Apple throws out the rulebook for its unique next-gen Mac Pro

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple on Monday offered an uncharacteristic sneak peek of its forthcoming Mac Pro, which after years of being largely ignored has received a radical new design crammed with state-of-the-art hardware technology.

Mac Pro


The most striking feature of the new Mac Pro is the cylindrical chassis wrapped in a black aluminum shell. Adding to the unique design is the size of the unit, which measures only 9.9-inches tall with a diameter of 6.6-inches.The new Mac Pro is one-eighth the volume of the outgoing tower style model.

Past the aesthetics lies a completely reimagined interior. All major components and boards in the Mac Pro are mounted to a triangular heat sink, which Apple is calling the "unified thermal core." According to the company, the use of the extruded aluminum structure was key in achieving such a compact design.

Heat is conducted away from the CPUs and GPUs and dispersed evenly across the surface of the thermal core. This allows for a single fan, situated at the top of the unit, to suck air up through an intake at the bottom of the computer, with exhaust flowing out vertically above the cylinder.

Thermal
Screenshot of thermal core structure animation.


As for silicon, Apple chose to stick with Intel's Xeon family of processors, though the next-generation Mac Pro will get next-generation E5 chipsets. Configurations will reportedly be capped at 12 cores, providing enough horsepower to double the floating-point performance of existing models. Along with the new Xeon boards comes support for PCI Express gen 3, which boasts bandwidth up to 40GBps, with 1.25GBps reads and 1.0GBps writes depending on the component loadout.

Storage
Mac Pro's configured SSD storage.


In opting for a faster PCIe flash storage solution, which is clocked at 1250MB/s compared to SATA flash's 500MB/s and SATA HDD's 110MB/s, Apple has done away with the drive bays that made swapping HDDs so easy. The company may be hoping Thunderbolt 2-enabled external drives will pick up the slack, but some may be disappointed to see this useful feature go.

On the memory side, Apple is using four-channel ECC DDR3 modules running at 1866 MHz, which affords bandwidth up to 60GB/s. This also doubles the current Mac Pro's capabilities.

Memory


Graphics are handled by standard dual workstation-class AMD FirePro GPUs with up to 6GB of dedicated VRAM, which puts up to 70 teraflops of computing power on tap. Current Mac Pros perform at 2.7 teraflops.

Expansion has also been greatly enhanced, with a whopping six Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, HDMI 1.4 and audio in/out. Thunderbolt 2 is the main draw here, with the protocol able to support 20Gbps throughput, up to six daisy-chained peripherals per port and backward compatibility with current Thunderbolt hardware. Intel, which developed the I/O standard, recently revealed the official specs of Thunderbolt 2 last week.

While the hardware specs are for the prototype Mac Pro, the production model is expected to be similar if not identical when it sees release this fall.

In previewing the professional-level computer, a rarity for Apple, it is assumed the company wanted to assuage concerns from some pro users who felt neglected after the company built multiple iMac and Mac mini refreshes without offering any major boost to the Mac Pro.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 1320
    Details are wrong in several places about the ports.

    There are zero Firewire 800 ports, not two as stated in the article.
    There are four USB 3 ports; the article forgot to mention them.
    There are two Ethernet ports; the article is vague on this.
  • Reply 2 of 1320
    Details are wrong in several places about the ports.

    There are zero Firewire 800 ports, not two as stated in the article.
    There are four USB 3 ports; the article forgot to mention them.
    There are two Ethernet ports; the article is vague on this.
  • Reply 3 of 1320
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member


    This is just such a futuristic marvel that has the potential to change the way Pros work.


     


    Of course, most of them are retarded and unable to evolve, it's a shame they will be left behind. Same thing with keyboards and mouses, diskette and cd rom, you name it.

  • Reply 4 of 1320
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 666member


    The level of stupid at Apple these days is overwhelming.


     


    That has to be the worst possible design for a pro machine that I could imagine.  Pros don't want cutesy cylinders, they want EXPANSION.  Things like slots, lots of RAM slots, lots of PCI Express slots, and multiple hard drive bays, at least 4 of them.  Pros still need optical drives.  Pros want to be able to upgrade their graphics cards.  Pros want multiple processors.


