A new Mac Pro is coming, confirms Apple exec

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Comments

  • Reply 41 of 60
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,098member
    ApplePoor said:
    So depending on the work being done, the current Mac Studio is not exactly a slouch machine and it is based upon the Apple silicone
    Let me tell you a funny story, my friend. When the Honda Element first came out, since it was called "Element", I was considering getting a matching license plate containing a periodic table element's name, and since I'm an IT guy, I was thinking of getting the customized plate with "Silicon", which is both an "element" and an IT pun. But I'm glad I didn't, because when I surveyed my friends on the idea, several of them thought the word was pronounced "silicone." And then I realized that many/most people would have interpreted that as a joke about plastic surgery for women. And even now in 2023, I find that most non-technical people still don't know the difference.

    I'm also surprised that most people still don't know the difference between "blond" and "blonde". We've been using those words very regularly for a hundred years, and most people still don't know the difference. So I doubt that "silicon" and "silicone" will be correctly differentiated by the public for the next 50+ years.
    Just keep buying Apple shares most people don’t know the difference between Dell, HP and Apple Computers……their loss.
    watto_cobrah2p
  • Reply 42 of 60
    ApplePoorApplePoor Posts: 290member
    Auto correct helps screw with the spelling 😱
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 43 of 60
    What I am getting from the quotes in the article is that Mark Gurman pulled his usual "rumors" out of his ass and that we should be expecting an M2 Ultra Mac Studio, not a Mac Pro.  And I'd be quite happy with that.

    Maybe Apple will make an ASi Mac Pro down the road when they figure out a way to make something significantly more powerful than a Mac Studio Ultra, or maybe they won't.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 44 of 60
    techconctechconc Posts: 275member
    Serqetry said:
    What I am getting from the quotes in the article is that Mark Gurman pulled his usual "rumors" out of his ass and that we should be expecting an M2 Ultra Mac Studio, not a Mac Pro.  And I'd be quite happy with that.

    Maybe Apple will make an ASi Mac Pro down the road when they figure out a way to make something significantly more powerful than a Mac Studio Ultra, or maybe they won't.
    Nobody gets them right all of the time.  Usually, they get bits and pieces of information and where they fail is when they try to tie it all together to form a narrative of an actual product.  That said, you have to admit that he completely nailed the details of the M1 series of chips months before they ever saw the light of day. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 45 of 60
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    ApplePoor said:
    I wonder if my Mac Studio Ultra (128GB and 8TB SSD) is a one trick pony like my 2013 trash can Mac Pro was? I just checked and the BTO times are getting longer (nearly a month out)..

     I was able to upgrade the 2013 Mac Pro to 128GB of Ram and a 2TB SSD. For lots more money, the video and processor cards could also be upgraded by OWC.

    The Sonnet xMac Studio/Echo III with a 3U rack mount enclosure has a Thunderbolt to PCIe expansion system with three PCIe slots (one x16 and two x8 slots) and these can be full height cards for about $1,649.99 plus shipping and taxes. Perhaps one of their desktop expansion would work?

    https://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/pcie-card-expansion-systems.html

    So depending on the work being done, the current Mac Studio is not exactly a slouch machine and it is based upon the Apple silicone. It is currently capable of power that exceeds the base current Mac Pro by quite a margin.

    So with a little research, one can find ways to expand the current Mac Studio capabilities with off the shelf products for much less money than a upgraded current Mac Pro.

    It is not all bad in Apple land.

    No. The Studio line is the headless Mac people have been asking for for years. It'll stick around as long as there is enough demand to support it. It is not at all meant to be an upgradable system. Where as, the 2013 Mac Pro was, and unfortunately it was a design looking for an issue, and they found it - thermal constraints while trying to "update" it. The Ultra Studio has a massive cooling system, that is overkill to keep it quiet. It will never have any thermal issues.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 46 of 60
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    Serqetry said:
    What I am getting from the quotes in the article is that Mark Gurman pulled his usual "rumors" out of his ass and that we should be expecting an M2 Ultra Mac Studio, not a Mac Pro.  And I'd be quite happy with that.

    Maybe Apple will make an ASi Mac Pro down the road when they figure out a way to make something significantly more powerful than a Mac Studio Ultra, or maybe they won't.

    Still on the fence about what the ASi Mac Pro will be. The rumors of Apple designing the Mx Max to be "stackable" turned out to be true, but so far, it's only shown up in the Ultra - no "Extreme" yet. However, I do believe there were rumors that the "Extreme" was scrapped. But we're only on the second generation of this process, so maybe there were some kinks in the M1 design that didn't allow for it, or the M1 was never meant to go "Extreme".

