Originally Posted by G-News
With the nMP now available and, apart from being very 1990s expensive, also very limiting in configurations, is it time for Apple to bring out a more modular line based on the current design?
If you mean the nMP design, I could see something like that happening. It wouldn't be more modular though.
I think so and I believe it could be achieved with relative ease.
Sure but does that mean Apple will do it? I can't really answer that question, however I have to think that they are up to something considering how the Mac Mini hasn't been updated yet and is taking a terrible hit in sales. it is highly doubtful that there will be a next Mini modeled on the current one in my opinion.
Keep the same cylindrical shape but instead of only offering the 1 CPU, 1 GPU and 1 GPU with flash slot triumvirate, start making this configurable too.
Honestly that makes no sense. What we really need is a Haswell based machine with one GPU card. For all I care it could be the same GPU card as is in the nMP. frankly Haswell is almost to the point where they don't need a GPU card but then the question becomes where do you put the SSD card. The SSD card socket could go on a Haswell based CPU card but if Apple did that why bother with the big box.
What I can see would be a very attractive option for a lot of people who are not going to buy an nMP and going to stick with their old Mac Pros for a few more years is as follows:
Build a Mac Pro with 2 CPU cards and just 1 GPU card for the power hungry who need more cores and not more GPU stream processors.
That won't happen because in a year or two you will likely have 32 CPUs on one chip. Technology has changed such that there is little good reason to support more than one CPU socket. It sort of sucks today but I don't see a huge issue down the road. Electronics in general just becomes more compact with time but with the coming 3D structures ultra fast memory busses and other advancements, it actually becomes an disadvantage to support more hardware.
Offer a choice between single D500/D700 or a gaming spec GPU, such as the GTX 680 Ti. This could bring down the entry price considerably while not actually resulting in any performance decrease for a lot of people in that target audience. The opposite in fact.
Maybe. Getting rid of the GPU cards all together though would certainly impact price. Again it is a matter of what people need and how future silicon will perform. If the integrated GPU's are good enough nobody is going to bother with discreet GPU's if their software profile doesn't require it.
Even if the layout or thermal capacity wouldn't allow for 2 CPU cards, there's really no sense in having one GPU card with a flash slot and one without. Why not just make them the same and be able to offer twice as much storage, maybe in a cheaper flavor for mass storage? Say 256GB of super high speed PCIe storage and 1 TB of slower 300-500MB/sec flash? The space for the connector is there even, why the artificial limit?
Actually this I agree with! I'm not sure what Apple was thinking here, they must realize that a separate internal high speed storage device can be extremely useful in many configurations. The simplest example would be as a high speed scratch disk.
I do wonder if there is a technical reason, maybe a lack of PCI Express lanes or thermal issues.
With a gaming spec GPU, they could even build a layout that has just one CPU and one GPU card and the third side of the thermal core could house a 2.5" flash or spinner harddisk for cheap mass storage.
Such a setup could bring the cost down to somewhere around 2000$, which would be much more palatable to the folks who are currently holding on to their old Mac Pros or who are, rightfully, considering a hackintosh/Windows/Linux box.
Apple has an obvious performance gap between the Mini and Mac Pro now so I wouldn't be surprised if they find a way to fill that gap. People often point to the iMac but that really isn't acceptable for many reasons.
Of course, this all boils down to whether the additional R&D for a more customizable core would warrant the arguably small market for these systems in the first place.
I do however believe that the small design and quiet operation coupled with a "no BS" approach to CPU/GPU/storage options could turn into a big seller, even for Windows users.
What do you think?
While a lot of people don't want to hear it I think the Mini is dead in its current configuration. Ideally Apple needs a replacement box that can fill the low end that the Mini leaves behind yet also support a much higher performance variant to fill that gap between the Mini and the Mac Pro. Intel has gotten the power down so far on their desktop chips that they can offer the equivalent of todays Minis thermal performance yet step up performance considerably with a much higher performance chip. So I can see the Mini leaving the mobile chip world so that there is a much more rewarding spread when it comes to good, better, best. That would require a replacement platform for the Mini that can handle more power in the best configuration. That best model would also end up in the $1200 to $1500 dollar range.