparisons of data transfer speed between v 2 and v3 via a 2 - 3 adapter, but it can’t be as fast. Anyone have this data?
Thunderbolt 3 has all the speed you need but loses half of that speed when hooked to a Thunderbolt 2 port.

Here are the benchmark tests you're looking for, a Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 SSD direct to a 2018 MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 port vs. a 2015 MacBook Pro via Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter*:


*I was using a powered Thunderbolt 3 dock in this case, since the Samsung X5 doesn't have its own power supply and Apple's Thunderbolt 3-Thunderbolt 2 adapter doesn't transfer power, but that shouldn't affect performance.
#benchmarks #samsungx5 #thunderboltadapter
 



Thunderbolt 3 has all the speed you need but loses half of that speed when hooked to a Thunderbolt 2 port.
OWC has just introduced the ThunderBlade external SSD system. It has 4 SSD's in an enclosure, configured as RAID 0 with a Thunderbolt 3 connection. I suspect that one of these would provide pretty fast working storage for an iMac Pro. Does anybody have experience with the ThunderBlades?

PS. If you do replace a cylindrical Mac Pro with an iMac Pro, and you have a 27" Apple Thunderbolt 2 display, keep the display! It makes an excellent second display for the iMac Pro for the cost of a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
 



I’m increasingly developing big panoramas. ... Anyway, gals and guys, iMac Pro time?
The question you need to answer is whether your software actually decently supports multiple cores. Because if it doesn't, you'd likely be better off with a current plain old iMac Retina 5K. If your software really does support multiple cores efficiently, then you want as many cores in a Mac Pro as you can afford.
 


I wonder if there are limits, though. Will a 28-core Mac Pro actually accelerate your Photoshop or Premiere or DaVinci Resolve or Pixelmator or Affinity Photo or Capture One or Lightroom or FCPX or Logic Pro or ProTools workflows to double the speed of a 14-core iMac Pro, or are there decreasing returns as the core counts get crazy-high? (I'm also curious about the benefits of high-priced dual-processor Xeon SP systems vs. single-processor Xeon W systems.)
Current software, the answer is Photoshop not so much, Premiere sort of, FCPX/Logic Pro yes.

This is one of those chicken/egg questions, too. The more people who have multiple cores and GPUs, the more likely the software they use will end up having to support it.

But you also identify another issue: some tasks may not benefit from trying to separate them into many more cores. 2x the cores does not produce 2x the performance because of overhead and efficiency issues in deligating the tasks. Some problems are easier to get performance from with more cores, some aren't.

Right now I don't even recommend an iMac Pro over the iMac 5K Retina for photographers. The expense doesn't generate a real benefit. You're better off using that extra money to stuff an iMac 5K Retina with as much RAM and SSD/Thunderbolt 3 storage as possible than you are to buy a base iMac Pro.

The problem, of course, as my readers have pointed out to me since my article on WWDC, is this: things change. One reason why so many of the creatives ask for a modular Mac Pro is that they want to be as future-proof as possible.

Modularity isn't a perfect answer, though, as most of us discovered previously. My 2009 Mac Pro managed to keep up with the times for about seven or eight years. At the point where we had to talk CPU/motherboard changes, things got dicey. Dicey enough that it was easier to move on.

But my point still stands: before deciding to drop so much money on as many cores in a Mac Pro as you can afford, you absolutely need to know what your software is going to do with those cores, today, and if possible, in the near future. Otherwise you'll be paying for a lot of silicon to sit idle.
 


I’ll give you $900 for it... :-)
Ric would that $900 dollar offer include shipping? Postage for the beast ≈$100.
The question you need to answer is whether your software actually decently supports multiple cores. Because if it doesn't, you'd likely be better off with a current plain old iMac Retina 5K. If your software really does support multiple cores efficiently, then you want as many cores in a Mac Pro as you can afford.
Thom, thanks for the response. Aye, and there's the rub! (Hamlet for those of you who've forgotten your classical education.)

I predominately use Photoshop and Lightroom. I don't believe Adobe is on the leading edge of processor, threading, multi-task implementation. Information on this point would be appreciated. I've searched at this every way I can and keep coming up blank or at best platitudes about how great the iMac Pro is. Do you - or for that matter anyone here - have a source for this kind of info? I'd love to find a useful review that ran real world programs - like Photoshop - and reported comparative results. Not likely, would take actual effort.

I think I might be at the point where I need to try Adobe support and see if they can direct me to this. I'm not overly optimistic about their knowledge level.

