MacOS GPU

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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby Omoeba » Tue Apr 07, 2020 9:13 am

I think it is a good idea to add GPU support to macOS. MacBooks are now able to use increasingly powerful eGPUs like the 5700XT that can earn over a million points per day. In addition to Macs now having access to powerful GPUs, they can only be used in macOS as bootcamp doesn't support eGPUs. I, for one, would love to contribute my 5700XT when I am not gaming or doing CAD.
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby ipkh » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:24 pm

Indeed it would be good Omoeba, however as discussed before, Apple doesn't and has no plans to support the needed libraries that Fold at home needs to operate.
In addition the manpower is not there to support a very small portion of Mac hardware that had an AMD or Nvidia GPU as it a very small subset of Modern mac's.

To fold on Mac hardware you can do CPU only via OSX, or CPU and GPU (AMD/Nvidia only) via Linux or Windows.

Unless Apple supports OpenCL 1.2 on their OS you can't fold gpu on Mac.
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby SteveW928 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:56 am

Omoeba wrote: ... MacBooks are now able to use increasingly powerful eGPUs like the 5700XT that can earn over a million points per day. ...


This is the main point any decision makers need to consider. While it is quite true that the majority of *stock* Macs couldn't run F@H very well (if at all), almost every modern Mac supports eGPUs, which any Mac user that games or does CAD, 3D, etc. might already own, or someone into folding might consider adding.

And, as I said in a previous post, how many *stock* Windows machines would be in a similar situation? I'd guess the majority. Sure, that PC user might be able to add a raw GPU more easily (assuming they have a tower, mini-tower), but so can't the Mac user just add an eGPU.

Omoeba wrote: ... In addition to Macs now having access to powerful GPUs, they can only be used in macOS as bootcamp doesn't support eGPUs. ...


Not officially, but FYI, it is quite possible to get eGPUs working in Windows in Bootcamp. Check here if you want to experiment or consider that path: https://egpu.io
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby SteveW928 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:58 am

ipkh wrote:... Unless Apple supports OpenCL 1.2 on their OS you can't fold gpu on Mac.


Looks like Apple does for any fairly recent Mac. cf. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202823
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby JimboPalmer » Wed Apr 08, 2020 1:28 am

The issue as I see it, is that Apple has not wanted this support.

Early on, Apple's OpenCL did not work right. Clearly F@H had hoped for GPU support in the MacOS client.
Then GPUs were mostly by Intel, which have never been supported.
Now Apple has depreciated OpenCL, preferring Metal.
Writing Mac code for OpenCL would be money wasted now.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202823
Intel 44 models, 8 of which aren't OpenCL 1.2 Intel has the most models of Macs.
AMD 14 models, all are OpenCL 1.2
ATI 34 models, 14 of which do not support OpenCL 1.2
Nvidia 43 models, 30 of which do not support OpenCL 1.2

47 Macs could fold, 88 Macs that can't
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby SteveW928 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 8:38 pm

JimboPalmer wrote:The issue as I see it, is that Apple has not wanted this support. ... Now Apple has depreciated OpenCL, preferring Metal.


Yeah, I'm a bit unclear what this actually means though. Is it just that Apple isn't going to have it installed? No support? Not allow? etc.
A number of 3D-based products are certainly concerned, as well, but the few I follow seem to be going forward with Mac versions/support, so I'd guess this doesn't mean end-of-line for OpenCL.

JimboPalmer wrote:47 Macs could fold, 88 Macs that can't


Again, keep in mind eGPUs. That changes everything.
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby bruce » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:02 pm

Apple has a very poor history with their support of OpenCL and from their recent announcements I'm guessing they're committed to abandoning it entirely in favor of Metal. Without a clear direction to fix their OpenCL support going forward, FAH has no interest in wading into the swamp. With a clear support statement, FAH might consider support (and that's not to be taken as any kind of promise.)

Qustions that might help me answer more future questions:

1) Folding with a CPU under OS_X produces the same heat and the same points as folding with a CPU under Bootcamp/Windows, right?

2) Folding with bootcamp and an eGPU puts that heat outside. Right?
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby Joe_H » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:23 pm

SteveW928 wrote:Again, keep in mind eGPUs. That changes everything.


But does it actually? Just how common are Mac users with eGPU boxes that can add another $600-1000 dollars to the cost of a system. I don't have any figures, and I suspect you don't either. I know of a few who do this, but have no definitive idea how representative they are of other Mac users. They seem to be exceptions from what I can see.
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby SteveW928 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:28 pm

bruce wrote:1) Folding with a CPU under OS_X produces the same heat and the same points as folding with a CPU under Bootcamp/Windows, right?


I haven't compared the two, but I would assume it to be close, unless there are OS-specific, or F@H-specific advantages on one platform or the other.

