Originally Posted by Junkyard Dawg
I've just returned from a west coast visit to an old college buddy, who is a worker bee at a colossal fx studio that buys hundreds of Mac Pro's each year. Occasionally this studio is graced with an Apple test mule, which normally is nothing exciting, just the same old tower with a new logic board and Xeons. Added to that, my buddy doesn't work in "the cage" where only a select few use the test mules. But he does occasionally collaborate with those lucky few who do!
So last month he's in the cage, and there's a big freakin' cube in there. At first glance, he didn't think it was a Mac, but upon further study it sure seemed like an Ives design. Another guy noticed him studying it and said, "that's Steve's baby, right there! It's not a Mac, either. It's an Apple Pro!"
Yes, Jobs wanted one last go at the Cube before he finally logged out. We all know how much Jobs hates tower computers, and the Mac Pro was no exception. My buddy says he really nailed it with this one, it's flat-out the most perfect desktop design he's ever used.
As far design, the Apple Pro is a direct descendant of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_cube
"> NeXTcube.</a> 12", cubed. Aluminum, anodized black (or maybe gunmetal grey, hard to say with the lighting). Vents ring the top of the cube's sides, so it's stackable. The cube was stacked on another half cube, only six inches high. How to easily stack it? Handles slide out from the bottom. Slick.
Components are accessed by removing either the left or right side panels. Left side for RAM, CPU, and HDs. Right side for PCIe sockets. One 3.5 GHz Ivy Bridge processor. Only two tiny HD bays, this sucker runs SSDs off the PCIe bus, and in this test mule, there was built-in hardware RAID support, no extra PCIe card needed. Three PCIe slots, two of which were used by video cards, with one remaining. No extra-long PCIe card support, unfortunately. It wouldn't be a true Apple product if it wasn't gimped in some way. Optical drives? What, and ruin the perfection of the cube's faces? Looks like it's external optical drives for any professional who, God forbid, want to burn a project onto Blu-ray.
The half cube was styled exactly like the cube. It's a six drive Thunderbolt RAID enclosure. A proprietary connector links the RAID half cube to the cube, so it powers on and off with the cube. There's also means to manually power it on and off so it can be used with any computer. Slick.
Now for the coolest part: the guys says to my buddy, what we're really testing is the new Apple Galaxy system. Huh? He points across the room. On a desk are two four foot stacks of cubes. The anodized aluminum and cube designs conspire to make the towering stacks into works of art. The guy says, one stack of four cubes will costs us about the same as a high-end Mac Pro, and we can add cubes and half cubes one at a time as we need more power. Galaxy is incredible, he says. They've been working on beta versions of Galaxy for years, but now with the cubes it finally makes sense. My buddy says, "The Apple Pro with Galaxy will enable Apple to finally conquer the creative studio market" They're more powerful than Mac Pros, more expandable, cheaper, and damn sexy.
The chatter is that Steve had a hell of a time getting this project authorized. Mac Pro sales are "in the thousands" and Steve was the only one at Apple who wanted to have another go at the desktop market. It's widely believed that this cube was only given the final go upon Steve's death, as it was his last wish.