My statistical work is relatively trivial. I'm not in the big time anymore and haven't seen anything with more than ≈1,000 cases and 10 or so variables. Throwing an iMac Pro at that would truly be smashing an ant with an 8lb. sledge hammer.

The current iMac is a viable question, if I can get it with a 4TB boot drive. My picture files are living on a Thunderbolt 2 SSD box. There is a perceptible lag when going to disk. I'll check that out.
 


After looking at the sketchy details of the All New Mac Pro, one thing is for sure: Apple will be selling a lot more iMac Pros. Perhaps that was by intent. I had expected a basic functioning Pro at about $6k. Had to be more than the iMac. I’m disappointed. 8 core. 32GB RAM. 256GB SSD. No video. ≈$6k.
The group of photogs and graphic folks I sort of “support” has been holding on for this new Pro. I ran a hot-rodded 2010 Mac Pro until buying the ‘15 iMac. We have mostly top-end 27” iMacs. Largely 2013 with a couple of 2015. I haven’t found a full spec/price listing for this new box, but it appears that with 64GB, basic video and a 1TB SSD, we’re looking at ≈$8,000 + monitor. Gulp. No one of us is into video, but the mushrooming size of DSLR files and the increasing complexity of processing demands bigger gear. Video people who snark at “mere” photographers, consider this:

I’m increasingly developing big panoramas. The latest is 24” x 76”. It’s comprised of 72 photos yielding 24 “cells” of 3 HDR images each. The first set is built using Aurora HDR, then propagated 24 times. That yields 24 images. Takes a bit. One source image is developed in PhotoLab. These settings are then extended to all 24 images. My fully loaded 2015 iMac chugs for a couple of minutes doing the processing. Fan roar. I then take the whole thing over to PTGui, play with it for awhile and stitch them together. Another fan-whirling coffee break. Finally it arrives in Photoshop final development. By this time, I have an image file about 1 GB in size. Photoshop labors with this monster. I have to go out of house to print.

So, I need more power. A nicely set up iMac Pro 10-core, 64 GB RAM, 2TB SSD, and the 2nd-level video is $7,350. Apple would give me a generous $800 for my box on a trade-in. Smirk. Aside: It is disgusting and demeaning to offer the all new, all dancing Mac Pro with a mere 256GB drive. Just checked Newegg. A 2TB SSD is $250 to $450 depending on warranty. I bet Apple can get these in quantity for ≈$50. The cost of installation at the factory may be more than the price of the drive. Apple wants $600 to move from a 1TB to 2TB. Head shake.

I suspect that an equivalent Mac Pro will be at least $2K more. What makes this whole thing truly enticing is that refurb iMac Pros with the above specs are selling at <$6k. So we’re going to the pro iMac. The challenge with the above machine is that it "only” has 1TB of storage. When one has a library of 15,000 images, now at 1.5 TB, the smaller drive doesn’t make sense. Maybe add a Thunderbolt 3 four-bay enclosure? I'm currently running a similar rig on Thunderbolt 2 for the library. There is a pause in processing when a call to disk is made. I’ve searched and have found no comparisons of data transfer speed between v 2 and v3 via a 2 - 3 adapter, but it can’t be as fast. Anyone have this data?

Anyway, gals and guys, iMac Pro time?
We've recently bought a new iMac Pro for our photo/video editing workstation, replacing an old (albeit bulked up with internal SSDs) 6-core Xeon Westmere 3.33GHz Mac Pro tower. We're shooting more 4K jobs and definitely needed to upgrade.

Our iMac Pro is the 10-core, with 64 GB RAM/1TB SSD/Radeon Pro Vega 64X. The 10-core seems to be the price/performance sweet spot, and since you can't readily add RAM, I went with plenty. That's the top end video card currently offered, and was chosen for best Metal 2 performance. Price was $6899+tax.

(I did also consider the latest iMac optioned up with an 8-core i9 and comparable RAM and storage. However it would have been slower, and also subject to thermal limitations that the iMac Pro has designed past.)

Unlike my personal MacBook Pro, the ability to store everything internally on the iMac Pro isn't important, or really even possible in an ongoing sense. A professional workflow takes place a job or two at a time, so the base 1TB internal SSD is fine. We work off a whole bunch of external job drives, with up to 4TB capacity 2.5" HDs in bus-powered USB 3 enclosures. So far, I/O from the externals has never been the bottleneck. If that changes, then newer USB 3.1 Gen 2 enclosures would double their speed, or we could go to external SSDs and Thunderbolt 3, if needed — for a price.

