Mac Pro in danger after fumbled Apple Silicon launch

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware

There may be a long wait for the next Mac Pro to surface, if another one comes at all, with a report offering that the desktop Mac model is on thin ice.




The newest Mac Pro made the eventual switch over to Apple Silicon, but didn't receive the usual acclaim and welcome that other Mac Pro releases received after launch. There's a chance that Apple's fumbled Mac Pro update could lead to it giving up on the model for the moment.

As part of a discussion of the M3 chip roadmap, Mark Gurman mentioned in the "Power On" newsletter for Bloomberg about the Mac Pro. In explaining which models should receive the M3 Ultra chip, Gurman says the list is the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro, "if Apple continues making those."

The aside to the reader isn't a good sign for fans of the Mac Pro, which was previously seen as the most powerful and flexible Mac for professionals to use as a workstation.

With the introduction of the Apple Silicon model, some elements of the Mac Pro's utility became less impressive, in part due to the existence of the Mac Studio. With both the Mac Pro and Mac Studio able to use Apple Silicon, and with the Mac Studio being generally cheaper to purchase, it made the Mac Pro a hard purchase for anyone just wanting high levels of performance.

The other big factor picked up in reviews and comparisons is that the PCIe expansion options of the Mac Pro are really limited. The Intel version enabled select graphics cards to be installed and used, but that is not available in the Apple Silicon version at all.

Indeed, if Apple Silicon did hypothetically support discrete GPUs, there was also the argument of buying a Mac Studio and an external GPU enclosure instead of spending extra for the Mac Pro.

It is possible to expand the Mac Pro, albeit with other types of PCIe cards and a limited amount of storage. The user-serviceable memory of the Intel version was also culled for Apple Silicon, severely limiting the amount of memory that the Apple Silicon-based model could hold.

If Apple were to continue making the Mac Pro, it would need to address the major shortcomings that were key to the model's existence for it to become a success. For the moment, if Gurman's comment turns out to be a true indicator, Apple may step back from the Mac Pro for a long time to regroup, or potentially give up on the Mac Pro entirely in its current form.

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,492member
    Just checked Apple’s leadership team profiles on https://www.apple.com/leadership/. Did I miss something? I don’t see Mark Gurman’s profile anywhere on that site. Where does he sit in Apple’s leadership team that decides the execution of Apple’s product strategy?
    williamlondonAlex1NmacxpressFileMakerFellerbloggerblogkingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 2 of 65
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 907member
    Only Apple has the customer data to tell them what's "worth it" or not in terms of R&D and production investment, but with the high-end Mac Studio now taking at least some of what was already a very limited market for the Mac Pro, I'm not surprised to read that its future is on thin ice. It would probably take a big investment of both money and human talent to create a next gen Mac Pro that is significantly faster and more expandable than Mac Studio and I'm not sure the market for such a machine is big enough to justify that investment for a sprawling, $3 trillion company. 
    edited August 2023 tmayAlex1NmainyehcFileMakerFellerAlex_V
  • Reply 3 of 65
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,832member
    charlesn said:
    Only Apple has the customer data to tell them what's "worth it" or not in terms of R&D and production investment, but with the high-end Mac Studio now taking at least some of what was already a very limited market for the Mac Pro, I'm not surprised to read that its future is on thin ice. It would probably take a big investment of both money and human talent to create a next gen Mac Pro that is significantly faster and more expandable than Mac Studio and I'm not sure the market for such a machine is big enough to justify that investment for a sprawling, $3 trillion company. 
    On the other hand, they found the time to engineer some ridiculously expensive wheels for the Pro and I'm sure the market for a 'low end tower' never even went away and they still refused to produce such a machine.

