"Little Bird" MacPro Specs

JesterJJZ

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jul 21, 2004
2,411
754
Here's what my little bird said.

Intel C606 chipset dual Xeon-E5
6 PCIe 3.0 slots (4 @ X16, 2 @ X4)
16 DIMM sockets
Dual Thunderbolt ports
Rack-mountable, redesigned tower
Onboard SAS/SATA hardware RAID 0,1,5
Open GPU support, NVIDIA at first, ATI Later
No USB 3.0
Coming in April

What does your little bird say? ;)
 

shastapete

macrumors newbie
Feb 21, 2011
19
0
I think your little bird is full of ****. However, it'd be a nice piece of kit if it is true
 

itsamacthing

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2011
831
456
Bangkok
Here's what my little bird said.

Intel C606 chipset dual Xeon-E5
6 PCIe 3.0 slots (4 @ X16, 2 @ X4)
16 DIMM sockets
Dual Thunderbolt ports
Rack-mountable, redesigned tower
Onboard SAS/SATA hardware RAID 0,1,5
Open GPU support, NVIDIA at first, ATI Later
No USB 3.0
Coming in April

What does your little bird say? ;)
Onboard hardware RAID sounds nice, but I don't think we will see that
Dual Thunderbolt ok
No USB 3, ok because Sandy Bridge chipsets do not support it natively
April or May seems reasonsable
 

ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
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Most of it seems reasonable to me.

Not sure what "open GPU support" means. Someone needs to write EFI for boot screens and write drivers for OS X. I doubt Apple is blocking anyone from doing those things, so there is simply a lack of interest.

By "open GPU support" do you mean Apple will be doing those things for the new MP?
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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Onboard hardware RAID sounds nice, but I don't think we will see that
Not sure why.


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/30/intel_sandy_bridge_xeon_platforms/page3.html

RAID is included in all SKUs of the Patsburg (C600 series) chipsets. It is sitting there in every Mac Pro sold with the chipset. Turning it on shouldn't be that big of a deal. In fact, it detracts from the value of the box when you make folks pay for something ( actually, paid for plus Apple's 30% markup on that cost) and then block them from getting to it. That does not help justify the prices that Apple is going to charge.

Besides, at that point they can dump their RAID card product. ( which doesn't have alot of fans around here anyway). The cost savings in dumping a secondary product should more than cover turning on functionality that is already there. They can skip the RAID 5. Just add a hardware assist to the functionality that Disk Utility's RAID 0/1/10 provides regardless of chipset support. It is like leveraging the encryption support in the CPUs for AES/etc for the software that uses that (versus depending upon it purely being done in software).

No USB 3, ok because Sandy Bridge chipsets do not support it natively
Didn't seem to stop every other SB workstation announced over the last couple of days. The notion that the overall PC market is dragging its feet on the adoption of USB 3.0 is farcical at this point. That would be indicative that Apple is drinking their own kool-aid. Even if there were USB 3.0 sockets with no xHCI driver support right now, that would be better than dropping a purely USB 2.0 box right now.

USB 3.0 probably isn't coming to the Xeon E5 chipset until Haswell. That's two years from now.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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Here's what my little bird said.
.....
Intel C606 chipset dual Xeon-E5
6 PCIe 3.0 slots (4 @ X16, 2 @ X4)
16 DIMM sockets
This looks more like a "copy and paste" of the HP Z820 specs than something Apple would do. The problem with the Z820 is that it is a single design with dual sockets. It negates delivering a single and dual set-up with one box and maximizing overlap between the two sub-products. Just does not have an 'Apple' flavor to it.

All the more so with the later listing of two Thunderbolt ports. If pushing people toward TB is Apple's objective then adding two more PCI-e slots to the Mac Pro runs contrary to that.

Far more likely have the same 4 PCI-e slots had before (for the same reasons that haven't changed). Likewise the same 4/8 DIMMs slots as had before ( again for the design priorities that haven't changed).


Rack-mountable, redesigned tower
Again copy-and-paste from Z820 but in this case probably will shift design priorities to make it happen.


Open GPU support, NVIDIA at first, ATI Later
....
Coming in April
NVidia first would push deliver into April.
However, I'm a bit dubious that Apple would pick Nvidia as the default card vendor . It is exactly backwards of whose cards are available now. (AMD will be ready mid month. Nvidia not till April/May). Not sure why Apple would have believed Nvidia wasn't going to be late a year or so ago and would tag them with high priority in the master plan.

Unless, Nvidia has substantially better power utilization curves in the upcoming line up, that is a bad call if Apple went that way. A chunk of folks are going to head to the exit before April winds up.