The first test we did was to render a single animation frame in Maxon Cinema 4D. The iMac Pro did it in 22 sec vs. 2 min 25 sec for the old Mac Pro tower. That's 6.6 times faster.

Yeah, we're happy.
 


I'm currently running a similar rig on Thunderbolt 2 for the library. There is a pause in processing when a call to disk is made.
Is "Put hard disks to sleep when possible" enabled in Energy Saver?
Right now I don't even recommend an iMac Pro over the iMac 5K Retina for photographers. The expense doesn't generate a real benefit. You're better off using that extra money to stuff an iMac 5K Retina with as much RAM and SSD/Thunderbolt 3 storage as possible than you are to buy a base iMac Pro.
The thing is that the GPUs are relatively underpowered in non-pro iMacs that need to drive all the pixels of a 5K screen. That's been a long-standing issue with Capture One Pro, which takes great advantage of GPU processing, and also needs it for display performance. That can't be upgraded after the fact, like external storage, which for photography can be just USB-3 depending on the workflow and type of files.

For reference, I shoot 24MP RAW and keep current photos on the internal SSD but move stuff to an external USB-3 RAID enclosure with 3.5" spinning disks after a couple of months. The performance difference isn't really noticeable, since these are large sequential files.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... which takes great advantage of GPU processing, and also needs it for display performance. That can't be upgraded after the fact, like external storage...
With Thunderbolt 3, though, you can...
Apple Support said:
Use an external graphics processor with your Mac
Your Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac running macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later can access additional graphics performance by connecting to an external graphics processor (also known as an eGPU).

An eGPU can give your Mac additional graphics performance for professional apps, 3D gaming, VR content creation, and more.

eGPUs are supported by any Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac running macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later.

...

Supported eGPU configurations

It's important to use an eGPU with a recommended graphics card and Thunderbolt 3 chassis. And if you're using a MacBook Pro, the eGPU's Thunderbolt 3 chassis needs to provide sufficient power to run the graphics card while charging the computer. Check with the maker of the chassis to find out how much power it provides, and make sure that it's enough to charge your connected Mac notebook.
Recommended graphics cards, along with chassis that can power them sufficiently, are listed below.

Thunderbolt 3 all-in-one eGPU products
These products contain a powerful built-in GPU and supply sufficient power to charge your MacBook Pro.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 all-in-one eGPUs:
  • Blackmagic eGPU and Blackmagic eGPU Pro
  • Sonnet Radeon RX 570 eGFX Breakaway Puck
  • Sonnet Radeon RX 560 eGFX Breakaway Puck
AMD Radeon RX 470, RX 480, RX 570, RX 580, and Radeon Pro WX 7100
These graphics cards are based on the AMD Polaris architecture. Recommended graphics cards include the Sapphire Pulse series and the AMD WX series.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 chassis for these graphics cards:
  • OWC Mercury Helios FX
  • PowerColor Devil Box
  • Sapphire Gear Box
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350W
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
These graphics cards are based on the AMD Vega 56 architecture. Recommended graphics cards include the Sapphire Vega 56 and XFX Vega 56.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 chassis for these graphics cards:
  • OWC Mercury Helios FX
  • PowerColor Devil Box
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition Air, and Radeon Pro WX 9100
These graphics cards are based on the AMD Vega 64 architecture. Recommended graphics cards include the Sapphire Vega 64, XFX Vega 64, AMD Frontier Edition air-cooled, and AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 chassis for these graphics cards:
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W
Results:
  1. 2018 Mac Mini
  2. 2018 Mac Mini + Radeon RX 580
Additional/older info:
#eGPU #graphicscard
 


Thom, I'd guess that you might have a lot of Windows users in your audience. How about these $3-4K PC systems I've been describing here - are they as fast for Photoshop, Premiere, etc. as they seem to be on the surface? Do you have folks using mid-range, modular Windows systems in preference to higher-priced Macs and getting good results, or is there something holding them back in the photo/video/audio world?
My experience with most of those folk in my audience to date is that they end up spending as much as they would have in the Mac ecosystem, they just sneak up on that, part by part.

It's really hard to make a better Photoshop/Lightroom computer that's cheaper than the iMac Retina 5K. One reason is that you have to get a big, wide-gamut monitor in the price. The major complaint on the Mac side is that Apple charges too much for RAM and internal storage. You can do something about the former, but not really the latter anymore.

