Originally Posted by Marvin
Ivy Bridge can fix it quite easily. If they drop the power usage of the quad down to say 30W, they can get a Radeon GPU in there.
Really it can't if Apples intentions are to purposefully limit the Mini's capability relative to the rest of the line up. Again it isn't a question of the value of a low end machine, Apple needs one, it is the problem of the step up being so limited. Limited to the extent that it won't have a long functional life.
They are all hyper-threaded now so dual-cores perform very well in multi-core tasks.
Sometimes yes most of the time no.
All machines become obsolete too fast. If you bought a quad-core Mac Pro in 2009, it's already being outperformed by the quad-core Mini. That's 2 years for the Pro to drop to what you'd call 'entry-level'.
The hardware can become outdated too fast but in Apples case they make sure of that with the Mini. In any event I think you are still missing the point, it is possible these days to buy hardware that will remain viable for much longer than would have been the case in the past. It requires that the hardware have a few features to help keep it viable for a few years.
Everything it seems. You want lots of internal storage, fast processors, fast GPU, more RAM slots, PCI expansion slots - you basically want a cheaper Mac Pro and if they put one on sale, you'd still want an extra power supply.
Again I'm apparently not communicating well. That list represented an aggregate of features an XMac would need to have and no it is not a Mac Pro. In reality this is a mid range machine and is commonly represented by any number of PC systems as desktop PCs. One would have to have their head awfully deep in the sand not to recognize that simply implementing desktop parts gives you most of this for free. Apples job is simply to build a box.
As to the extra power supply, that has a lot to do with Apple trying to market the current hardware as servers. Not everybody needs such a capability, but if a box is to be marketed as a server it really ought to support the feature.
You can't get it all and still have it affordable because it has to sell in volume and the things that matter to you don't matter to the vast majority of people.
That is BS. Especially in this economic climate, people are far more careful with their spending. You imply that it would be expensive but that flies in the face of what motherboards and the various chips on board cost. Seriously if Apple can't produce a desktop machine in the $1000 to $1500 range then they need to hire some new engineers. In that price range they should be able to deliver a decent box that will sell well. That box would include a processor in the 45-65 watt range, a GPU, RAM and some bays/slots for storage. This sort of machine could easily be a quarter of the size of the Mac Pro.
The 27" iMac is a better value proposition because you get a 27" IPS screen included worth $1000.
The iMac isn't even in the running here and in fact is a terrible value.
Performance doubles every 2 years so about 50% every year. Right now, the quad is 30-50% faster than the dual-core so Ivy Bridge dual-cores will match the Sandy Bridge quad i7 and the Radeon 7000 series should double in performance over the current models.
It would be nice if any of the above was true, but sadly it isn't. For a single app the value of a quad processor is software dependent, it is very possible for an app to use all of those cores. But a single app seldom defines computer usage these days, those cores can be effectively used when multiple apos are running.
You seem to be extremely optimistic with respect to Ivy Bridge and its performance. I really don't think it is justified. More cores is a fundamental advantage.
Basically, I expect the Ivy Bridge version of the middle Mac Mini to match the current $2500 Mac Pro in CPU and GPU.
Well that is very optimistic. However we already know that the Ivy Bridge GPU only gets about a 30% increase in performance, to bump the discreet GPU you really need to bump the Video RAM also. In the end, even with Ivy Bridges thermals, you still are trying to stuff more into the box than is practical.
In any event an Ivy Bridge Mini, with just two to four cores won't come close to the performance of a Mac Pro. This should be obvious as the Pro has far more cores available to it.
With USB 3 and the Thunderbolt port, that should be enough for expansion.
USB 3 and Thunderbolt combined will be a significant I/O improvement for the Mini. However that means nothing in the context of desktop machines. TB is totally unsuitable for one of the most common uses for slots in industry, that is the addition of additional communications ports. Here Ethernet is the most common port added to a machine though there are many others. Of course there are a host of other cards that need something better than TB.
Beyond that Apple currently only implements a single TB port, due to the limited bandwidth that is a serious problem.
I think it's the way to go and while I expect the desire for a mid-range tower to continue on ad nauseam, one day it will stop.
Not likely. In fact I see demand growing. Plus you use the term mid-range tower which frankly I don't remember anybody here asking for. They could put the XMac in a pizza box for all I care though I believe there are far better form factors.
If it takes 5 years or even 10 years, one day in the near future, a machine will arrive on the low-end that will put an end to it.
Well in ten years just about anything could happen including a nuclear war that would destroy all of our "I" devices, Macs and what have you. The problem today is solving real issues that users have. The quest for an XMac doesn't go away because Apple does have this gaping hole in their line up. It does little good to try to promote the Mini as a fill in for that hole as it will always be limited in capability.
I suspect the problem here is that when you hear about XMac or other stated desires, you immediately start thinking of a PC tower. A tower that size wise isn't much different than a Mac Pro. I really don't think that is the goal most of us have. Rather we want modern technology applied to the problem to build a platform that takes us into the future. That means dropping legacy devices and breaching new ground. You might of noticed that I often talk about secondary storage in terms of bays/slots, that is because a modern form factor needs to acknowledge that solid state storage is nothing more than another printed circuit card. As such economics should drive such storage on to low cost plug in cards.
In a nut shell the desktop is ripe for the same sort of innovation that Apple is famous for elsewhere. Frankly Apple, in tandem with Intel, is the only manufacture capable of driving such innovation right now. HP is screwed up, Dell is well Dell and there are few others that could even try.