    The closest they got was with the new Mini. 
    edited August 2023 elijahgAlex1Nmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 4 of 65
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,897member
    dewme said:
    Just checked Apple’s leadership team profiles on https://www.apple.com/leadership/. Did I miss something? I don’t see Mark Gurman’s profile anywhere on that site. Where does he sit in Apple’s leadership team that decides the execution of Apple’s product strategy?
    Word is that Gurman, and other Bloomberg writers, get paid a bonus for articles that move a company's stock price. He and others there have a financial incentive to make provocative statements (remember the now entirely debunked Big Hack article that Bloomberg never retracted?) to try and affect the stock price. By couching them as hypotheticals they avoid the hits their credibility ought to take.

    The bottom line is that anything published by Bloomberg must be taken with a very large grain of salt.
    dewmewilliamlondonAlex1NmacxpressFileMakerFellerOferbloggerblogMacProwatto_cobrakingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 5 of 65
    I think they should abandon the Mac Pro  and revive the Mac Server with drive trays, slots for IO and redundancy. That would sell considering the power efficiency of the M series chips.
    ciaAlex1NdarkvaderDavidEsratiFileMakerFellerOctoMonkeywatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 65
    dewme said:
    Just checked Apple’s leadership team profiles on https://www.apple.com/leadership/. Did I miss something? I don’t see Mark Gurman’s profile anywhere on that site. Where does he sit in Apple’s leadership team that decides the execution of Apple’s product strategy?
    Word is that Gurman, and other Bloomberg writers, get paid a bonus for articles that move a company's stock price. He and others there have a financial incentive to make provocative statements (remember the now entirely debunked Big Hack article that Bloomberg never retracted?) to try and affect the stock price. By couching them as hypotheticals they avoid the hits their credibility ought to take.

    The bottom line is that anything published by Bloomberg must be taken with a very large grain of salt.
    So in other words, Apple Insider is spreading misinformation. 
    Oferkingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 7 of 65
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,212member
    The biggest fail of all with the 2023 Mac Pro is it doesn’t have enough PCIE lanes to support all of its slots. Add one 16x card and you’ll be fine, but add a second and they each get only 8x. This is super sleezy in my opinion.
    williamlondondewmeAlex1NdarkvaderFileMakerFellerAlex_VOctoMonkey
  • Reply 8 of 65
    jdiamondjdiamond Posts: 129member
    The biggest apparent technical issue seems to be the failure of the quad-die Apple Silicon chip.  Perhaps they could make up for this with a dual socket system?  In principle, GPU support is a driver issue, not a HW issue.  It'd also be great if they found a way to do a two tiered memory system, so you could add terabytes of DRAM to the embedded system.  It sounds difficult, but Apple already pulled something similar off with the old two tiered SSD/HDD systems.  You'd let the 192GB of on-die RAM page out to the 8 TB of DIMMs.

    I think the main reason to design and support the Mac Pro, even if it loses money overall, is the halo effect.  People who love to use the MacOS, but need to do a larger scale project, particularly with GPUs, suddenly find they are forced to leave the Mac eco system. Just knowing that it is possible to still use MacOS at the higher end provides a layer of comfort in Mac based businesses thinking of expanding in the future.  It also might help with other products on Apple's road map, if it gains them experience in pushing Apple Silicon and GPUs to higher performance levels.

    Alex1NdarkvaderAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 65
    maltzmaltz Posts: 474member
    The Mac Pro has been a MASSIVELY overpriced after-thought that they toss out a new model just often enough to keep the hardest of the hard-core on the hook since the last of the cheese graters was released in 2012 - and even that was 2-3 years since the previous update, iirc.  It's hard not to imagine the designers even surprising themselves at how much they can get people to pay for these machines, and even more so, upgrades and accessories.  Even Monster Cable would blush at some of this stuff.  ($750 for a set of coaster wheels... I'd REALLY like to see a cogent justification for that.  Not that the wheels aren't that good - maybe they are - but why you'd need such expensive precision quality to wheel around a computer!)
    edited August 2023 williamlondonAlex1Nravnorodommacikedarkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 65
    Fear porn.
    Alex1NoberpongoFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 65
    HrebHreb Posts: 85member
    I think they should abandon the Mac Pro  and revive the Mac Server with drive trays, slots for IO and redundancy. That would sell considering the power efficiency of the M series chips.
    Who would want to own an expensive Mac Server when AWS Graviton is *right there*?  Apple's product is distinguished as a user device, and that's where they can justify a price premium.
    Alex1NAlex_Vbloggerblogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 65
    mayflymayfly Posts: 385member
    Pretty simple business solution. Making money, keep. Not making money, drop.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 65
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,541member
    Apple will likely release the next version with the anticipated dual ultra SoC. Without that it’s really a largely pointless product and Apple knows it.

