Apple Silicon Mac Pro does not support PCI-E Radeon video cards

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
Apple announced the Apple Silicon Mac Pro, and while it packs a punch with M2 Ultra, pro users won't be happy with a lack of Radeon PCI-E video card support.

Apple Silicon Mac Pro at WWDC
Apple Silicon Mac Pro at WWDC

Apple Silicon has finally arrived in the Mac Pro but with it some new limitations that will affect many pro users. There are seven PCI-E expansion slots, but they do not support video cards like the Radeon Pro.

Those purchasing a Mac Pro can choose between a 60-core GPU or a 76-core GPU. RAM can be configured at 64GB, 128GB, or 192GB with a premium upcharge.

Apple provides SSD upgrade kits and a Promise Pegasus 32TB RAID Module in its accessories store. Customers will not have to buy an Afterburner card this generation -- the M2 Ultra is equivalent to having seven installed.

Notably, customers cannot purchase any video cards, nor are they compatible with the gen-4 PCI-E slots in the Mac Pro. Users looking to install powerful graphics cards for gaming, rendering software, or other intensive processes will have to look elsewhere.

Apple says that users should see 3x speed improvements for 3D simulations. Also, video engineers can ingest 24 separate 4K feeds and encode them to ProRes in real-time when using six video I/O cards.

Mac Pro has seven PCI-E expansion slots
Mac Pro has seven PCI-E expansion slots

Gen 4 PCI-E slots enable 2x speed improvements over the Intel Mac Pro. It's not clear why PCI-E generation 5 has not been implemented, but is likely related to channel allocation limits in the M2 processor.

Apple specifically calls out audio pros using digital signal processing cards, video pros using I/O cards, and pros who need additional networking storage. It seems Apple expects users to get by with the integrated M2 Ultra GPUs and nothing else.

The Mac Pro starts at $6,999 and can be configured up to $12,199 with the 76-core GPU, 192GB of RAM, and 8TB of SSD storage. It can be ordered now and initial shipments begin June 13.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    s.metcalfs.metcalf Posts: 968member
    DOA.  Nuff said.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 25
    I actually could see, in the future, there being an option for additional "Apple GPUs" Cards, to increase video memory capability.  I mean, the current gen is apparently enough for even 8K Video, but as video needs increase, I can easily see them offering it as an option.  I'm not talking about an Nvidia or AMD graphics package add-on, but an Apple based GPU add-on, which would also ease software and driver support.
    davAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 25
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,520member
    I'm not the target market for this machine, so am not bothered. But I don't really see why anyone would buy this over an M2 Ultra Studio? I had assumed that Apple would have an M2 Ultra Max, or something, that really pushes the envelope for the Mac Pro and justified its existence...
    bala1234Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 25
    AniMillAniMill Posts: 152member
    The death of the Mac Pro has started. The Mac Studio was always meant to become the content creators’ workhorse. Shame. How cool would a render beast be with multiple video cards. But really, who needs so much local render power any longer - web render farms have become so cheap that keeping up your own farm simply isn’t worth it.
    williamlondonravnorodomJapheyAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 25
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,554member
    I'm more interested in what video cards it does support than what it doesn't.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 25
    mikethemartianmikethemartian Posts: 1,262member
    saarek said:
    I'm not the target market for this machine, so am not bothered. But I don't really see why anyone would buy this over an M2 Ultra Studio? I had assumed that Apple would have an M2 Ultra Max, or something, that really pushes the envelope for the Mac Pro and justified its existence...
    Probably for people who need a portable rig where all the main connections are inside and don’t have to be disconnected and reconnected every time it is moved.
    edited June 2023 rezwitsAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    AniMill said:
    The death of the Mac Pro has started. The Mac Studio was always meant to become the content creators’ workhorse. Shame. How cool would a render beast be with multiple video cards. But really, who needs so much local render power any longer - web render farms have become so cheap that keeping up your own farm simply isn’t worth it.
    Then why the hell would apple have spent the time and money to integrate the M2 Ultra into it? It does the equivalent off 7 afterburner cards as is. Its not cheap to spend R&D money to design these devices. You are also forgetting Audio cards, high speed networking, Internal SSD space.. etc etc.  In the future try and think just a tiny bit more before typing it into a forum post.