    At the time I assumed the higher end SoCs would only be updated every other generation. So the next Ultra SoC, would be the M3 Ultra and maybe by then the "Extreme" variant will debut?

    Although, as I said in another post... The Mac Pro is a completely different system from what Apple has released with their M-series SoCs so far. So I still maintain the Mac Pro will remain on that path and forgo the SoC centric design all the other systems have. Instead it'll have a completely different set of disparate chips: X-series CPU, G-series GPU, and a new T3 SoC.

    samuraiartguy said:
    I have my doubts, when an Apple Executive has clearly taken some pains to explicitly not mention the Mac Pro – I am inclined to take him at his word. Same with the wild-eyed projections about “ComputeModule.” There is dead zero evidence other than tech writers breathless wish fulfillment that this undefined technology has anything to do with a new Mac Pro - fer blip’s sake, they run iOS, not Mac OS. 
    Don’t mind me, I’m not a tech pundit, just a workin’ class Creative Pro here…

    Not to throw gas on the fire, but if you consider what I said above, the new Mac Pro having disparate chip set including a T3. The Mac Pro could perform its initial boot sequence off the T3 using an iOS derivative, which would then load macOS and run it off which ever "ComputeModule" is installed in the system. The two references to "ComputeModule" could be a daughter board with either an ASi CPU or an Intel CPU.

    Just saying.
    edited March 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 47 of 60
    XedXed Posts: 2,703member
    charlesn said:
    Appletron said:
    I think there are a number of factors here that explain the lack of action on the Mac Pro:

    1. It's perhaps Apple's smallest slice of the pie... it's almost a rounding error in their financials. So it's not a high fiscal priority.

    And that there is exactly the problem with Apple today. 
    They stopped innovating and designing great computers to make customer's lives better first -
    Blah, blah, blah... excuse me, but the entire tech buying WORLD, which has made Apple the most successful tech company in the history of tech companies, begs to disagree. Apple is, by orders of magnitude, the tech company that has weathered the tech downturn best, owing no doubt, to halting innovation and making computers that help make the lives of its customers worse. Those are always great selling points! But hey, you can join the Apple Cassandra support group that has been saying this same tired thing for 30-odd years. 
    Apple is a consumer tech company. They are not the most innovative engineering company of all time. Their engineers aren’t winning Nobel prizes in Physics as other American engineering companies have in the past. Anyone who thinks that consumer products are the cutting edge of technology is ignorant of the subject.
    There's far too much stupidity in your comment to bullet point all of your errors so I'll only address one thing: innovation doesn't begin and end with who get a Nobel prize.

    While a Nobel prize can be innovative, it's focus is on achievements for those who have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. While creating extensions in Swift or an improved MagSafe connector are both innovative and beneficial they're not ever going to get its creators a Nobel prize and you're foolish if you think it could.

    We actually have a system in place for innovations. They're called patents.
    edited March 2023 muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 48 of 60
    mjtomlin said:

    Although, as I said in another post... The Mac Pro is a completely different system from what Apple has released with their M-series SoCs so far. So I still maintain the Mac Pro will remain on that path and forgo the SoC centric design all the other systems have. Instead it'll have a completely different set of disparate chips: X-series CPU, G-series GPU, and a new T3 SoC.

    That is what I've always thought.  If Apple doesn't design a new ARM chip series for the Mac Pro that exceeds the limitations of the SoC M-series, there's really no reason at all to even make a new Mac Pro.  The dumb rumors about an M2 Ultra Mac Pro make no sense.  I think that is more likely to be misinterpreted info related to an upcoming M2 Mac Studio refresh.

    There might be a new Mac Pro coming too, but it has to do a lot better than M2 Ultra... and it probably isn't coming as soon as people believe.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 49 of 60
    entropys said:
    charlesn said:
    Appletron said:
    I think there are a number of factors here that explain the lack of action on the Mac Pro:

    1. It's perhaps Apple's smallest slice of the pie... it's almost a rounding error in their financials. So it's not a high fiscal priority.

    And that there is exactly the problem with Apple today. 
    They stopped innovating and designing great computers to make customer's lives better first -
    Blah, blah, blah... excuse me, but the entire tech buying WORLD, which has made Apple the most successful tech company in the history of tech companies, begs to disagree. Apple is, by orders of magnitude, the tech company that has weathered the tech downturn best, owing no doubt, to halting innovation and making computers that help make the lives of its customers worse. Those are always great selling points! But hey, you can join the Apple Cassandra support group that has been saying this same tired thing for 30-odd years. 
    Apple has weathered downturns because of iPhone. Otherwise what nearly happened to Apple in the early to mid nineties would have happened in the last ten years.
    Apple weathered the 2001 recession without the help of the iPhone. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 50 of 60
    mjtomlin said:
    mfryd said:
    I think the author of this article is reading too much into Bob Borchers' statement. While Apple may very well be working on an Apple Silicon based Mac Pro.  I don't think Bob Borchers' statement speaks to that issue.

