Macs for MWorks

Verhoef, Bram-Ernst's Avatar

Verhoef, Bram-Ernst

18 Jun, 2014 02:30 PM

Hi Chris,

As you probably know the Maunsell-lab will move to Chicago by the end of August. I will move already on the 22nd of July, giving me a good amount of time to prepare some mice experiments before the lab arrives. It would be nice to build and test the MWorks scripts for those experiments on an IMac or Mac-mini as we plan to use one of these in all future rigs. Ideally we would build a working test rig before July 22nd and move it together with my furniture to Chicago. This requires making some purchases and for that it would be good to know about your progress with the MWorks tests on the mac-mini and the IMac. Could you tell us if there is a preferred option (IMac or mac-mini) and inform us about the pros and cons?

Much appreciated,
Bram

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Christopher Sta... on 18 Jun, 2014 03:09 PM

    Christopher Stawarz's Avatar

    Hi Bram,

    Based on my testing, I recommend avoiding the Mac mini and going with the iMac instead.

    The current Mac mini's are almost two years old, and it shows. In particular, their integrated Intel graphics chipsets don't seem up to the challenge of driving two displays at 60Hz: Even with MWorks' mirror window turned off, I can cause the stimulus display to miss refresh cycles by messing around on the main display (opening apps, minimizing windows, etc.). I suspect the story will be different for the next generation of Mac mini's, but I recommend passing on the current one.

    As for iMacs, I recommend getting one with an NVIDIA graphics processor. Although the current-gen Intel GPUs (particularly the Iris Pro variant) may very well be suitable for MWorks, I don't have one to run tests on, so I can only speculate on their performance. On the other hand, the NVIDIA-equipped iMac that your lab provided seems to have no trouble driving two displays simultaneously, so I feel confident recommending it.

    Note that MWorks' performance when the mirror window is enabled is still an issue to be resolved; even on the iMac, UI actions can cause missed refreshes when the mirror window is active. I've been working on this problem off and on for a while, and I'm confident I have a solution. However, it still needs to be integrated into MWorks. Given your schedule, I will try to get this done within the next month or so.

    Cheers,
    Chris

  2. 2 Posted by Verhoef, Bram-E... on 18 Jun, 2014 03:26 PM

    Verhoef, Bram-Ernst's Avatar

    Thanks a lot Chris, that's very helpful. We'll go with the IMacs.
    Greetings,
    Bram

  3. 3 Posted by mhisted on 18 Jun, 2014 04:28 PM

    mhisted's Avatar

    Hi Chris,

    > even on the iMac, UI actions can cause missed refreshes when the mirror window is active.

    We see this too on our older Mac Pros (two CPUs: Mac Pro 4,1 from 2009).

    > I've been working on this problem off and on for a while, and I'm confident I have a solution. However, it still needs to be integrated into MWorks. Given your schedule, I will try to get this done within the next month or so.

    Good news. This would be great. Turning off all UI animations helps, but doesn't completely fix it.

    thanks,
    Mark

  4. Support Staff 4 Posted by Christopher Sta... on 15 Oct, 2014 08:01 PM

    Christopher Stawarz's Avatar

    Hi all,

    Previously, I wrote:

    MWorks' performance when the mirror window is enabled is still an issue to be resolved; even on the iMac, UI actions can cause missed refreshes when the mirror window is active. I've been working on this problem off and on for a while, and I'm confident I have a solution. However, it still needs to be integrated into MWorks.

    My solution for this issue is now implemented and in the current nightly build. When running on the iMac with the mirror window enabled, I find it's now quite difficult to cause MWorks to miss a refresh cycle. (More specifically, it took me about five minutes of mucking around with the UI to get a single skipped refresh.) Performance on the Mac mini with the mirror window enabled is now about the same as with the mirror window off, i.e. better but still not good.

    When you have a chance, please test the current nightly on some of your hardware and let me know how it works for you.

    Cheers,
    Chris

  5. Christopher Stawarz closed this discussion on 26 Nov, 2014 03:00 PM.

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