Planning to get the new Mac Pro, but the clock speed vs cores are a bit confusing to me. Is there official statement from Steinberg about this?
So if I were to get the 12-core, would Cubase 7 use all those cores or would it be a waste of money? Would the 12-core run more plugins, VST instruments and audio tracks than the 6-core with higher clock speed?
My understanding is that Cb will use any cores that are available, but I then come from a windows PC background not Mac. I have a 6 core Win7x64 PC with hyperthreading turned on so I see 12 cores and I see Cb evenly using them all. For example, a project which was showing 25% on the ASIO meter turned out to be roughly evenly distributed using about 5% of each core.
As for clock speed versus cores I think it’s better to go for more cores if the money’s the same. But I have a hunch that if you’re wanting plugin power then cores will give you more for your money but if you want lower latency then clock speed might be better - but this is just a wild guess hunch based on no particular facts at all
So, hunches aside, it’s cheaper to double the core than it is to double the clock speed. And in fact, these days most chips are near to 3GHz clock anyway, so doubling the cores is about the only way to go when you’re up at this level of speed.
Quite a huge difference in clock speed. I´ve seen many people say that clock speed is king for audio, not cores. But the 12-core is 3000€ more. So I´m a bit torn. I wouldn´t want to waste 3000€ on the 12-core, if the 6-core is actually better for Cubase 7.
Would be nice to have an official statement from Steinberg which processor is best for Cubase 7.
Yes, it’d be nice if these things were benchmarked. But usually someone like tomshardware has benchmarked a given system, and you could look towards these to get some idea of the relationship between the two systems.
Another way of looking at it is how much can you afford and how painful is it to shell out for 12 cores?
My 6 core processor was well over double the cost of a 4 core, @ 900GBP (just the CPU itself) which hurt a lot, but it was within my means, and I now have a nicely powerful system which is pleasantly stable. It is over 2 years old and I still haven’t pushed it above 50% ASIO yet, it’ll last a log while yet before it starts to feel slow. All in all, not worth the money I spent really but worth it for the satisfaction and the hassle free smooth operation.
Well basically I need maximum amount of VST instruments, plugin instances and audio tracks. First priority being the virtual instruments and plugin count.
I´m planning to do a huge orchestral template without slave computer and mixing all the instruments in real time, so I don´t have to bounce anything to audio and can do midi changes and mixing changes immediately. Also there probably will be some recorded audio tracks.
Right now I have the mid 2010 12-core Mac Pro and it just can´t handle what I throw at it. I have to do lot of bouncing which really is a workflow killer.
I realise I might have to get a slave PC anyways for some orchestral libraries and use Vienna Ensemble Pro, but first I just want to get the best Mac Pro configuration for Cubase 7.
I can afford it, but it´s still pretty painful. But I definitely don´t want to spend 3000€ if in fact the 6-core is better for Cubase 7?
I think this would be virtually impossible to answer, especially with whatever plugins that you are using. There simply is no generic answer that can be given. It depends on so many factors, specific to your situation.
It’s sort of like a repair man buying a power tool and a bunch of other tools, and then ask which tool bag fits the power tool the best. What about the other tools? A mobile repair man will have a different tool box than the one working in a repair shop. It depends on the situation, not on tool X.
Some plugins are so advanced anymore that they almost compete with Cubase as a host of immense sound machines.
Unless you have plugins that are using multi-cores heavily themselves and even at that, depending on how they are using them, I would stick with 6-cores. Another thing to consider of course, is the OS itself, in terms of multi processing. That will also have an impact on things.
On these PC DAW choices, Cubase is second only to Reaper in its ability to scale across processors. Sonar is the worst at this. Studio One is in second to last place.
On Mac, this changes to somewhat of a tie between Logic and Cubase (Logic winning most of the time), Reaper still taking first place. Studio One last in place.
This was sort of a quest I was on last year. I recreated a very large project in all these DAWs.
Even though Reaper won, I just couldn’t use it as my main DAW for nitpicky reasons.
Anyway, the real answer has to do with how you use your DAW.
For example, in Sonar, if you use many live effects on the stereo bus – what it considers a “serial signal path” – it will only process what can fit in ONE CORE. It can’t split that up across the other cores, free as they may be.
Reaper, in this same example will do it perfectly due to how it does its “audio buffer scheduling / slicing.”
Back to Cubase: I’m not sure, but it seems to do better than Sonar in this use-case but not as well as Reaper. So I’m not sure how much it suffered from this limitation that’s confirmed in Sonar.
What’s not a “serial signal path” from the DAW’s standpoint? Well, that is probably unique to each DAW. For Sonar it’s been confirmed that any VST instruments on individual tracks, escape the serial path and are now considered on “parallel signal paths” and then, in Sonar, can use other free cores.
How is this in Cubase? I was never able to really get an accurate answer.
