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Old Jun 3, 2013, 04:58 PM   #1
5050
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From Facebook's "We Want a New Mac Pro"

We are getting closer to WWDC 2013 and the rumor mill is starting to hit full stride.
There is talk of iRadio, thinner MacBook Pros, the Johnny Ive iOS entry and maybe even a new OSX.
Most of these are par for the course around this time of year. Glaringly absent from the rumor mill is talk of a new Mac Pro.

I'm here to change that. Here is my first foray as a true Apple "rumor-monger".

If you've been following my posts you've seen me bash some of the major sites for their predictions and assumptions that never really seem more than guesses and questions. After having been on the phone with Apple myself I now realize the frustration some of these journalists encounter. That being said this post is not a guess or an assumption. I actually have a source or two that has some credibility.

Here is what I've been told about the new Mac Pro.

- It will be heavily reliant on Thunderbolt.
- There will be no internal expandability.
- It will have support for Dual GPU's with three monitor support right out of the box.
- No FW800 or Optical drive
- It will be released in the fall
- It will be a completely new design

On the surface there is a lot to be excited and angry about in those six lines of rumor-monger goodness. The fall release and the absence of FW800 and optical was easily predicted. The new design was also an easy assumption. Please remember that as this info was received there was no opportunity for follow-up questions. Actually I'm pretty sure my sources just sat back and listened knowing that it was only a matter of time before the purveyor of info realized that they shouldn't be saying anything at all. Sometimes you get what you get and you don't get upset.

So here are my thoughts.
No internal expandability sucks. If there are no hard drive bays I'll be pretty upset. All of Apple's machines in the last two years have gotten smaller, thinner and lighter. Recent history tells me Apple's thoughts on "spinning platter" hard drives. I would bet that internal storage as we know it is gone but that might not be entirely bad. Many rumors have floated about proprietary Apple flash storage. We've seen it in the MacBook Pro Retina. Maybe there will be no internal bays for "existing" hard drive technology. Maybe there will be plenty of spots for a new storage medium that Apple will introduce specifically for this machine.
Maybe its a new spec that will allow Apple to deliver a smaller, lighter, thinner machine. Lets hope they have found a way to keep the need for external devices to a minimum.

I speculated back in October that there would only be two PCI slots. I'm guessing that Apple is highly suggesting that they be used for GPU options that will be offered at the time of purchase. All of your expansion options will have to come via Thunderbolt. I'd bet that Apple will be offering its own Thunderbolt chassis but I have no info on this. Throughout Apple's existence they have always abandoned existing hardware standards before other companies. My hunch is that the term "legacy device" was used a lot during the engineering stages when describing PCIe cards.

The mention of dual GPU capabilities is a welcome one. Looks like Nvidia and AMD have known something after all. Rarely have both companies released so many new GPU options on the Mac platform like we've seen in the past few months. Especially since there were still huge questions marks around the one computer these GPUs are targeted for. Earlier Mac Pros have always had the ability to have multiple graphic cards installed but the PCIe slots were never rated the same. The new machine will probably be something more than this. Apple knows that the focus has shifted from processor intensive coding to GPU heavy APIs. Close your eyes for a minute and imagine two NVidia Titan card running in SLI mode with some Apple specific pixie dust tech tying it all together.

Yes, thoughts of a MacMini Pro do come to mind and yes, the earlier rumors of the "modular" Mac Pro seem to be pretty close. I would think that this type of configuration would allow Apple to keep the initial cost of the machine lower with the expense coming in the external configuration options and GPU choices. To truly see any benefit in this type of configuration you have to forget what you know about your existing machine. You are going to have to believe that Apple has thought about all the possible existing workflow's and has a solution that can replace them. You also have to hope that the companies that have relied on PCIe expansion cards are willing to make the switch to Thunderbolt connected devices. Just like Rosetta was the bridge between OS9 and OSX, I think Apple believes that a PCIe expansion chassis is a stopgap device until Thunderbolt specific hardware starts to show up. You might not agree with their idea of a solution and you might hate the idea of change to a workflow that has worked for you for so long but when has Apple ever done anything that hasn't initially infuriated the Pro user?

