New Mac Pro's processor reportedly user-upgradeable

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    "reportedly confirmed"? If it's reportedly, then it's not confirmed. Pick one.
  • Reply 2 of 30
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,840member
    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"?

  • Reply 3 of 30
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,111member
    Apple's Xenon is $1,500 and OWC's is $2,000. What's the advantage? 0.3GHz?
  • Reply 4 of 30
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    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.

  • Reply 5 of 30
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,932member

    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.

  • Reply 6 of 30
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    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.

  • Reply 7 of 30
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    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.

  • Reply 8 of 30
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member

    Yeah, I really don't see the point. 

    It's funny. People are still thinking about this unit the same way you would think of the old tower box full of stuff. The stuff all goes on the outside on this one folks.

    This computer is, essentially, just a really powerful brain. It's not like people are going to have all kinds of expensive, custom i/o cards installed inside it, along with multiple custom hard drives that they 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 are you going to sell your old CPU pull to anyways?

  • Reply 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...
  • Reply 10 of 30
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,932member
    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.

  • Reply 11 of 30
    y2any2an Posts: 96member
    The article didn't mention adjusting the clock speed so should we assume the replacement part is being overclocked?
  • Reply 12 of 30
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member

    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?

  • Reply 13 of 30
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,932member
    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).

  • Reply 14 of 30
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,840member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 30
    smalmsmalm Posts: 671member
    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). 

  • Reply 16 of 30
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    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.

  • Reply 17 of 30
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,722member

    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

  • Reply 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?

  • Reply 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...
  • Reply 20 of 30
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    tangles wrote: »
    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.
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