    "Taking the entire product line to Apple Silicon" might mean that any Mac model with an Intel processor will be discontinued.  This doesn't seem to be a statement that every Mac model will survive the transition.

    Consider that taking the iMac to Apple Silicon involved dropping the 27" model.   



    That system was replaced by the Mac Studio. Consider the following...

    The Intel 27" iMac was dropped when the Mac Studio was released.
    The Intel Mac mini was dropped when the M2 Pro mini was released.
    The Intel Mac Pro has not been dropped, because they haven't released a replacement... The Mac Studio was not meant to replace it.

    That's not to say we won't see another large iMac. I believe the M1 Pro/Max was not what they wanted to put in a larger iMac. Just as the M1 Pro never made it into the mini. I'd be willing to bet we will eventually see a larger iMac with Mx Pro, and possibly Mx Max.

    We're supposedly getting a larger MacBook Air soon. Maybe they'll also finally release an M2 iMac and alongside it, a larger iMac with M2 Pro/Max?
    They literally said the Mac Pro was coming in even where they Mac Studio was announced. 
    macike
  • Reply 51 of 60
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,461member
    Serqetry said:
    That is what I've always thought.  If Apple doesn't design a new ARM chip series for the Mac Pro that exceeds the limitations of the SoC M-series, there's really no reason at all to even make a new Mac Pro.  The dumb rumors about an M2 Ultra Mac Pro make no sense.  I think that is more likely to be misinterpreted info related to an upcoming M2 Mac Studio refresh.

    There might be a new Mac Pro coming too, but it has to do a lot better than M2 Ultra... and it probably isn't coming as soon as people believe.
    Why?  The Mac Pro is about a tower chassis with expansion capabilities.  There’s no rule that says it has to have higher performance than every other model.  The Studio has good thermals and that’s the primary limitation when it comes to performance.  And while it’s nice to think Apple could crank out a SoC just for the Mac Pro, the economics of doing that don’t make much sense:  they just don’t move enough volume to warrant it.  When using Intel they had the luxury of a buffet of workstation and server class chips, plus AMD and/or nVidia to provide a selection of GPUs.  This is no longer true with ASi, so they need to figure out how to scale high enough without over investing.  Tricky problem.  

    The whole M1 series was an impressive exercise in scaling, and if they can improve on the M1 Ultra’s efficiency bottlenecks then the M2 Ultra will be even more impressive.  It isn’t going to satisfy the discrete GPU adherents though, so either Apple backtracks and uses an AMD GPU (which kind of undermines their strategy), or they use multiple M2s (some sort of grid compute software solution), or they just stick with the M2 Ultra (for now, until they can improve their scaling story further) and put it in a slotted chassis, or they put off the Mac Pro until M3 (which leaves a hole in their product line).  My guess is they’ll use an M2 Ultra, perhaps clock it a bit higher, and focus on expandability… but at least have a product.  M3 is spooling up this year though, so perhaps a bit more delay and launch the next architecture with the Mac Pro?
    tenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 52 of 60
    Serqetry said:
    That is what I've always thought.  If Apple doesn't design a new ARM chip series for the Mac Pro that exceeds the limitations of the SoC M-series, there's really no reason at all to even make a new Mac Pro.  The dumb rumors about an M2 Ultra Mac Pro make no sense.  I think that is more likely to be misinterpreted info related to an upcoming M2 Mac Studio refresh.

    There might be a new Mac Pro coming too, but it has to do a lot better than M2 Ultra... and it probably isn't coming as soon as people believe.
    Why?  The Mac Pro is about a tower chassis with expansion capabilities.  There’s no rule that says it has to have higher performance than every other model.  The Studio has good thermals and that’s the primary limitation when it comes to performance.  And while it’s nice to think Apple could crank out a SoC just for the Mac Pro, the economics of doing that don’t make much sense:  they just don’t move enough volume to warrant it.  When using Intel they had the luxury of a buffet of workstation and server class chips, plus AMD and/or nVidia to provide a selection of GPUs.  This is no longer true with ASi, so they need to figure out how to scale high enough without over investing.  Tricky problem.  