Is that "OpenCL" support as a typo? Or just means that Apple will go back to supporting two different card vendors in the BTO config. The last Mac Pro was an oddball in that respect. There is a long trackrecord of Apple allows for both vendors to get a shot in the BTO mode.

----------

USB 3.0 has native support in Ivy Bridge.
No it doesn't. USB 3.0 is not present in Ivy Bridge CPU packages.
USB 3.0 is present in the updated I/O chipset package that comes out alongside Ivy Bridge CPUs.

There is not likely going to be a C600/Patsburg update to the Xeon E5 class supporting chipset. Bluntly, sever vendors don't really like chipsets flipping every year. One board design used for two years is their conservative preference. Maximum continuity and reduced need to do extensive, expensive validations all over again right after they finished.

When the CPU socket pins change with Haswell then a new server class chipset will probably drop.


this is all the more motivated that Intel's supporting chipsets have had a series of SATA defects that jacked up introductions over the last year. That only serves to motivate them more deeply in not revising the board again now that have working, validated stuff.

It is also not really a problem for server workstation motherboards either. There is plenty of room for a discrete USB 3.0 controller on them. The fact that the recently introduced workstations boards all have them only reinforces that fact.

Also, Note that Ivy Bridge CPUs just got PCIe v3.0 while the Sandy Bridge CPUs have it. Similarly, the "consumer" chips have GPUs and the E5's don't. The components outside the x86 microarchitecture are not uniformly implemented across all the product line implementations.


P.S. There is no guarantee that Apple will deliver USB 3.0 with Ivy Bridge CPUs. If I recall correctly the Ivy Bridge CPUs may work with the old SB chipset that doesn't have USB 3.0. (Or that Intel has a "el chepo" SKU of the new chipset that doesn't have USB 3.0 ). It is only that Apple only has a seriously lame excuse for not putting USB 3.0 ports on a new Ivy Bridge powered implement is driving folks to say that they will. The excuse is just as lame for a workstation motherboard and not using a discrete implementation.
 
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deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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Isn't the GPU choice software limited (EFI etc), not hardware limited?
The new Xeon E5's have PCI-e v3.0 lanes.

There are very few PCI-e v3.0 GPU cards right now. AMD is the only one shipping them at the moment.

Technically, Apple could ship with last year's PCI-e v2.0 cards..... but that is rather dubious at this point given that both AMD and Nvidia are in the midst of a major refresh of their products line. Coupled with the fact that Apple isn't going to chase updates later in the year after the Mac Pro is announced and later in its lifetime only reinforces it.

MBP's have pause on release of new GPUs in the past (2 years ago?). It would not be unprecendented for the CPUs to be out and the system logjammed on GPUs for release.

This years iMac , Mini , and MBP's are in the same boat. Right now, no PCI-e v3.0 mobile versions to jump to either. It will change over course of the Spring but if glitches pop up at TSMC .... they can slide also.
 

goMac

macrumors 604
Apr 15, 2004
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I don't see what would keep Apple from shipping with a PCI v2.0 card. There really isn't too much reason to jump to a PCI v3.0 at this current moment. I'm sure at least of few of the cards Apple will use will be PCI v2.0.

But I'm still very doubtful of the NVidia rumors.
 

MacVidCards

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Open GPU support, NVIDIA at first, ATI Later
I have started 3 separate threads regarding the fact that YOU ALREADY HAVE THIS.

Last spring 5870s and 6870s started working with no EFI.

Then 10.8 came out and suddenly 6950s and 6970s started working OOTB.

And now Nvidia has released a 10.7.3 driver that makes MOST of their cards work with no EFI.

No EFI = No boot screens but hey...YOU CAN PUT A GTX470/570/480/580 IN YOUR MAC PRO RIGHT NOW AND IT WILL WORK !!!!

If you want Boot screens you can pay more for a card that has EFI. But with a current 10.7.3 install, quite a few video cards now work without a single hack or trick.

Oddly, whenever I post this info ANGRY people come and insist that this isn't "real" news or good news until everything works perfectly all of the time.

Once you understand how EFI vs BIOS works, you will understand why this can't happen.Every now and then, someone decides to create an aftermarket Mac GPUU and writes the EFI for it. Those cards can work perfectly, but for the rest, the drivers are THERE ALREADY. Just be patient and you have support for MANY PC video cards RIGHT NOW...you just don't see a boot screen.

