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New Intel Sandy Bridge Xeon chips available for potential Mac Pro update

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
Intel's new Sandy Bridge update for its Xeon line of high end CPUs is due next week, suggesting the potential for Apple to refresh the Mac Pro, which hasn't changed since the middle of 2010.

The availability of Intel's latest Xeon E5 workstation-class chips next week was reported by British site The Inquirer.





The new Xeon E5 chips incorporate the Sandy Bridge micro architecture that first appeared in MacBook Pros and iMacs early last year, followed by a mobile variant used by Apple in the MacBook Air last summer.

Apple's latest Mac Pro models currently use Intel Xeon Bloomfield or Gulftown processors based on the Nehalem and closely related Westmere microarchitectures.




The latest release of OS X 10.7.3 Lion included support for AMD's high end Tahiti graphic cards, which are expected to arrive in the market around the same time as Intel's new Xeon chips.

However, people famliar with the matter have said that Apple's management, as far back as last May, were in limbo over whether to put any additional resources toward the Mac Pro product line.

Internal discussions at Apple were said to focus on the fact that sales of the high-end Mac Pro workstations have dropped off so considerably that the desktop machines are no longer particularly profitable for the company.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 68
Any word on the pricing? With the decline of the desktop and workstation it might finally behoove Apple to lower the entry price a bit.

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post #3 of 68
It would be nice if they would at least announce if they were going to continue this line. My 2007 Mac Pro is no longer supported by Mountain Lion. I would love to buy a new one but refuse to spend $3000 on 2010 technology. At least announce your plans so folks can figure out what their next steps are. iMac does not do it for me, I need RAM and multiple hard drives.
post #4 of 68
I personally think Apple would be making a big mistake not offering their Pro customers and upgrade path to Sandy Bridge Xeon. There are a lot of creative professionals in Music, Video, Graphics, etc. that would likely migrate to PC platforms...
post #5 of 68
The Mac Pro is really outdated technology for a workstation. I'd much rather see Apple take something line Sandy Bridge E and make a thoroughly modern and forward looking desktop computer. The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon.

So yeah I hope Apple uses this chip, I just hope that it is in a modern implementation that completely leverages the technology they have available these days. Oh and please do it at a reasonable price point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karmadave View Post

I personally think Apple would be making a big mistake not offering their Pro customers and upgrade path to Sandy Bridge Xeon. There are a lot of creative professionals in Music, Video, Graphics, etc. that would likely migrate to PC platforms...
post #6 of 68
One might figure that with Apple's profitability they could afford to carry one piece of hardware that doesn't make a huge profit. I'd sure hate to see the Mac Pro line die, although I don't have much use for one since the top-of-the-line iMac is enough for me. It's just that the Mac Pro seems like such a wonderful design. I suppose that isn't enough reason to keep the Mac Pro around if not enough people are buying it. What a shame if Apple discontinues it. Now that Apple is getting into the enterprise, it might have some chance of getting better sales. \
post #7 of 68
Yes even for Pro users.

Of course Apple has to be careful about what they replace the Mac Pro with. Performance is paramount but the architecture of the current Mac Pro isn't really suitable for further development. To support things like TB, Solid State Storage, optical interconnects and the like requires a bit of rethinking about what a workstation is.

For example supporting SATA in the base unit might be seen as a transitional have to have but long term they will need a port to support very fast solid state storage methods. Not all of these solid state initiatives are flash based so it really needs to be some sort of advanced PCI-Express 3 port. The same thing goes for Thunderbolt, it doesn't look like the requirement for motherboard integration will go away and it will only need to b e faster in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

One might figure that with Apple's profitability they could afford to carry one piece of hardware that doesn't make a huge profit. I'd sure hate to see the Mac Pro line die, although I don't have much use for one since the top-of-the-line iMac is enough for me.

Until Apple addresses a few issues with the iMac I have no need for one. Likewise I have no need for the Mac Pro in its high price configurations. I would go for a redesigned machine if there was one option available at a reasonable price that had respectable performance.

This is in fact one of the Mac Pros greatest failings, there isn't really a viable low cost option. If you are just looking for a bit of expandability in a modern desktop Apple doesn't have one.
Quote:
It's just that the Mac Pro seems like such a wonderful design. I suppose that isn't enough reason to keep the Mac Pro around if not enough people are buying it.

It was at one time a wonderful design and still is if you have a need for the top end configurations and can justify the cost. Most people can't though, thus low sales.
Quote:
What a shame if Apple discontinues it. Now that Apple is getting into the enterprise, it might have some chance of getting better sales. \

There is no shame. Keeping the Pro around makes as much sense as keeping the Apple 2 around. The Apple 2 was an outstanding little machine in its day, but has been well eclipsed buy technology far better. The problem with the Pro is that it is quickly begin eclipsed by the advent of new technologies that make it a questionable investment for Apple. Apple can do much better with a platform that can cover the needs of a wider array of users.
post #8 of 68
I wonder what the baseline GPU will be? Tahiti is the top end Radeon 7970, nothing in the Mac Pros history suggests they would ship with something that expensive as a baseline. Todays uses the 5770, so my guess would be the 7770, but nothing in the OS code showed Pitcairn support, did it? Something with Graphics Core Next would be nice. And for a "Pro" machine 1GB video memory is just cutting corners, the upgrade to 2GB card-wise doesn't cost much and in professional applications like Mudbox 1GB slows you down, and historically the only way you got more VRAM was switching up to the far more expensive workstation class cards which not everyone needs, so I hope they have 3GB non-workstation options this time.

