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Notes of interest on Apple's desktops: Mac Pro gets Xeons early

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
While most are familiar with Apple's desktop overhaul, a number of important details have slipped through the cracks -- including confirmation that Apple is receiving access to Intel's next-generation Xeon processors ahead of schedule.

Apple gets Nehalem Xeons early

People familiar with the matter say the new Nehalem-based Xeon processors in the Mac Pro are the same chips not due until late March for virtually all other customers, including powerhouses like Dell and HP.

Apple has apparently received them ahead of other manufacturers since the Mac Pro is a workstation product based on the new chip architecture, and not a server product; the smaller footprint of that market, as well as Apple's relative share, means enough stock should be on hand to cover the Mac Pro until the wider launch a few weeks later.

The early access fits a historical pattern that has seen Intel give Apple early access or non-standard parts: the 2007 Mac Pro update used a special 3GHz Xeon that didn't appear in shipping products from competitors until weeks later, while the just-replaced iMacs had the same Core 2 Duo system buses and clock speeds of notebook processors in April 2008 that weren't widely available until that summer.

Mac Pro requires Mac OS X 10.5.7

A graphics upgrade has turned up in the Apple Store possibly hinting at an imminent release of Mac OS X 10.5.7, which was first reported late last month.

The ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Upgrade Kit for Mac Pro is described as "the ultimate choice for visual creative, scientific, and technical applications." It's intended for the Early 2008 or Early 2009 revisions of the Mac Pro workstation; however, one of the requirements is "Mac OS X v10.5.7 or later", which has not yet been released. Given that the new Mac Pros announced today are expected to reach customers next week, this may signal a Leopard update being released very soon, in the next one to two weeks. [Update: Apple recently changed this back to 10.5.6]

One late leak ahead of Apple's refresh pointed to the drivers being contained in a 10.5.7 beta seeded to developers.

As for the new Mac Pro itself, performance benchmarks provided by Apple show processing speed increases in key apps despite running at lower clock speeds, including 1.8 times faster on Mathematica 7.0 and 1.5 times faster ProRes to H.264 encoding in Final Cut Studio 2; the gains come mostly from the extra channel of memory bandwidth and the reduced memory latency but are also helped by optimizations that let each individual core in the workstation talk to each other more effectively.

However, the Mac maker is still far from being ready to ship its RAID card, which is rare in the industry for not requiring a direct cable link to each hard drive in the RAID array. Readers tell AppleInsider that placing an order for a Mac Pro with the card changes the estimated ship date from just 2-3 days to between 6 and 8 weeks. Why this is remains unclear.

iMac

The iMac brings a new keyboard offering. The wired Apple Keyboard is slimmed up, adopting the style of the Apple Wireless Keyboard by omitting the numeric keypad. The original model with the keypad is still available as a free upgrade to online orders.

Customers can also get up to 4GB of standard memory, with optional memory up to 8GB; this mirrors an extra level of headroom added when the 17-inch MacBook Pro was introduced earlier this year.

An upgrade to a discrete ATI Radeon HD 4850 chip is also new and reverses Apple's longstanding preference for giving iMacs stock ATI graphics and making NVIDIA graphics an option. It too will likely need Mac OS X 10.5.7 as it too first appeared in Mac OS X 10.5.7 development builds.

Mac mini

Like the iMac, Apple has paid a great deal of attention to the environment, but not always in immediately apparent ways. Apple says the volume of the shipping box has decreased by 60 percent compared with the first-generation Mac mini, for example.

The new Mac mini also uses an advanced power management system which is ultimately drawn from the MacBook family, which shares the same GeForce 9400M chipset and mobile Core 2 Duo processors. It uses up to 45 percent less power whenÂ*idleÂ*than its predecessor at 13W, according to Apple, although this doesn't necessarily represent the Mac mini's actual footprint. The processor in the desktop has a thermal design power ceiling of 25W, so any significant use of the system is likely to increase energy consumption well beyond Apple's figures.

Waving goodbye to FireWire 400

The Mac maker's new desktop updates complete the phasing out of FireWire 400 ports from its hardware in favor for the faster Firewire 800 specification. When announced in January 2008, the Mac Pro supplied two FireWire 400 and two FireWire 800 ports, but today's new model has four ports, all of them FireWire 800.

Similarly, the iMac has lost its FireWire 400 port in favor of another USB connector, making it four USB 2.0 on the back, a FireWire 800 port right beside, and two USB ports in the keyboard.



