Cringely article "Is the Mac Pro Dead?"

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ActionableMango, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
  2. derbothaus, Aug 23, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011

    derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    That guy is a moron. Can't he read Intel's roadmap?
    If we can just wait until the chips get released before sounding the death knell. If they come and go and no Mac Pro then great, happy editorializing.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I can see apple dropping the Mac Pro in the near future. They've been moving away from the non consumer segments for years and I suspect that they don't move too many mac pros (in comparison to iMacs and what not) so it doesn't take a leap of faith to see Mac Pros days may be numbered
  4. Torrijos macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2006
    The thing is, while Apple has been promoting technologies (Grand Central Dispatch, openCL) that would ensure better use of big workstations, were devs following? (no)

    More importantly are pro software in the media world in need of such power?

    While engineers may need every last bit of processing power available, the next generation MacPro (if they follow the current line philosophy) make sense to them since they are in the market for workstations with multiple processors with multiple cores and multiple CUDA or openCL capable GPUs, on the other hand the image, video and audio professionals might be near the point where investing in way more powerful workstations would only bring marginal benefits compared to investing in better software.

    How many software fully exploit current hardware?
    Photoshop doesn't
    FinalCut Pro doesn't
    Logic Studio doesn't

    FinalCut X does and we can see that on current hardware it manage to pull most calculations in almost real time. While the software isn't ready to replace it's ancestor the benefits of a full rewrite are quite apparent.

    In the end Apple doesn't cater to engineers (unfortunately :( being one I dreamt of Catia on OS X), for the media professionals a Single workstation processor (6+ cores) with enough PCIe (v3) ports and memory (RAM and SATA) slots available would be more than enough.

    Even more so now, that Thunderbolt exists, permitting the use of fast external storage systems.

    For me MacPro aren't dead, but will evolve into something less epic, but that should still perform very well for the pro, while price might go down enough to interest more prosumer (geeks, gamers or rich kids ^^)

    Anyway, what Apple is waiting for, is Intel's next workstation processors, and maybe even AMD next generation GPUs (more focused on calculation that graphics).
    Sandy Bridge are great but they have a lot of limitations (like the number of PCI channels), and their internal GPUs are a waste of electricity.
  5. Topper, Aug 23, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011

    Topper macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2007
    Yes, he has no idea what he is talking about.
    Why would anyone even listen to this moron?
    I'll put you money on that he doesn't have a Mac Pro.

    This comment is amazing:
    "As a design professional, I can’t say I’ll miss the Mac Pro if it goes. I’m happily committed to the Macintosh platform, but I haven’t seen the value proposition in Apple’s towers for years."
  6. ActionableMango thread starter macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Well, many years ago I remember thinking he was a moron for predicting Apple would switch from PowerPC to Intel. :eek:
  7. Kimmo macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2011
    Five mini's on my desk, and the wiring to connect them, versus a mac pro next to my desk. Which is the elegant, modern design? :confused:

    Not a great solution if a high quality matte display is what you need. :rolleyes:

    Sure hope so. :)
  8. pooryou macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    Cringely needs to learn how to use the apostrophe correctly.
  9. getz76 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2009
    Hell, AL
    That depends. I know guys running three or four Mac Pros synced for music production. Virtual instruments with heavy samples and some modeling plug-ins hosted outside the main DAW can saturate you disk I/O, processors and memory. Reaper and Vienna Ensemble Pro have made a business out of this.

    Straight-forward audio production and multi-tracking? Yeah, my old white MacBook can handle that.
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I agree.

    I do expect the LGA2011 socket parts to be produced in a MP (SB and IB releases on LGA2011), but after that, not as it currently exists (ECC compliant Xeon based workstations in both SP and DP variants).

    They're getting rather expensive to develop, and will eventually result in the MSRP being too high for Apple's current MP client base to continue to use the platform (literally priced out of the current MP design). Unfortunately, I don't see this being that far into the future (by the time Haswell releases).