Personally I'm still in "wait and see" mode. Obviously there are hundreds of questions I would like the answers to. I don't know anything about processor options or speeds. All I can do is hope there will be some mention of this new machine at WWDC in a few weeks.

Let the comments commence ..

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Old Jun 3, 2013, 05:34 PM   #2
ValSalva
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Gasp. No internal expandability? So the next 'Mac Pro' will be less flexible than the iMac?

Either Apple is going to blow our minds and change the concept of what a powerful workstation is or they are going to hugely disappoint. Just a few more months to wait.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 05:58 PM   #3
deconstruct60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5050 View Post

Here is what I've been told about the new Mac Pro.

- It will be heavily reliant on Thunderbolt.
Thunderbolt kool-aid out of Apple... believable.


Quote:
- There will be no internal expandability.
I think this likely is a bit of a mischaracterization. In the one sense accurate in that drive bays come filled. ( no 3-6 empty drive bays). More so about whether there are empty slots/bays/etc. However, probably not that user can replace stuff in the bays/slots/etc.

Filling empty bays isn't really expanding.... they were already there. However, the amount of total storage in the box is going up (without leveraging large density increases in storage drive technology).


Quote:
- It will have support for Dual GPU's with three monitor support right out of the box.
The current Mac Pro has support for three monitors right out of the box. This is up there with the sky is blue.

Can drive three different monitors with three different GPUs right out of the box .... yes that would be relatively new for a standard configuration.

Dual GPU could mean HD4600 and a single GPU card. ( e.g. GTX 770 or AMD 8950 ) . Any one of those is capable of driving 3 monitors.


Quote:
- No FW800 or Optical drive
major bet that TB docking station prices come down.



Quote:
- It will be released in the fall
- It will be a completely new design
The Fall doesn't make lots of sense. That limited they could roll with an Xeon E3 ( a couple of drives , small fixed set of GPUs , Thunderbolt focused .... all of which fits in the E3 (or desktop Core i equivalent) wheelhouse.

Last edited by deconstruct60; Jun 3, 2013 at 06:14 PM.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:09 PM   #4
Kissaragi
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Ah yes, facebook. Up there with fox news in terms of reliability.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:15 PM   #5
MatthewAMEL
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Originally Posted by deconstruct60 View Post
The current Mac Pro has support for three monitors right out of the box. This is up there with the sky is blue.

Can drive three different monitors with three different GPUs right out of the box .... yes that would be relatively new for a standard configuration.

Dual GPU could mean HD4600 and a single GPU card. ( e.g. GTX 770 or AMD 8950 ) . Any one of those is capable of driving 3 monitors.
I took the article to mean SLI/Crossfire support in OS X.

Aren't 10-core E5-2600 Xeon's coming in September? Want to bet Apple is getting the first batches?
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:16 PM   #6
goMac
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I've heard whispers it will be heavily reliant on Thunderbolt and less expandability.

The video card information I hadn't heard, so that's good news to me. All I really want is a machine with high end video cards that are (hopefully) replaceable. I'd LIKE to stick with dual processor CPUs, but I could survive if they cut that.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:32 PM   #7
Simon R.
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No internal expandability and no FW800 would make it unsellable to such a huge segment of the pro market (audio, video etc) that it won't happen. Maybe some time in the future we can all go 100% Thunderbolt but at this point there are too many FW/PCI reliant expansions that it doesn't make sense. If Apple does this now, they have indeed killed the Mac Pro.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:38 PM   #8
goMac
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Originally Posted by Simon R. View Post
No internal expandability and no FW800 would make it unsellable to such a huge segment of the pro market (audio, video etc) that it won't happen. Maybe some time in the future we can all go 100% Thunderbolt but at this point there are too many FW/PCI reliant expansions that it doesn't make sense. If Apple does this now, they have indeed killed the Mac Pro.
You can use Firewire 800 devices over Thunderbolt. Not the end of the world.
http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD...rewire-adaptor

Most Thunderbolt expansion boxes have Firewire 800 as well.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:38 PM   #9
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Sounds like a return of Cube. After all, when they discontinued it, they only said it was "being put on ice."