The new Mac mini has also upgraded to FireWire 800, making every new Mac with FireWire at least as fast. The MacBook Air and unibody 13" MacBook lack FireWire due to their internal design constraints.

While Apple hasn't publicly explained why the shift has come so quickly, the answer likely rests in the speed of external hard drives and other high-speed storage. Even regular 3.5-inch disks can transfer data as quickly as 160MB per second, which completely eclipses FireWire 400 and is still bottlenecked by FireWire 800's peak 100MB per second.

MacBook and MacBook Pro

Almost overshadowed by the desktop updates, Apple on Tuesday upgraded its portable options to make a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo standard on the higher end 15-inch MacBook Pro and to give it the same stock processor and processor/storage upgrade options as the 17-inch MacBook Pro. A buyer can now opt for a 2.93GHz Core 2 Duo and a 256GB solid-state drive where before 2.8GHz and a 128GB drive were the maximum options.

Although the MacBook Air was one of Apple's first systems with a solid-state drive, it remains at 128GB. This likely stems from the size difference, as it requires a 1.8-inch drive where the larger enclosures of the other notebooks can afford roomier 2.5-inch drives.

A recent battery update helps the system maintain a charge when the system is shut down and goes unused for an extended period.

AirPort and Time Capsule

Apple now offers Time Capsule registration with a MobileMe account to allow remote access to the disk from anywhere with an internet connection.

Meanwhile, an AirPort Client Update addresses issues with roaming and network selection in dual-band environments, while Apple's AirPort Utility 5.4.1 has been released with no specific changes outlined. Presumably, it aids in compatibility with the new features and client update.

Mac pricing

We've updated our Mac Pricing Guide following today's updates to make it easy for readers to find the lowest price on all of Apple's current generation Mac models. The best prices are highlighted in bold. The "Discount" column to the far right reflects the amount of savings between Apple's retail price and the lowest price offered on March 3rd for that respective model through the company's authorized resellers. Discounts on the just released Macs range from $30 on Mac minis to $255 on current iMacs, and from $119 to $444 on their previous generation equivalents.

Please Note: With Apple having refreshed its entire desktop line (and tweaked its MacBook Pro line) on March 3, there's considerable overlap in product inventories at resellers. To make our Mac Price Guide as clear as possible, we've split the guide into two tables for the time being. The first lists all of Apple's current Mac products, including the new models introduced March 3rd. The second lists last generation models that were replaced on March 3rd, and which are now heavily discounted at some resellers.
post #2 of 33
I'd rather 4 usb ports and FW800 any day.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #3 of 33
Any word of the new 256GB SSDs are from Intel?
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post #4 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I'd rather 4 usb ports and FW800 any day.

That's what this is for

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post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Any word of the new 256GB SSDs are from Intel?

Intel only has

32...
64...
80...
160GB

320GB should hit this year when the 34nm NAND flash comes in quantity.

SSD. 256MB ..you're probably looking at Samsung first and then Toshiba.
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post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Mac Pro requires Mac OS X 10.5.7

A graphics upgrade has turned up in the Apple Store possibly hinting at an imminent release of Mac OS X 10.5.7, which was first reported late last month.

The ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Upgrade Kit for Mac Pro is described as "the ultimate choice for visual creative, scientific, and technical applications." It's intended for the Early 2008 or Early 2009 revisions of the Mac Pro workstation; however, one of the requirements is "Mac OS X v10.5.7 or later", which has not yet been released. Given that the new Mac Pros announced today are expected to reach customers next week, this may signal a Leopard update being released very soon, in the next one to two weeks.

One late leak ahead of Apple's refresh pointed to the drivers being contained in a 10.5.7 beta seeded to developers.

Apple has since updated the Upgrade Kit to say 10.5.6 or later.
Adam
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post #7 of 33
My only disappointment is the 1Gb RAM in the low-end Mac Mini. Should have started at 2Gb RAM. I'll suck it up and buy one anyway.
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Any word of the new 256GB SSDs are from Intel?

They don't make 256GB yet. And I have to say that question coming from you is somehwat naive... I haven't seen benchmarks beyond the original Macbook Air SSD which was terrible, but I'd be surprised if ANY of them used by Apple are even decent when compared to the Intel X25, OCZ Vertex, etc.. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Do you know what SSD is currently used and if there is a benchmark somewhere? If their MB Pro SSD can get anywhere near either of these drives in combined read+write speed I'll eat my shirt..
post #9 of 33
"Even regular 3.5-inch disks can transfer data as quickly as 160MB per second [...]"