    The whole M1 series was an impressive exercise in scaling, and if they can improve on the M1 Ultra’s efficiency bottlenecks then the M2 Ultra will be even more impressive.  It isn’t going to satisfy the discrete GPU adherents though, so either Apple backtracks and uses an AMD GPU (which kind of undermines their strategy), or they use multiple M2s (some sort of grid compute software solution), or they just stick with the M2 Ultra (for now, until they can improve their scaling story further) and put it in a slotted chassis, or they put off the Mac Pro until M3 (which leaves a hole in their product line).  My guess is they’ll use an M2 Ultra, perhaps clock it a bit higher, and focus on expandability… but at least have a product.  M3 is spooling up this year though, so perhaps a bit more delay and launch the next architecture with the Mac Pro?
    Most people don't care much about expandability, and Apple sure doesn't.  No one needs the equivalent of an M2 Ultra Mac Studio inside a cheesegrater case.  Apple needs to make something very different from current ASi machines if they want anyone to buy it, and that means way more RAM, much more powerful GPU, etc... whether you order it that way or add it later isn't as important.
    watto_cobramjtomlinmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 53 of 60
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    mjtomlin said:
    mfryd said:
    I think the author of this article is reading too much into Bob Borchers' statement. While Apple may very well be working on an Apple Silicon based Mac Pro.  I don't think Bob Borchers' statement speaks to that issue.

    "Taking the entire product line to Apple Silicon" might mean that any Mac model with an Intel processor will be discontinued.  This doesn't seem to be a statement that every Mac model will survive the transition.

    Consider that taking the iMac to Apple Silicon involved dropping the 27" model.   



    That system was replaced by the Mac Studio. Consider the following...

    The Intel 27" iMac was dropped when the Mac Studio was released.
    The Intel Mac mini was dropped when the M2 Pro mini was released.
    The Intel Mac Pro has not been dropped, because they haven't released a replacement... The Mac Studio was not meant to replace it.

    That's not to say we won't see another large iMac. I believe the M1 Pro/Max was not what they wanted to put in a larger iMac. Just as the M1 Pro never made it into the mini. I'd be willing to bet we will eventually see a larger iMac with Mx Pro, and possibly Mx Max.

    We're supposedly getting a larger MacBook Air soon. Maybe they'll also finally release an M2 iMac and alongside it, a larger iMac with M2 Pro/Max?
    They literally said the Mac Pro was coming in even where they Mac Studio was announced. 

    Yes, you are correct. But when I said...

    "That system was replaced by the Mac Studio. "

    That system = 27" iMac.
    macike
  • Reply 54 of 60
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    Serqetry said:
    That is what I've always thought.  If Apple doesn't design a new ARM chip series for the Mac Pro that exceeds the limitations of the SoC M-series, there's really no reason at all to even make a new Mac Pro.  The dumb rumors about an M2 Ultra Mac Pro make no sense.  I think that is more likely to be misinterpreted info related to an upcoming M2 Mac Studio refresh.

    There might be a new Mac Pro coming too, but it has to do a lot better than M2 Ultra... and it probably isn't coming as soon as people believe.
    Why?  The Mac Pro is about a tower chassis with expansion capabilities.  There’s no rule that says it has to have higher performance than every other model.  The Studio has good thermals and that’s the primary limitation when it comes to performance.  And while it’s nice to think Apple could crank out a SoC just for the Mac Pro, the (1) economics of doing that don’t make much sense:  they just don’t move enough volume to warrant it.  When using Intel they had the luxury of a buffet of workstation and server class chips, plus AMD and/or nVidia to provide a selection of GPUs.  This is no longer true with ASi, so they need to figure out how to scale high enough without over investing.  Tricky problem.  

    The whole M1 series was an impressive exercise in scaling, and if they can improve on the M1 Ultra’s efficiency bottlenecks then the M2 Ultra will be even more impressive.  It isn’t going to satisfy the discrete GPU adherents though, so either Apple backtracks and uses an AMD GPU (which kind of undermines their strategy), or they use multiple M2s (some sort of grid compute software solution), or they just stick with the M2 Ultra (for now, until they can improve their scaling story further) and put it in a slotted chassis, or they put off the Mac Pro until M3 (which leaves a hole in their product line).  My guess is they’ll use an M2 Ultra, perhaps clock it a bit higher, and focus on expandability… but at least have a product.  M3 is spooling up this year though, so perhaps a bit more delay and launch the next architecture with the Mac Pro?

    1. The Mac Pro is already expensive because of this reason. For Apple, the biggest chunk of cost for their custom silicon is in R&D. They can get away with producing SoCs for the Mac because those SoCs use the very same core designs as the A-series. So the cost is covered by A-series volumes. It just a matter of plugging the blocks together to make a different SoC, or even a different chip altogether. The proof is in the fact that Apple has a huge line of SoCs (A, M, T, W, H, U, S-SiP) that all interchangeably use the same core IP blocks. So, creating a custom "X-series" CPU and/or custom "G-series" GPU for a high-margin system that uses the same IP as all their other silicon designs is not that difficult to believe.

