Bring on the Mac Plus
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?
I think so and I believe it could be achieved with relative ease.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?