When you get to the serious workstation end, things flip in the high mid-range towards Windows' favor. But again, you really need to consider what a wide-gamut monitor is going to run you, if you're that high up the chain.

What I think—too early to tell for sure, need to actually use the beast—that Apple got right with the Mac Pro is to restore a true high-end option that's competitive. One of the things that I've seen with a couple of those Windows options is that they can't run all cores simultaneously for long before they begin dropping speed. Apple is saying they can run 28 cores at full speed indefinitely, and if that's true, that's performance in another realm.

And frankly, I like seeing Apple returning to try to play at the truly high end. What we're missing, however, is the "next big thing." When Apple was originally moving into high-end, we got things like the LaserWriter. For a while there, Apple was out of the display business, let alone anything else. I'd really like to see them push towards what the real external elements of a true top-end station would be like. It looks like they've got the "box" now, but what's outside the box is also important.
 


I predominately use Photoshop and Lightroom. I don't believe Adobe is on the leading edge of processor, threading, multi-task implementation. Information on this point would be appreciated. I've searched at this every way I can and keep coming up blank or at best platitudes about how great the iMac Pro is. Do you - or for that matter anyone here - have a source for this kind of info? I'd love to find a useful review that ran real world programs - like Photoshop - and reported comparative results. Not likely, would take actual effort.
The only one I know of making this kind of test well who publishes results you can look at is Lloyd Chambers (digilloyd). Adobe's been making progress on using additional threads/cores and GPU, but one problem is that not every effect/filter/feature has the same efficiency in this, so it can be tough to really sort through.

The shorthand I give on my site is this: RAM first. Because you'll bottleneck PS/LR if they start to spool. Likewise, when PS/LR do go to a drive, speed of the drive is important. Hard drives are out, AFAIK, unless you RAID 0 fast ones. I used to say clock speed was more important than cores, but I think that the most recent changes are going to have me flip. I'm still evaluating, but my initial assessment is that a modest drop in clock speed but a doubling of cores is useful to PS/LR now.

GPUs seem to be hit or miss. I'm not sure I can form a valid opinion on how well (or not) Adobe is working with GPUs, even having tried testing that. I'd have to guess that there is tweaking for individual GPUs that Adobe's doing, and it's not all equal.
The current iMac is a viable question, if I can get it with a 4TB boot drive. My picture files are living on a Thunderbolt 2 SSD box. There is a perceptible lag when going to disk. I'll check that out.
Given what I just wrote, the iMac Retina 5K falls down a bit on two things: 64GB max RAM, and 2TB internal SSD. The 8 cores and GPU are fully adequate, in my opinion. But as cameras gain pixel count—currently testing 100mp+ cameras—I really wish that I could bump up to 128GB RAM and at least dual 2TB SSD internally. You're already doing higher megapixels via panos, so you have that problem even more so than I.

A good Thunderbolt 3 external drive box should speed things up for you. It makes a noticeable difference over my old Thunderbolt 2's when I batch-process to the drive.

All that said, if you can afford a Mac Pro, it opens up avenues that may be useful in the future. The critical word in that sentence is "may." Adobe is savvy enough to try to see what they can do with a new high-end box. The question is what they'll deliver and when.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
It's really hard to make a better Photoshop/Lightroom computer that's cheaper than the iMac Retina 5K. One reason is that you have to get a big, wide-gamut monitor in the price.
Just a quick look at Apple's current monitors:

iMac 5K RetinaiMac ProApple/LG 5K Thunderbolt
27" Retina 5K
(5120 x 2880)
27" Retina 5K
(5120 x 2880)
27" Retina 5K
(5120 x 2880)
500 nits500 nits500 cd/m²
[i.e. 500 nits]
Wide color (P3)Wide color (P3)Wide color (P3)
Thunderbolt 3, 85W PD,
USB, camera, speakers
$1300
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Note that the 2019 iMac 5K can take 128GB RAM. It's not available that way from Apple, but third party 32GBx4 RAM kits are available for about $950.
Looks like the iMac Pro isn't so easy.
OWC said:
128.0GB OWC Memory Upgrade Kit $1179.00
Professional Installation Required!

The iMac Pro DOES NOT feature a memory door on the back allowing for easy upgrades. Upgrading the iMac Pro's memory requires dismantling the computer to gain access to the memory slots. This is a highly complex process that requires a skilled technician.
 