    mikethemartian said:
    saarek said:
    I'm not the target market for this machine, so am not bothered. But I don't really see why anyone would buy this over an M2 Ultra Studio? I had assumed that Apple would have an M2 Ultra Max, or something, that really pushes the envelope for the Mac Pro and justified its existence...
    Probably for people who need a portable rig where all the main connections are inside and don’t have to be disconnected and reconnected every time it is moved.
    Off the top of my head you could add a dual 100GBe card, 8x4TB PCIe 4th gen SSDs, and still have 16x PCIe lanes left over. And thats just internal I/O, it still has the same amount of external I/O as the MacStudio on top of all
    I actually could see, in the future, there being an option for additional "Apple GPUs" Cards, to increase video memory capability.  I mean, the current gen is apparently enough for even 8K Video, but as video needs increase, I can easily see them offering it as an option.  I'm not talking about an Nvidia or AMD graphics package add-on, but an Apple based GPU add-on, which would also ease software and driver support.
    Or a card that is just a bunch of neural engine cores. The only issue i can think of is at the additional physical distance from the SoC you start to deal with additional latency in nano seconds. Speed of light is only so fast.


    s.metcalf
     said. 
    DOA.  Nuff said.
    To paraphrase Q from ST:TNG "Oh very good S.Metcalf, eat any good books lately"
    rezwitswilliamlondonDoctorQdavAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 25
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,818administrator
    I'm more interested in what video cards it does support than what it doesn't.
    Just input ones. Nvidia cards haven't been supported for about seven years, and Intel ones have never been supported.
    rezwitsAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,271member
    Interesting they didn't compress the slot layout but all the cards they show only need a single width slot. So lots of air flow for no real reason. 

    Still think GPU is on the way. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobraprogrammer
  • Reply 10 of 25
    HrebHreb Posts: 76member
    Lack of GPU support is a sure sign that Apple is going to return to a 12-18 month product lifecycle for the Mac Pro.  That 76-core GPU may look hot today but you can be sure that AMD, Nvidia, and even Intel are not just going to sit still for the next 5 years.

    Oh, the new Mac Pro is *not* expected to get annual refreshes?  *crickets*
    watto_cobradarkvader
  • Reply 11 of 25
    escargotescargot Posts: 27member
    saarek said:
    I'm not the target market for this machine, so am not bothered. But I don't really see why anyone would buy this over an M2 Ultra Studio? I had assumed that Apple would have an M2 Ultra Max, or something, that really pushes the envelope for the Mac Pro and justified its existence...
    I mean, I feel like they outlined it quite explicitly.  It’s for people who need PCIe slots for expansion.  It’s a Mac Studio with PCIe slots essentially.  The Thunderbolt 4 ports on the Mac Studio only have 4 lanes of PCIe Gen 3 worth of bandwidth.  That’s less than 4GB/s of throughput, and even worse that’s often shared across multiple ports.  The x16 PCIe gen 4 slots of the Mac Pro have almost 32 GB/s of bandwidth, and there’s 7 of them (two 16x, four 8x, one 4x) all with their own independent bandwidth.  Thunderbolt 4 just isn’t even in the same category.
    lotonesAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 25
    xixoxixo Posts: 450member
    will it boot linux natively?

    would be nice...
    watto_cobradarkvader
  • Reply 13 of 25
    forgeforge Posts: 1member
    xixo said:
    will it boot linux natively?

    would be nice...
    I mean, got to get some hardware in hand to test, but there's no reason the current Asahi won't boot on it with a few tweaks. That would also likely enable all Nvidia and AMD GPUs to work in those slots, too, but only in Linux.