     


    Think about what they could have done with this in the existing case:  Dual 12 core processors.  Up to 128GB RAM.  2 solid state drives AND 4 hard drives.  And two Blu-Ray drives.  And 4 PCI Express slots.


     


    And the design is terrible too.  This thing looks like a black aluminum can.  Oh, wait, that's what it is.

  • Reply 5 of 1320
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Jeff Fields View Post

    There are zero Firewire 800 ports, not two as stated in the article.

    There are two Ethernet ports; the article is vague on this.


     


    The article's vague because its author thinks Ethernet is FireWire 800. image


     




    Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post

    That has to be the worst possible design for a pro machine that I could imagine.



     


    This proves that Apple has done 100% the right thing.


     




    Pros don't want cutesy cylinders, they want EXPANSION.



     


    GUESS WHAT THE CYLINDER CAN DO, KIDDO.






    Pros still need optical drives.



     


    That's so effing stupid.


     



    Pros want multiple processors.


     


    Pros want a lot of cores. Multiple processors are just a means to that end. You'd know that if you actually knew anything.


     


    Also? There are no single-chip processors with 12 cores from any manufacturer. Not that I can find, anyway. Not Sandy, Ivy, or Haswell.





    Think about what they could have done with this in the existing case: 



     


    Yeah, they could have made it a worthless update that didn't actually innovate anything and for which they would have been mocked and derided because it was "late".


     


    Instead they punched people like you in the metaphorical face and told you to shut up. This is the future. Deal with it.

  • Reply 6 of 1320
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member
    expansion... for the most part, having local HDDs will evolve back to Thunderbolt expansion chassis... this shrinks the chassis,the power supply, and the air/cooling requirements of the base unit... in the Extreme Programming parlance... YAGNI (you aren't going to need (all of) it).
    Better to expand as needed.

    Also, In a NAS/SAN world, it makes more sense to have one data farm than lots of local storage, so this actually fares well in the corp office environment. For small home pro users, it's a bit of redundancy, but the pay me now (for a larger PS, cooling, chaotic) vs pay me later (thunderbolt chassis, expansion disks, 2nd PS for this unit) pay off is likely in the long run more beneficial for the latter case (net TCO lower, more flexibility, and easier transitioning of a faster compute engine).

    PCI board expansion is the biggest thing missing I think, but I'm not in that market, and I don't know if thunderbolt expansion chassis devices will fill the PCI board niche.

    Also not noted here is inbox expansion. 'up to 12 cores' may sound nice, but is looks from the outside, it's a BTO option, not a aftermarket add-in card. My guess it's memory and flash disk expansion only, and everything else is soldered on at the (US) factory...

    I think it's a great design, consistent with Apple's hardware vision... not necessarily great for your 'old school' iron heads.
  • Reply 7 of 1320
    conrailconrail Posts: 489member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post


    This is just such a futuristic marvel that has the potential to change the way Pros work.


     


    Of course, most of them are retarded and unable to evolve, it's a shame they will be left behind. Same thing with keyboards and mouses, diskette and cd rom, you name it.





    I can't imagine why you can't get pros to agree with you. 


     


    And keyboards?  Really?

  • Reply 8 of 1320
    fuzz_ballfuzz_ball Posts: 390member
    Anyone remember the Cube? Hopefully they don't saddle this with a ridiculous price like they did to the cube (RIP). Price for design is not what pros want: they want power. If they premium charge this because of their aesthetic design they are going to see poor sales-through indeed.
  • Reply 9 of 1320
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,822member
    The more I read about this new Mac Pro, the more I'm liking it. Sure, there are certain unanswered questions about the ability to upgrade components, but all-in-all, Apple once again paves its own path and throws out the old way of thinking. Technology has advanced so much since the last Mac Pro that one can get twice the horsepower of their fastest Mac Pro in a package that's one-eighth the volume, and make it quieter on top of that. Great piece of engineering.

