New Mac Pro not designed to be stand alone?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Gonk42, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    near Cambridge
    I had been judging the new mac pro as an existing mac pro replacement, i.e. a stand alone workstation. On this basis the new design makes little sense - a small device requiring a mess of things to be plugged in such as monitors, keyboard, external hard drives, external optical drives, external sound cards and so on.

    But it struck me that it is actually designed to be a node in a processor array (i.e. a render farm). In that role it requires only a single TB cable, its small size and vertical cooling allows a high packing density (though no stacking) and it has been stripped of most if not all unneeded components.

    From Apple's point of view they want to sell to big customers, they want a flag ship product that is used to render block buster movies and so long as it can be used by itself they can call it a new mac pro.

    It is a bit like if Mercedes dropped their sports cars and concentrated on F1, but allowed customers to buy F1 cars which had been made road legal by the bolt-on addition of lights and number plates with a trailer option for those who wanted to carry luggage!
  2. Pakaku macrumors 68000


    Aug 29, 2009
    Sounds just like the current Mac Pro to me... anything you'd add will have to be external now, but really, none of that came with the old Mac Pros in the first place. Thunderbolt is just PCI-e over a cable, really, so there's hardly anything different about the New Mac Pro if you think about it. Thunderbolt is hot-pluggable too, I'm assuming, so that's even an improvement over PCI-e.

    As far as I can tell, there's only two things actually different about it. The smaller footprint, which should allow enough room for a stack of external harddrives behind it, and it still might not even take up as much of a footprint as the old Mac Pro. The other thing being no included optical drives, which is of course just the direction Apple is going anyways. It shouldn't be hard to salvage your old optical drives though, and if you can't do that, you might still be able to afford some new ones if you can afford this new Mac Pro. Hey, maybe even a Blu-Ray burner or two?

    If anything, it seems like it's exactly like the kind of thing for those people who wanted that modular Mac Pro idea. It just emphasizes Thunderbolt, instead of that Lego-brick style...
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I appreciate your viewpoint on the new MP. I think of it as a Mac Mini Pro since it has far more in common with a Mini in that very little can be upgraded on the inside and all "additions" are done to the outside ranging from additional drives, optical drives etc. I have no problem with this notion.

    Perhaps some smart person/company will emulate the look of the new MP and make it a TB enclosure for various drives and possibly a card. This combo would no longer be the "trash can" look but the double smokestack of a freighter or cruise ship (grin).

    I just hope that the final MP does have some internal storage and flexible video options (BTO or 3rd party daughterboard stuff). We shall see.
  4. Tesselator, Jun 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    But besides the audio interface and the i/o box that's the same as the MacPro now. And honestly neither of those may actually be needed. If there are two internal drive connectors as some speculate then with two 1TB SSD's no external drive box may be needed. Also it already has Audio I/O and we can't really be sure it won't also have optical I/O - even if the sneak-peak unit didn't show one.

    I think this will depend on two variables. One, the price, and two, the configuration with the lowest level GPUs.
    Regardless of the buzz GPUs just aren't currently very useful in render nodes - generally speaking.

    No, if that were the case they would bring back their xServe form-factor. And/or maybe create a PCIe expansion box allowing 4, 6, or 8 GPU cards.

    I don't see that at all. Assuming a <$4,000 price tag I see a machine designed for boutiques and SOHOs as indeed all previous MacPro's were. Assuming a >$4,000 entry price I see a product that is completely dead to almost all types of professional use except for the hardest core Apple fanatics.

    If there's a model much under $3k then I could see it being used in a scenario similar to what you're suggesting. But because of it's shape it still wouldn't be an ideal solution.
  5. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    I think it's just the evolution of the desktop computer. Desktops are dying, mobile is growing exponentially. The difference? Mobile is smaller. It's inevitable that desktops will become smaller.

    Being such an unusual shape and size I don't think they expect a lot of these to be turned into servers. Kind of pointless anyhow, that market is not big for Apple nor should it be.
  6. ABCDEF-Hex macrumors 6502


    Feb 15, 2013
  7. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    from linked article.

    " ... The existing Mac Pro, according to MacStadium, has never been popular in the hosting and colocation world because of their huge physical footprint and high power draw. ..."