Also the usual stuff, 2,499.00 for 3GB is just flinging poop at pro mac users, 6GB should be standard.

Wow, it really has been a while since Nehalem, and once the SB Xeons are ready Ivy Bridge on the consumer side will be almost ready, too bad Intel doesn't release them at the same time.

I wonder how Thunderbolt would work on a desktop too, for video out from the video card it would need to be connected there, but it uses a lot of bandwidth, could the GPU pass all that through?
post #9 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The Mac Pro is really outdated technology for a workstation. I'd much rather see Apple take something line Sandy Bridge E and make a thoroughly modern and forward looking desktop computer. The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon.

So yeah I hope Apple uses this chip, I just hope that it is in a modern implementation that completely leverages the technology they have available these days. Oh and please do it at a reasonable price point.

"The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon."

I'm curious (not trying to be sarcastic), what would be the "right" Mac Pro to base the next 10 years upon?
post #10 of 68
That is how does Apple get the TB integration with the GPU's sitting in PCI-E slots. Will Apple even support that integration on the Mac Pro or its replacement? This could be a long discussion and frankly impacts how Apple updates or replaces the Mac Pro.

I honest think they will have to integrate the GPU onto the motherboard. This might result in fixed GPU memory, but if Apple was smart they would put the GPU memory on a separate card. The other option would be multiple Mac models varying in GPU implementation.

The more that I think about this the more I believe that the Pro is due for a total make over. This is just one technical issue that Apple will be running into.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tipoo View Post

I wonder what the baseline GPU will be? Tahiti is the top end Radeon 7970, nothing in the Mac Pros history suggests they would ship with something that expensive as a baseline. Todays uses the 5770, so my guess would be the 7770, but nothing in the OS code showed Pitcairn support, did it? Something with Graphics Core Next would be nice. And for a "Pro" machine 1GB video memory is just cutting corners, the upgrade to 2GB card-wise doesn't cost much and in professional applications like Mudbox 1GB slows you down, and historically the only way you got more VRAM was switching up to the far more expensive workstation class cards which not everyone needs, so I hope they have 3GB non-workstation options this time.

Also the usual stuff, 2,499.00 for 3GB is just flinging poop at pro mac users, 6GB should be standard.

Wow, it really has been a while since Nehalem, and once the SB Xeons are ready Ivy Bridge on the consumer side will be almost ready, too bad Intel doesn't release them at the same time.

I wonder how Thunderbolt would work on a desktop too, for video out from the video card it would need to be connected there, but it uses a lot of bandwidth, could the GPU pass all that through?
post #11 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The Mac Pro is really outdated technology for a workstation. I'd much rather see Apple take something line Sandy Bridge E and make a thoroughly modern and forward looking desktop computer. The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon.

So yeah I hope Apple uses this chip, I just hope that it is in a modern implementation that completely leverages the technology they have available these days. Oh and please do it at a reasonable price point.

I'm expecting some potentially updated workstation designs seeing as most of them much like Apple haven't updated much since 2009. Some of the Sandy Bridge chips are up to 130W if I recall correctly. I'm not sure how the next two revisions look on power appetite. Quadro variants on kepler will also be a big deal given the relative dominance of NVidia in the workstation market segment. The quadros are mostly driver based adjustments rather than raw hardware, but it makes a very significant difference as long as the drivers are well tuned and tested on the application. Nothing sucks more than lag (aside from perhaps crashes.

HP and Lenovo came out with more compact designs. The HP was an all in one like the imac, but with full access panel. The hardware starts with something consumer level but has a lot of options for workstation gpus, unfortunately they're mobile workstation gpus, and other things. I don't what the display is like. If they have an option that comes close to their dreamcolor displays (even if it's an extremely expensive upgrade) they could actually have something there. Those never caught on in volume, but they are very good. Before anyone mentions it, those ones cater to a different market than the TB display.

All of the really compact models have been pretty expensive thus far. i'm not sure if they required exotic cooling solutions or anything. The point there is that smaller case doesn't necessarily translate to cheaper. With the top end market items, you always pay a much heftier premium, but it does seem to be becoming a much wider price gap. Apparently they do have a dreamcolor option on the display. That display alone sells for $2500 normally for a 24" display, and roughly $3k set up fully for proper calibration and profiling. If the final price point and warranty on the rig makes sense as a whole, it could be okay. I think it's likely that an impressive configuration will be really really expensive early on. The still using a mobile workstation gpu variant thing makes me a little sad.

I seriously doubt any of the 130W cpus will make it into any of these. Last time we saw those kinds of figures in workstation cpus, oems waited it out. The same might be true here. Obviously intel hasn't been that focused on this segment either.
post #12 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru_canuk View Post

"The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon."

I'm curious (not trying to be sarcastic), what would be the "right" Mac Pro to base the next 10 years upon?