FYI, Bootcamp is basically a switch (firmware?) where the Mac hardware just boots directly into Windows. Then some drivers are loaded which make Apple-peripherals work a bit better (ie. if you have a trackpad, or the web-cam, etc.). For all practical purposes, it is a Windows machine, direct to hardware. It gets a bit tricky with eGPUs, as (and this may have already changed... it has been a while since I got mine working) as GPU driver installs don't seem to natively load/see the eGPU... so there are some tweaks or modded drivers you have to get working, which vary from device to device.

So, for a non-technical user, Bootcamp might not be that great of an option, at least until it more easily 'just works' out of the box (which, again, I've heard might be the case now, but I haven't had time to risk re-loading everything right now).

(Note: I haven't tried it under a virtual environment like Parallels or VMware, but that would be rather pointless since there is a MacOS client for F@H, unless that could somehow access the GPU, which I doubt will ever happen.)

bruce wrote:2) Folding with bootcamp and an eGPU puts that heat outside. Right?


Yes, well, at least the GPU heat.

What I like about this (eGPU setups) is that it actually adds a ton of options and flexibility. If you need quiet, there are designs that do that (like my Blackmagic). If you need to swap cards, or use multiple GPUs, etc. there are options for that too.

My main issue is that I now spend most of my time running macOS (so am not booted into Windows via Bootcamp). That means my eGPU is useless for F@H. I'm still investigating how the Windows license works if I could potentially run via Bootcamp overnight, and still use Windows via Parallels (virtual machine) during the day. I suppose I could buy another Windows license, but would rather avoid that (and optimally, it is nice to keep my macOS running).
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby SteveW928 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:37 pm

Joe_H wrote:
SteveW928 wrote:Again, keep in mind eGPUs. That changes everything.


But does it actually? Just how common are Mac users with eGPU boxes that can add another $600-1000 dollars to the cost of a system. I don't have any figures, and I suspect you don't either. I know of a few who do this, but have no definitive idea how representative they are of other Mac users. They seem to be exceptions from what I can see.


Yes, but my point is that this means nearly ANY Mac user who wants more GPU power for their gaming, apps, or folding, could just buy one and add it.

I don't know how many currently do so, but the potential is there. Yes, they can be a bit costly. But, I wonder how many Windows computers really have better GPUs than the typical Mac (unless the users put some extra money in as well).

I think the better question would be how big the community is on either platform likely to get involved in such a thing and either have a machine capable or spend some money on it. It becomes a bit niche in either case, but I have no idea about numbers. I suppose within the Windows gaming community, people are ready to go. But, outside of that, I think the average user is in similar shape.
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby PantherX » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:56 am

SteveW928 wrote:...My main issue is that I now spend most of my time running macOS (so am not booted into Windows via Bootcamp). That means my eGPU is useless for F@H. I'm still investigating how the Windows license works if I could potentially run via Bootcamp overnight, and still use Windows via Parallels (virtual machine) during the day. I suppose I could buy another Windows license, but would rather avoid that (and optimally, it is nice to keep my macOS running).

Have you considered running Ubuntu as a VM and see the eGPU can be functional? That way, it won't cost you another Windows license and you won't have to dual boot.
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby SteveW928 » Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:35 pm

PantherX wrote:Have you considered running Ubuntu as a VM and see the eGPU can be functional? That way, it won't cost you another Windows license and you won't have to dual boot.


Hmm, no I hadn't considered that. I wonder what the chances of my eGPU being properly recognized are... maybe worth a try though. Thanks!


BTW, for those interested in eGPU vs internal cards, BareFeats has a recent article comparing a number of cards in an eGPU enclosure vs directly inside a new Mac Pro, including some benchmarks with the same eGPU (and cards) connected to a laptop with standard Intel graphics (to show how much boost).
https://barefeats.com/akitio-node-titan ... -macs.html

While spec-wise, there is still a big difference between and internal bus and Thunderbolt 3, in the real world it doesn't matter that much unless you clump too much stuff on one controller (note: you do have to be careful, as a lot of times multiple ports connect to a single controller. For example, my 2018 Mac mini has 2 controllers and 4 ports. So, if I were connecting multiple eGPUs, or an eGPU with a bunch of other I/O heavy stuff, I need to be sure to pick the *right* ports. Higher end equipment like the new Mac Pro has more controllers so the ports get their own bandwidth.)
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby foldinghomealone2 » Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:53 am

If you have a eGPU because you need it, give it a try.
If you want to buy a eGPU for folding then consider the following: The external case costs similar to a (new) PC usable for folding.
For GPU folding you can use low spec HW (except for the GPU)
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby Sarr » Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:28 pm

I have no Mac with any GPU that would even be useful to run Folding on, so this whole topic is slightly irrelevant to me. But I'm curious, something I noticed. If GPU folding is not supported in MacOS, how come it lists a small amount of GPUs as active under MacOS on the Folding@Home OS Stats page?
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Re: MacOS GPU

Postby Joe_H » Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:22 pm

That may be from a glitch in the stats system. There were a few projects that were CPU ones, but misidentified as GPU, and vice-versa due to copy paste of descriptions. They were related projects with some elements being done on CPUs and others assigned to GPUs.
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