I do photo editing on an iMac Retina 5K ("Late 2014"), with 4GHz Core i7, 32GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. This device runs Photoshop CS6 and Capture One fast enough for my needs as an advanced amateur, not a working pro. That is, until I tried running some of the new apps from Topaz. They are now producing image processing tools built on artificial intelligence technology. I am quite impressed with their Sharpen AI product. On certain types of images (in particular: landscapes) I am getting results superior to the older convolution-based methods.

But running this new sharpening process on a single full size image from a Nikon D850 can take upwards of 15 minutes on my iMac. I have read reports from other Mac users that upgrading to a newer iMac or iMac Pro would not make much of an improvement. Users of Windows boxes are reporting much better performance. Some of this difference may be a consequence of the cross-platform development framework used by the Topaz engineers (it produces more efficient code for Windows than OS X).

No doubt we will be seeing more software products built on very compute-intensive AI technologies. Will they be usable on consumer and prosumer-grade Macs? Or will they be practical only for those who can afford tricked-out Mac Pros?
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
But that won't help you with your internal display.
That's not quite true, apparently:
Apple Support said:
Use an external graphics processor with your Mac
Starting with macOS Mojave 10.14, you can turn on Prefer External GPU in a specific app's Get Info panel in the Finder. This option lets the eGPU accelerate apps on any display connected to the Mac—including displays built in to iMac, iMac Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro...
 


I have been a video professional for over 20 years and computer speed has always been a tough subject, mostly because software (including OS) plays such an intricate role.

First and foremost, the only way to know if an upgrade is worth it is real world tests. I use BareFeats.com to see if the software I am using benefits from new hardware. The rest is a game of conjecture. My only advice before dropping $6000 is to actually consider how much time you spend on that newest task. A cheap iMac with a decent SSD might be almost as fast as a beefy iMac Pro for working with medium-sized Photoshop files or HD ProResHQ video. Now throw in 100 megapixels or 8k ProRes Pro video, and things change drastically. But do you work with 8k? No? Then don’t buy now - wait until that becomes a workflow issue for you, then spend that cash. Who knows, maybe prices might even drop by then.

Also in hardware, I recommend always investing in the fastest drives first. Boot drives should be SSD (obvious). If you need a bigger boot drive, then put an SSD in an external Thunderbolt 2 or 3 enclosure, and boot off that. If you are using a ton of media, get an external Thunderbolt 4 drive array (minimum) and either RAID 5 or RAID 0 those drives for media access. (I have seen professionals hook up a simple external single laptop drive via USB 3 with media and wonder why their system is slow.) FYI, single spinning drives max out at about 175 MB/s while 4 drives in a RAID can sustain 500 MB/s - lots of variables in the RAIDs, but the point is you can nearly triple throughout with a small investment (~$1500.). You’re rarely going to triple productivity moving to a new Mac.
 


There has been considerable discussion about why today's hardware is so much faster than older machines and yet the OS seems slower. I have a Power Mac 7600 running Mac OS 9 with a G3 CPU that is somewhat faster than the last CPU in the machine.

I ran Little Snitch for some time on my various iMacs, and I was amazed at the chatter between my iMac and the outside world.

I suspect that the Mac OS 9 boot and operating system have little chatter compared to now. I would also guess that successive OSX and app versions talk more often as a result of licensure (like Adobe, etc.) and security updates. I suspect also that the hardware has increased in horsepower faster than the communication channel. Thus, I am postulating that today's computers are spending more time talking and less time computing relative to past years.

I have Photoshop 4 on my Power Mac 7600 and it loads in an instant. (Part of that is a smaller application, and part of it has to be not checking for license or updates, for that matter.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... I suspect that the Mac OS 9 boot and operating system have little chatter compared to now. I would also guess that successive OSX and app versions talk more often as a result of licensure (like Adobe, etc.) and security updates. I suspect also that the hardware has increased in horsepower faster than the communication channel. Thus, I am postulating that today's computers are spending more time talking and less time computing relative to past years....
I think you have hit the nail on the head here.
  • Both OS and apps are constantly "phoning home" now for many different reasons.
  • "Phoning home" is orders of magnitude slower than loading files from hard disk or even faster flash storage.
  • Constant connectivity has driven constant software updates and changes that drive still more updates and changes in a vicious cycle. (The prime example of this is the Web, where constantly evolving security threats drive constant changes to security defenses which drive changes to threats, which... ad infinitum.)
  • Did I mention that all this data is moving at orders of magnitude slower speeds than local storage?
  • First the Internet and the Web and then ubiquitous smartphones and cellular networks have created orders of magnitude more access to victims for criminals and governments and vastly expanded attack surfaces, forcing... orders of magnitude more complexity in countermeasures... and constant updates to those.
  • Constant demand for profit and revenue and growth has driven constant software feature changes and additions, which have bloated our computer software again by orders of magnitude (compare the number of files in Mac OS 9 vs. the number of files in macOS, or the size of those collections). And orders-of-magnitude expansion has driven orders of magnitude more bugs, fixes, updates and security problems, countermeasures and phoning home, and... (Did I mention the slow speeds of Internet data transfer vs. local data transfer?)
  • Then there's social networking...
Of course, Apple also doubled the pace of its OS releases, but that's just icing on the cake.