Well, since you're responding to wizard69, I"m sure he's thinking of something like this:

http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?1...o-you-have-one
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post #13 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru_canuk View Post

"The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon."

I'm curious (not trying to be sarcastic), what would be the "right" Mac Pro to base the next 10 years upon?

First; we have t think about Thunderbolt (TB) and how Apple will go about supporting that and the associated video channels. The first possibility is that they punt and simply don't support the video multiplexing. I don't think that will happen. They could go with a special purpose video card connector but again I don't think that ill happen. I suspect that they will integrate the chip right on the motherboard. This is the right long term solution especially as video hardware becomes more closely coupled to the CPU hardware and allows them to support TB as they already have been. Like it or not this is one reason why I think the Pro is dead.

Second; SATA is pretty much dead as the primary storage channel for forward looking PC hardware. Instead I'm expecting that a base machine would rely upon solid state storage implemented on an advanced plug in card. This card would use the latest PCI Express interface electrical standards but might vary in physical dimensions. This would allow Apple to implement very fast solid state arrays for the primary secondary storage implementation ( in other words the boot and app drive). I'm careful to say solid state here as i don't expect flash to be around for long, however memory on a card is the long term play. I could see Apple implementing two or three slots dedicated to high speed system storage.

Third; I see a move away from dual socket systems. Things like Sandy Bridge E will improve rapidly and some of the leak benchmarks are indeed impressive. If we do see dual socket in the future one of those sockets will be for the GPU at which point it will be an equal to the CPU on the memory bus. Interestingly I see AMD as the more interesting play here with their GCN initiative. In any event I suspect all future machines will have one CPU socket

Fourth; far more TB ports. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see at least four on a Pro replacement machine. They will of course be used to hook up the video screens but I see extended usage for connection to disk arrays, and for the creation of clusters of Macs. TB all also start to support a lot of novel hardware so the more ports the better.

Fifth; if the new machine provides for any sort of magnetic drive capability it will probably be with small notebook sized drives. The preference for mass storage will be TB connected disk arrays. The Pros replacement would signal the end of magnetic media in desktop machines.

Sixth; Even though the machine will be far more compact I expect that it will still have expansion slots. I just don;t think they will be capable of supporting graphics cards.

Seventh; the same chassis that supports an advanced machine running Sandy Bridge E or what ever workstation processor will also have a mid level performance machine. This would use a Fusion or Ivy Bridge like processor to deliver something better than Mini performance. Think of this as a mid range volume machine where GPU performance can be more modest.
post #14 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmm View Post

I'm expecting some potentially updated workstation designs seeing as most of them much like Apple haven't updated much since 2009. Some of the Sandy Bridge chips are up to 130W if I recall correctly. I'm not sure how the next two revisions look on power appetite. Quadro variants on kepler will also be a big deal given the relative dominance of NVidia in the workstation market segment. The quadros are mostly driver based adjustments rather than raw hardware, but it makes a very significant difference as long as the drivers are well tuned and tested on the application. Nothing sucks more than lag (aside from perhaps crashes.

I'm not convinced that NVidia will be around for the long haul. Honestly I'd rather see AMD GPUs in these new workstations.

However this is a Sandy Bridge E thread so let's worry about those. I noticed that 130 watts concerns you but consider that this might not be the issue you think it is. Why, single socket workstations. I could see many punting when it comes to dual socket workstations.
Quote:

HP and Lenovo came out with more compact designs. The HP was an all in one like the imac, but with full access panel. The hardware starts with something consumer level but has a lot of options for workstation gpus, unfortunately they're mobile workstation gpus, and other things. I don't what the display is like. If they have an option that comes close to their dreamcolor displays (even if it's an extremely expensive upgrade) they could actually have something there. Those never caught on in volume, but they are very good. Before anyone mentions it, those ones cater to a different market than the TB display.

More compact workstations will be the order of the day. As will be matching storage arrays. I could see a decent workstation half he size of the current Mac Pro. It is just a matter of dropping all of the legacy stuff and concentrating on what is needed.
Quote:
All of the really compact models have been pretty expensive thus far. i'm not sure if they required exotic cooling solutions or anything. The point there is that smaller case doesn't necessarily translate to cheaper.

Well the case wouldn't. Most of your cost is tied up in other components. The issue with the cases is that it takes up room it doesn't have to take up. Much of that room is devoted to legacy hardware, delete that and the case will shrink fast.
Quote:
With the top end market items, you always pay a much heftier premium, but it does seem to be becoming a much wider price gap.

Much of that is due to excellent Intel pricing. Let's face it Intel has gotten away with some serious price increases. This is another reason to favor a smaller case though because it becomes a platform for a midrange desktop machine. Swap out the high performance motherboard for one with a Fusion or Ivy Bridge processor and many desktop needs are satisfied. You might also need a powersupply swap but the mechanical and even some of the electrical architecture would serve two classes of performance.
Quote:
Apparently they do have a dreamcolor option on the display. That display alone sells for $2500 normally for a 24" display, and roughly $3k set up fully for proper calibration and profiling. If the final price point and warranty on the rig makes sense as a whole, it could be okay. I think it's likely that an impressive configuration will be really really expensive early on. The still using a mobile workstation gpu variant thing makes me a little sad.