    If you get an M2 Mac Pro, send it my way, we'll get Asahi running and I'll send it back to you. I'm not buying one myself, the "Mac Pro" tax has gotten far too ridiculous.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    y2any2an Posts: 184member
    It’s clear. They want to control video and don’t want to create competition on the Mac from video card suppliers. Makes sense, if you want developers to produce write once, run anywhere code for all Macs, you hold off on the custom video cards. This is as has been said for specialist expansion needs only. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 25
    keithwkeithw Posts: 139member
    Sonnettech has a complete line of PCIe/TB4 external chassis for PCIe cards.  This would allow the necessary I/O without investing in a Mac Pro.  I've been using a Sonnettech eGPU enclosure for many years with my 2107 iMac Pro.   It houses my AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT, which (I believe,) still provides better Metal performance than even the highest spec M2 Ultra.  I guess we'll see with the benchmarks...
    watto_cobradarkvader
  • Reply 16 of 25
    keithw said:
    Sonnettech has a complete line of PCIe/TB4 external chassis for PCIe cards.  This would allow the necessary I/O without investing in a Mac Pro.  I've been using a Sonnettech eGPU enclosure for many years with my 2107 iMac Pro.   It houses my AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT, which (I believe,) still provides better Metal performance than even the highest spec M2 Ultra.  I guess we'll see with the benchmarks...
    As long as all you need is TB4 Bandwidth at 4GB/s. The PCIE slots on the Mac Pro have almost 32GB/s.  For high speed IO there's little comparison.  
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    elliots11elliots11 Posts: 290member
    mattinoz said:
    Interesting they didn't compress the slot layout but all the cards they show only need a single width slot. So lots of air flow for no real reason. 

    Still think GPU is on the way. 
    Part of the case design may be that they'd already designed the case and wanted to save money on developing another one, would be a huge waste of money designing that complex case for just one generation.  
    Re: GPUs, I'd love to see GPUs working on this, many would, and I bet we see something like it, but I'm not sure what form it will take.  It seems likely to be a software limitation that GPUs can't be used, and that could be overcome but it's not clear.  Right now the performance is solid on these Mac Pros, in a few years it won't be.  Obviously Apple would say buy a new one, but I wouldn't be surprised if Apple created some kind of roadmap for aftermarket PCI compute units, perhaps made of GPUS that only do compute, later on down the line after the benefits of integrated ARM chips sort of age out and a discrete GPU in combination with the Apple Silicon would yield better results.  Or maybe Apple rolls their own Afterburner2 made of newer SOCs, there is precedent in the Afterburner1.  Or it may be that if it is a software limitation that a workaround is found, then depending on the quality and resilience of the workaround to Apple breaking it is would determine discrete GPU support.  Would really like to know more on how they're stopping it as it doesn't seem there's any physical reason it shouldn't be possible, even if the performance is poor.  Guess we'll see.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    I work in music production, and I know exactly who is going to be buying this machine in my field. Those who run ProTools HDX systems are going to be all over this. External chassis’ for HDX cards over thunderbolt can be somewhat wonky. Having direct access to PCI express is going to be far more preferable. And $7K for a computer, for people who are comfortable spending five figures for a single microphone, isn’t going to be an issue for them. They’ll get seven years out of this machine easy.
    Alex1Ndanoxchadbagwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 25
    elliots11 said:
    Would really like to know more on how they're stopping it as it doesn't seem there's any physical reason it shouldn't be possible, even if the performance is poor.
    The software limitations currently are "no AMD GPU drivers exist for macOS on Apple Silicon", basically the same limitation that kept NVIDIA cards out of Macs since Mojave. On top of that, the second limitation is "no support for using any GPUs other than Apple Silicon, in macOS on AS."

    For current 2019 Mac Pro owners, a further hardware limitation is "no MPX slots on 2023 Mac Pro" therefore no power connection to any existing MPX Mac Pro GPUs, nor integration into Thunderbolt ports' DisplayPort bus.

    PC GPUs could in theory work in Asahi Linux, someday, only after Asahi Linux gets even native Apple Silicon GPU support straightened out, maybe someday they'll be able to port other Linux GPU drivers to Apple Silicon Linux. For Linux apps. Don't hold your breath!

    I actually could see, in the future, there being an option for additional "Apple GPUs" Cards, to increase video memory capability.  
    I was hoping this would come this year! I'm fairly surprised that it didn't, but I think you're right that it could still be possible in the future. Just like the Jade-4C "M3 Extreme" dual-Ultra chip could still be possible, someday. Let's hope this year's "minimum viable Mac Pro" will be surpassed in future years with more than we got this year.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 25
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,681member
    saarek said:
    I'm not the target market for this machine, so am not bothered. But I don't really see why anyone would buy this over an M2 Ultra Studio? I had assumed that Apple would have an M2 Ultra Max, or something, that really pushes the envelope for the Mac Pro and justified its existence...
    The need for a different bigger Form factor and the ability to add I/O cards…… just that simple.
    edited June 2023
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