    For whatever reason they could not get the volume right on such a combination for this launch and wanted to finish the transition to Apple Silicon so pushed the Mac Pro out as it was.

    It’ll all come right in the end.
    williamlondondewmeAlex1Nspliff monkeyAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 65
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,061member

    Stick a fork in it, Apple’s, path isn’t the same as Intel, AMD, Nvidia and soon Qualcomm (who coincidentally is closest to Apples path in the future), the path Apple is on involves using less wattage and lower megahertz combined fast efficient chips with longer battery life for laptops and a in house GPU across-the-board in all their products, and the future will be even clearer with the introduction of the Apple Vision Pro first generation next year, getting that first generation product into something that fits into a frame of glasses. Can’t include all those third-party hanger on companies that has ship sailed.


    There are still many companies that need additional real time I/O particularly audio and video capture and playback using pci-cards which is a cleaner install with a card than, using a Studio Mac and plugging in separate boxes and power cables, and using thunderbolt connections. The form factor sometimes is just as important if not more important than the components inside the computer.


    The pros and the cons….


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH8_2u7-JVI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4m0c5BRpiA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH8_2u7-JVI


    edited August 2023 williamlondonAlex1NradarthekatmacikebadmonkFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 65
    ciacia Posts: 262member
    jdiamond said:
    The biggest apparent technical issue seems to be the failure of the quad-die Apple Silicon chip. 

    I don't know if it was a failure so to speak, the quad Ultra chip just didn't make financial sense to Apple.  It would have been an incredibly niche product, the top tier. It cost a lot of money to design, and when they considered sales projections for the product it apparently wasn't going to break even when you factor the development cost.  I mean it probably would have broken even, but "even" to Apple really means 50% margin which meant it would have been crazy expensive.

    Also I'm not sure if they knew where to slot that product into the roadmap, what to name it?  Pro, Max, Ultra and..... Crazy?  Tesla already took "Insane" and "Ludicrous" and "Plaid"
    edited August 2023 Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 65
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,897member
    dewme said:
    Just checked Apple’s leadership team profiles on https://www.apple.com/leadership/. Did I miss something? I don’t see Mark Gurman’s profile anywhere on that site. Where does he sit in Apple’s leadership team that decides the execution of Apple’s product strategy?
    Word is that Gurman, and other Bloomberg writers, get paid a bonus for articles that move a company's stock price. He and others there have a financial incentive to make provocative statements (remember the now entirely debunked Big Hack article that Bloomberg never retracted?) to try and affect the stock price. By couching them as hypotheticals they avoid the hits their credibility ought to take.

    The bottom line is that anything published by Bloomberg must be taken with a very large grain of salt.
    So in other words, Apple Insider is spreading misinformation. 
    They're reporting on rumors, which is what they do. They marked it as possible, not likely. So, no, your mischaracterization of what Apple Insider is doing doesn't hold water.
    williamlondonAlex1NdarkvaderOferAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 65
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 3,212member
    cia said:
    jdiamond said:
    The biggest apparent technical issue seems to be the failure of the quad-die Apple Silicon chip. 