    This situation will be the case for workstation systems from other vendors as well. Yes, they'll still have a market, such as engineers running simulations (where ECC is required to be sure of accurate results), but it will be smaller for than it currently is, with most workstation users shifting to SP versions. There's also the expectation that clusters will be more plausible for those that currently could use them, but can't afford them currently due to the improved cost/performance ratio of enterprise servers (I can imagine a reduction from current prices for leased time on clusters that will make them viable for clients not previously capable of affording it).

    So I expect Haswell to be the shifting point for the workstation market, not just Apple (think of an SP system only that has 8 cores on a single die).

    In the case of content creation, ECC isn't a necessity anyway (worst case, they get a bad pixel from a memory bit that gets flipped by a cosmic particle). Not the end of the world. So a consumer based system to replace the MP is feasible IMO in a couple of years or so (whenever Haswell actually releases).

    As you mention, software capabilities are the biggest problem (not much is true n core multi-threaded).

    Granted, software always trails behind hardware, but the differences now are staggering when you consider the cost of workstation systems (a sparse few applications that can use all the cores, and only used on occasion <well under 50% of the users' time>), so idle cores tends to be a waste of money if they take their time management into consideration with their usage patterns.

    As per the I/O issues, Intel began addressing I/O with Nehalem, and is continuing to improve on it with SB architecture, and will continue to do so with future architecture. But no system vendor can exceed what their CPU providers can offer in terms of I/O bandwidth to the CPU itself (i.e. nF200 chips increased the number of PCIe lanes in X58 designs, but I/O traffic is still limited to a single QPI channel between the CPU and chipset).

    Quite a niche though, and I'd be shocked if Apple would pursue such a limited market (portion of the total Gross Margin would be too slim for their appetite ;)).

    I look at it this way; they don't want a bite of an apple, they want the entire orchard. :p
  11. thedomus macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2007
    Off topic... I'm a professional composer & music producer using Logic, and I still find it amazing that there are producers out there with Mac Pro farms using VEP, I can only think they load every VI and sample library they own at the beginning of the day to make use of all that power, RAM & throughput!

    On topic... I've read a rumour here or there that the new MPro could possibly be rackmounted, now that could could be very appealing to peeps like me, maybe with front loading 2.5" SSD trays.... wish!
  12. initialsBB macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I don't see Apple completely dropping the pro line. Of course they don't sell nearly as many Mac Pros as they do iPads or Airs or even Minis, but they still sell them. I think of the future Mac Pros more along the lines of the Apple TV, a small market, but one they will cater to anyways.

    I certainly wouldn't mind a smaller form factor for the Mac Pro. I'm sure the industrial design department can kind of take the best of the Mac Pro, xServe, Mac Mini/ Apple TV and roll it into one new design.

    I'm expecting an all new design pro machine when Intel ships their new processors. Thunderbolt is a big deal to Apple, and they'll leverage this as much as possible.
  13. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    That rumor hit the streets shortly after apple killed off the xsereve. It was the same case, but the dimensions were changed so that it would fit in a rack - at least that's what the rumor postulated.
  14. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009
    In the DCC market, yes.



    Here is a list of software my design shop uses every day, for which I plan to buy several of the fastest dual CPU Sandy Bridge Mac Pro released.

    After Effects CS 5.5
    Many AE plugins that use OpenCL/CUDA from Red Giant and others
    Premiere Pro
    Final Cut X
    V-Ray for Maya (CPU and OpenCL)
    Maxwell Render
    various video encoding utilities
    NukeX (CPU, CUDA)
  15. Chupa Chupa, Aug 24, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011

    Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    Cringley is a maroon of the first order. How he continues to garner respect baffles me. I'll stick to this article though. He claims to be a tech writer but makes this idiotic statement:

    "...I use the term Light Peak, which is what Thunderbolt is called in the non-Apple world,..."

