Originally Posted by melgross
The Mac Pro isn't competing with the lower priced i7 machines that are out there, or will be out there. They compete with workstations that cost about the same. You could have said the same thing about the old Mac Pros. Why did Apple only use Xeons in them?
In addition, why would Apple wait so long after the i7 comes out before releasing a Mc Pro based on it? They've never done that before, so why would now be different?
Why Apple hasn't updated their machines more often lately, is something I don't know. They obviously have some reason.
None of Apple's desktop models are "selling like hotcakes" lately. The Mac Pro isn't the only one.
Nehalem Xeons will cost about the same, possibly even less that the current Harpertown models when everything is taken into account. You have to figure in all that Apple doesn't have to pay for as well as the actual price of the cpus. They don't need the separate memory controller, which is expensive. They don't need the extra power supply parts. They don't need the extra real estate on the mobo, etc. This simplifies the design process. It allows for a less expensive board. Simpler testing, etc.
Overall, the costs should be about the same. This is what sites such as Anandtech are finding, even though only high end boards can be used, that's no different from before.
As for your pricing, I don't see it as being as high as that. It's possible that prices may be a bit higher than today, as each generation seems to gain a bit because of inflation. If Apple adds features, then pricing may go higher.
Let's talk about nehalem EP:
- the cpus will cost more than current Harpertown and a lot more: e.g. a 2.80 harpertown costs $800, a 2.66GHz xeon nehalem will cost $960. Apple would have to go down to 2.53Ghz to have a nehalem xeon that costs about the same as the 2.80 harpertown. I'm not saying that a 2.53 nehalem is not better than a 2.80 harpertown, I'm just saying that the entry price for nehalem cpus is higher than for harpertown ones.
- AFAIK, motherboards based on nehalem xeon cost more to manufacture than previous ones, more layers, expensive chipset (just like for harpertown), and while the DDR3-ECC RAM may be less expensive than FB-DIMMS, you need to buy them in trio and in the case of a dual-cpu computer, you would need 6 of them to make good use of the memory controller.
- IMO, the power supply will be the same since the TDP of nehalem xeons (95-130W each) will be about the same as the TDP of the current harpertowns (80-150W each) in the Mac Pro.
I believe you're being too optimistic in thinking that moving to nehalem xeons for the Mac Pro will not induce another price increase, and another price increase for the entry point, too. Of course Apple is not paying the "retail" price of the cpus, but a percentage of it, in any case if they were paying $800-x% for harpertown, they still will be paying $960-x% for nehalem xeon and unless you change x, $960-x% will always be higher than $800-x%. The chipset for Harpertown or nehalem Xeons is a small percentage of the cost of the cpu, probably around $100. While the new "northbridge" doesn't include a MC, it includes 2 QPI links and a 24/32 PCIe lanes controller: new technologies, new chips = expensive. X58 is more expensive than X48.
The price cuts you have mentionned here concern the xeons that are in fact desktop quad-core cpus renamed, those are for uniprocesseur servers and have seen price cuts just like the other desktop chips from Intel. The DP-capable Xeons HAVE NOT seen any price cut since their launch late 2007
Why the Mac Pro hasn't been updated yet?
There was nothing to update it to. No price cuts on harpertown cpus from Intel, no new chipset and "just" one more expensive 3.40Ghz model. What Apple could have done is just a new BTO option for the 3.40GHz.
What wait to release a Core i7 Mac Pro?
To release it at the same time as the dual-Xeon Mac Pro. The same family. Releasing a Core i7 Mac Pro alone would have probably cut all the potential sales of the harpertown Mac Pro. There is also a Core i7 speedbump to 3.06/3.33Ghz planned for Q2... Or they could wait for the Xeon labelled Core i7 (W3500 series) priced just like the desktop Core i7, so that they could say that all Mac Pro have Xeon-class cpus.
As far as I understand, the iMac represents probably 90-95% of Apple's desktop sales for the previous quarters, that's still a lot of sales, hot cakes or not. It's the only desktop Mac that's not too old and that can be of a certain value for the consumer
. You know that the ASP for Apple computers is about $1500, it wouldn't hurt having another computer with more potential sales (than the dual-xeon Mac Pro) at that price and higher. People who wouldn't have bought a Mac Pro would probably be interested in a less expensive tower (instead of an iMac with probably lower margins than a 2.66GHz Core i7 tower starting at $1499), and people who really need that much power won't be disappointed with the dual-xeon nehalem Mac Pro (and they have the cash, the +$3K, to spend on those).
Mac mini: IMO, it's a shame this one was not updated to the specs of the white MacBook (to make it simple).
iMac: I hope Apple was waiting for the 65W desktop quads, because other than that, it's custom mobile chips again and probably a very small speedbump.