We are MEANT to do this guys. Ask yourselves why there have been Quadro 5000 drivers since 10.6.5? You could use ATY_Init in the past. But I also believe that Apple or Nvidia was counting on someone like myself to come along and write EFI for the cards. I did, and if you want a Quadro 5000 that runs Apple Displays and shows boot screens, I sell them. If you want a GTX480 that works in your Mac Pro with no outside power, I sell them.

If you want a 6870 that shows boot screen on DVI, you can make it yourself if you have a 3,1 or later. (Or buy it from one of many people who have used Netkas' work to make 6870s)

Apple could probably write their machine EFI boot rom to allow limited VGA functionality to ALL PC cards. But it would be clunky, low res, single color, etc. That isn't how Macs work. To make a seamless, pretty boot screen, you need a custom EFI for each variety of card. And nobody is going to write one of those for every card being made.

So...it seems that AMD and Nvidia have opened up their drivers to self initialize most of their cards in OSX. When I post this info I frequently get screamed at that it isn't perfect. Well, it isn't. But at least it is there. If you want a cheap Mac GPU, you have options. If you want smooth boot screens and solid monitor support, pay a little more and get a flashed card or an Apple OEM card.

In the past, your ONLY option was Apple OEM or flashed cards. Now it is about as "open" as it is going to get. Rejoice !!! Order a GTX570 from Newegg and use a GT120 or 2600XT as your "Boot Screen" card. Barefeats is in the process of posting more info and tests on this.

GPU options are about as "Open" as they are going to get.
 

goMac

macrumors 604
Apr 15, 2004
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I have started 3 separate threads regarding the fact that YOU ALREADY HAVE THIS.
We got it, but at the very least for me as someone using my Mac for mission critical tasks, until I can call NVidia for support about a GeForce 570, it's not really true support.

Not that it isn't great that it is working, but if we're "meant to do it", I should be able to call up NVidia if my card starts not to work, not play coy that I'm using it under OS X, and get support. Can I do that?

If Apple had a way to initialize BIOS cards at boot screen, and NVidia + ATI were about to support that, it would be great. But just because I can stick it in my machine doesn't mean it's production ready.
 

MacVidCards

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We got it, but at the very least for me as someone using my Mac for mission critical tasks, until I can call NVidia for support about a GeForce 570, it's not really true support.

Not that it isn't great that it is working, but if we're "meant to do it", I should be able to call up NVidia if my card starts not to work, not play coy that I'm using it under OS X, and get support. Can I do that?

If Apple had a way to initialize BIOS cards at boot screen, and NVidia + ATI were about to support that, it would be great. But just because I can stick it in my machine doesn't mean it's production ready.
For people who feel this way, there are the retail EFI cards. When you can't get your Apple 5870 to run 3 displays, you can call Apple and they will help you.

I guess another way to look at it is that they have made it possible to use most of the cards, but nobody wants to deal with the support. So, cards are there for you to use if you can handle your own support. Most support issues can be handled with some intelligent Googling and Forum reading. Neato thing about computer issues is that there is usually someone else with same hardware and same software and thus same issue. In my experience, getting someone on the phone with a brain for tech support is not a likely proposition. I would RATHER do my own troubleshooting.

Waiting for Apple or Nvidia or AMD to offer all of the various cards with full support....well, you are waiting for Godot.
 

ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
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I have started 3 separate threads regarding the fact that YOU ALREADY HAVE THIS.
If Apple had a way to initialize BIOS cards at boot screen, and NVidia + ATI were about to support that, it would be great. But just because I can stick it in my machine doesn't mean it's production ready.
This is why I asked JesterJJZ what exactly he means by "open GPU support". That is a very vague term.
 

goMac

macrumors 604
Apr 15, 2004
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For people who feel this way, there are the retail EFI cards. When you can't get your Apple 5870 to run 3 displays, you can call Apple and they will help you.
Oh, I understand that, but that's why when you say "fully supported" people get a little miffed.

I'm a software developer that does OpenGL work (and that's not a hypothetical, I really am.) If I run into an OpenGL bug, is Apple going to reject the bug as soon as they see I'm running a 570? (They WILL take bugs for other third party Mac sanctioned cards.) Can I trust that the bug is there because there is a real issue, or because I'm running a card no one claimed official support for in the first place? If I'm a video editor, and I'm running FCPX, are they going to refuse to help me once they find out what card I'm running?

There is a long way to go between "it boots" and "it's supported."

(And that's not to say I don't have tremendous respect for all the GPU hackers here. But it's one thing to use an unsupported card for a hobby, it's another to do real work on it.)
 

