I just want to comment on another typical usage of the Mac Pro besides video production, 3D production or CAD oriented workflow. I am talking about science and engineering.
For for those who believe that there is no need of a Mac Pro, I should give them an example of a real workflow:
- I work on geophysics, dealing with high performance computing involving the simulation of complex problems.
- Method used: finite element
- Language: C, Objective C , OpenCL and Fortran,
- Several Mac Pros with dual Xeons, 12 cores total.
- Memory on board: 64 GB of memory
- Storage on board: 4 TB
- Workflow: The simulations are run with a custom finite element code written in Fortran (a next generation code base written in Objective C/C is currently under development). The parallelization of the code is done with OpenMPI (as it allows to dispatch work on all machines on the network) so EVERY SINGLE core is being used. The simulation itself eat up above 50 GB of RAM. Yes, only one simulation!!!
- The post processing of the data are done with a custom code written in C and OpenCL which takes advantage of the Radeon HD 5870 to speed up the calculation. So by definition we need to have access to better and more powerful GPUs than what is available on iMacs and are only available on a Mac Pro.
- One simulation generates hundred of gigabytes of data. As a result terabytes of data are produced by successive simulations, data which are stored in large disks connected via firewire 800 to the Mac Pros for backing up the data if the results are acceptable.
Here you have it, this is my workflow. And as we keep studying bigger and more complex problems, we need again and again more powerful Mac Pros with higher processing power and better technology. This allows us to do things that would only be possible with much more expensive hardware, typically a supercomputer of a small size.
Anyone still saying that no one needs a Mac Pro?
You know your needs far better than I, but it seems to me that you are using the wrong tool for the job, you would be better served with a small cluster of servers with a NAS on a segragated private LAN.
It sounds like you need real serious gear, and should invest in a nice rack of server equipment to build a BSD or Darwin cluster. You could use things like 10 gig e, higher end GPU options, better CPUs, 64GB or more of ram per box, not just per cluster, 10 gb ethernet, failover power supplies and so on. AMacpro cluster sounds like a sort of cobbled together solution to begin with.
With that as a backend you could probably do fine with iMacs as the front end for the researchers.