    Eh? What makes them think this won't be a high power draw? [ I suppose if the pick the lowest power entry level GPUs but even still . ]

    Physical footprint has substantively changed. Power draw; no where near as much.

    Other "what are they smoking" stuff from MacStadium's website....

    " generation Xeon E5 CPU’s in single or dual configuration with up to 12 physical cores. ..."

    Dual? Not. It appears they don't even realize that 12 cores come in one 130W package in the upcoming generation.

    " ... Small, Economical 6.6″ x 9.9″ Form Factor, and minimal power draw. ..."

    I guess the "one single fan" feature has them tripped up on 'minimal power draw'. Economical .... again seems to be huge leap to lower Mac Pro prices. Likely not so economical as web services servers with so much of the system cost weighted on two GPUs.

    What appears to be an air flow diagram doesn't make any sense at all. The cold air better come in parallel to the Mac Pro's fan or that "pod" they have diagrammed isn't going to work so well.
  8. ABCDEF-Hex macrumors 6502


    Feb 15, 2013
    Thanks again for the good points - I'm still learning a lot here.

    Just thought I'd throw it out there as an FYI and didn't want to start a new thread.
    Thanks for not shooting the messenger as a lot of posters do.
  9. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    This illustration makes little sense. Devices in turn:

    Monitors -- errrr current workstations have monitors with separate power and video cables. The next increase with new design? Zero. In fact if suitable docking station/display used the number could go down for some using external USB hubs and the like.

    Keyboard -- again current workstations have keyboards to. So next increase. Zero. Bluetooth 4.0 can make that a net decrease for some.

    External Hard drives -- Anyone with over 10-12TB to store already had these. rotational backups ... had these. Sneaker net data transfers ... had these.

    External Optical drive -- this one is possibly new for those still using drive. The operative question though is how many Mac Pro users are still using these on a regular basis and don't also need one for some other computer.

    External Sound card -- is not required across whole user base. There is still probably digital out. For internal PCI-e sound cards how many of them don't have more than one cable ( or some multi headed hydra) coming out the back of the current Mac Pros?

    Absolutely not. It is design primarily to be placed on top of a desk. Not in some hidden backroom where services get delivered opaquely over the network connection.

    This isn't necessarily aimed at big customers. Customers who have SAN/NAS networks certainly but that doesn't necessarily mean big.

    The niche megabuck movie focus is one of the marketing approaches that has knee-capped the Mac Pro. Perhaps Apple is continuing that focus. If so the Mac Pro will be dead in several years.

    The Mac Pro is not a flagship device.
  10. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    As Tesselator pointed out, they would have used another form factor for that purpose. What makes more sense, multiple machines housed in a rack or multiple tubes strewn about somewhere. Or I suppose there's the possibility of something like this...

    But that just looks like a piss poor way of trying to shoehorn something into a use it wasn't designed for. There's a reason rack mountable units have all of their I/O on the front and back.
  11. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I'd expect power draw to be substantially lower, as the power supply does not have to be large enough to support 4 spinning disk drives and 4 PCIe cards.

    I agree - wrong form factor for render farms, but that doesn't mean they won't be used that way. I've seen photos of current Mac Pros mounted vertically on shelves in EIA racks. Consider how many more new-form MPs can be supported in that same space.

    Space is the final frontier. Those who are already using a Mac Pro already have the space allocated, so small may not seem a big thing to them. I've spent most of my career in broadcast and recording studios. In an environment where you're always trying to squeeze-in the next new item, it's a lot easier to find a home for one of these than one of the old units. Even if you have an older Mac Pro, freeing-up some of that space may allow other stuff to be added. That's also an environment where, in the best of all worlds you have racks for every piece of gear, but in practice there always seem to be items dropped onto a desktop (or even the meter bridge of a console) with a bunch of I/O cables sprouting from them.

    Similar issues for the offices and cubicles outside the studios (had to support them, too). It's harder to add a bulky tower to an already crowded desk or cubicle than it will be with this new form factor - there may be a fair number customers waiting for something smaller than a Mac Pro, more powerful than an iMac, able to… "Super Mac Mini" is a good thing.