MacVidCards

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Oh, I understand that, but that's why when you say "fully supported" people get a little miffed.
Did I EVER say "Fully Supported"?

But it's one thing to use an unsupported card for a hobby, it's another to do real work on it.
I have my GTX470/480 cards in 200+ DaVinci Resolve systems right now. Most in production offices around me here in Hollywood, but many all around the world. Imagine how upset all those Colorists are going to feel when they find out their career is a "hobby".;)

Some people stop waiting and find something that works.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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I don't see what would keep Apple from shipping with a PCI v2.0 card. There really isn't too much reason to jump to a PCI v3.0 at this current moment. I'm sure at least of few of the cards Apple will use will be PCI v2.0.
There is zero need for a PCI v2 card. The AMD line-up 7700 , 7800 , 7900 series line up covers the price points from $109 - $500+ ( See "Spring 2012 GPU Pricing Comparison " here http://www.anandtech.com/show/5625/amd-radeon-hd-7870-ghz-edition-radeon-hd-7850-review-rounding-out-southern-islands. The 7750 is $109 http://www.anandtech.com/show/5541/amd-radeon-hd-7750-radeon-hd-7770-ghz-edition-review. )

What price point are you trying to cover with a v2.0 card? $50-60? You really think Apple has a strong, burning desire to go there with a $2,499+ priced box?

Seems like more a backdoor to getting official support for the round of GPUs that Apple skipped. Again why would Apple take on the additional support burden when there isn't a good reason to put them in a brand new Mac Pro?

PCI-e v3.0 is going to be one of the visible marketing bullet points in Apple's product page. It doesn't make any sense to roll out with PCI-e v3 machine and zero cards.

It is not where things are now. It is where the machine is going to be marketed over the next 12 ( to possibly 16 months if Intel screws up the Ivy Bridge follow ons) with the same cards. In December 2012, it isn't going to matter have v2.0 cards? I doubt that.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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No EFI = No boot screens but hey...YOU CAN PUT A GTX470/570/480/580 IN YOUR MAC PRO RIGHT NOW AND IT WILL WORK !!!!
You can put into a Mac but why should Apple put one in?


Boot Mac with option key down to get to EFI ... oops Grey screen. Yeah that should ship as a functional system.


There is a difference between a hack and supported systems.
 

goMac

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I have my GTX470/480 cards in 200+ DaVinci Resolve systems right now. Most in production offices around me here in Hollywood, but many all around the world. Imagine how upset all those Colorists are going to feel when they find out their career is a "hobby".;)
And having worked for a video editing company (which will remain nameless), if you called in for support on that card, we wouldn't talk to you.

I know, because it happened.
 

FluJunkie

macrumors 6502a
Jul 17, 2007
618
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I have my GTX470/480 cards in 200+ DaVinci Resolve systems right now. Most in production offices around me here in Hollywood, but many all around the world. Imagine how upset all those Colorists are going to feel when they find out their career is a "hobby".;)

Some people stop waiting and find something that works.
You'll note goMac didn't question whether or not your work was serious.

He did question the wisdom of using a dubiously supported product in production environments where failure means people lose money. And I have to say, I agree with him.

That's the thing. I don't want my work computing environment to be an exercise in tinkering, worrying if an update will destroy what I've built, and hoping I can troubleshoot the problems that arise from unsupported hardware.
 

MacVidCards

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You can put into a Mac but why should Apple put one in?


Boot Mac with option key down to get to EFI ... oops Grey screen. Yeah that should ship as a functional system.


There is a difference between a hack and supported systems.
Aaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhh!!!!!

What is it with you people.

All I am saying is that the OP's request for "Open GPU" support is like asking for Ice Cream to rain from Heaven. It isn't going to happen and it isn't even possible. The closest thing to this is what now exists, most cards work without EFI. I am the MESSENGER here folks, trying to pass along some intelligence but instead I get back the opposite.

It's when people put words like "Fully Supported" in my mouth that you misunderstand me. I never said "Fully supported" because as we all know, the "Fully Supported" cards are all on Apple's site. All 3 of them.

I am the MESSENGER here folks...I'm telling you there are other options and once again I am getting shouted down by angry mobs demanding impossible things. Macs use EFI, PC cards come with BIOS. If you don't understand what this means, use "Google". Obviously nobody is interested in hearing the truth unless it fits exactly what they want/expect.

I AM THE MESSENGER TRYING TO TELL YOU SOME THINGS. I DON'T GET PAID BY NEWEGG SO WHY GET MAD AT ME WHEN I TEL YOU THIS STUFF?

For those who want a "Fully supported" card......Apple.com