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New Mac Pro's processor reportedly user-upgradeable

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Following its teardown of Apple's new Mac Pro, Other World Computing has supposedly confirmed the cylindrical desktop's processor is user-upgradeable, meaning owners may have the option to keep their machine up to date as new CPUs hit the market.

Mac Pro
Geekbench results from stock (left) and user-upgraded Mac Pros. | Source: OWC


In a post to its blog, the team at OWC said it was able to replace the Mac Pro's stock Intel Xeon 6-core 3.5GHz chip with a Xeon E5-2667 V2 8-core unit clocked at 3.30GHz with 25MB of cache. The aftermarket parts firm discovered the Apple-installed CPU was removable in December, but did not attempt to replace the silicon until Friday.

As expected, an ensuing Geekbench benchmark test resulted in a single-core score of 3,715 and a multi-core score of 27,005, a fairly substantial gain compared to the stock configuration, which managed single- and multiple-core scores of 3,638 and 20,777, respectively. All testing was conducted with 64GB of OWC-branded memory installed.

The numbers come out to a 30-percent speed boost for the particular metrics Geekbench tests. The upgraded machine also outperform the previous generation Mac Pro's 12-core configuration.

Currently, Apple offers the following Mac Pro configurations:

  • Intel Xeon E5 3.5GHz 6-core with 12MB of L3 cache -- stock
  • Intel Xeon E5 3.0GHz 8-core with 25MB of L3 cache -- additional $1,500.00
  • Intel Xeon E5 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache -- additional $3,000.00

The Intel Xeon chip OWC used in its user-upgrade is priced at around $2000.

While the CPU may technically be replaceable, it is unclear how such a modification would affect Apple's hardware warranty. Aside from the processor, current user-upgradeable options are limited to system memory. The Mac Pro's dual graphics cards have been designed to fit in the cramped aluminum chassis, while the SSD hooks up via a proprietary interface.

Instead of focusing on internal part swapping for expandability -- one of the main draws of legacy Mac Pros -- Apple has decided to include a bevy of ports to its latest pro desktop. These include six Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet jacks and an HDMI 1.4 slot.
post #2 of 30
"reportedly confirmed"? If it's reportedly, then it's not confirmed. Pick one.
post #3 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandySK View Post

"reportedly confirmed"? If it's reportedly, then it's not confirmed. Pick one.

 

The body says "supposedly confirmed". How about "reportedly rumored to have supposedly confirmed in an unverified report"?

post #4 of 30
Apple's Xenon is $1,500 and OWC's is $2,000. What's the advantage? 0.3GHz?
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post #5 of 30
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post
Apple's Xenon is $1,500 and OWC's is $2,000. What's the advantage? 0.3GHz?

 

Something like that. And of course it’s only upgradable as long as the same socket is used in future CPUs.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
Reply
post #6 of 30

More than 32 MB L3 cache would be nice (current max. is 30 MB).

But so would dual processors, and the new design will never sport two.

post #7 of 30
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post
More than 32 MB L3 cache would be nice (current max. is 30 MB).

But so would dual processors, and the new design will never sport two.

 

Something makes me think that GPGPU’s realm will make that less of a concern…

 

And in addition to this, the Mac Pro can be used on its side! Officially!

 

Because what better way to use a 3 to 14 thousand dollar computer than… rolling it around.


Edited by Tallest Skil - 1/3/14 at 2:53pm

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
Reply

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Something like that. And of course it’s only upgradable as long as the same socket is used in future CPUs.

I find it really silly that this is news. There is no soldered spec for the processors that Apple uses, and it's highly unlikely that Apple would want to solder expensive cpus on a lower volume line, especially 8 or higher core versions. Regarding the socket specifically, Haswell EP will break electrical compatibility regardless of whether the physical pins change. They change chipsets every other cycle with these cpus. This is the second one. The only practical upgrade I can think of would be if you can find a cheap Sandy Bridge EP 8 core after the first year warranty expires. If the quad barely cuts it, you could go that way. In a few years you'll see harvested parts from retired server hardware show up on ebay, at which time you may be able to obtain a cheap 12 core. There is literally no chance of using a future cpu generation in this though. As long as the nMP makes it to a V2 version, that will change. Haswell is supposed to bump the basic spec to 6 cores, and you should see that by some point in 2015. If they're interested in maintaining the line, they won't let it get way behind.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Something makes me think that GPGPU’s realm will make that less of a concern…

 

And in addition to this, the Mac Pro can be used on its side! Officially!

 

Because what better way to use a 3 to 14 thousand dollar computer than… rolling it around.


I like the rolling it around comment.

post #9 of 30
"meaning owners may have the option to keep their machine up to date as new CPUs hit the market."

