Apple and the nVidia Debacle

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May 1, 2006
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There is a simmering issue that has been brewing since Mojave was released in that Apple appears to have effectively frozen out Nvidia from Macs with only two ancient Nvidia cards deemed compatible. They also froze out newer cards that work on High Sierra and Nvidia apparently can't release update drivers without Apple's sign off.

I guess it really doesn't matter to most Apple fans happy in the walled garden with disposable units such as the IMacs but this really continues to add to my rather dim view of Apple these days.
 
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@Growltiger.

It seems to mainly affect the proper Mac Pros (Cheese Graters) which are user upgradable.

It is another story that Apple has refused to provide these units as the disposables (IMacs, Laptops, the 2013 "Mac Pro", and of course, IPhones) are more profitable.
As a result, a lot of users are hanging on to the real Mac Pros and upgrading them. A big part of this is to upgrade the graphics card and Nvidia cards are often the "To Go" option as they can easily be flashed to support Macs.

This was ok up till High Sierra (OS X 10.13) but Apple has apparently decided to stop such upgrades in (OS X 10.14) and basically push people to one of the disposables.

Nevertheless, I will be doing major surgery on my Early 2008 Mac Pro next weekend:
- Swap the 2 x 2.8 gHz Processors for 3.2 gHz ones
- Upgrade the RAM to 64Gb as while Apple says 32Gb max, 64Gb of new high density ones work.
- Upgrade the AMD Radeon 5770 Graphics Card to an Nvidia Titan X (flashed for Os X)
- Upgrade the Operating System to High Sierra (OS X 10.13) from the Apple imposed El Capitan (OS X 10.11) Limit. Would have gone to Mojave (OS X 10.14) but Apple has put the Kibosh on that by the simple expedient of kicking Nvidia into touch.

Mind you, I would happily pay Apple the same sort of premium I paid back in 2008 for a 2019 equivalent but Apple does not have one on offer. They say they will release a "modular" Mac Pro this year but it can safely be assumed that this would be something along the likes of the 2013 version.
 

Growltiger

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@Growltiger.

It seems to mainly affect the proper Mac Pros (Cheese Graters) which are user upgradable.

It is another story that Apple has refused to provide these units as the disposables (IMacs, Laptops, the 2013 "Mac Pro", and of course, IPhones) are more profitable.
As a result, a lot of users are hanging on to the real Mac Pros and upgrading them. A big part of this is to upgrade the graphics card and Nvidia cards are often the "To Go" option as they can easily be flashed to support Macs.

This was ok up till High Sierra (OS X 10.13) but Apple has apparently decided to stop such upgrades in (OS X 10.14) and basically push people to one of the disposables.

Nevertheless, I will be doing major surgery on my Early 2008 Mac Pro next weekend:
- Swap the 2 x 2.8 gHz Processors for 3.2 gHz ones
- Upgrade the RAM to 64Gb as while Apple says 32Gb max, 64Gb of new high density ones work.
- Upgrade the AMD Radeon 5770 Graphics Card to an Nvidia Titan X (flashed for Os X)
- Upgrade the Operating System to High Sierra (OS X 10.13) from the Apple imposed El Capitan (OS X 10.11) Limit. Would have gone to Mojave (OS X 10.14) but Apple has put the Kibosh on that by the simple expedient of kicking Nvidia into touch.

Mind you, I would happily pay Apple the same sort of premium I paid back in 2008 for a 2019 equivalent but Apple does not have one on offer. They say they will release a "modular" Mac Pro this year but it can safely be assumed that this would be something along the likes of the 2013 version.
Thanks for the explanation. I understand your frustration.

What about AMD? They have excellent cards too. Could you use a modern AMD card?

I have to question if it is worth spending any time or money upgrading a machine with an 11 year old design and processor. Even with the slightly faster speed you will still have a machine that is very slow compared to one with a modern CPU.
 
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What about AMD? They have excellent cards too. Could you use a modern AMD card?
All my investigations have pointed to Nvidia cards. Seems to do with the ease of flashing them.