    The move to SSD (something we all took for granted would be part the new Mac Pro, regardless of case dimensions) is the enabler (just as it was for MacBook Air). There's no need to package SSD to occupy a traditional hard drive bay, except for legacy hardware. Replace every drive bay's worth of HDD with compact SSD cards, and just what are any of those drive bays good for? The price of SSD will drop, so it won't be all that long before pro users' outboard drives will be SSD as well. Effectively, we're talking about a little box that can handle the equivalent of a half-dozen or more TB+ thumb drives.

    SSD backup/data loss requirements are also different - it's harder to justify the cost of a hot-swappable RAID 5 array when catastrophic storage failure is much less common - mirroring off-site makes more sense for backup. RAID was created to address the weaknesses of electromechanical spinning disk drives.

    The clutter on the desktop is likely to go the same route as the gargantuan tower CPU - more power, in smaller boxes.

    I owned a house that was built in the early 1900s. It was wired for electricity from the git-go (ah, the pleasures of knob-and-tube wiring!), but it was also plumbed for gas light, just in case that electricity thing didn't pan out. That kind of extravagant expense on a never-used capability doesn't last very long. If you're going to spend, spend on something that boosts performance. If you're going to occupy space, occupy as little space as necessary.
  12. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Why shouldn't it be? They shouldn't show up to the table? The market WAS growing until they chopped the Xserve. Somehow I doubt you are in a position to comment based on the views expressed. I meet with Apple. They fly out to talk. I eat for free. Shows a little bit of concern, no?


    I was hoping for a little something smaller. A single bomb rack of some kind. Cool though. Probably slot 4 horizontally in a 4U or something. Just make sure it is level.


    That sounds exactly like the new Mac Pro. Good point all around.
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    No. I disagree a little. What Apple is trying to do is have one prof=duct that can live in as many different environments as possible. They need to sell a LOT of these to keep an assembly line going so they need an adaptable product. What they have done is removed everything they can from the basic box and left in only the parts that EVERYONE needs. This is what is common to all use cases.

    Any organization with two or more people will need to keep their data in a central location, so they can't use internal storage. The home user needs backups and by definition that can't be internal.

    The chips make to much heat to fit into an iMac so the monitor had to plug in. Mouse and keyboard use Bluetooth.

    I think Apple needed to do two things (1) make this has a wider user based and importantly (2) reduce the manufacturing cost. This little round MP liley takes only a few minutes to assemble. A don't see many parts.

    Both of these, cheaper assembly cost and wider user base will work together for Apple.


    Yes, putting FLASH inside a traditional hard drive bay is a poor idea. It is a common way to retofit existing computers but otherwise it kills performance.

    The SATA interface becomes a bottleneck.

    My question about the new MP and the Flash and the new OS is... Can the flash be used with a thunderbolt drive to create a "fusion drive"? If so that would really change things. You could use a remote disk array and have it be almost as fast as the Flash. We will have to wait and see.
  14. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    I fully expect this. It's the lowest hanging fruit imaginable for the new MP.

    I always had tower systems back in my Windows days so I liked the idea of doing that again with a MP, and was ready to make the plunge upon the update. But really the more I think about it, with SSDs getting cheaper and cheaper, HDDs with moving parts being VERY cheap but clearly no longer current tech... how critical was it really for me to have my RAID stacked inside the case, as long as I had access to it at high enough speed? TB offers that. Heck, even USB3 is pretty good in terms of using it for media archiving.

    What the MP doesn't offer is a somewhat cheap way to build an upgradeable box chock full of storage. An xMac, if you will. I think a lot of us wanted that. I don't blame the folks that still do. I think the market is steering us toward all external except your OS flash drive, but I recognize that not everyone's workflow and infrastructure is there yet.

    During the interminable wait for an MP refresh, I was able to try using a Mini with USB3 storage for my home media server, and I quickly realized that it would have been overkill to get a MP for home. For work, I still need the power of a Mac Pro, but external storage isn't even close to an issue there -- the system merely needs to be able to host a point-of-sale infrastructure with extremely fast database processing (lookups, operations, etc), and the DB is barely fifty gigs. The on-board PCIe flash drive should be more than enough. I shouldn't need anything but the black bucket and KVM. I'm looking forward to trying it.
  15. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Not the best idea bro. Joining your boot with an external is stability impaired.
    All the boot drive characteristics gain very little being on PCI vs SATA. SATA3 is not a bottleneck to random 4K with lite queue depths. Sequential numbers look good on spec sheets but so does that display with a 50,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Lies everywhere I tell you.
  16. cmanderson macrumors regular


