[POLL] What are the Odds to have PCIe Slots in the new Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Mago, Feb 27, 2018.


What Are The Possibilities to See Industry Standard PCIe Slots in the New Mac Pro

Poll closed Mar 27, 2018.
  1. Sure Apple Is to going back to the CheeseGrater, (impies not Video on TB3 or an inelegant solution)

  2. a New Open-Std PCIe Connector derived from the one on the Trashintosh with TB3-Video

  3. GPU to use propietary Apple-Only Slots, but an Open PCIe x8 Slot w for Hardware other than GPUs

  4. Only Propietary PCIe Slots

  5. Std PCIe Slots with GPUs with dedicated internal Connetor to feed TB3, but sealed system

  1. Mago macrumors 68020

    Aug 16, 2011
    Beyond the Thunderdome
    Before Vote consider few Facts:
    1. Thunderbolt 3 Technology requires a Video signal from the GPUs to feed TB3 Controllers and enable Video on TB3: there are 2 Solutions: an New GPU-PCIe connector including this video signal, Apple could make this an Open STD so nVidia or anyone could sell this GPUs aftermarket, or to drive thru an cable that signal to the Motherboard, or even a STD PCIe slot with non std GPU with an internal DisplayPort Cable to feed the TB3 Headers.
    2. Apple Considers "Modular" even the Mac Mini, check the trashintosh launch it depicted it as a Modular Mac (Imagine they consider the display a Module...)
    3. Apple Historical reluctance to DIY repairs or upgrades, the iMac Pro is an good example as you can upgrade its ram only at authorized partners, or void the warranty,
  2. barmann macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2010
  3. Theophany macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2008
    NW London.
  4. h9826790, Feb 27, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018

    h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    No idea, but my gut feeling told me that the chance is less than 20%.

    For me, a 7,1 without PCIe slot is dead on arrival. I don’t want to see that. But the trend of how Apple going told me that the chance of having standard PCIe slot is very slim. In fact, we may consider ourselves lucky enough if the 7,1 is not thermal limiting , or even just having a real proper cooling system. (I personally won’t consider the iMac Pro has proper cooling. Despite lots of iMac users so happy about that, but they base on the comparison to iMac. It’s just move from worst to bad. The CPU / GPU still work to 100C for no practical reason. And require downvolt / downclock to stay within the thermal envelop. Also, some users still experience thermal throttling.)
  5. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    I don't really understand the options in the poll very well. But I'd say there's very little chance that we will see 4 standard PCIe slots like before. There might be 1 or 2 slots--I give that a 50/50 chance.
  6. Joe The Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Jul 26, 2006
    HP has pro workstations with an voodoo like loop back cable to feed video to the TB card.
  7. OddyOh macrumors 6502


    Nov 29, 2005
    Regina, SK, Canada
    I give it a zero percent chance for PCIe slots. Apple is all in on Thunderbolt, and expensive Thunderbolt solutions.
    I’m hoping there are at least 4 TB ports. Daisy chaining rarely works.
    Just because they said ‘modular’ doesn’t mean PCIe slots...it might mean some kind of dock thing like the Nintendo Switch, for all we know. Hopefully Jonny Ive is nowhere near this design team.
  8. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009
    Why not just TB3 data only ports. That's what we have on all our workstation PCs.
  9. Flint Ironstag, Feb 27, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018

    Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

    Dec 1, 2013
    Houston, TX USA
    There have been Xeon SKUs with integrated graphics before. I'm certain Intel could provide one with sufficient punch to drive the upcoming pro display. Don't hear this discussed much. Or, since there will be PCIe slots, there's room for a GPU on a mezzanine card somewhere in there.

    The more I think about it, that's a very Apple solution. Baseline GPU options are Vega 56 and 64 (or equivalents) on a mezzanine card. Apple can customize it to do whatever trickery to handle video over TB3, enthusiasts can upgrade as new cards hit the market (and if not, who cares we have PCIe again).

    Hmmm... coupled with my belief that they're really into this thermal core language... imagine the same thermal core. Your configuration options are (per side)

    1. CPU
    2. GPU
    3. 2nd GPU or CPU

    Only DIY would attempt upgrade of these core parts.

    The rest of the chassis could house 4 full-sized Nvidia GPUs and still be reasonably small. So a mini Z? They must have something more in mind. Some high speed fabric to tie the core components together could be something. AMD was talking about bringing an open source NVLink competitor to market, but it's been a while...
  10. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Because it is non solution for Display Docking stations which is pretty much all Apple sells and is probably at least an order magnitude percentage larger presence in the overall Mac ecosystem than in your cluster of workstations. ( Isn't that one of the primary arguments against the iMac .... if buying new computer why do I need a new monitor/display. if the display uses TB then TB is a baseline requirement. )

    Right now TB v3 is pragmatically the only single cable 5K monitor solution. ( Apple is going to pick a two wire solution when a one wire one will work ? )

    These are workstations with TB controllers integrated into the motherboard? ( how new Mac systems over last 2-3 years don't have TB integrated into the motherboard ? ) How likely is TB going to be an optional socket on a Mac going forward?