I'd love to see a "regular" hard drive that can sustainably transfer data at 160MB/sec anywhere beyond the disk's controller. Ultra160 SCSI, from eons ago, might rightfully claim that ability but that's not a "regular" disk, either. No SATA disk can sustain 160MB/sec for more than a few seconds in the real world and one certainly can't saturate a FW800 bus; FW400 is probably safe, too, unless there are multiple disks on the same FW bus blasting data at full power for minutes on end.
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Upgrade Kit for Mac Pro is described as "the ultimate choice for visual creative, scientific, and technical applications."

That's a load of bullshit If I've ever seen one. -- Perhaps it's the ultimate "choice" of what they are offering. The 4870 is a good consumer card, but most "scientific" and "technical applications" (and nearly all 3D/CAD/CAM rendering) will require a pro OpenGL card like an Nvidia Quadro, which Apple conveniently removed..

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

the gains come mostly from the extra channel of memory bandwidth and the reduced memory latency but are also helped by optimizations that let each individual core in the workstation talk to each other more effectively.

The IMC and Quickpath is more important than the third memory channel, and while overall memory bandwidth is definitely a factor, just as important in many applications is the 2-thread per core SMT/"Hyperthreading"

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Even regular 3.5-inch disks can transfer data as quickly as 160MB per second, which completely eclipses FireWire 400 and is still bottlenecked by FireWire 800's peak 100MB per second.

Don't know where you got this idea.. "regular" 3.5" drives rarely do any better than 65-75MB/sec for sustained read speeds, and the most expensive 10K RPM enthusiast drives don't break much more than 110 MB/sec. Any numbers much higher than that are just from the drives ~16MB cache..

http://www.storagereview.com/Testbed4Compare.sr (drop down box -> max read speed)
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/3...mance,658.html
post #11 of 33
The Mac Pricing Guide has errors:

"2.1GHz 13" MacBook (white)" should be 2.0GHz
"1.83GHz Mac mini" in the top table should be listed as "2.0GHz Mac mini (1GB)"

There may be other errors, but these are the most obvious.

13" MBP 2.53GHz C2D, 21.5" Alu iMac 3.06GHz C2D, 24" Alu iMac 2.8GHz C2D, 15" MBP 2.2GHz i7 (work)
AppleTV: 320GB, 2; TC 500GB; iPad 32GB; iPhone: 3G 8GB, 4 32GB; iPod: 30GB 5G, 80GB Classic, 2GB...

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13" MBP 2.53GHz C2D, 21.5" Alu iMac 3.06GHz C2D, 24" Alu iMac 2.8GHz C2D, 15" MBP 2.2GHz i7 (work)
AppleTV: 320GB, 2; TC 500GB; iPad 32GB; iPhone: 3G 8GB, 4 32GB; iPod: 30GB 5G, 80GB Classic, 2GB...

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post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Intel only has

32...
64...
80...
160GB

320GB should hit this year when the 34nm NAND flash comes in quantity.

SSD. 256MB ..you're probably looking at Samsung first and then Toshiba.

Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

They don't make 256GB yet. And I have to say that question coming from you is somehwat naive... I haven't seen benchmarks beyond the original Macbook Air SSD which was terrible, but I'd be surprised if ANY of them used by Apple are even decent when compared to the Intel X25, OCZ Vertex, etc.. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Do you know what SSD is currently used and if there is a benchmark somewhere? If their MB Pro SSD can get anywhere near either of these drives in combined read+write speed I'll eat my shirt..

Thanks. I had forgotten that Intel is building gets with different capacities. That clearly answers my question; these are not from Intel.
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post #13 of 33
thanks for the price guide AI! i appreciate it.

but one question for knowledgeable folks here, Macmall, OnSale and ClubMac are the same companies? i see all their address same i am confused; someone please unconfuse me

Nov '09 | iMac 21.5" C2D 3.06 Ghz | Intel 330 240GB SSD | ATI

Sep '12| Toshiba 14" 1366 x 768! | i5 3rd Gen 6GB| Intel x25-m 120GB SSD | Win 7|  Viewsonic VX2255wmb 22" LCD
iPhone 4S| iPad 2 wifi

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Nov '09 | iMac 21.5" C2D 3.06 Ghz | Intel 330 240GB SSD | ATI

Sep '12| Toshiba 14" 1366 x 768! | i5 3rd Gen 6GB| Intel x25-m 120GB SSD | Win 7|  Viewsonic VX2255wmb 22" LCD
iPhone 4S| iPad 2 wifi

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post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

That's what this is for



To Include All That, tucked in right behind the display, elegantly.