    Of course any part-time tech nerd knows that "Thunderbolt" is Intel's marketing name for what was formerly known as "Light Peak"; it's not an Apple term as he suggests, almost mockingly as a silly Apple nomenclature. He thinks he is so superior because he is going to use what he thinks is the "real" name of Thunderbold, Light Peak.

    Well, Cringley, as a member of the so-called professional media, ought to at least do research before making asinine statements. Intel is quite clear that "Thunderbolt" is the standard for Macs and PCs, and is the proper term for the standard, not "Light Peak." But I guess Cringley is still calling Istanbul Constantinople.

    So when you realize he has this basic fact wrong, you can't believe anything else he says.
  16. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009
    Most of the tech 'pundits' are never so careless as to let facts get in the way of a good story.
  17. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    This article was stupid.

    Build the GPU into the display?

    First of all, won't PCIe 3 require more bandwidth than Thunderbolt has to offer? How would that work?
    Second of all, why don't we just throw a CPU, some RAM and a HDD in there and call it an iMac?
  18. Rustus Maximus macrumors 6502

    Rustus Maximus

    Jan 15, 2003
    Doesn't PCIe 2 already have more bandwidth than Thunderbolt has to offer at the high end? PCIe 3 will only increase this disparity. Again, I know some will shout me down and call me a Luddite for this but, once more, in its present iteration I see little advantage to Thunderbolt for the Mac Pro platform.
  19. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009
    The current 10Gb implementation of Thunderbolt is roughly equivalent to a PCI-Express 2.0 x2 speed. IE: 1/8 as fast as your x16 graphics card port.

    Awesome for some external hard drives, and even some monitor connections, not fast enough for anything capable of faster speeds.

    Even an external RAID drive of 2 modern SSDs will start to feel bottlenecked by Thunderbolt.
  20. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    Not to defend the article writer but if t-bolt goes to optical instead of copper it would be more like light peak. Not that the name means much but if it becomes a fiber optical link it was said to do speeds of 50Gb not 10Gb. this would make it 5/8 as fast as an x16 graphics card port.
  21. zephonic macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2011
    greater L.A. area
    I like Cringely 's writings and musings.

    I don't know if the MacPro is dead, but it certainly isn't vibrantly alive either.

    I thought the most interesting idea presented in this article is the display with built-in GPU. When ThB reaches PCIe speeds it will undoubtedly be a superior solution, much like how active speaker monitors replaced passive speakers with external amplifiers.
  22. getz76 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2009
    Hell, AL
    The guys I know that do it are on tight turnarounds, mostly for television. They need to be able to have their template loaded and churn out scores.

    Not my bag, but that quick turnaround is part of their deliverable. Most of it ends up sounding godawful and usually gets even more abuse in post. You would figure delivering stems would allow production to better mix the sound, but those guys are on the same schedule.

    My Mac Pro is overkill for my stuff. I am still using 32-bit applications in Pro Tools and Reason, though Reason will be 64-bit with September's release.

    Oh, I was just pointing out usage. I personally do not expect a refresh of the Mac Pro. I will be pleasantly surprised if Apple continues the development.
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I suspect he got the following confused, and figured the GPU was in the display (not seen anything like what he's describing from Sony, or any other company so far).

    In a single direction, Yes. But double it for the aggregate bandwidth (both directions are 10Gb/s).

    Hence why the current TB chips are designed to connect to 4x Gen 2.0 PCIe lanes.
  24. macsmurf macrumors 65816


    Aug 3, 2007
    Why would Apple not drop the Mac Pro? They probably aren't making much money on it anyway. Why keep it around?
  25. Robellyn macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2010
    Edmonton CA
    Although I have no opinion anymore on this discussion, this statement amused me somewhat.
    "Hey! Watch out! That car is going to hit you!"
    "Car? Don't be a Maroon ... That's an SUV, not a car ... >SMASH!<"

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