I'm not a graphics pro so I drift off when talk turns to calibrated monitors. However there is one other reality manufactures have to deal with these days. That is the Green movement, so that mobile GPU may be there simply to lower the machines overall power profile as a selling point. Or it simply was needed for thermal reasons.
Quote:
I seriously doubt any of the 130W cpus will make it into any of these. Last time we saw those kinds of figures in workstation cpus, oems waited it out. The same might be true here. Obviously intel hasn't been that focused on this segment either.

A 130 watt CPU is a bargain if you are trying to get away from dual socket machines.
post #15 of 68
It really is sad that people can't see past the last ten years to imagine what a workstation could be. Especially when the market is ripe for something new and more suitable to today's common usage patterns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Well, since you're responding to wizard69, I"m sure he's thinking of something like this:

http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?1...o-you-have-one
post #16 of 68
I want to see a new Mac Pro, or failing that, Apple to license OS X to someone willing to build a high end Workstation.

Even a half-compromise would work. Selling the Mac Pro just as parts, so that people with existing models can swap out the Motherboard, CPU, and RAM if they want a base unit upgrade, or swap out the GPU's if they just need faster GPU's. Or bring the Mac Pro into an Apple store and have the parts swapped out.

New PC motherboards support EFI, another compromise could be just to have Pegatron (Which used to be part of ASUStek) build OS X compatible Socket 2011 boards, and Apple could sell a OS X Workstation for roughly the same price as Windows 7 Complete that only installs on licensed boards. This gives an out to those that actually NEED OS X on high end equipment without opening the market to cheap clones.

But for the short term I still expect Apple to release a Socket 2011 Mac Pro
post #17 of 68
Apple must continue the Mac Pro line. It's that simple.
post #18 of 68
The Mac Pro's may not be profitable by themselves, but the people who do buy them are the same people who create the Apps and Content that drives the sales of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks.
post #19 of 68
If you look at what Apple has been doing for the past 3 or 4 years, you can see that they are going for more of a distinguishing look and feel. I also think that Apple isn't dumb and understands that the needs of its pro users are expandibility, power, and longevity. This is why I think that they will leverage Thunderbolt for more than just an external connection. I think it is finally time for a truly modular computer that can be upgraded on the fly by just adding or replacing a "module". Need a faster graphics card, replace that module's innards. Need more processor power, ADD another processor core.

If there is any company on this planet that could do this, it would be Apple.
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post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

First; we have t think about Thunderbolt (TB) and how Apple will go about supporting that and the associated video channels. The first possibility is that they punt and simply don't support the video multiplexing. I don't think that will happen. They could go with a special purpose video card connector but again I don't think that ill happen. I suspect that they will integrate the chip right on the motherboard. This is the right long term solution especially as video hardware becomes more closely coupled to the CPU hardware and allows them to support TB as they already have been. Like it or not this is one reason why I think the Pro is dead.

TB hasn't shown full performance with displays attached. Given the potential to decouple the chip from displays there and offer its full bandwidth potentially without the need to route through integrated graphics, this could be a decent path forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Second; SATA is pretty much dead as the primary storage channel for forward looking PC hardware. Instead I'm expecting that a base machine would rely upon solid state storage implemented on an advanced plug in card. This card would use the latest PCI Express interface electrical standards but might vary in physical dimensions. This would allow Apple to implement very fast solid state arrays for the primary secondary storage implementation ( in other words the boot and app drive). I'm careful to say solid state here as i don't expect flash to be around for long, however memory on a card is the long term play. I could see Apple implementing two or three slots dedicated to high speed system storage.

SATA isn't going to disappear overnight given the cost of high density solid state storage. I think it'll still take some time for that to mature. It's still pretty costly per gigabyte and you can fully saturate a storage bus with newer SATA drives, so the cost: benefit ratio isn't quite there yet even if it is the likely direction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Third; I see a move away from dual socket systems. Things like Sandy Bridge E will improve rapidly and some of the leak benchmarks are indeed impressive. If we do see dual socket in the future one of those sockets will be for the GPU at which point it will be an equal to the CPU on the memory bus. Interestingly I see AMD as the more interesting play here with their GCN initiative. In any event I suspect all future machines will have one CPU socket

Intel has priced dual socket higher and higher, so it has been becoming in some ways a niche market. Sometimes it can still make sense, but the situations are limited. Part of what has made a dual socket configuration unattractive is the number of applications that do not gain much from high core counts. 8 core has been available for years and yet many many applications don't scale past 2-4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Fourth; far more TB ports. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see at least four on a Pro replacement machine. They will of course be used to hook up the video screens but I see extended usage for connection to disk arrays, and for the creation of clusters of Macs. TB all also start to support a lot of novel hardware so the more ports the better.

I'd have to look up how many are supported per chip and how many total PCI lanes this derives from. Given the upcoming PCIe 3 squeezing out more thunderbolt ports might not be that difficult.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Fifth; if the new machine provides for any sort of magnetic drive capability it will probably be with small notebook sized drives. The preference for mass storage will be TB connected disk arrays. The Pros replacement would signal the end of magnetic media in desktop machines.