And what's great about that Firewire, is that with a single input, I can have access to my 6 independent hard drives, all at equal, simultaneous speeds. That is 800 running at 800 speeds and 400 running at 400 speeds, all on the same daisy chain.

Firewire allows you to daisy chain up to 16 drives Or 15 ft of cable length, whichever comes first.

Get the $15.00 adapter to those Firewire 400 devices, and it's all you'll ever need.

With USB, you need the 6 inputs.
post #15 of 33
Let me be the first to wish for a Mac Mini upgrade.
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post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

If their MB Pro SSD can get anywhere near either of these drives in combined read+write speed I'll eat my shirt..

I hope it's not polyester.
post #17 of 33
Apple forgot to take their meds, and schizophrenia is setting in... They get together with Nvidia with OpenCL/CUDA, yet the drivers for current Nvidia offerings leave them lacking behind AMD/ATI in areas outside games (Boinc is THE perfect example). Apple uses Nvidia chipsets in a lot of their products, and now puts a consumer 4870 as the top graphics option in their top of the line Mac Pro? Not even a 4870 X2, GTX 295, a Quadro or a FirePro? That would be fine if there were other aftermarket options readily available for OS X, but there aren't. Apple always seems to pick "hand me downs" when it comes to GPU options. Other than the inclusion of the Nehalem Xeons, I don't see much innovation in this launch... ah, it must be that mini displayport in the Apple/ATI 4870 When is Apple going to support more GPUs from both AMD/ATI and NVIDIA? I would love to plug in one (or two) 4870 X2 in my MP, but realistically, when is that going to happen? <rant over>
post #18 of 33
eSata has been kicking FW800's ass for awhile. (and 100MB/s is under perfect conditions with 0 overhead; ie: doesn't happen)

When is Apple going to get it together and kick out FW3200?

Anyone with an external SSD would be pissed.

I want to see a FW3200 drive can at eShop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


+++Hopefully, the present Graphics Card Dearth is just a MiniDisplayPort issue, soon to be resolved.

I think someone had speculated that its inclusion was due to Movie Studio Pressure. -???


Kind of a shame for AAPL to put such a wonky connector out there, as the variety+scope of graphics cards is certainly more important than dongleage style points. \


These were fun posts at BareFeats about Drive Speeds:
http://www.barefeats.com/hard112.html
http://www.barefeats.com/mbpp08.html
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post #19 of 33
http://store.apple.com/ca/product/MB...mco=NDE4NDMxOA

That's $323 US dollars. WOW, that mini displayport added $174 to the cost of a regular 4870 512MB (see http://www.tomshardware.com/news/ATI...-Cut,7141.html ).
post #20 of 33
my god it is startling, even on professional machines where many of us can use Blu-Ray, Apple continues to stonewall any progress on this technology.

its getting ridiculous at this point.
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post

my god it is startling, even on professional machines where many of us can use Blu-Ray, Apple continues to stonewall any progress on this technology.

its getting ridiculous at this point.

Haven't seen the benchmarks yet, but this is a huge step for APPLE, new GPU with FIREWIRE?

If it runs games (it will run motion, illustrator) and has firewire, this is a big deal for edit bays, 2,3,4 and portable. For consumers, if they threw in a DVR, they would have a hit, right now, only laptops are selling, worst economy in a long time.

The entertainment business are going to gobble these up if they do what I think they will.
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

That's what this is for


Gawd, what a POS case and look. Nevermind the fact that Belkin is in hot water for falsifying the quality of their products. That's just plain cheap.
post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by superkaratemonkeydeathcar View Post

eSata has been kicking FW800's ass for awhile. (and 100MB/s is under perfect conditions with 0 overhead; ie: doesn't happen)

Agreed.. And what many other manufacturers are doing now is using a USB/eSATA combo port so it's not as if it would take up much space (in Mini/MB/MB Pro)
post #24 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by superkaratemonkeydeathcar View Post


+++Hopefully, the present Graphics Card Dearth is just a MiniDisplayPort issue, soon to be resolved.

I think someone had speculated that its inclusion was due to Movie Studio Pressure. -???