One thing is probably true: while there are confirmed cases (Sonar) of DAWs, in certain use-cases, that can’t muli-core scale, is the reverse true? Are there DAWs in certain use-cases that can only use part of a core and then seek out an unused core to jump to? I really, really doubt this. So…
To err on the side of caution, I think it would be better to have few, faster cores than more slower cores – all things being equal. Obviously, in situations where the sheer number of cores provides more, total processing capacity, it has the potential to be a more capable machine.
Thank you for all the information guys! But I still haven´t really gotten an answer for my question.
I´m planning to use as many instances/tracks as I can of PLAY, VSL libraries and other libraries. Also heavy synths like Omnisphere, Nexus… Then mixing these midi tracks in realtime (without bouncing) with mainly Waves, Slate, DMG Audio, FabFilter, EW Spaces, Lexicon plugins…
Which shows the new 6-core 3,5GHz is not faster than my current mid 2010 12-core 2,93GHz, only the new 12-core 2,7GHz is faster.
But if the new 6-core is actually better for music/Cubase 7 than the new 12-core, like everyone seems to be saying, I´d really felt bad wasting extra 3000€ for a slower machine.
This is a really hard decision. I´m willing to pay the extra 3000€ if I can run more instances of plugins and VST instruments, but everyone seems to be saying that I can run more instances with the 6-core which is suppose to be slower than my current old machine (which can´t handle what I throw at it)? Can I really trust this? It´s a heck of a lot of money!
My guess is that you’re not going to bump up against the “less but faster” cores advantage I discovered with Sonar on a PC, because we’re talking about Cubase on a Mac. Also, as the benchmarks show, 12 slightly slower cores would trump the new 6 core.
While the new 12 core would trump your old 12 core, it wouldn’t – in my humble opinion – be worth the cost, but only you can decide that.
Here’s one thing you can do to know for sure:
If you don’t already have one available, buy an external firewire and/or thunderbolt HD that’s large enough to fit your main system boot volume. Buy a copy of Synchronize Pro X and make a bootable backup of the entire HD – you should have this anyway, in case of catastrophic failure.
You now have a drive you can boot from, on any mac, by simply plugging it in and holding down the OPTION key after the startup chime.
Test on your machine by booting from it – it should “just work.” It should be identical to your regular system in every way (make sure not to have it launch Mail automatically, so that you don’t have any mail pulled down on your backup).
Make a version of your most demanding Cubase project so that it’s free from external dependencies, like UAD cards, external synths, sync-boxes, external drives, etc.
Reconfigure the audio preferences to use the built-in audio and make note of where your Cubase Performance Meter is with this “self contained” version of the project.
Schedule an appointment at the Apple store, talk with the store manager if required, and explain your situation. They should have no problem letting you boot from your drive. If they do, now is a good time to switch to PC / Windows.
Bring your external HD along with any usb Dongles you need.
Now just play the project back in the store and make note of the Cubase Performance Meter. Try adding new instances to see how much you can pile on.
Doing this, you’ll know for sure, and will get a bootable backup out of it.
Yes, but will it trump with Cubase 7 and audio? That is the question. Some say the 12-core might even hurt the audio performance compared to the faster 6-core. I understand that this is very program spesific and most of these benchmarks are done with video/graphic programs.
Wish Steinberg would give their take on this.
Maybe not, maybe it is, I don´t know. But I do know I need a faster machine (more instances of virtual instruments and plugins), even if it´s not a huge bump.
OMG, I don´t have a clue what you just said! Sounds very nerdish and difficult. Sounds like a cool idea, but I don´t think I have the patience, know how and the courage to start a project like that. Plus I don´t have any Apple Stores nearby and the reseller stores probably won´t even have the 12-cores, only the basic models.
I had the chance to see a demo test of the new 12 cores Mac Pro running Logic X. Just impressive, really really impressive. However I don’t know about Cubase. My bet is that it will perform incredible also here. The drawback (at least for me) is the price (for the top-of-the-line machine we talk about $10,000) which I cannot definitely afford.
I use a 6 core mac 2010 3.3ghz and from using cubase it depends on what plugins you use as i have loaded the asio meter long before i max out the 6 cores .but on some projects just using loads of steingberg fx and synths i managed to load the 6 core machines cpu . i guess this is no different to the new macs.
Your 12-core will most certainly run more live, real-time virtual instruments and plugin effects in Cubase than the new 6-core.
The 6-core is about the same in single-core performance. Most virtual instruments and effects plugins are not inherently multi-core capable and will be assigned a single core to run on. The fact your machine has twice as many cores will make it the better machine for Cubase and audio.
Even if all the plugins you used were multi-core capable, the increased multi-core performance of the new 6-core is estimated to be 10% slower than your 12-core (amazing that the 6-core gets so close), but even in a best (impossible) case, your machine would still win, and for you spending zero euros.
In the real world, with plugins that run single-core, your machine will be almost twice as powerful than the new 6-core (not quite).
As for the “3.5Ghz” number, don’t be too impressed by that. That’s a Turbo Boost number not a real number. Audio plugins like a steady speed and don’t do well with Turbo, power saving schemes, Intel “stepping” etc.