If the writer did even the most cursory of research, he would see that the next CPU will not be socket compatible with the Ivy Bridge Xeon...
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Something makes me think that GPGPU’s realm will make [lack of dual CPUs] less of a concern…

The dual GPUs has already made the lack of a dual CPUs option less of a concern. Just like 9 is less than 10.

With the new Mac Pro design, Apple chose to target the video production market, using every marketing angle and gimmick at its disposal, including (presumably) full support for the dual GPUs by FCPX. In the general server realm, Apple has ceded the battle; hence, no dual CPU option.

post #11 of 30
The article didn't mention adjusting the clock speed so should we assume the replacement part is being overclocked?
post #12 of 30

Yeah, I don't really see the point. 

Some people are still thinking about this unit the same way one would think of the old tower box case full of stuff. The stuff all goes on the outside on this one though.

This computer is, essentially, just a really powerful brain. It's not like people are going to have all kinds of expensive, customized i/o cards installed inside it, along with multiple internal hard drives that they would need to retain.

You want a more powerful Mac Pro? Sell yours (at a tremendous premium, I'm sure) and buy a more powerful configuration; same as you would with any other Mac these days.

I mean; who would you sell your old CPU pull to anyways?

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post
 

I mean; who would you sell your old CPU pull to anyways?

If not enthusiasts, Other World Computing (obtaining a discount for trading up to a faster CPU, just like is often done with memory upgrades).

post #14 of 30
There's quite a lot of lousy reporting on this subject.
 
- All of these Xeons are socketed, this isn't an "zomg Apple decided to make your machine upgradeable" thing, it's just how they are built (by Intel)
 
- This means you can swap it with other #cores/speeds of the same chip, and NOT that you can plop in the next generation chip next year as that's not going to be compatible.
 
- The main takeaway should be: you can buy the base-level 4-core model Mac Pro and then replace your chip with a 12-core aftermarket processor like this (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116925) for $2749 instead of Apple's $3500, saving you $750, at which point you could sell your 4-core for like $250 on eBay to some jerk trying to build an equivalent PC for half the price. :)
 
On a side note, I think the only thing I'd wish for in expandability in this machine would've been a second PCIe flash storage slot on the opposite GPU, so you could just tack on a second drive later on.
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by y2an View Post
The article didn't mention adjusting the clock speed so should we assume the replacement part is being overclocked?

As you can read in the article OWC used a Xeon E5-2667 V2 which has a base clock of 3.3GHz and a turbo clock of 3.6 - 4.0GHz.

Apple uses the E5-1680 v2 with base clock of 3.0GHz and a turbo clock of 3.4 - 3.9GHz.

It's not overclocked, it's just clocked faster by default...

 

As for the CPU upgrade path: There is no Ivy Bridge-EP planed with more cores than 12 and it's unlikely that something faster than the E5-2697 v2 will appear that's still 130W TDP. But there are plenty of 6, 8, and 10 core Ivy Bridge-EP to choose from for upgrading a 4 or 6 core modell after two or three years. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fastasleep View Post
On a side note, I think the only thing I'd wish for in expandability in this machine would've been a second PCIe flash storage slot on the opposite GPU, so you could just tack on a second drive later on.

Unfortunately Apple already uses every available PCIe lane. And even more unfortunately Intel still uses DMI2 for connecting the chipset and is planning to do the same for their next generation chipset (for Haswell-EP). 


Edited by smalM - 1/3/14 at 7:21pm
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post
 

If not enthusiasts, Other World Computing (obtaining a discount for trading up to a faster CPU, just like is often done with memory upgrades).

Yeah, just wouldn't be worth it to me. I would just sell my PowerMac on eBay and buy a faster one. I mean, unless I've really trashed the case or something, damaging its resale. why pull the CPU? There's nothing else I need to keep inside of that case, that wouldn't come (and at better specs) with the new one.

Plus, warranty issues, etc, etc.

post #17 of 30

What this article is confirming is the use of non-Apple-supplied parts in the new Mac Pro. The MP doesn't require a custom CPU, it uses OTS hardware. Memory has never been a problem but CPUs have. Now they aren't. I'm surprised nobody seems to understand why OWC did this. Who knows, maybe OWC will start reselling CPUs. They might be able to get a better discount than newegg or other resellers. 

 

OWC score:

 

MP memory, available

MP CPU, possible, but we'll wait to see if they start selling them

MP PCIe flash storage, TBD

MP graphics cards, don't think this will happen especially since they are custom boards

post #18 of 30

Overclocking is done in the BIOS on PCs or, in the old days, using jumpers on the motherboard (G3). Neither is possible on any mac made in the past 10 years. Also, it is not possible to overclock any processors in the Intel Xeon E-26xx family.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by y2an View Post

The article didn't mention adjusting the clock speed so should we assume the replacement part is being overclocked?