I have to question if it is worth spending any time or money upgrading a machine with an 11 year old design and processor. Even with the slightly faster speed you will still have a machine that is very slow compared to one with a modern CPU.
Fair point. While I am as keen on a shiny modern rig as the next guy, two things drive my decision
  1. I am not keen on the disposables at all.
  2. My current rig actually does quite fine for editing images. It could be faster perhaps but I do not feel any issues as such.
I got a massive speed boost when I went to SSD drives and it would appear that the performance bottleneck is not as much in the processor as it used to be in the good old days. It actually seem that the differences at the CPU level between then and now, 11 years as you point out, is not as big as between, say, the two years between a 2006 and 2008 CPU. I expect the new card to help.

If/When Apple releases a comparable rig, I would be all over it like a rash. In the meantime, I'll keep this baby going until the time comes to go to Windows as I suspect would ultimately be the step I have to take.
 
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The NVidia driver issue affects some Macbook Pro’s too - my 2015 MBP has the “upgrade” NVidia GPU installed. Works ok using the built-in GPU, but there is a noticeable drop in performance using graphics-intense apps. With the MBP, one cannot swap the GPU for something else...
 
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I finally got some time to compete going from this:
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... to this:
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I initially upgraded the OS (using the DosDude Patch for unsupported Macs) and Graphics card a few weeks ago and yesterday, I swapped the processor.

Can't say it has made an immediately noticeable major difference apart from a warm fuzzy feeling inside from diving deeper into the innards of the machine than I had ever done and emerging out unscathed. Even survived all the dire warnings about the chances of messing up using liquid metal instead of standard thermal paste on the CPU!

Limited myself to High Sierra because of the NVidia Graphics Card but also made a patched installation disk for Mojave to store in case I decide to go for that at some point later.

Tested Mojave on a spare disk first to confirm that it works.
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Apple got their way and to move my venerable Early 2008 MacPro to Mojave, I've had to ditch Nvidia for AMD:

mod Mojave ScreenshotNew.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


It was a painful exercise to get an OS, Mojave, which is not supported on my Mac, play nice with a card, Radeon RX 580, which is not supported on my Mac but required to get acceleration on Mojave, all play nice together.

Needed the Radeon RX 580 as the Radeon 5770 I tested earlier "works" on Mojave but with zero acceleration and hence all programs with any form of graphics basically fall over.

Using the "rEFInd" Boot Manager and patched the ROM to natively boot APFS as well.

The legendry DosDude1 and the other hackers should all receive medals! I must have done at least 20 installations of Mojave in the last 2 days as i kept messing something or the other up. Now all good for another two years of Apple Support and I know I can go to Catalina if/when I want.
 
That is really amazing that you were able to revitalize this old Mac Pro! WOW! I think the first-generation Mac Pros were never able to really be successfully updated beyond a certain point, but as you have demonstrated here, later ones have been with a bit of time, knowledge, skills and patience on the part of the owner. Cool! Have fun with your newly updated machine!
 
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Have fun with your newly updated machine!
Thanks.

The 2006/2007 (1,1/2,1) MacPros were dropped by Apple at OSX Lion. I believe it is possible to hack these to run El Capitan on these but no further.

Mine is a 2008 (3,1) which was dropped by Apple at El Capitan but thanks to Dosdude and the others, still going strong on the new releases.
It was set to hit the buffers at HiSierra unless buying into one of the old Nvidia cards sanctioned by Apple but I wasn't too keen on these. Luckily, the clever guys managed to find a way that allows this to run a modern AMD card. Thanks to them, I also no longer need the rEFInd boot manager.

I would look to move to Catalina in a year's time when the next version is released as on this machine, I treat whatever Apple's current version is as I would treat bleeding edge releases on a web server.
 
Yes, I had the first-gen Mac Pro and it was frustrating when it was no longer able to be updated with the OS and also there was some issue about the graphics cards, which is what I think you're alluding to here, too. I eventually sold my machine to someone else because I found that I was more comfortable with something smaller, both in terms of machine itself and monitor. That 2006 machine was something, though!
 
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Great work! I have to do some "surgery" on my 2012 Mac Mini since I'm right now capped at OS X Sierra, due to running dual SSD drives in RAID 0. Apple doesn't "officially" support such a configuration, so I'll need to clone my entire drive on an external HD, update the clone drive nd then copy the upgrade back to my dual SSD drives! Though your installation makes my issue seem like child's play! :D
 

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