Anticipation over Apple's new modular Mac Pro mounts as first iffy renderings hit the web

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited May 13
The first "leak" for the modular Mac Pro has surfaced in the form of a supposed internal Apple document for the device, alleged evidence for the highly-anticipated Mac that has many questionable elements making it very hard to believe is genuine at all.




Apple is actively in development of the Mac Pro and is rumored to be preparing to reveal the hardware at WWDC in June. Years into its creation, no details have been confirmed about the Mac Pro, aside from it being "modular," leaving the rest up for speculation.

In an image posted to Imgur, an internal slide from a presentation for the "Mac Pro 7.1" has seemingly been photographed on a display and then shared. The document is dated as last modified on "7 November 2018," with it also bearing a notification it is for "Apple Internal" usage, the Apple logo in one quarter, and the author's name conveniently blurred out.

The supposed design is for a relatively square Mac Pro measuring 7.7 inches wide, 11.55 inches tall, and 11.55 inches long, with rounded vertical edges. There are only views of one side, the top, and the front, but not on the back or the base, which is depicted as a small black plinth recessed about an inch from each side.

Also on the sheet is a list of specifications, which contains a number of relatively odd elements that strongly suggest the image isn't genuine at all.

The Mac Pro is claimed to have an Intel Xeon W Cascade Lake-X processor with the Apple T2 security chip, "Apple X2 accelerator," and DDR5 SO-DIMM memory. The RAM claim is unlikely as the first commercial DDR5 releases have yet to occur and aren't expected in any volume until well into 2020, making the inclusion of the immature technology on such a high-profile product an unwise decision.

There also has yet to be any formal announcements regarding DDR5 in a SO-DIMM format, doubly making the claim iffy, let alone the lack of detail about ECC versions, especially for a slide updated in November 2018.

The size of the box in the illustrations doesn't lend itself well to three dual-width PCIe 4 slots. The relative newness of PCIe 4 also makes it an unlikely inclusion, again for maturity at launch, and a lack of available cards that will be able to use it.

The rest of the specifications list is relatively straightforward, including eight Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for "Thunderbolt 4," two HDMI 2.1 ports, 10-gigabit ethernet, and Bluetooth 5.1 support.

"Thunderbolt 4" has yet to be released, or announced. Thunderbolt 3 was announced in 2015, with the technology not reaching any Mac products until the 2016 MacBook Pro.

There are other questionable elements from an attention to detail standpoint, such as incorrect branding on the AMD FirePro GPU.

The new Mac Pro is tipped to ship in 2020, and in one rumor its modular form may use a stacking system, something not illustrated in the slide. Using proprietary connectors, this could allow users to buy a "brain" module and then only add what they need on top, such as extra storage or another GPU.

A modular Mac Pro would solve one of the biggest complaints about the Mac, in that Apple can force its customers into acquiring all-in-one designs that have little in the way of upgrades available. In a business environment, the ability to upgrade hardware to lengthen its lifespan is crucial, and could gain the Mac Pro more custom from its intended market.

Ultimately, leaks and rumors are not to be entirely trusted due to Apple's culture of secrecy, as well as the potential for fake "leaks" to be circulated based on nothing but speculation and whims. Until Apple officially reveals its products, there is no guarantee what is being "leaked" is actually true.
cornchip
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 253member
    Nice!
  • Reply 2 of 64
    zoidbertzoidbert Posts: 15member
    Regardless of legitimacy, it's nice to read some Mac centric speculation again rather than the usual "iPhone bumps" posts. I miss Mac rumors, but that's the way of the world these days.
    cornchipavon b7watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 64
    camccamc Posts: 20member
    <Phoenix> ...arising from the ashes.
    Nice nickname after all.
    kruegdudecornchipMackDonaldsonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 64
    sevenfeetsevenfeet Posts: 397member
    Actually PCI 4.0 has been available in chipsets for a while.  But it has largely been ignored in the gamer/prosumer/pro desktop market since PCI 5.0 was supposed to be right around the corner (it's also been ignored by the biggest use driver, graphics cards).  PCI 4.0 is in some large server applications now but that's about it.  I always thought that PCI 5.0 was one of the technologies Apple was waiting for since they probably want to design the main features of the motherboard once and PCI 5.0 will probably be with us for a decade.
    edited May 13 cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 64
    Its the G4 cube all over again! 

