Originally Posted by Marvin
RAM drives, mid range GPUs, Fiber channel cards, Red Rocket, etc. 4 slots is very useful. Especially considering many high end gear exist only in card form and often used on both Windows and OSX.
Few will move to thunderbolt.
We're getting into these theoretical high-end usage cases again though that generally just don't happen. Who are these 'pro' users that have requirements for 6 x 30" 10-bit display outputs?
It's just arbitrary requirements to eliminate certain hardware designs people don't like without reason. Yes 80 PCI lanes is higher than 40, yes 256GB RAM is higher than 128GB, yes 4x GTX 580s are faster than 1 but why should the Mac Pro continue to be an overpriced behemoth of a machine to satisfy theoretical use cases that are rarely, if ever, realised? The Mac Pro in its current form has limitations and that includes a single high power GPU. People ('pros' if you will) have worked to those limitations just fine. I think it's better to design the machine around those limitations and offer better value for money.
They are display outputs too but it offers the equivalent of 6 x4 slots instead of 3.
The current Mac Pro only has 2 x16 and 2 x4 but the next one would support 4 x16 plus 4x Thunderbolt. You could put in multiple GPUs but as I say, a single GPU will run 6x displays just fine.
If Apple only makes one tower it best be one that can kick ass and take names. And that means being able to handle these high end use cases because everything that a 1 slot single CPU Mac Pro can handle can be done with a top end iMac. Just because you don't need/want 4 PCIe cards doesn't mean that folks don't need them or that they are "theoretical". I've seen a few high end rigs.
Forcing these users to attach a slower TB PCIe expansion chassis so they can have PCIe slots would be insane. In order to see "six x4 slots" they'd have to run SIX thunderbolt cables to the chassis. If that would even work right.
All of these take 4 lanes. Low end Pro/Prosumer gear like what you posted does HD. Pro gear does 2K and 4K.
There is a thunderbolt version of the 3D extreme but it terminates the TB chain:
You CAN do 4K editing, even on a MBA via a Red Rocket. But again, most of these expansion chassis ends the TB chain. Instead of a machine with the cards you need inside of it you have a rats nest of TB cables and little boxes attached to yet another mass of video cabling and fiber. WHEN it even works.
Here's a very simple use case you can't handle in your design and fairly common for high end 4K workflows:
Current Mac Pro:
Slot 1 16x GPU (runs as 8 lane in the current Mac Pro)
Slot 2 8x 4 channel 4 Gbps Fiber Channel HBA
Slot 3 1x card or empty
Slot 4 8x AJA video capture card (the new Riker 5K, the current 4K card, etc)
What they'd WANT to run in a future Mac Pro is this:
Slot 1 16x GPU full speed
Slot 2 8x Fiber channel HBA
Slot 3 8x Red Rocket
Slot 4 8x AJA Riker
You can run the Red Rocket x4 mode but obviously it's slower. Some pros do that now.
Pros will be throwing rocks at the glass Apple stores and with good cause.
What can't you do with the top end iMac that you can do with your Mac Pro design with one CPU and 1 x16 slot? I really can't think of anything beyond "I wish I could more easily replace my internal boot drive and GPU". Not any actual jobs. Not even true high end gaming without dual GPUs. Any improvement is very incremental at the cost of completely hosing pros that need the slots of the current Mac Pro.
And the Mac Pro can still meet your needs. It just costs more. But even then $2500 isn't all that much.
And size is meaningless for most pros. Being able to rack mount the Mac Pro more easily is far more valuable than your mini-tower design. Anyone that needs a smaller desktop footprint is already sporting an iMac.
Edited by nht - 5/8/12 at 7:04am