Nail on head.
 


I think you have hit the nail on the head here.
  • Both OS and apps are constantly "phoning home" now for many different reasons.
  • "Phoning home" is orders of magnitude slower than loading files from hard disk or even faster flash storage.
I fully agree, and I can add:
  • polling drives for no clear reason at regular intervals
I discovered this when I set my hard drive to sleep when it's not in use (mainly to cut noise). Every now and then my computer would freeze, I'd hear the drive spin up, and the computer would release. I still don't know what was polling it or why, but I copied the most-used stuff from that drive onto an extra SSD, shoved it into a $9 Oreco USB 3.0 box, and the problem went away. (I mention Oreco because not every external box can manage sleep/wake successfully. For $9, it handles UASP and sleep/wake just fine....)

The system is constantly working at odd things, including phoning home and services I don't want and don't use. (At least Windows gives me the chance to shut off those services, albeit from a terrible interface.)
 


(At least Windows gives me the chance to shut off those services, albeit from a terrible interface.)
You're kidding right? Since Windows 10 came out, Microsoft has done everything in their power to make sure you can't disable their telemetry and other backdoor stuff - such as hard-coding IP addresses into the system to bypass DNS blocking, not acknowledging hosts files, re-enabling tracking with every update, and not respecting group policy settings that affect telemetry on any OS except the enterprise version. They've backported a lot of it to Windows 8 and even Windows 7, though to a lesser extent.

All that said, the disk chatter going on in macOS is not all phoning home; in fact, I would posit that it's only a small portion of the issue. A lot of it has to do with newer caching routines that don't play well with spinning drives. There's much more metadata floating around the system, all of which is held in very small files and databases, leading to a lot of I/O even for little actual data transfer. Even software optimizations that used to be de rigueur before SSDs became common are no longer implemented, because they don't have to be, theoretically. It's not so much nefarious as sloppy or lazy.
 


And a comparison of raw vs. compressed footage:
Summing up what I've learned - filmmakers who want to shoot and process 8K uncompressed raw must have a way to effectively deal with importing huge files. It would be interesting to learn if movie studios have a more efficient means than the fastest we've been discussing, Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe.

I remember film-maker Alex Lindsay (regular on TWIT's MacBreak Weekly) discussing an array of Macs connected by fiber, but that was before Thunderbolt....

Now that video linked by Ric? No question the edited raw yielded a better result. The devil's advocate in me questions whether that was a fair test of "film-making?" My son-in-law, who worked as a free-lance commercial videographer recording television commercials traveled with an SUV full of gear, including lights, reflectors, and audio equipment, as well as the array of cameras and lenses. Perhaps regulating the lighting at the shoot could enable use of a compressed format, with much time savings in importing and even editing?

As to 8K? We're not in Kansas, Toto. The organization where I work originated more than a hundred years ago. We have file drawers full of legal documents that have been scanned and turned into PDFs. And accessible archives on Synologies of computer generated data dating back as far as 1990. It isn't an insignificant organization, but the entire data set fits into a few hundred gigabytes - speed is important in that case, but not as crucial as with transferring and editing 8K video.

Last piece of learning: Apple is deprecating a variety of codecs when Catalina arrives. Just a heads up that due to the quality of the MacInTouch community is likely a reminder of what's already been posted:
Apple said:
About incompatible media in Final Cut Pro X
To prepare for future versions of macOS, detect and convert incompatible media in your Final Cut Pro X and Motion projects.
This regularly updated blog post (and comments) put that change in context, with some advice.
Larry Jordan - Edit Smarter said:
 


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