    I don't know if it was a failure so to speak, the quad Ultra chip just didn't make financial sense to Apple.  It would have been an incredibly niche product, the top tier.
    Top tier, yes. Incredibly niche, nope. We don’t really know what Apple had hoped for, but if quad-die was on the roadmap, it failed.
    williamlondonAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 65
    It only adversely impacts high performance computing users that rely on Apple exclusive software. Any other HPC users can just move to Windows and/or Linux machines like the new HP Z8 Fury G5.
    macikewatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 65
    I think this is the response Apple was hoping for so they have a reason to kill off the Mac Pro.     Apple SoC isn't designed to be used in a workstation type computer,  workstations need expandability for RAM and specialized boards.   The Mac Studio is the new Mac Pro for Apple SoC era.   

    I had a Mac Pro "Cheese grater" and they were great.    Cheese grater's were expensive, but not so much that working people couldn't afford them like the "Trash Bin" and New Cheese grater Mac Pros.    The original Cheese Grater was expandable the CPU, RAM, Storage so you could buy a base model and upgrade the components as you needed more power.    The new SoC Mac Pro lost all that and only something film studios can afford and they have issues with the restriction of the PCIe slots of the new Mac Pro.   

    So I think Apple know with there silicon the old idea of a Mac Pro is over so just need an excuse to EOL Mac Pro. 
    williamlondondave hayniewatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 65
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,379moderator

    With the introduction of the Apple Silicon model, some elements of the Mac Pro's utility became less impressive, in part due to the existence of the Mac Studio. With both the Mac Pro and Mac Studio able to use Apple Silicon, and with the Mac Studio being generally cheaper to purchase, it made the Mac Pro a hard purchase for anyone just wanting high levels of performance.

    If Apple were to continue making the Mac Pro, it would need to address the major shortcomings that were key to the model's existence for it to become a success. For the moment, if Gurman's comment turns out to be a true indicator, Apple may step back from the Mac Pro for a long time to regroup, or potentially give up on the Mac Pro entirely in its current form.

    Apple has talked about the decisions behind the Studio and Pro in interviews. The Mac Studio will be the mainstream, high volume Pro Mac going forward, effectively a continuation of the 2013 Mac Pro that is the best form factor for most professional work and even more affordable than the 2012 model starting at $2k.

    The Mac Pro tower is just for professional workflows that rely on PCIe connectivity, mainly high bandwidth video/audio/network IO and for large, fast internal storage. If those use cases didn't exist, they could EOL it.

    Both Mac Studio and Pro will probably receive updates when the Ultra chips are due. Next Ultra update isn't likely before October 2024 (14 months out).
    maltz said:
    The Mac Pro has been a MASSIVELY overpriced after-thought that they toss out a new model just often enough to keep the hardest of the hard-core on the hook since the last of the cheese graters was released in 2012 - and even that was 2-3 years since the previous update, iirc.  It's hard not to imagine the designers even surprising themselves at how much they can get people to pay for these machines, and even more so, upgrades and accessories.  Even Monster Cable would blush at some of this stuff.  ($750 for a set of coaster wheels... I'd REALLY like to see a cogent justification for that.  Not that the wheels aren't that good - maybe they are - but why you'd need such expensive precision quality to wheel around a computer!)
    Most low shipment volume products are priced much higher than normal. The Mac Pro is already < 100k/year unit volume and the wheels will be for less than half of those. RED does the same for camera equipment:

    https://www.red.com/red-production-grips ($500 for a handle)
    https://www.red.com/v-raptor-xl-top-handle-w-extensions ($1700 for a handle with a button)

    OWC makes wheels for $250 that attach to the feet (which come bundled):

    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/rover-pro

    The Mac Pro isn't overpriced in the sense that Apple makes a massive profit from it. The unit volume is so low that it's not worth making unless they price it like this. They did the same with the 17" MBP.
    williamlondonAlex1NradarthekatFileMakerFellerMacProwatto_cobratenthousandthings
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