    I do agree that the Mac Pro "SoC" does not necessarily need to be more performant than the "Ultra", but it does need to be more flexible. Otherwise, it is just a Mac Studio with slots, which is a system they could've already released. And if they truly didn't care about the Mac Pro and what it represents, they would've done just that. And it would be an abject failure as a vast majority of users interested in a system like the Mac Pro are mainly interested in expandability and flexibility.
    edited March 2023 macike
  • Reply 55 of 60
    mjtomlin said:
    Serqetry said:
    That is what I've always thought.  If Apple doesn't design a new ARM chip series for the Mac Pro that exceeds the limitations of the SoC M-series, there's really no reason at all to even make a new Mac Pro.  The dumb rumors about an M2 Ultra Mac Pro make no sense.  I think that is more likely to be misinterpreted info related to an upcoming M2 Mac Studio refresh.

    There might be a new Mac Pro coming too, but it has to do a lot better than M2 Ultra... and it probably isn't coming as soon as people believe.
    Why?  The Mac Pro is about a tower chassis with expansion capabilities.  There’s no rule that says it has to have higher performance than every other model.  The Studio has good thermals and that’s the primary limitation when it comes to performance.  And while it’s nice to think Apple could crank out a SoC just for the Mac Pro, the (1) economics of doing that don’t make much sense:  they just don’t move enough volume to warrant it.  When using Intel they had the luxury of a buffet of workstation and server class chips, plus AMD and/or nVidia to provide a selection of GPUs.  This is no longer true with ASi, so they need to figure out how to scale high enough without over investing.  Tricky problem.  

    The whole M1 series was an impressive exercise in scaling, and if they can improve on the M1 Ultra’s efficiency bottlenecks then the M2 Ultra will be even more impressive.  It isn’t going to satisfy the discrete GPU adherents though, so either Apple backtracks and uses an AMD GPU (which kind of undermines their strategy), or they use multiple M2s (some sort of grid compute software solution), or they just stick with the M2 Ultra (for now, until they can improve their scaling story further) and put it in a slotted chassis, or they put off the Mac Pro until M3 (which leaves a hole in their product line).  My guess is they’ll use an M2 Ultra, perhaps clock it a bit higher, and focus on expandability… but at least have a product.  M3 is spooling up this year though, so perhaps a bit more delay and launch the next architecture with the Mac Pro?

    1. The Mac Pro is already expensive because of this reason. For Apple, the biggest chunk of cost for their custom silicon is in R&D. They can get away with producing SoCs for the Mac because those SoCs use the very same core designs as the A-series. So the cost is covered by A-series volumes. It just a matter of plugging the blocks together to make a different SoC, or even a different chip altogether. The proof is in the fact that Apple has a huge line of SoCs (A, M, T, W, H, U, S-SiP) that all interchangeably use the same core IP blocks. So, creating a custom "X-series" CPU and/or custom "G-series" GPU for a high-margin system that uses the same IP as all their other silicon designs is not that difficult to believe.

    I do agree that the Mac Pro "SoC" does not necessarily need to be more performant than the "Ultra", but it does need to be more flexible. Otherwise, it is just a Mac Studio with slots, which is a system they could've already released. And if they truly didn't care about the Mac Pro and what it represents, they would've done just that. And it would be an abject failure as a vast majority of users interested in a system like the Mac Pro are mainly interested in expandability and flexibility.
    You’re not accounting for an essential component of what you’re proposing. The Apple Silicon lines that have graphics (A, M, S) have it integrated on the silicon. The only partial exception (so far) is the M1 Ultra, which uses a silicon interconnect fabric developed by TSMC to “fuse” two M1 Max together.

    Using silicon for an interposer is expensive. That’s why AMD developed Infinity Fabric (now “Infinity Architecture”), which doesn’t use silicon. To do what you suggest, Apple would need to develop something similar. PCIe isn’t the answer, not with Unified Memory Architecture to consider, along with things like Neural Engine(s).

    One realistic solution close to what you’re talking about would be to create another entry in the M-series Pro-Max progression: the Pro has one CPU unit and one GPU unit, the Max has one CPU unit and two GPU units, so the hypothetical “Max Extended” would have one CPU and four GPUs. So then you’d have the Ultra (2x Max) and the Ultra Extended (2x Max Extended). That’s a lot of silicon, and they would be expensive, but they would also have the kind of compelling performance Apple has said they are looking for.
    edited March 2023
  • Reply 56 of 60
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    mjtomlin said:
    Serqetry said:
    That is what I've always thought.  If Apple doesn't design a new ARM chip series for the Mac Pro that exceeds the limitations of the SoC M-series, there's really no reason at all to even make a new Mac Pro.  The dumb rumors about an M2 Ultra Mac Pro make no sense.  I think that is more likely to be misinterpreted info related to an upcoming M2 Mac Studio refresh.