As a consumer (not really a pro), I would want an exchangeable hard drive and RAM but would be OK with not having extra bays. I had a Cube and loved it until the graphics card went out. I haven't had a desktop in 7 years or so, but I've been thinking about getting one lately and don't like that the iMac and Mac mini are sealed in terms of the hard drive.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:41 PM   #10
goMac
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Originally Posted by swingerofbirch View Post
As a consumer (not really a pro), I would want an exchangeable hard drive and RAM but would be OK with not having extra bays. I had a Cube and loved it until the graphics card went out. I haven't had a desktop in 7 years or so, but I've been thinking about getting one lately and don't like that the iMac and Mac mini are sealed in terms of the hard drive.
RAM would be something I definitely would need access to. Honestly, I'd probably look at moving to Network Attached Storage if the Mac Pro lost a bunch of drive bays. That way I can have a central place for my files across my network.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:48 PM   #11
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What is the whole point of calling it a MP if it has no internal expandability? You may as well just call it an iMac at that point.

If it means they are filled, well, hopefully BTO allows me to select all HHDs and take one out. For all the hype about SSDs the HDD is still better for data drives, time machine, and system snapshots. For the system drive I would prefer to use a Viper SSD from OWC.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:56 PM   #12
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What is the whole point of calling it a MP if it has no internal expandability? You may as well just call it an iMac at that point.
Changeable (hopefully) video cards, no built in display, faster CPUs.

I'd have to agree that having a machine full of internal bays isn't very efficient. It's complicating the motherboard and taking up space for something that could very easily be external, and probably not many Mac Pro users fill the drive bays anyway.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:56 PM   #13
MatthewAMEL
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Originally Posted by Simon R. View Post
No internal expandability and no FW800 would make it unsellable to such a huge segment of the pro market (audio, video etc) that it won't happen. Maybe some time in the future we can all go 100% Thunderbolt but at this point there are too many FW/PCI reliant expansions that it doesn't make sense. If Apple does this now, they have indeed killed the Mac Pro.
As long as it has 'enough' TB ports (6 at a minimum), a small-chassis FF would be fine.

I would also assume these will be Redwood Ridge controllers. Shame Falcon Ridge isn't available yet.

http://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 06:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5050 View Post
Here is what I've been told about the new Mac Pro.

- It will be heavily reliant on Thunderbolt.
- There will be no internal expandability.
- It will have support for Dual GPU's with three monitor support right out of the box.
- No FW800 or Optical drive
- It will be released in the fall
- It will be a completely new design
Allow me to do the honors then:
- It will have no Thunderbolt at all.
- There will be 1.5 times more internal expandability.
- It will have support for four GPU's with 16 monitor support.
- There will be FW800 and dual Optical drives.
- It will be released in the fall (of 2014).
- It will look identical to the current MacPro.
There, now you can be like everyone else on the planet having "been told" conflicting and even opposite information about Apple's 2014 MacPro 6,1.

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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:03 PM   #15
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So a bigger Mac Mini. Got it.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:11 PM   #16
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This makes a lot of sense to me... I see it being a Mac Mini on steroids.

BTO options will likely include one or two CPUs, RAM (probably combos of up to 4 sticks), an Intel integrated GPU with optional PCIe GPU, and your choice of one or two 2.5" drives (SSDs).

A small cube is probably about the right for this and the necessary airflow for cooling it. I'm guessing it will probably be designed so you can easily swap the drives and RAM but that's about it.

Any other expansion will have to be done via TB and USB3 with new TB Cinema Displays (possibly 30" 4K retina panels) probably launching around the same time with TB docking stations built in (although I think FW is dead).

I think the cool thing is that an entry level QUAD system could start at $1500 in this kind of offering.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:24 PM   #18
goMac
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If the new Mac Pro had one or two video cards, I wouldn't call it a Mac Mini with better specs. This would be a mid tower or a mini tower, not a Mini.