I disagree with you here. If you look at other workstation manufacturers, many of them grant the option to use 3.5" drives or more 2.5" drives. Sometimes 3.5" can still make total sense, so the option is nice. You can get a huge amount storage from 3.5" these days, but overall storage needs have still been increasing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Sixth; Even though the machine will be far more compact I expect that it will still have expansion slots. I just don;t think they will be capable of supporting graphics cards.

Seventh; the same chassis that supports an advanced machine running Sandy Bridge E or what ever workstation processor will also have a mid level performance machine. This would use a Fusion or Ivy Bridge like processor to deliver something better than Mini performance. Think of this as a mid range volume machine where GPU performance can be more modest.

That would be logical assuming a cost effective base chassis, and Apple seems to do well getting a ridiculously good price on things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm not convinced that NVidia will be around for the long haul. Honestly I'd rather see AMD GPUs in these new workstations.

However this is a Sandy Bridge E thread so let's worry about those. I noticed that 130 watts concerns you but consider that this might not be the issue you think it is. Why, single socket workstations. I could see many punting when it comes to dual socket workstations.


There are two things to mention there. Under OSX AMD has done fine, but they've never released a single FirePro model. It only matters at a somewhat extreme end in the sense of those who depend on a fluid OpenGL experience in affected applications. Under Windows and Linux, NVidia has been the preferred card. Both mark up workstation cards heavily over similar hardware on consumer type cards. The differences are drivers and sometimes ram. Higher ram density might drive up manufacturing costs, and the rest is just the cost of developing specialized drivers for a smaller market. Under Windows rather than trending away from a benefit seen from such hardware, some applications have actually become more dependent on it with newer features being implemented. If you can spend thousands on software, the gpu cost doesn't seem quite so horrendous.

NVidia so far has remained a definitively superior option outside of Macs. Most of the time the complaint with AMD seems to be drivers, which happens to be an NVidia issue under OSX with their last Quadro option (unless they fixed that finally).

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

More compact workstations will be the order of the day. As will be matching storage arrays. I could see a decent workstation half he size of the current Mac Pro. It is just a matter of dropping all of the legacy stuff and concentrating on what is needed.

Well the Lenovo still supported dual socket configurations. Even applications that are built for high core counts do top out somewhere, so it's a matter of how many cores still make sense. Part of the issue with the dual socket workstations and market share has been pricing as I mentioned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Well the case wouldn't. Most of your cost is tied up in other components. The issue with the cases is that it takes up room it doesn't have to take up. Much of that room is devoted to legacy hardware, delete that and the case will shrink fast.

Cases can still be expensive. My point about compact is if it requires a lot of extra effort to maintain cooling or during assembly, it can cost just as much as the larger one (or more). It depends what is required to make the intended components run within the box is all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Much of that is due to excellent Intel pricing. Let's face it Intel has gotten away with some serious price increases. This is another reason to favor a smaller case though because it becomes a platform for a midrange desktop machine. Swap out the high performance motherboard for one with a Fusion or Ivy Bridge processor and many desktop needs are satisfied. You might also need a powersupply swap but the mechanical and even some of the electrical architecture would serve two classes of performance.

Part of it is intel, but it seems like the high end is where they've increased prices. Apple has also kept their base pricing similar, but migrated to cheaper hardware for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm not a graphics pro so I drift off when talk turns to calibrated monitors. However there is one other reality manufactures have to deal with these days. That is the Green movement, so that mobile GPU may be there simply to lower the machines overall power profile as a selling point. Or it simply was needed for thermal reasons.

A 130 watt CPU is a bargain if you are trying to get away from dual socket machines.

The calibrated display thing is commonly misunderstood. Until 2007 or so, it was near impossible to find something that was competitive with a high end crt. The misunderstanding is that whatever display they own, a $130 spyder (I hate datacolor, I use an xrite device on mine) will make it perfect and it will match everything else. It won't. It can't change the uniformity or halt the inherent drift of the hardware. It just describes it to the computer. More sophisticated combinations do a bit more.

I'm thinking of the 2007 mac pro here. Apple took the 130W displays. The other oems passed, but as you mentioned that was a dual socket setup. I think the mobile gpu is for cooling reasons seeing as gpu power can be incredibly useful at times.
post #21 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Any word on the pricing? With the decline of the desktop and workstation it might finally behoove Apple to lower the entry price a bit.

Decline of the desktop?

Lower prices?!

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You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

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You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

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post #22 of 68
We can only hope Junkyard's Modular Cube 'Workstation/desktop/Lego Render Farm' fantasy comes true.

Will they STILL use the same case after 10 years? I dunno..maybe even jack up the entry price for quad core to drive unit sales...

They can always increase margins by keep the same components they have now...(the parts are now so old they can get rebates from suppliers...)

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply
post #23 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Eggleston View Post

If you look at what Apple has been doing for the past 3 or 4 years, you can see that they are going for more of a distinguishing look and feel. I also think that Apple isn't dumb and understands that the needs of its pro users are expandibility, power, and longevity. This is why I think that they will leverage Thunderbolt for more than just an external connection. I think it is finally time for a truly modular computer that can be upgraded on the fly by just adding or replacing a "module". Need a faster graphics card, replace that module's innards. Need more processor power, ADD another processor core.

If there is any company on this planet that could do this, it would be Apple.

*Nods.