    There might be a new Mac Pro coming too, but it has to do a lot better than M2 Ultra... and it probably isn't coming as soon as people believe.
    Why?  The Mac Pro is about a tower chassis with expansion capabilities.  There’s no rule that says it has to have higher performance than every other model.  The Studio has good thermals and that’s the primary limitation when it comes to performance.  And while it’s nice to think Apple could crank out a SoC just for the Mac Pro, the (1) economics of doing that don’t make much sense:  they just don’t move enough volume to warrant it.  When using Intel they had the luxury of a buffet of workstation and server class chips, plus AMD and/or nVidia to provide a selection of GPUs.  This is no longer true with ASi, so they need to figure out how to scale high enough without over investing.  Tricky problem.  

    The whole M1 series was an impressive exercise in scaling, and if they can improve on the M1 Ultra’s efficiency bottlenecks then the M2 Ultra will be even more impressive.  It isn’t going to satisfy the discrete GPU adherents though, so either Apple backtracks and uses an AMD GPU (which kind of undermines their strategy), or they use multiple M2s (some sort of grid compute software solution), or they just stick with the M2 Ultra (for now, until they can improve their scaling story further) and put it in a slotted chassis, or they put off the Mac Pro until M3 (which leaves a hole in their product line).  My guess is they’ll use an M2 Ultra, perhaps clock it a bit higher, and focus on expandability… but at least have a product.  M3 is spooling up this year though, so perhaps a bit more delay and launch the next architecture with the Mac Pro?

    1. The Mac Pro is already expensive because of this reason. For Apple, the biggest chunk of cost for their custom silicon is in R&D. They can get away with producing SoCs for the Mac because those SoCs use the very same core designs as the A-series. So the cost is covered by A-series volumes. It just a matter of plugging the blocks together to make a different SoC, or even a different chip altogether. The proof is in the fact that Apple has a huge line of SoCs (A, M, T, W, H, U, S-SiP) that all interchangeably use the same core IP blocks. So, creating a custom "X-series" CPU and/or custom "G-series" GPU for a high-margin system that uses the same IP as all their other silicon designs is not that difficult to believe.

    I do agree that the Mac Pro "SoC" does not necessarily need to be more performant than the "Ultra", but it does need to be more flexible. Otherwise, it is just a Mac Studio with slots, which is a system they could've already released. And if they truly didn't care about the Mac Pro and what it represents, they would've done just that. And it would be an abject failure as a vast majority of users interested in a system like the Mac Pro are mainly interested in expandability and flexibility.
    You’re not accounting for an essential component of what you’re proposing. The Apple Silicon lines that have graphics (A, M, S) have it integrated on the silicon. The only partial exception (so far) is the M1 Ultra, which uses a silicon interconnect fabric developed by TSMC to “fuse” two M1 Max together.

    Using silicon for an interposer is expensive. That’s why AMD developed Infinity Fabric (now “Infinity Architecture”), which doesn’t use silicon. To do what you suggest, Apple would need to develop something similar. PCIe isn’t the answer, not with Unified Memory Architecture to consider, along with things like Neural Engine(s).

    One realistic solution close to what you’re talking about would be to create another entry in the M-series Pro-Max progression: the Pro has one CPU unit and one GPU unit, the Max has one CPU unit and two GPU units, so the hypothetical “Max Extended” would have one CPU and four GPUs. So then you’d have the Ultra (2x Max) and the Ultra Extended (2x Max Extended). That’s a lot of silicon, and they would be expensive, but they would also have the kind of compelling performance Apple has said they are looking for.

    You're getting hung up on Apple's marketing for their SoCs, which are designed and optimized for highly integrated systems, i.e. systems that are almost completely self-contained and not expandable. There's no reason the Mac Pro needs an integrated GPU or have a UMA. They can get rid of the SoC (System on Chip) and continue to use System on Board design of the current Mac Pro. They can do this by creating an ASi drop in replacement for the Intel Xeon and an ASi GPU MPX module along side the AMD models.

    Current Mac Pro w/ Intel Xeon supports 64 PCIe gen. 3 lanes is any SoC going to be able to support that kind of system-wide throughput? And it gets even higher should Apple decide to move to gen. 4 or even 5.
  • Reply 57 of 60
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,461member
    Serqetry said:
    Most people don't care much about expandability, and Apple sure doesn't.  No one needs the equivalent of an M2 Ultra Mac Studio inside a cheesegrater case.  Apple needs to make something very different from current ASi machines if they want anyone to buy it, and that means way more RAM, much more powerful GPU, etc... whether you order it that way or add it later isn't as important.
    And most people don’t buy a Mac Pro.  The sales of that line are tiny compared to the high volume products.  If you don’t need the big chassis with its slots and drivebays, buy a Studio.  The number of users that require more than the 192GB memory an Ultra will be capable of providing is minuscule, and even those are likely fine (or even better off) with a flash or RAM based VMM solution.  Terabyte level RAM sizes are almost exclusively used in cloud servers running large numbers of workloads across many virtual machines, as opposed to a single workload that needs that much.  

