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How the new Mac Pro was designed...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

How the new Mac Pro was designed....

 

VIDEO

post #2 of 5
Looks like it was a hit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dBa8p0NFwM8#t=62s

"Did you have any idea there would be such a huge response?
I don't think anybody expected there would be this much hoopla.
Fame, fortune, sex"

If they'd designed it the same way as before, it would have had next to no press whatsoever because it wouldn't break expectations. Apple could have designed the iPod with just some arrow buttons, they could have built a physical keyboard onto the iPhone, they could have done loads of things the way everyone else does them because they had a list of advantages. But they didn't.

Everybody in the desktop PC industry right now wants to drop it because they don't make enough money. They want to find a way to get everyone using AIOs or laptops and some customers think the reason the traditional desktops still exist is because the retailers are giving them what they want and that's what the retailers will say publicly. It's just because they don't know how to force them to use other hardware. No computer retailer wants their customers upgrading their own hardware because they don't make any money from it. They want you buying their BTO options so they can make some margins on them.

Some people try to dismiss Thunderbolt at every opportunity but it gives Apple a coherent lineup. They've got external PCIe in every Mac now with compelling form factors that really aren't limited in what they can do. Almost everybody else has compelling form factors without Thunderbolt and towers that very few people buy.

The new Mac Pro can never boost the market it's in and it doesn't have to. It just had to get out of the rut of being tied to a legacy design and the only two ways were to EOL it or bring out a radical design fit for purpose. A cylindrical design is a pretty neat design for airflow:



Keep away from the air intakes though or you might end up like this guy (2:00):



He survived but the Mac Pro will kill you and it'll get banned in Europe again.
post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



Everybody in the desktop PC industry right now wants to drop it because they don't make enough money. They want to find a way to get everyone using AIOs or laptops and some customers think the reason the traditional desktops still exist is because the retailers are giving them what they want and that's what the retailers will say publicly. It's just because they don't know how to force them to use other hardware. No computer retailer wants their customers upgrading their own hardware because they don't make any money from it. They want you buying their BTO options so they can make some margins on them.
 

 

That isn't their problem. On the PC side the people who make heavy upgrades just start with after market cases. There's no reason to buy from an oem in that situation. Oems also use a lot of proprietary sizing to interrupt that. Sometimes it's a custom size for a power supply or board or whatever. They want to push  all in ones more to guarantee a higher minimum sale and reduce the number of parts they must validate in a given year. High fixed costs dedicated to validating parts, an enormous matrix of cto options, MS licensing fees, and not enough differentiation in brand perception have caused a lot of problems. They're commodity units. IBM had that concern years ago when they still held a high level of product differentiation with the Thinkpad line. They got out of that market. I will say Apple's bet on the phone market was a very smart one. Perhaps that's an understatement. Anyone should have seen it coming with Handspring, Palm and later Blackberry. None of those had the same level of adoption though.

 

Quote:
Some people try to dismiss Thunderbolt at every opportunity but it gives Apple a coherent lineup. They've got external PCIe in every Mac now with compelling form factors that really aren't limited in what they can do. Almost everybody else has compelling form factors without Thunderbolt and towers that very few people buy.

It's not entirely practical for everything. The solution isn't to add external pci. It's to provide similar functionality from the base hardware whenever possible. If anything is external, it should be sold that way. So far not enough stuff has shown up, and it still has to pass intel's certification process. I would be more into it if it was an open standard and something widely adopted. Higher bandwidth will come eventually. It's not so much in the form of thunderbolt 2. Thunderbolt 2 seems to allow for channel bonding. It's not a real bandwidth increase. Combining that functionality with increased bandwidth could allow for more interesting solutions. It would still cover a lot of storage stuff today if more solutions show up. As of right now everything is still quite expensive compared to alternatives. Some are acceptable to me personally, so I'll probably end up with one.

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmm View Post

So far not enough stuff has shown up, and it still has to pass intel's certification process. I would be more into it if it was an open standard and something widely adopted. Higher bandwidth will come eventually. It's not so much in the form of thunderbolt 2. Thunderbolt 2 seems to allow for channel bonding. It's not a real bandwidth increase. Combining that functionality with increased bandwidth could allow for more interesting solutions.

The same sort of thing happened with PCI:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conventional_PCI

"Work on PCI began at Intel's Architecture Development Lab circa 1990. PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) was immediately put to use in servers, replacing MCA and EISA as the server expansion bus of choice. In mainstream PCs, PCI was slower to replace VESA Local Bus (VLB), and did not gain significant market penetration until late 1994 in second-generation Pentium PCs. By 1996, VLB was all but extinct, and manufacturers had adopted PCI even for 486 computers.[4] EISA continued to be used alongside PCI through 2000. Apple Computer adopted PCI for professional Power Macintosh computers (replacing NuBus) in mid-1995, and the consumer Performa product line (replacing LC PDS) in mid-1996.
Later revisions of PCI added new features and performance improvements, including a 66 MHz 3.3 V standard and 133 MHz PCI-X, and the adaptation of PCI signaling to other form factors. Both PCI-X 1.0b and PCI-X 2.0 are backward compatible with some PCI standards.
The PCI-SIG introduced the serial PCI Express in 2004. At the same time, they renamed PCI as Conventional PCI. Since then, motherboard manufacturers have included progressively fewer Conventional PCI slots in favor of the new standard."

It took 14 years to settle on PCIe and even that was only 9 years ago. Only the latter G5s had PCIe and were incompatible with every PCI card before it. Thunderbolt arrived 2 years ago. I don't think the problem is as much to do with peripherals (of which there are many - what number does it have to reach before it stops being 'not enough'?) as it is about why all the PCIe chassis cost upwards of $500. You can buy a full PC for $500 with PCIe slots. If a PCIe Thunderbolt chassis had cost $199, there wouldn't be much of a problem.

As for bandwidth, it has doubled in practical terms for a single device running on a port and it's the same bandwidth available from an x4 slot. If that's not high enough, then nor were two of the three available slots in the old Mac Pro. Except nobody really complained about those so I guess that bandwidth is ok.
post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post




As for bandwidth, it has doubled in practical terms for a single device running on a port and it's the same bandwidth available from an x4 slot. If that's not high enough, then nor were two of the three available slots in the old Mac Pro. Except nobody really complained about those so I guess that bandwidth is ok.

It depends how it's allocated when shared with displays. A lot of what I dislike is relevant today, but at some point it will be good enough. In terms of general success, it's a matter of if it adds value for the majority of users where it appears. They dropped the express card slot because no one used it. I used it a bit on my notebook, but admittedly Mac support was terrible on those cards. I'm not sad to see it gone, although I would have liked to see 2 ports from the start to alleviate contention and a few more peripherals. I don't buy into the idea that the mac pro is what will bring volume up and prices down. They ship way more of the other machine. What it's likely to do is eventually motivate more vendors of specialized hardware to release breakout box form factors. Black Magic was one of the first to do so. Most of theirs run on usb3 or thunderbolt.

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