    Thanks to Thunderbolt, it's essentially a fully configurable machine that can be tailored to any kind of power user and not worry about suffering a performance hit with external devices.

    I'm looking forward to the reviews of this bad-boy when the machine starts shipping. I hope the professional community embraces this system. I think Apple must have done some kind of research into this area before heading off on such a radical redesign.
  • Reply 10 of 1320
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member


    When I read people's posts complaining about this machine, I envision that those people look like this:


     


  • Reply 11 of 1320
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,822member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post


    The level of stupid at Apple these days is overwhelming.


     


    That has to be the worst possible design for a pro machine that I could imagine.  Pros don't want cutesy cylinders, they want EXPANSION.  Things like slots, lots of RAM slots, lots of PCI Express slots, and multiple hard drive bays, at least 4 of them.  Pros still need optical drives.  Pros want to be able to upgrade their graphics cards.  Pros want multiple processors.


     


    Think about what they could have done with this in the existing case:  Dual 12 core processors.  Up to 128GB RAM.  2 solid state drives AND 4 hard drives.  And two Blu-Ray drives.  And 4 PCI Express slots.


     


    And the design is terrible too.  This thing looks like a black aluminum can.  Oh, wait, that's what it is.





    That's the problem with trolls like you.  You think what you want is what everyone else wants?  It just goes to show how little (actually "nothing") you know about technology and the direction it is going.  I'm wasting time to even think about responding to the numerous false-assumptions you are making.  You're not worth the effort.



    I'm actually going to file your little rant, and wait to see what Apple does and how the market accepts it.  I suspect you'll be eating crow and you'll be hoping no one calls you on it.  I certainly will.



    Now go back under your bridge.

  • Reply 12 of 1320
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Conrail View Post

    And keyboards?  Really?


     


    You didn't notice a hesitance to move to that newfangled computer input system back in '77?

  • Reply 13 of 1320
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,822member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    When I read people's posts complaining about this machine, I envision that those people look like this:


     






    Starting with DarkVader.  Who are the other two??  :)

  • Reply 14 of 1320
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,822member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    When I read people's posts complaining about this machine, I envision that those people look like this:


     





    I think of people like DarkVader more like this:



    http://i44.tinypic.com/2iqzrrm.jpg

     

  • Reply 15 of 1320
    v5vv5v Posts: 1,357member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post


    The level of stupid at Apple these days is overwhelming.


     


    That has to be the worst possible design for a pro machine that I could imagine.  Pros don't want cutesy cylinders, they want EXPANSION.  Things like slots, lots of RAM slots, lots of PCI Express slots, and multiple hard drive bays, at least 4 of them.  Pros still need optical drives.  Pros want to be able to upgrade their graphics cards.  Pros want multiple processors.


     


    Think about what they could have done with this in the existing case:  Dual 12 core processors.  Up to 128GB RAM.  2 solid state drives AND 4 hard drives.  And two Blu-Ray drives.  And 4 PCI Express slots.


     


    And the design is terrible too.  This thing looks like a black aluminum can.  Oh, wait, that's what it is.



     


    I used to think that way too, but not anymore.


     


    Our existing Pro has a slot into which we can drop an upgraded video card. We never have. We bought the best the machine could support at the time and have never changed it.


     


    We already have an external Blu-Ray drive (for the two or three times a year we use it) so that's not an issue.


     


    Thunderbolt pretty much solves the last of the cases we had for slots. The Blackmagic Design cards we use for HD-SDI I/O are now available in Thunderbolt versions, as is our Pro Tools controller. There may be a brief awkward period as manufacturers migrate from cards to outboard devices, but it's clear that's the direction things are going.


     


    Storage is via outboard RAID, so lots of slot for conventional drives are no longer necessary. Besides, this thing completely dumps SATA in favor of a storage system that links directly to the PCIe bus. That's why it's so freakin' fast.


     


    The design does LOOK goofy, but it allows for the most ingenious cooling system ever. It's hard to argue just because it ain't pretty.


     


    If an old fart like me can adapt, or more accurately recognize the way the industry is going, you can too! image

  • Reply 16 of 1320
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post


    The level of stupid at Apple these days is overwhelming.