Edited by Red Rogers - 1/3/14 at 8:35pm
post #19 of 30
Has anyone tried to install a GPU with the PCIe Flash socket from one Mac Pro into another MacPro, with the aim of having 2 slots for storage?
I'm curious if there's enough PCIe3 lanes left over to do it...
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tangles View Post

Has anyone tried to install a GPU with the PCIe Flash socket from one Mac Pro into another MacPro, with the aim of having 2 slots for storage?
I'm curious if there's enough PCIe3 lanes left over to do it...

There aren't, which you could've known if you read the thread from the start.
post #21 of 30
http://www.ifixit.com/. http://youtu.be/pqgKBnPViS0
Edited by comley - 1/5/14 at 4:10am
post #22 of 30
According to iFixit
Mac Pro Late 2013 Repairability Score: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)
For being so compact, the design is surprisingly modular and easy to disassemble. Non-proprietary Torx screws are used throughout, and several components can be replaced independently.
The easily-opened case is designed to make RAM upgrades a snap.
The fan is easy to access and replace.
While it will require a bit of digging, the CPU is user-replaceable—meaning intrepid fixers should be able to save considerably by upgrading from the base-level processor configuration.
There is no room, or available port, for adding your own internal storage. Apple has addressed this with heaps of Thunderbolt, but we'd personally rather use the more widely compatible SATA if we could.
Edited by comley - 1/4/14 at 7:59am
post #23 of 30
"I find it really silly that this is news. "

So do I, and I blame both AppleInsider & Mac Pro. AppleInsider for posting this and Apple for making the Mac Pro, which automatically forces me to click through to read anything new about my dream machine, no matter how minute the new story is, like I'm some sort of a pavlovian dog.

Shame on you both. My attorney will be in contact, court proceedings can be easily avoided by shipment of one (1) new Mac Pro to my office.
post #24 of 30
the result is an increase of 30% in processing power! Thats the reason people are buying Mac pros: processing power.
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Hill View Post

"I find it really silly that this is news. "

So do I, and I blame both AppleInsider & Mac Pro. AppleInsider for posting this and Apple for making the Mac Pro, which automatically forces me to click through to read anything new about my dream machine, no matter how minute the new story is, like I'm some sort of a pavlovian dog.

Shame on you both. My attorney will be in contact, court proceedings can be easily avoided by shipment of one (1) new Mac Pro to my office.

I find it really silly your first post was worthless and that it took 3 months for you to come up with nothing. As for your lame attempt at a joke, suggesting legal action against anyone is something you need to be careful about as is criticizing AI and somehow blaming a computer for the posting when your post wasn't worth reading.

 

Yes I did read it and took offense to it, which is why I posted my comment.

post #26 of 30

My apologies. I will have my attorney also demand a fresh pair of panties to compensate for the ones you were forced to bunch so severely.

post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post
 

I find it really silly your first post was worthless and that it took 3 months for you to come up with nothing. As for your lame attempt at a joke, suggesting legal action against anyone is something you need to be careful about as is criticizing AI and somehow blaming a computer for the posting when your post wasn't worth reading.

 

Yes I did read it and took offense to it, which is why I posted my comment.

Pretty good joke there. :D

post #28 of 30
I find this article meaningful, and I share OWC views that the CPU is user upgradeable, because when you hear "user upgradeable" you don't expect to be able to upgrade to a next generation component which comes with a new interface incompatible with the previous generation.

If the new Mac Pro was like the older one, upgrading to a next generation CPU would also imply throwing its whole motherboard to the trashcan (or maybe you can put the latest Xeon on your 2006 Mac Pro?

I find the new Mac Pro very user friendly in terms of replacing parts. From what I'm reading these days, it seems it's very user friendly in terms of repairing and upgrading.

With this openness maybe we"ll see NVIDIA offering a dual GPU solution for this Mac Pro, although I guess it won't be cheap.
post #29 of 30
Originally Posted by ecs View Post
If the new Mac Pro was like the older one, upgrading to a next generation CPU would also imply throwing its whole motherboard to the trashcan (or maybe you can put the latest Xeon on your 2006 Mac Pro?

 

No (exactly like you said before), but you CAN upgrade the processor on every model. 

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
Reply

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
Reply
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

With this openness maybe we"ll see NVIDIA offering a dual GPU solution for this Mac Pro, although I guess it won't be cheap.

The GPUs need to be stuck to the heat-sink with thermal paste. I very much doubt NVidia will offer an internal solution. NVidia GPUs do work externally over Thunderbolt though:

http://mediapros.co.uk/portfolio-view/thunderbolterizer/

Now that it's Thunderbolt 2, a Quadro 4000 or higher should run just fine in something like a Sonnet box.
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