    May 20, 2013
    No, at least not in "Fusion Drive's" current and future (Mavericks) iterations. Unless something changes or someone comes up with a hack. Fusion Drive tech is not designed to work with external drives. Also, the Flash storage in the "new" Mac Pro is PCIe, not SATA.
  17. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Yes, you can make an external fusion drive (look up diskutil) but it is not a good idea for obvious reasons. (Quick google search)
    No one said SATA was the connection on the new Mac Pro. Just that SATA on existing tech could be a bottleneck, which I refuted depending on use. Now you are caught up and educated.
  18. cmanderson, Jun 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013

    cmanderson macrumors regular


    May 20, 2013
    Creating a core storage volume with external drives and a true Fusion drive is not the same thing. Also, I stated it was not DESIGNED to work with external drives. Now you are caught up...
  19. derbothaus, Jun 25, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2013

    derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    A 'true' Fusion drive is nothing more than core storage volume. But I can see that the advertising blurred that for you. And it is indeed not designed to work with externals.
    Which is why I mentioned that. But it can be done without 'hacks'.
  20. LaDirection macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2006
    I don't want to burst your bubble, friend, but no blockbuster is rendered on a Mac. Even Pixar has NEVER used any Macs. Not for modelling, not for render, only for editing.
  21. cmanderson macrumors regular


    May 20, 2013
    You're mistaken. You could build a core storage volume with OS X Lion, but it wasn't a "Fused" volume. Core Storage is also used for encapsulation of encrypted volumes.

    "Core Storage
    Layered between the whole-disk partition scheme and the file system used for a specific partition is a new logical volume format known as Core Storage, introduced in OS X Lion. Core Storage makes it easy to dynamically allocate partitions while providing full compatibility with existing filesystems. In particular, Core Storage allows in-place transformations such as backgrounding the full-disk encryption used by File Vault 2."


    Many created false "Fusion" drives with diskutil prior to the PROPER version of diskutil being included in an ML update. Only machines shipped with Fusion drive support included the proper version of diskutil, therefore all those users were doing was (essentially) creating a concatenation of disks.

    It's entirely different activity when the OS is dynamically moving contents of the disk at the block level to the faster of the two disks, versus filling up the first disk in the volume's file system and then spilling the rest onto the available space of the next disk. A Fusion drive reserves 4GB of space for writes and then manages the rest of the block level allocation.

    Logical Volumes have been around for years.

    Storage Tiering has been around for years.

    Fusion Drive is an implementation of Storage Tiering with Logical Volume Groups for OS X that works. Core Storage is the foundation that makes it possible. Don't confuse them as one thing and denigrate the developers who built it. They're people too.

    Check on your facts before being so bloody rude.

    Oh, here's some "education" for you.
  22. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    I did one with 10.8. Sorry the quick link was 10.7. Didn't check, it was quick. The fusion drive built in diskutil is the same exact thing. The gui was updated later yes but is just that, a gui for diskutil. I know as I have dropped a shell on an iMac fusion drive. Same everything. I never dropped explicatives or called you immature names though. So rude in in the eye of the.. Your link is what I did pretty much verbatim,
  23. CaptHenryMorgan macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2013
    The District
    As a freelancer who used to have to haul his 40 lbs rig to client sites, this thing is perfect. I'm all on Thunderbolt anyway (one Thunderbolt drive/client/project, it's a perfect solution with hot swappable docks). I can toss this thing in my pack and bring it on site and have the power of a 12-core desktop anywhere i need it.
  24. cmanderson macrumors regular


    May 20, 2013
    Smugness begat the name calling, which I apologize for but I was not responding to you in the first place. If you noticed.


    Read this and especially focus on the last paragraph of the first stanza "The Profusion of Fusion Confusion"
  25. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    Looks to me like the new Mac Pro was designed to stand alone. One 27in display, a small USB or TB second HD, an iPhone jack and a Time Capsule over there in the corner.

    It's the perfect rich guy's really cool Mac in the same way that a completely maxed out 27in iMac is. Excellent high-end prosumer products both.

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