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply
post #24 of 68
They could take the price off the iMac monitor and offer that as an entry tower (I'd say 're-designed desktop' to keep the Wizard, JD and myself happy...) for about £1000. Offer one mid range for £1500. High end with dual processors for £2000.

If Apple lowers prices drastically and drives 'combo' sales of said unit with their monitor then maybe they can get split margins as a package. Same with the iMac. It's a good deal. You get the monitor included. They could do the same with an 'Apple Pro.' (as JD named it.) That way you get margins on two products if you 'bundle' them. I don't think that's anti-American or anything...

That way, you have laptops in the £1000-£2000 if you want portability. iMacs if you want desktop elegance with decent power. But if you want just that bit more power and expandability you get the 'not a tower' also in the same price range but with the added expense of a monitor (but still wayyyy cheaper than the current Pro set up which is ridiculously priced.) There's no reason laptops and desktops/more powerful desktops can't occupy the £1000-£2000. That's still premium pricing compared to bargain basement PC prices of £399 to £795. There's just slight trade offs for the consumer depending on what they want.

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply
post #25 of 68
...plus...if Apple re-designs it with a nod to an X-Grid hardware set up of modular lego bricks that you can add ala a Lego-Brick X-Server...you can add nodes/clients as you need more power.

Think 3 'Cube's equalling the power of a Mac Pro dual processor kind of thing. Apple make more money over time because people can aggregrated the computing power.

A bit like some have suggested can be done with Mac Minis.

Apple did X-Serve. Can it be that hard to make '3 Cubes' Minis work to pool compute resources to feed Open CL which just parcels info' anyhow?

And you have that juicy Thunderbolt connection and all...(think of the margins on cables alone for noding...)

I thought it was in Apple's DNA to turn the non-trivial into the trivial?

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply
post #26 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru_canuk View Post

"The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon."

I'm curious (not trying to be sarcastic), what would be the "right" Mac Pro to base the next 10 years upon?

The iMac.

I know that's not what people want to hear, but I think there's an increasing chance that it's what Apple plans.
post #27 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Eggleston View Post

If you look at what Apple has been doing for the past 3 or 4 years, you can see that they are going for more of a distinguishing look and feel. I also think that Apple isn't dumb and understands that the needs of its pro users are expandibility, power, and longevity. This is why I think that they will leverage Thunderbolt for more than just an external connection. I think it is finally time for a truly modular computer that can be upgraded on the fly by just adding or replacing a "module". Need a faster graphics card, replace that module's innards. Need more processor power, ADD another processor core.

If there is any company on this planet that could do this, it would be Apple.


That makes sense for GPUs, there are already a few companies promising external enclosures. But with this implementation of TB I think adding CPUs is some time off, we're talking 17GB/s (not Gb) just in memory bandwidth from one channel for some of them, and then all the other interconnects. Its an interesting thought though. Another revision of Thunderbolt down the line maybe its possible, and once that's possible the Mac Pro would have limited appeal, you could have external RAID enclosures for storage, hubs for different ports you need, TB music/pro accessories rather than PCI, etc.

The enthusiast in me wants them to continue making a balls-out tower, but who knows with Apple, they've cut off waning tech early many times before.
post #28 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

That is how does Apple get the TB integration with the GPU's sitting in PCI-E slots. Will Apple even support that integration on the Mac Pro or its replacement? This could be a long discussion and frankly impacts how Apple updates or replaces the Mac Pro.

I honest think they will have to integrate the GPU onto the motherboard. This might result in fixed GPU memory, but if Apple was smart they would put the GPU memory on a separate card. The other option would be multiple Mac models varying in GPU implementation.

The more that I think about this the more I believe that the Pro is due for a total make over. This is just one technical issue that Apple will be running into.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

First; we have t think about Thunderbolt (TB) and how Apple will go about supporting that and the associated video channels. The first possibility is that they punt and simply don't support the video multiplexing. I don't think that will happen. They could go with a special purpose video card connector but again I don't think that ill happen. I suspect that they will integrate the chip right on the motherboard. This is the right long term solution especially as video hardware becomes more closely coupled to the CPU hardware and allows them to support TB as they already have been. Like it or not this is one reason why I think the Pro is dead.

Second; SATA is pretty much dead as the primary storage channel for forward looking PC hardware. Instead I'm expecting that a base machine would rely upon solid state storage implemented on an advanced plug in card. This card would use the latest PCI Express interface electrical standards but might vary in physical dimensions. This would allow Apple to implement very fast solid state arrays for the primary secondary storage implementation ( in other words the boot and app drive). I'm careful to say solid state here as i don't expect flash to be around for long, however memory on a card is the long term play. I could see Apple implementing two or three slots dedicated to high speed system storage.

Third; I see a move away from dual socket systems. Things like Sandy Bridge E will improve rapidly and some of the leak benchmarks are indeed impressive. If we do see dual socket in the future one of those sockets will be for the GPU at which point it will be an equal to the CPU on the memory bus. Interestingly I see AMD as the more interesting play here with their GCN initiative. In any event I suspect all future machines will have one CPU socket

Fourth; far more TB ports. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see at least four on a Pro replacement machine. They will of course be used to hook up the video screens but I see extended usage for connection to disk arrays, and for the creation of clusters of Macs. TB all also start to support a lot of novel hardware so the more ports the better.