    Workloads that *are* that large can usually be divided into multiple sub tasks running as a distributed process across many hosts (ie “grid computing”)… and it is usually a good idea to do that for various reasons… but how many of those want to run on macOS instead of a server farm using Linux?  

    But if you did have a Mac Pro workstation with a PCI-E backplane as it’s communication fabric, then you could pack a lot of M2 Ultra cards into one box and have a “cluster-in-a-box” kind of arrangement where every card brings up to 192GB of RAM, a bunch of CPUs/GPUs/NPUs/MediaProcessors, maintaining a more even balance between the components.  And thanks to ASi’s excellent power/heat characteristics Apple could do that way more effectively than Intel, and could likely compete pretty well against nVidia and its big multi-GPU boxes.

    That doesn’t require Apple to design yet another chip, which despite being built out of common components is really challenging.  Building chips which are higher performance out of the same components is very hard because you quickly start running into many bottlenecks.  The M1 Ultra didn’t scale as well as the Max for that reason, and the harder you push to scale the more bottlenecks you hit.  So rather than a huge investment at the chip level, having the Mac Pro do a system level scaling is likely way more cost effective for Apple.
    edited March 2023 tenthousandthingsmacike
  • Reply 58 of 60
    mjtomlin said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Serqetry said:
    That is what I've always thought.  If Apple doesn't design a new ARM chip series for the Mac Pro that exceeds the limitations of the SoC M-series, there's really no reason at all to even make a new Mac Pro.  The dumb rumors about an M2 Ultra Mac Pro make no sense.  I think that is more likely to be misinterpreted info related to an upcoming M2 Mac Studio refresh.

    There might be a new Mac Pro coming too, but it has to do a lot better than M2 Ultra... and it probably isn't coming as soon as people believe.
    Why?  The Mac Pro is about a tower chassis with expansion capabilities.  There’s no rule that says it has to have higher performance than every other model.  The Studio has good thermals and that’s the primary limitation when it comes to performance.  And while it’s nice to think Apple could crank out a SoC just for the Mac Pro, the (1) economics of doing that don’t make much sense:  they just don’t move enough volume to warrant it.  When using Intel they had the luxury of a buffet of workstation and server class chips, plus AMD and/or nVidia to provide a selection of GPUs.  This is no longer true with ASi, so they need to figure out how to scale high enough without over investing.  Tricky problem.  

    The whole M1 series was an impressive exercise in scaling, and if they can improve on the M1 Ultra’s efficiency bottlenecks then the M2 Ultra will be even more impressive.  It isn’t going to satisfy the discrete GPU adherents though, so either Apple backtracks and uses an AMD GPU (which kind of undermines their strategy), or they use multiple M2s (some sort of grid compute software solution), or they just stick with the M2 Ultra (for now, until they can improve their scaling story further) and put it in a slotted chassis, or they put off the Mac Pro until M3 (which leaves a hole in their product line).  My guess is they’ll use an M2 Ultra, perhaps clock it a bit higher, and focus on expandability… but at least have a product.  M3 is spooling up this year though, so perhaps a bit more delay and launch the next architecture with the Mac Pro?

    1. The Mac Pro is already expensive because of this reason. For Apple, the biggest chunk of cost for their custom silicon is in R&D. They can get away with producing SoCs for the Mac because those SoCs use the very same core designs as the A-series. So the cost is covered by A-series volumes. It just a matter of plugging the blocks together to make a different SoC, or even a different chip altogether. The proof is in the fact that Apple has a huge line of SoCs (A, M, T, W, H, U, S-SiP) that all interchangeably use the same core IP blocks. So, creating a custom "X-series" CPU and/or custom "G-series" GPU for a high-margin system that uses the same IP as all their other silicon designs is not that difficult to believe.

    I do agree that the Mac Pro "SoC" does not necessarily need to be more performant than the "Ultra", but it does need to be more flexible. Otherwise, it is just a Mac Studio with slots, which is a system they could've already released. And if they truly didn't care about the Mac Pro and what it represents, they would've done just that. And it would be an abject failure as a vast majority of users interested in a system like the Mac Pro are mainly interested in expandability and flexibility.
    You’re not accounting for an essential component of what you’re proposing. The Apple Silicon lines that have graphics (A, M, S) have it integrated on the silicon. The only partial exception (so far) is the M1 Ultra, which uses a silicon interconnect fabric developed by TSMC to “fuse” two M1 Max together.

