Afterburner card is a $2,000 add-on for the Mac Pro, and wheels are $400

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited December 2019
The Afterburner card, an optional add-on for the Mac Pro that helps improve the video-editing experience, is priced at $2,000 when ordered preinstalled in the new modular Mac workstation. And, then, there's the $400 wheels.




Found in the just-launched ordering process for the new Mac Pro, the section to add an Apple Afterburner card gives customers the option to add the card to their configuration. Selecting to include the Afterburner in the Mac Pro is a $2,000 add-on, making it an expensive addition with a relatively limited feature set.

An Apple Store page reveals it will be available to purchase separately, at the same $2,000 cost.



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The Afterburner card was revealed at the launch of the new Mac Pro as a way to make the workstation even better for video editing. Technically a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) or a programmable Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), the card is made to run one task at a very high performance, in this case by effectively performing a transcoding process.

The Afterburner revealed on-stage at WWDC 2019's keynote
The Afterburner revealed on-stage at WWDC 2019's keynote


Apple's Afterburner includes over a million logic cells, allowing it process up to 6.3 billion pixels per second. It is designed to handle the encoding and decoding of ProRes and ProRes RAW codecs for Final Cut Pro X and QuickTime Player X, along with some third-party applications, and are typically used only in video production.

According to the ordering page, the Afterburner will be preinstalled in PCI Express slot 5 (x16) "to enable maximum performance."

The limited abilities of the card means it also has a fairly small audience involved in video production, making it a tough buy for industries that don't use video. However there is also the possibility Apple could offer to make changes to the card to allow it to be used for other specific tasks in the future, as it already has the opportunity to improve the card's performance for video tasks via firmware updates.

Mac Pro wheels

While $2000 appears to be a lot of money for an add-on card, at least it adds productivity to the computer. If you want Apple's promised frame with wheels to move the workstation from one desk to another, that retails for an additional $400.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    A field-programmable gate array is literally that: field programmable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-programmable_gate_array?wprov=sfti1

    Customers should be able to push custom firmware down to the hardware on the card to do different tasks of the same class of tasks, like processing Red RAW video instead of ProRes.  Or perhaps other new types of things.  Hopefully Apple will release tools and SDK sooner rather than later, tho probably not til WWDC in June. 
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 15
    I meant to add that $2000 is not a lot of money for this class of hardware. Not at all.  Especially in light of how much time it will save video editors.  There are AUDIO (ONLY) cards that cost more than twice this. 
    [Deleted User]rob53baconstangStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    can you order the wheels separately?  I've always wished Apple would release inline skates, so thinking I could make my own.
    razorpitcaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    A field-programmable gate array is literally that: field programmable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-programmable_gate_array?wprov=sfti1

    Customers should be able to push custom firmware down to the hardware on the card to do different tasks of the same class of tasks, like processing Red RAW video instead of ProRes.  Or perhaps other new types of things.  Hopefully Apple will release tools and SDK sooner rather than later, tho probably not til WWDC in June. 
    the article says FPGA and then ASIC, which is it? because yeah, like you say, if it is FPGA then why wouldn’t it be super useful for all manner of industries.

    Design a reconfigure and it becomes an image analyser or something designed for massive database searches.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,889administrator
    A field-programmable gate array is literally that: field programmable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-programmable_gate_array?wprov=sfti1

    Customers should be able to push custom firmware down to the hardware on the card to do different tasks of the same class of tasks, like processing Red RAW video instead of ProRes.  Or perhaps other new types of things.  Hopefully Apple will release tools and SDK sooner rather than later, tho probably not til WWDC in June. 
    the article says FPGA and then ASIC, which is it? because yeah, like you say, if it is FPGA then why wouldn’t it be super useful for all manner of industries.

    Design a reconfigure and it becomes an image analyser or something designed for massive database searches.
    You'll have to talk to Apple specifically about what this means. They're the ones calling it both.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 1,128member
    A field-programmable gate array is literally that: field programmable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-programmable_gate_array?wprov=sfti1

    Customers should be able to push custom firmware down to the hardware on the card to do different tasks of the same class of tasks, like processing Red RAW video instead of ProRes.  Or perhaps other new types of things.  Hopefully Apple will release tools and SDK sooner rather than later, tho probably not til WWDC in June. 
    The store page mentions "along with some third-party applications" so it looks like Apple already has some SDK tools in circulation. Adobe seems likely. AVID maybe.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,678member
    A field-programmable gate array is literally that: field programmable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-programmable_gate_array?wprov=sfti1

    Customers should be able to push custom firmware down to the hardware on the card to do different tasks of the same class of tasks, like processing Red RAW video instead of ProRes.  Or perhaps other new types of things.  Hopefully Apple will release tools and SDK sooner rather than later, tho probably not til WWDC in June. 
    the article says FPGA and then ASIC, which is it? because yeah, like you say, if it is FPGA then why wouldn’t it be super useful for all manner of industries.

    Design a reconfigure and it becomes an image analyser or something designed for massive database searches.

    It's both... The FPGA is programmed to be a ProRes ASIC. In theory, the FPGA could be reprogrammed as some other ASIC, for audio, images, other video functions, etc...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 15
    How long until someone complains that the wheels (and frame), at US$400, cost more than their car?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    $400 for wheels.... Apple literally and figuratively telling its customers "fcuk you pay me!" with that price.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    How, exactly, does anyone justify $400 wheels for a fucking computer???
  • Reply 11 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    I mean, is that some kind of joke??????
  • Reply 12 of 15
    can you order the wheels separately?  I've always wished Apple would release inline skates, so thinking I could make my own.
    “How much for one rib—er, wheel?” 😎
    razorpit
  • Reply 13 of 15

    dysamoria said:
    I mean, is that some kind of joke??????
    You weren’t going to buy one anyway, so is your complaining about pretend parts for your pretend computer a joke?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,965member

    dysamoria said:
    I mean, is that some kind of joke??????
    You weren’t going to buy one anyway, so is your complaining about pretend parts for your pretend computer a joke?
    The Mac Pro is not a pretend computer, nor are the $400 wheels pretend parts. The fact that s/he may not be buying them doesn’t make the price any more reasonable. 
    chemengin1
  • Reply 15 of 15
    Yeah... just spent $53k on a mobile workstation... but I didn’t go for ‘their’ wheels. Pfft, way too much. Got me some casters from homedepot for $9.99.

    Did anyone stop to think that these wheels are likely just a little bit more than just cheap casters?  I mean they are responsible for supporting a critical piece of equipment, and would be used heavily if chosen as an option. I mean you wouldn’t buy the wheels if you weren’t going to use them... right?
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