Fifth; if the new machine provides for any sort of magnetic drive capability it will probably be with small notebook sized drives. The preference for mass storage will be TB connected disk arrays. The Pros replacement would signal the end of magnetic media in desktop machines.

Sixth; Even though the machine will be far more compact I expect that it will still have expansion slots. I just don;t think they will be capable of supporting graphics cards.

Seventh; the same chassis that supports an advanced machine running Sandy Bridge E or what ever workstation processor will also have a mid level performance machine. This would use a Fusion or Ivy Bridge like processor to deliver something better than Mini performance. Think of this as a mid range volume machine where GPU performance can be more modest.

There are two problems with much of what you suggest:
1. Apple is not likely to create an entirely new storage mechanism by itself and have it stick at the Pro level. They just don't sell enough machines to drive the industry in a new direction. Same thing with some of your other suggestions. The cost of doing something completely new would be too high for something that only sells 50 K units a quarter (or year, or whatever).

2. Putting the GPU on the motherboard is probably a mistake. Pros are quite willing to change out GPUs when something newer and faster comes along. Similarly, the idea of basing the new Pro design on the iMac is a non-starter. Expandability is critical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Eggleston View Post

If you look at what Apple has been doing for the past 3 or 4 years, you can see that they are going for more of a distinguishing look and feel. I also think that Apple isn't dumb and understands that the needs of its pro users are expandibility, power, and longevity. This is why I think that they will leverage Thunderbolt for more than just an external connection. I think it is finally time for a truly modular computer that can be upgraded on the fly by just adding or replacing a "module". Need a faster graphics card, replace that module's innards. Need more processor power, ADD another processor core.

If there is any company on this planet that could do this, it would be Apple.

There's some value to that and it was suggested in earlier threads by someone.

Picture a Mac Mini with a slot on the top and bottom (perhaps based on Thunderbolt). When you need more power, you buy another one and stack it on top. Maybe some of them come with CPU, GPU, and SSD, others might just have hard disk storage. Others might have only a CPU or GPU (they might even have different thicknesses, as well). You could buy what you need when you need it. Particularly if they used something like ZFS, expansion would be trivial. When you start running out of storage, just slap on a new hard drive subunit. When the system starts slowing down, slap on a CPU unit. And so on.

I'm sure there are a lot of technical issues to be resolved (and maybe even something that would make it impractical), but it's a clever idea.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #29 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Picture a Mac Mini

This is what I have been pondering regarding a Mac pro replacement. Apple should take what they have learned making the Mini and apply it to the workstation. Maybe even put the Mini team on the Mac Pro team. I'm not saying they try to make a Mini Mac Pro, but rather use the knowledge and creativity from that team to open a can Think Different whup ass on the Mac Pro's aluminum butt.
post #30 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Internal discussions at Apple were said to focus on the fact that sales of the high-end Mac Pro workstations have dropped off so considerably that the desktop machines are no longer particularly profitable for the company.

I recall these discussions first came to light in the apple-rumors realm about 1 year into the Mac Pro's current iteration (give or take a few months).

I admit I'm not a highly-paid sales executive or a highfalutin market researcher, but isn't it reasonable to expect that an over-priced, over-configured, outdated hunk of aluminum (albeit attractive) is going to drop off in sales? That's it for my "well, duh" reference. I feel it's a mistake to base their Pro desktop strategy on that metric. Honestly, I'd be surprised if that's all they considered in their process.

I don't pretend to be a 'somebody' in the industry, but I'd still like to proffer my desires for a Mac Pro replacement (on the off-chance that someone of influence reads this and cares in the slightest).

First, I'd like to see the dual processor option go away. This is where a good chuck of cost occurs. If I had to choose between an 6 to 8-core (single chip) Mac Pro and a discontinued Mac Pro, I'd pick the single-chip version. There are very powerful non-Xeon chips available that are quite reasonably priced.

Second, I'd change the form factor to 18.9" high by 2u wide. This way the Pro could play the roll of both desktop and rackmount server - killing two birds with one stone and offering some solace to those of us who cling to the Xserve. The case door would have to be rackmount access friendly and the internals must be easily serviceable.

Third, I'd take the plunge and switch to 2.5" front mounted hot-swap drives. It's not really what I want, but I think it makes sense with this form factor. Oh, and those drives would have activity and status lights.

Now, it's time for me to stop dreaming.
post #31 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The Mac Pro is really outdated technology for a workstation. I'd much rather see Apple take something line Sandy Bridge E and make a thoroughly modern and forward looking desktop computer. The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon.

So yeah I hope Apple uses this chip, I just hope that it is in a modern implementation that completely leverages the technology they have available these days. Oh and please do it at a reasonable price point.

i dont' know why they don't revisit the 'cube' made out of aluminum. basically just make a mini but cube it so you can have better processors, drives, add in card etc.
post #32 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by lylehm View Post

I admit I'm not a highly-paid sales executive or a highfalutin market researcher, but isn't it reasonable to expect that an over-priced, over-configured, outdated hunk of aluminum (albeit attractive) is going to drop off in sales?