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Mac_G4_Cube
  • Reply 6 of 64
    of all the things listed I find the nvidia support to be the most welcome but also the most unlikely..
    canukstormdysamoria
  • Reply 7 of 64
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,799member
    eight Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for "Thunderbolt 4,"
    Yeah, that'll be fake then.
    cornchipdysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 64
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 571member
    zoidbert said:
    it's nice to read some Mac centric speculation again rather than the usual "iPhone bumps" posts. 
    How about the exciting articles about "iPhone colours"?
    cornchipdysamoriaravnorodom
  • Reply 9 of 64
    "A modular Mac Pro would solve one of the biggest complaints about the Mac, in that Apple can force its customers into acquiring all-in-one designs that have little in the way of upgrades available."

    I owned a 2009 Mac Pro and upgraded the RAM, the boot drive, the GPU, and added USB 3.0 support. I currently own a 2017 5K iMac and have already upgraded the RAM and the boot drive. I could easily upgrade the GPU down the road as well. Only the USB update appears to be out of the question with the iMac. The main difference is really just internal vs. external, not some sort of huge difference in ability to upgrade.
    edited May 13 Mauriziowatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 64
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,425administrator
    "A modular Mac Pro would solve one of the biggest complaints about the Mac, in that Apple can force its customers into acquiring all-in-one designs that have little in the way of upgrades available."

    I owned a 2009 Mac Pro and upgraded the RAM, the boot drive, the GPU, and added USB 3.0 support. I currently own a 2017 5K iMac and have already upgraded the RAM and the boot drive. I could easily upgrade the GPU down the road as well. Only the USB update appears to be out of the question with the iMac. The main difference is really just internal vs. external, not some sort of huge difference in ability to upgrade.
    How's that? An eGPU looping back to the iMac doesn't really give you anything.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 64
    How's that? An eGPU looping back to the iMac doesn't really give you anything.
    It would give at least as much as updating the Mac Pro 2009 GPU considering that the motherboard on that machine bottlenecked newer GPUs. I used a 970 GTX that allowed me to connect a 4K monitor, provided a greater amount of VRAM for the system, and was quieter and used less energy. The catch was that the 3D benchmarks were only slightly better than the original 2009 card (the aforementioned bottleneck). It also required me to remove the GTX and plug in the old card every time that there was a system update since that would usually break the driver compatibility. Plugging the old card in allowed me to see what was on screen after rebooting and thus provide access to downloading the new drivers for the GTX. That got old... 
    dysamoriachiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 64
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,037member
    -3 double wide PCI-E 4.0 slots 

    doubting intensifies 

    I'd be thrilled if this was true but I thought everything was pointing to externally mountable expandability like a stack, not internal 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 64
    ciacia Posts: 76member
    We can dream, but I doubt this is real.   

    I like what the options are but it needs more slots for RAM, PCI 5, NVME/M2.\

    Also Thunderbolt 4 isn't a thing yet.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 64
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    PCI 4 is perfectly viable for the new Mac Pro. There’s nothing about it that isn’t ready. PCI 5, on the other hand isn’t ready, and won’t be practical for at least a year.

    DDR5 could be ready, but not in an SO dimm. 

    Tb 4 could also be available. Frankly, we don’t know the state of that. We also don’t know the relationship Apple and Intel have at this point. It’s been quite a while since Tb 3 arrived. There’s no reason, technically, why Intel couldn’t release it soon, if they’re attempting in any way to keep to their promise of 100Gb/s after a decade, which was their early statement.

    apple is taking so long with this that it’s hard to imagine what they’re doing.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 64
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,425administrator
    How's that? An eGPU looping back to the iMac doesn't really give you anything.
    It would give at least as much as updating the Mac Pro 2009 GPU considering that the motherboard on that machine bottlenecked newer GPUs. I used a 970 GTX that allowed me to connect a 4K monitor, provided a greater amount of VRAM for the system, and was quieter and used less energy. The catch was that the 3D benchmarks were only slightly better than the original 2009 card (the aforementioned bottleneck). It also required me to remove the GTX and plug in the old card every time that there was a system update since that would usually break the driver compatibility. Plugging the old card in allowed me to see what was on screen after rebooting and thus provide access to downloading the new drivers for the GTX. That got old... 
    External is a different matter. At least here with my config and a 5,1, Performance for the same PCI-E GPU is notably higher on the Mac Pro with an external display versus on a Thunderbolt 3 loop-back to an internal iMac screen.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 64
    melgross said:
    apple is taking so long with this that it’s hard to imagine what they’re doing.
    trying to come up with ways to lock the pro customers in without being obvious about it and giving them "modularity" without really allowing anything other than their custom made parts... at least that is what I think is happening behind the curtains. Otherwise why take so long? Just build a tower with modern parts, update macos so it supports a couple of new hardware and after 6 months you are ready to show it and probably ship it.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 17 of 64
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,055member
    Yeah this is clearly bullshit. 
  • Reply 18 of 64
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    melgross said:
    apple is taking so long with this that it’s hard to imagine what they’re doing.
    trying to come up with ways to lock the pro customers in without being obvious about it and giving them "modularity" without really allowing anything other than their custom made parts... at least that is what I think is happening behind the curtains. Otherwise why take so long? Just build a tower with modern parts, update macos so it supports a couple of new hardware and after 6 months you are ready to show it and probably ship it.
    Apple couldn’t do what you’re suggesting. If Apple has a modular system, according to the courts, companies are allowed to build equipment to interface with it. There’s nothing Apple could do to prevent that. It also would be no point to it. With the “trash Can” Mac Pro, Apple explicitly made it so that third parties could (had to) interface with it. That’s not what killed it. In fact, many of us wanted Apple to made these external boxes, but they didn’t. Apple has a long history of leaving this to third parties.