     


    That has to be the worst possible design for a pro machine that I could imagine.  Pros don't want cutesy cylinders, they want EXPANSION.  Things like slots, lots of RAM slots, lots of PCI Express slots, and multiple hard drive bays, at least 4 of them.  Pros still need optical drives.  Pros want to be able to upgrade their graphics cards.  Pros want multiple processors.


     


    Think about what they could have done with this in the existing case:  Dual 12 core processors.  Up to 128GB RAM.  2 solid state drives AND 4 hard drives.  And two Blu-Ray drives.  And 4 PCI Express slots.


     


    And the design is terrible too.  This thing looks like a black aluminum can.  Oh, wait, that's what it is.



    I'm a computer pro.


     


    The fastest computer I physically worked on had the same basic design...  the Cray XMP.   circular, custom aluminum heatsink in the center, power supply at the bottom, pull through cooling. 


     


    The most expansible computer I worked on... IBM ZSeries... you had to add a chassis or 10, but the high speed FICON cabling made that a snap.  I could connect as many disks and tape drives as I wanted, and interconnect with other Zseries computers, comm devices... pretty easy.


     


    Are you saying those aren't professional computing platforms because you can't put everything in single rectangular box?


     


    Is there anything in this design that precludes what you listed above from being connected in series via a Thunderbolt cable?  Including daisy chaining a second Mac Pro for additional CPU cores, memory, etc.   Specifically on the hard drives... they don't want lots of spindles... they want lots of bytes delivered with lots of speed.


     


    Memory is likely the gating factor here. That I agree... but the line between VM on Flash and RAM is getting pretty small with PCIe based local Flash Drives.   I'll give Apple the benefit of the doubt here until the Lunch and Learn tomorrow at least.

  • Reply 17 of 1320
    v5vv5v Posts: 1,357member


    Four of us huddled around a monitor drooling over this thing on Apple's web site. One asks, "I wonder how much it costs?" Three others mumble in unison, "Who cares?"

  • Reply 18 of 1320


    It's obvious where Apple is headed with this. By having so many Thunderbolt ports (and the faster versions) they expect that upgrading will be done externally. The only thing you won't be able to change is the processor and internal SSD (maybe RAM). Everything else you need (optical drives, hard drives, SSD's, graphics cards...) can be connected by Thunderbolt.


     


    I really wonder how Apple will price this. Although it looks radical, it should actually be easy to manufacture. And by eliminating upgrades internally they don't need to worry about slots, bays or other mechanical pieces (they could solder everything if they wanted). They also don't have to design in a much larger power supply to account for extra devices people might add. Even building the video cards in (instead of slot mounting) should reduce costs.


     


    Although Apple doesn't sell things for "bargain" prices, I think this new Pro will offer very good performance for the $$$ when compared to previous versions.


     


    I think I just found a new machine for my wife. :)

  • Reply 19 of 1320
    isaidsoisaidso Posts: 750member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DarkVader View Post


    The level of stupid at Apple these days is overwhelming.


     


    That has to be the worst possible design for a pro machine that I could imagine.  Pros don't want cutesy cylinders, they want EXPANSION.  Things like slots, lots of RAM slots, lots of PCI Express slots, and multiple hard drive bays, at least 4 of them.  Pros still need optical drives.  Pros want to be able to upgrade their graphics cards.  Pros want multiple processors.


     


    Think about what they could have done with this in the existing case:  Dual 12 core processors.  Up to 128GB RAM.  2 solid state drives AND 4 hard drives.  And two Blu-Ray drives.  And 4 PCI Express slots.


     


    And the design is terrible too.  This thing looks like a black aluminum can.  Oh, wait, that's what it is.



    Wow. You must be a real professional, (teleported from 1999). If you had any brains, you'd be embarrassed by your own ignorance of todays computer technology.

  • Reply 20 of 1320
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    When I read people's posts complaining about this machine, I envision that those people look like this:


     



     


    "So easy, a DarkVader can use it!"


     


    Apologies to GEICO...


     



     


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