New Kepler-Based GPU a Lifeline to the Ailing Mac Pro, Readying It for Real-Time 4K Work

With the next-generation of GPU-accelerating Maximus technology, reconfigured for the company's newest Kepler-based GPU architecture, NVIDIA has announced the Quadro K5000 graphics card for the Mac Pro. It had its public unveiling at IBC in Amsterdam. For those editors, colorists and compositors already committed to Mac-based grading and creative software but who can't wait until 2013, when Apple says it will release newly configured and updated Mac Pros able to handle higher-resolution workflows, the card comes as a serious lifeline.

The Kepler architecture brings with it everything that Mac Pro users, especially those working at 4K, have been missing: support for Cinema 4K display (4096×2160 resolution), OpenGL, OpenCL and NVIDIA CUDA; and speeds double—and at lower power consumption—to those from the Quadro 4000 for Mac. "It's simply the highest GPU that's ever been in the Mac," Greg Estes, NVIDIA's media and entertainment industry executive told me during a meeting on the show floor. "Two Quadro K5000s will fit in the existing Mac Pro, enabling up to four simultaneous displays from a single board. The graphics memory has also increased to 4 GB, which means you'll finally get real-time interactivity if you're working on a Mac Pro."

While these boosts in GPU performance are long overdue on the Mac, NVIDIA's cards for PCs net even more powerful results. To put it in perspective, the HP Z820, versions of which NVIDIA also had running in its booth, can handle a total of two Tesla cards. The Mac Pro, due to its current architecture, can only hold one. Those HP z820s "power towers" being custom built by ProMAX and TEKSERVE with RED MAG readers and RED ROCKET cards under the hood are faster still.

But a Quadro K5000-boosted Mac Pro will be plenty fast to handle the kind of 4K workflows typical during grading sessions in Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve 9, for example, making it a welcome upgrade for Mac-based facilities.

The Quadro K5000 for Mac Pro will sell for $2,249 from select Apple resellers and system integrators. Without committing to an exact date, Estes told me the new cards will be available "later this year." He did infer, however, that you could "do the math" about the ship cycle based on how the company launched the PC version of Quadro K5000. That card, announced on August 6 during SIGGRAPH, will be available in October, also for $2,249.

For more information: NVIDIA