    that doesn’t mean that they won’t made their own plug-in modules, assuming that all the speculation about modules is correct. But if a third party wants to make them too, I don’t see Apple attempting to prevent it. They could ease the development, by publishing the hardware and software specs. Otherwise, third parties will have to do their own R&D about how to accomplish it. But that’s allowed, by law, if a company wants to expend the effort.

    we see the same thing in the camera industry. Some camera manufacturers publish the specs for the mechanical and electronic portions of their mount (Sony), while others don’t (Canon), and yet others try to keep it a secret (Nikon). Yet, third party lines for all three platforms are available.

    If companies think there’s a viable market, they will do it. The question is whether the market for a new Mac Pro would be big enough these days. I hope it will be. But only if Apple does it right, and shows that they will properly support it over time with regular upgrades, unlike what they’ve been doing with the trash can model.
    edited May 13
  • Reply 19 of 64
    Apart from the the idea of turning the MacPro into a Lego device, from what I see in the specs, it will be quite a beast of a pro computer.  I'm not particular excited hearing about any proprietary connectors to stack on the base computer but I'll reserve judgment until I can see a final working device.  I don't care what shape Apple makes the computer as long as it takes industry standard internal boards and upgradeable processors and no soldered RAM.  Although I've said this many times, but I still wish Apple had kept the cheese-grater design and merely upgraded to modern hardware.  I mean, even the motherboard slid right out on the cheese-grater and that's something that was quite unusual.  From what I remember, in my opinion, that design was just unbeatable.  The airflow was something out of a wind-tunnel.  Apple wasted so much time and effort on that trash-can model and they're still trying to sell it for pretty much the same price now as they did in 2013.  Absolutely bonkers.

    Please, Apple, keep this new model updated and easily user accessible.  It's not a computer I would need or can afford to buy but I'd just like to hear the industry say something good about an Apple pro product, for a change.  Usually, Mac pro products are always called shite and I find it so disappointing that a company with so much money can't build a decent product for pro users now when they already had designed decent pro computers way back when.  Apple is considered a hardware company, so I expect them to build decent hardware.  The company has enough resources to do practically anything amazing, so they need to just do it.
  • Reply 20 of 64
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,425administrator
    Apart from the the idea of turning the MacPro into a Lego device, from what I see in the specs, it will be quite a beast of a pro computer.  I'm not particular excited hearing about any proprietary connectors to stack on the base computer but I'll reserve judgment until I can see a final working device.  I don't care what shape Apple makes the computer as long as it takes industry standard internal boards and upgradeable processors and no soldered RAM.  Although I've said this many times, but I still wish Apple had kept the cheese-grater design and merely upgraded to modern hardware.  I mean, even the motherboard slid right out on the cheese-grater and that's something that was quite unusual.  From what I remember, in my opinion, that design was just unbeatable.  The airflow was something out of a wind-tunnel.  Apple wasted so much time and effort on that trash-can model and they're still trying to sell it for pretty much the same price now as they did in 2013.  Absolutely bonkers.

    Please, Apple, keep this new model updated and easily user accessible.  It's not a computer I would need or can afford to buy but I'd just like to hear the industry say something good about an Apple pro product, for a change.  Usually, Mac pro products are always called shite and I find it so disappointing that a company with so much money can't build a decent product for pro users now when they already had designed decent pro computers way back when.  Apple is considered a hardware company, so I expect them to build decent hardware.  The company has enough resources to do practically anything amazing, so they need to just do it.
    The motherboard did not. You may be thinking of the RAM risers or the processor & RAM daughterboard on the end of the line.
    fastasleep
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