Those benchmarks have already revealed that the new 12-core will not enjoy as much Turbo performance as the 4-core flavor. There was no word on the 6-core, but my guess is that it suffers similarly to the new 12-core.
The new 12-core will certainly run more real-time audio then your current 12-core, but how much can only be answered by testing your particular setup.
There are too many variables in multi-core scaling that make it difficult for a company like Steinberg to put out any kind of meaningful “a is better than b” statement. All they can say, which they have, is that Cubase “makes use” of multiple CPUs and cores.
I’d lean toward the 4 or 6 core. I have a 12-core 2012 model and I’m thinking less cores but faster cores would be better. And I think it entirely has to do with the way Cubase’s audio engine is designed (poorly, sadly).
Here’s what happens on my 12-core right now:
10 Kontakts - CPU 5%
20 Kontakts - CPU 10%
30 Kontakts - CPU 15%
40 Kontakts - CPU 20%
50 Kontakts - CPU 25%
60 Kontakts - CPU 30%
61 Kontakts - CPU 70%
62 Kontakts - CPU 100%, audio engine completely fails
There’s a sort of insane logarithmic curve on the number of plug-ins Cubase can take that simply doesn’t make sense. Case in point, this curve exists on older machines with fewer cores (ie: Mac Mini 4 core). I can load like 40-50 Kontakts on the Mac Mini and it performs just as well as my 12-core Mac Pro, but they will both top out over 50 or 60 and it HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE INSTRUMENTS INSIDE KONTAKT, BUT ALL TO DO WITH THE NUMBER OF KONTAKT PLUG-INS.
Conversely, Logic X can load 200 Kontakts and sits idle at about 15% CPU. It is far more efficient with multiple cores.
This translates to A FAILURE on the part of Cubase’s audio engine.
Long story short: Number of cores isn’t always better for Cubase on Mac. Faster (fewer) cores will get you further.
Food for thought / reality-check / raw metrics, while we wait for Steinberg to weigh-in…
Geekbench for the new 12-core Mac Pro (Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge E5-2697 v2 x 1 processor @2.70 GHz): 33066
Cheapest config as new purchase (as one can’t upgrade an existing machine): $6999.00
Geekbench for the new 6-core Mac Pro (Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge E5-1650 v2 x 1 processor @3.50 GHz): 18309
Cheapest config as new purchase: $3999.00
Geekbench for last year’s 12-core Mac Pro (Intel Xeon Nehalem X5675 x 2 processors @3.06 GHz): 28570
Cheapest config as new purchase: $6199.00
Geekbench of my 4-core Home-built Rack PC (Intel Ivy Bridge i7-3770K x 1 processor @3.50 Ghz): 14646
Cost of a Motherboard and CPU upgrade to my previous configuration (all other parts carried over): $274.98
Based on these Geekbench numbers, I’m having a real hard time imagining the new 6-core beating last year’s 12-core – even though it was using 2011 Nehalem technology, Apple put *****two CPUs in there to compensate for that, hence the fat score.
*[Sidebar:If the older, 2012 12-core Mac Pro is proved to do worse in Cubase than its Geekbench score would suggest, it might be due to the two CPUs Apple put in there and a confirmation of a multi CPU bug (limitation) that manifests at low latencies on systems with two physical CPU (does not affect a single CPU system with multiple cores). I emailed Steinberg about this limitation and they confirmed it was an issue but didn’t say whether it had been fixed in current versions of Cubase. A way to test this would be to compare the new 2013 12-core (that is single CPU) and see if it far outperforms last year’s Mac Pro in low latency Cubase results. A double-check would be to test again at high latency. If the large gap is narrowed, the the Multi CPU (not core) limitation is still present in Cubase.]
A large part of the Geekbench score is Floating Point performance, and that’s mostly what audio plugins care about. So, task-to-core assignment confusion aside, the Geekbench scores should translate well into what to expect for audio applications. I’ve found this to be true with my own testing between my various Macs and PCs. It’s been spot-on and linear enough for me, that I may explore a “Geekbench <–> Number Of Stock Effects” index, to see if there’s any merit in it. If so, it would be a great tool for those building new DAWs.
Cubase would have to do more than poorly at its own multi-core scaling, it would have to somehow negate the natural single-core performance plugins steal for themselves when they instantiate, by bottleneck-ing Apple’s Core Audio, somehow. There’s almost no way it can artificially “slow down” all the plugins one might run. It would have to be some kind of audio buffer / Core Audio / latency perfect storm, I would think.
It well documented over at http://www.dawbench.com/win7-v-osx-1.htm that OS X Core Audio, compared to PC ASIO, will suffer great plugin count loss when running at the lower latencies (see the example of only 38 multiband compressors in OS X vs 120 in Windows at the “32” buffer setting, same hardware). Once the buffer / latency is bumped up, the problem goes away. Logic partially gets around this with a “dual buffering” strategy. This might explain some of the Logic vs Cubase plugin count differences. To really test apples to apples, the highest buffer should be set in both Logic and Cubase.