    Using silicon for an interposer is expensive. That’s why AMD developed Infinity Fabric (now “Infinity Architecture”), which doesn’t use silicon. To do what you suggest, Apple would need to develop something similar. PCIe isn’t the answer, not with Unified Memory Architecture to consider, along with things like Neural Engine(s).

    One realistic solution close to what you’re talking about would be to create another entry in the M-series Pro-Max progression: the Pro has one CPU unit and one GPU unit, the Max has one CPU unit and two GPU units, so the hypothetical “Max Extended” would have one CPU and four GPUs. So then you’d have the Ultra (2x Max) and the Ultra Extended (2x Max Extended). That’s a lot of silicon, and they would be expensive, but they would also have the kind of compelling performance Apple has said they are looking for.

    You're getting hung up on Apple's marketing for their SoCs, which are designed and optimized for highly integrated systems, i.e. systems that are almost completely self-contained and not expandable. There's no reason the Mac Pro needs an integrated GPU or have a UMA. They can get rid of the SoC (System on Chip) and continue to use System on Board design of the current Mac Pro. They can do this by creating an ASi drop in replacement for the Intel Xeon and an ASi GPU MPX module along side the AMD models.

    Current Mac Pro w/ Intel Xeon supports 64 PCIe gen. 3 lanes is any SoC going to be able to support that kind of system-wide throughput? And it gets even higher should Apple decide to move to gen. 4 or even 5.
    [NOTE: The following was written prior to seeing Programmer's response to Serqetry above.]

    Well, more power to you, it would be interesting to watch Intel's reaction, but I think you're glossing over the real costs of developing and manufacturing an Apple Silicon drop-in replacement for the Intel CPU. Like Programmer said, the "economics" of that are questionable. These advanced fabrication process nodes that Apple is using are super expensive. When Apple started developing the A15/M2 family, the TSMC N5P node was cutting-edge fab. Sure, the iPhone and iPad absorb it, but we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars in development costs. Adding another big, complex project into that mix is not simple or cheap, even if low-volume. The (rumored) TSMC N3 transition for A17/M3 is even higher-end fab. 

    An MPX 2.0 (e)GPU that uses PCIe 5.0 is more feasible, and arguably is just more about packaging (and software engineering) than anything else, since they can just use the existing M2 Pro/Max GPU design. No more difficult than the "Max Extended" approach I mentioned. 

    I do listen to the marketing, especially these two recent Apple Silicon interviews. I'll admit there's a reading-tea-leaves aspect to it, but I think it's foolish to dismiss it as sales gimmickry. They're sending a message, not just to customers, but to the industry, when they talk about how coming from the extreme thermal constraints of iPhone/iPad (and also MacBook re: M-series) has given them a different sort of approach/perspective and allowed them to do things others have not. It seems pretty clear to me that they have no intention of throwing all that out the window for the Mac Pro, because long-term that is the way forward, even for HPC. Apple is way ahead of the curve.
    edited March 2023 programmermacike
  • Reply 59 of 60
    programmerprogrammer Posts: 3,461member
    It seems like PCI-E gets besmirched a lot, and this isn't fair to the standard.  Firstly, it is the most widely used standard, which is a huge advantage for Apple.  The days of proprietary bus standards by Apple are decades past.  Second, PCI-E 5.0 is very fast -- 64GB/sec on 16 lanes, or 128GB/sec on 32 lanes (if doing large transfers... which can be the case if operating at the memory page level, instead of the cacheline or smaller level).  The original M1 only had approximately that much bandwidth to its in-package memory!  This is much faster than even the fastest data centre networks, which currently top out at around 12.5 GB/sec.  eGPUs work pretty well even at only 5GB/sec.  Third, multiple vendors build PCI-E bridge/switch chips, and PCI-E supports quite complex topologies so interesting "networks" can be built inside a single chassis (or even between chassis given that Thunderbolt is basically PCI-E over a cable).

    If Apple did come up with its own proprietary interconnect, the only chips that would use it would be ASi and that would greatly limit its utility.  And very likely only the Mac Pro would use it because the rest of the lineup is doing quite well with a single large SoC.  While its not impossible that they could license another interconnect and use someone else's GPU (i.e. AMD), that undermines the perception of their competitiveness in the GPU space.  We've only seen their first attempt at a desktop GPU (the M2 isn't particularly different than the M1, it is mostly just an improved process and scaled up a bit), and I'm sure they're working on another significant step forward.

    tenthousandthings
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