Kind of a shame for AAPL to put such a wonky connector out there, as the variety+scope of graphics cards is certainly more important than dongleage style points. \

Actually I think Hollywood has little to do with Apple's move to DisplayPort. They could have easily jumped on the HDMI bandwagon if HDCP was all that important.

If you think about what is important to computers it becomes clear.

Latching connectors
small form factor connections
high resolution
high bits per pixel support
easy integration
Affordability
Legacy support

DisplayPort offers all the aforementiond benefits in a royalty free package. It's tailored for computing use and in a pinch doesn't make for a bad CE connection.



Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Agreed.. And what many other manufacturers are doing now is using a USB/eSATA combo port so it's not as if it would take up much space (in Mini/MB/MB Pro)

I'm gonna hop on the eSATA bandwagon but only when it hits 6Gbps. Which should be soon.
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post #25 of 33
"The MacBook Air and unibody 13" MacBook lack FireWire due to their internal design constraints".

Not really. Even tiny flash drives (flash sticks or pen drives) have Firewire:

Firewire (IEEE 1394) Palm Sized Storage!
http://www.kanguru.com/fireflash.html

FIREWIRE IS ESSENTIAL FOR TARGET DISK MORE AND MAC REPAIRS. FULL STOP.

MacBook Air and MacBook: no Firewire, no purchase!
post #26 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

"The MacBook Air and unibody 13" MacBook lack FireWire due to their internal design constraints".

Not really. Even tiny flash drives (flash sticks or pen drives) have Firewire:

Firewire (IEEE 1394) Palm Sized Storage!
http://www.kanguru.com/fireflash.html

FIREWIRE IS ESSENTIAL FOR TARGET DISK MORE AND MAC REPAIRS. FULL STOP.

MacBook Air and MacBook: no Firewire, no purchase!

Just because the connector is 'small' doesn't mean there is space on the motherboard for it

I'm upset the macbook and the macbook air have no firewire too, but there is a reason for it.
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

That's what this is for


Cost of purchase, expense to power, cost to environment of manufacturer and running of hub, cable mess, etc etc... Nah I'll take a extra port or two on the iMac please. Shame we couldn't have had extra ports rather than a trade off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post

my god it is startling, even on professional machines where many of us can use Blu-Ray, Apple continues to stonewall any progress on this technology.

its getting ridiculous at this point.

The Mac Pro's only have 18x DVD burners too. Last time I looked 20x burners were £18/$30. Small difference, but these are seriously expensive computers.

The 8GB max RAM on the Quad Mac Pro is shameful for a £1900 base unit when you consider Apple bumped the PMG5 max RAM from 8GB to 16GB back in 2005.

---------------------------------------------------------

Display Port.

What I find interesting is;

1. The Apple-tax applied to all Mac models now using the MiniDP connection: DP isn't exactly a massive connector so why choose MiniDP for anything other than the MBA?

2. The lack of new displays to use with these new computers. Presumably we'll see them sooner rather than later.
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

That's what this is for


I thought that was for making your desk ugly.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post

my god it is startling, even on professional machines where many of us can use Blu-Ray, Apple continues to stonewall any progress on this technology.

its getting ridiculous at this point.

If you really want a Blu Ray drive, buy your own and install it yourself.
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

If you really want a Blu Ray drive, buy your own and install it yourself.

But they don't have 9.5mm BRDs, whcih most Macs use. The ones that use 12.5mm BRDs are still very pricey. Full Size or external BRDs are still pricey, especially when you consider that you still can't watch any movies in full quality because of a lack of HDCP protection.

The best option is to get a nice, fast external option and then remove the copy protection and store it as a local file on a HDD.
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post #31 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by tshort View Post

The Mac Pricing Guide has errors:

"2.1GHz 13" MacBook (white)" should be 2.0GHz
"1.83GHz Mac mini" in the top table should be listed as "2.0GHz Mac mini (1GB)"

There may be other errors, but these are the most obvious.

At least a couple of the prices in the Apple column for the previous models are wrong. Check the Clearance section of the Apple store. 24" iMac at 2.8 GHz is just $1399 for example. the 20" iMac is hundreds cheaper too.
post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

If you really want a Blu Ray drive, buy your own and install it yourself.

But the OS doesn't support it yet, does it? At least not for movie playback.
post #33 of 33
Interesting point about the Need for 10.5.7 for the New Mac Pro.

Hmmm Mac Pro
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