Actually, if you do some comparisons for truly comparable systems, the Mac Pro is very competitively priced, especially for the dual- CPU versions.

Admittedly, they can't quite touch the very high end performance since they haven't updated the CPU for quite a while, but until these Sandy Bridge chips, the gains were modest. The CPU in a mid-2010 Mac Pro is only a few percent slower than the latest CPUs available.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
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post #33 of 68
I think there will be a new Mac Pro soon. People say Apple are unpredictable with their Mac Pro releases, and that is bad for company buying cycles, but I don't think they are unpredictable: they follow the Intel CPU releases quite closely.

What is a legitimate complaint, is that as the years go by, they don't gradually lower the price of their machines to reflect the fact that the technology is getting old. But if they did gradually lower the price, people would complain when there's an update and they put the price back to "normal." And people would also complain that the price drops are unpredictable.

To be a happy Mac Pro owner, buy right after it is updated (because they actually are quite good value at that point) and then track the Intel rumours to know when your next buying cycle will be. And don't listen to relatively baseless speculation about discontinuation. Baseless relative to the Intel roadmaps that leak fairly regularly and the historical evidence that Apple updates the Mac Pro at this point.
post #34 of 68
It would be great if Apple would at least offer an upgrade to the newest motherboard/chipset if they do not go forth with new Mac Pro machines. I would be interested in upgrading my Mac Pro which is a dual Quad 2.26GHz (8 core). The physical machine is perfect, why toss it? Upgrade it!
post #35 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by screamingfist View Post

i dont' know why they don't revisit the 'cube' made out of aluminum. basically just make a mini but cube it so you can have better processors, drives, add in card etc.

Personally, being a video editor, it would be great if the Mac Pro had at least 4 card slots for graphics, audio and video boards. Put in a AJA board, an extra graphics card and a fiber channel card, you are max'd out. Anyone remember the old Power PCs like the 9500? It had 5 slots as I recall. The iMac is a nice machine, but too limited for pro editing and audio applications.
post #36 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru_canuk View Post

"The Mac Pro was the right approach ten years ago but it isn't the product to base the next ten years of development upon."

I'm curious (not trying to be sarcastic), what would be the "right" Mac Pro to base the next 10 years upon?

I don't think the real question is about the right Mac Pro, but the right Mac. There isn't as much need for pros to have a tower computer as there was in the past. There will be a need for drives, extreme IO and the most intense processing, but the need for a tower workstation is dwindling as time goes on. The power of an SGI Indigo can probably be emulated in a Mac mini a few times over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jouster View Post

The iMac.

I know that's not what people want to hear, but I think there's an increasing chance that it's what Apple plans.

That's probably where Apple is going. I'm thinking of buying an iMac soon to replace my workstation tower for CAD CAM work. For the pro market, I think iMac or a laptop. Pros have been using laptops for a decade now for their mobile activities anyway, and now there are quad core options, and pretty soon enough, hexacore, etc. For video encoding and special processing, I think AJA, Black Magic and the rest of them will have dedicated boxes that do that sort of thing more efficiently than a CPU, if they don't already.
post #37 of 68
All of the mac Pros we have here are at least 3.5 years old. We have a couple of the original 4 core models too. They all still work and are in daily use. I just spiffed up a 2008 model with a SSD and 16 gigs of RAM. Better than new.

We certainly would consider buying a new model, particularly if it offered significant processing increases along with power saving improvements and a smaller footprint.
post #38 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Kowaluk View Post

The Mac Pro's may not be profitable by themselves, but the people who do buy them are the same people who create the Apps and Content that drives the sales of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks.

Exactly. It is the same situation with the Xserve. The high powered workstations and enterprise class rack servers are used to support high end content creation and the purchase of many more client systems. So of course high end systems will always sell in lower numbers than midrange or entry level systems. And it is the same situation in real life. It's like saying Apple should "discontinue" Tim Cook and eliminate his position because Apple has only one CEO.
post #39 of 68
For people who think laptops will completely replace Mac Pros, do you actually enjoy listening to your fans running loudly at full speed when doing CPU intensive tasks like video encoding? The Mac Mini is not so quiet either at full saturation. Yet the Mac Pro remains quiet when doing the same tasks and more.
post #40 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

For people who think laptops will completely replace Mac Pros, do you actually enjoy listening to your fans running loudly at full speed when doing CPU intensive tasks like video encoding? The Mac Mini is not so quiet either at full saturation. Yet the Mac Pro remains quiet when doing the same tasks and more.

Exactly. I use a MacBook Pro when I need to be portable, and as an auxiliary machine to my Mac Pro, which I will always use for 99% of my HD video encoding/editing, color correction, and motion graphics. The MBP gets hot and loud when I have to do such things on it, while the Mac Pro silently and dutifully handles it with ease. I bought the most recent model in summer/fall 2010, and it still feels brand new.

I'm all for a smaller form factor/new design, but they need to have a product of equal power be the upgrade. Hell, the iPod classic is still around because it's the only iPod with that kind of storage. I'd like to think the Mac Pro will live on in a similar vein...

and... if Apple decides to just do what it has to do and axe the line, I hope there's at least a month or two grace period before it's discontinued, much like they did with the XServe. But... I just don't want to think about that.
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