Dropping the internal bays does not make it a mini.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:26 PM   #19
KaraH
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Originally Posted by goMac View Post
Changeable (hopefully) video cards, no built in display, faster CPUs.

I'd have to agree that having a machine full of internal bays isn't very efficient. It's complicating the motherboard and taking up space for something that could very easily be external, and probably not many Mac Pro users fill the drive bays anyway.
So give us a few and fill them with 3.5 HDDs (that can be removed obviously). If people want a denser medium or prefer to use SSDs in a bay or two they have the option.

No, I do not consider an apple SSD as 'good enough' when there are other options out there. Fill the bay with an HHD, I can always use it for system snapshots as an external anyway.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:30 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by MatthewAMEL View Post
As long as it has 'enough' TB ports (6 at a minimum), a small-chassis FF would be fine.
They likely aren't enough PCI-e lanes to support 3 TB controllers ... and whether multiple TB controllers work in a single box anyway.

Each controller gives you up to 2 physical ports. The whole wide breath of ports so can slap on several chain enders is very effective use of TB. It pretty bad actually. Any "need" for 6 TB ports to make an effective box is extremely indicative that that system is a grossly flawed design.


Quote:
Shame Falcon Ridge isn't available yet.
Falcon Ridge isn't going to "solve" TB's orientation toward daisy chaining.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:38 PM   #21
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Want to bet Apple is getting the first batches?
Sure. Why would they? Because it happened once upon a time ago?
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:39 PM   #22
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If the new Mac Pro had one or two video cards, I wouldn't call it a Mac Mini with better specs. This would be a mid tower or a mini tower, not a Mini.

Dropping the internal bays does not make it a mini.
Uhh it kind of does.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:39 PM   #23
deconstruct60
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I took the article to mean SLI/Crossfire support in OS X.
There is nothing here that indicates that Apple is buying into gamer GPU card set ups at all. Not even in the slightest.

Far more likely there is some VirtualGPU hocus-pocus in there so that some of the discrete card performance can flow out over the Thunderbolt connections. If the focus is primarily on Thunderbolt the focus is going to be on making TB look good. Not necessarily what is driven by mid-high end current Mac Pro users.


Quote:
Aren't 10-core E5-2600 Xeon's coming in September? Want to bet Apple is getting the first batches?
but 10 core E5 2600 aren't oriented toward Thunderbolt. If this box is primarily about Thunderbolt kool-aid then it is much less likely that any E5's will be used at all. Part selection will be driven by the easiest embedded GPU to put into the system. Easiest is an iGPU. .... which E5's don't have.

With 80 PCI-e lanes there is more than enough to do an embedded discrete GPU card ( take an iMac gpu subsystem and just move it to the "new Mac" ).
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:39 PM   #24
goMac
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So give us a few and fill them with 3.5 HDDs (that can be removed obviously). If people want a denser medium or prefer to use SSDs in a bay or two they have the option.

No, I do not consider an apple SSD as 'good enough' when there are other options out there. Fill the bay with an HHD, I can always use it for system snapshots as an external anyway.
So buy an external box and fill it with whatever you want. Apple isn't stopping you from adding hard drives, they're just not putting internal bays in the machine itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clamnectar View Post
Uhh it kind of does.
Again, how? It's a different class of machine. Just because the case would be smaller doesn't make a mini. The case still wouldn't be mini sized, no way a mini sized case could deal with the sort of heat.

You're probably still talking about something cube sized or larger.
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Old Jun 3, 2013, 07:41 PM   #25
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Any "need" for 6 TB ports to make an effective box is extremely indicative that that system is a grossly flawed design.
Agreed. All these spider's web/stackable Thunderbolt ideas seem to come as solutions to solve a problem purely created by Apple's design philosophy for their other Mac lines.

The general desire for it also seems to stem from an attitude of "build something that is suitable for my needs and will be cheap, and everyone else can add what they need with Thunderbolt". With little regard for the fact that even adding a few extra boxes will make the volume larger, harder to secure physically, extra latency and so on.
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