    If add-in cards, these cards do not have a DP input socket ?
    --- Post Merged, Feb 28, 2018 ---
    Not in the Xeon E5 / Xeon W class. The >6 "large" core class trade off die space used for GPU for more cores. You can't have both in a single die. ( AMD's single die Vega integration choke off L3 cache space from the baseline Zen core implementation to make it fit. )

    The Mac Pro wouldn't be competitive with a smaller core baseline design than that of iMac Pro ( or even the upper range of iMac ).

    Long term Intel might do a very large EMIB (multichip package) design that cobbles dies that are primary CPU with another die that is primarily GPU. ( there is small step in that direction with the Intel+AMD mash up coming for smaller mainstream CPUs. ) . The tension is going to be that additional dies dropping into the package could also just do more x86 cores. if in a 'core count' war most of the pressure is going to move that way. Intel pushing into their own discrete GPU die business would offset that though..

    using a socket that has PCIe lanes is different than a socket that is the fixed in stone PCI-e standard connector.
    MXM GPU cards carry both PCIe and DisplayPort data. MXM only issue is that it is a bit too small for high TDP cards.

    There is no trickery needed if the card connector(s) carry both signals.

    Not sure how read the meeting transcript from last year and come away with that. The iMac Pro has somewhat more decoupled system. There is one thermal exit port but two fans and the GPU and CPU placed significantly apart from the primary radiator.

    "or CPU" doesn't work. Need at least 4 more RAM DIMM slots. The amount of RAM coupled to the GPU is dramatically smaller than the max RAM capacity the system would need to carry to be competitive.

    If trying to maximize volume used "bang for buck" then a CPU with 8 DIMM slots and a GPU with its own thermal solution work fine.

    It is same problem gong to run into if try to jam the GPU into a monolithic multi-chip package. The extremely close proximity is going to feedback into the thermal limits of the package and the single cooler you can stack on top.

    Significantly more likely is that Apple goes back to multiple thermal zones as opposed to singular thermal core.

    the mini Z's don't do that so not sure how Apple is going to pull that off. ( Z4 isn't going to cut it unless "full size" means entry level desktop cards. Once get into Z6 - Z8 size range 'mini' is a misnomer. )
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Before get into these facts the questions that compose this poll aren't going to generation results with high signal to noise ratio. They inject their own noise skew in several ways.

    1. A connector ( whether new open standard or not) doesn't address the boot problem. Even back in the pre MP 2012 era random GPU cards didn't fully function with Mac so how does the connector solve that issue? An "open" solution in which lots of solution vendors don't want to participate in isn't particularly open. Similarly a single vendor working on something and saying "ta da" it is open is also problematical.

    2. Option 3's "... but an Open PCIe x8 Slot w for Hardware other than GPUs ..." is needlessly restrictive. a full x16 slot can take ( x1 , x4 , x8 , or x16 ) cards. The point of a open standard PCIe slot would be for highly variable options. Capping at x8 closes down the range.

    3. Option 4's tightly coupling of 'sealed' and some internal kludge is contrived. There is a fan base of the kluge solution ( just look at all of the TB add-in cards in the Windows system space.). Sealing up the case also blocks off the RAM which didn't do for the Mac Pro 2013 so why now?

    ( the iMac Pro's larger exhaust vent 'ate up' the DIMM placement on that system. If the exit exhaust didn't 'need' to be hidden behind the pedestal arm that wasn't necessary. The Mac Pro is extremely unlikely to have a pedestal arm. since "modularity" is largely decoupled display. )

    There are more than two solutions.

    Apple could make a GPU card with more than one connector. The PCI-e feed could be standard. The DisplayPort feed (and power feeds ) could be separate. If need a full sized card anyway for thermal dissipation and horizontal ( 'long' edge of the card down ) then the connector doesn't have to fit into far more limited edge space ( leading to a single connector. )

    So could take a standard GPU reference design and simply remove the exterior video out sockets. The DP traces for those sockets are re-routed 'down' ( can arc from GPU down to eliminate sharp right angles. ) to the lower edge of card but not necessarily back to the PCI-e connector.

    For the standard card is going with the yet even more cables solutions ( which isn't very Apple like) if shift the placement of the GPU card's slot forward, then can jam the rube goldberg loop back solution inside. ( in fact that is your option number 4. ) . However, that really isn't about Thunderbolt. that is primarily about using the lowest cost, 'off the self" cards possible. That really isn't Thunderbolt's issue or requirement. That is about folks prioritizing form over function.

    from a complete, usable systems perspective why isn't the discrete display a module?

  12. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2007
    Does this warrant a Tim Cook dig? If you look at every product that they've introduced since Tim Cook took over, you can see a progression to a more tightly controlled ecosystem. Even though they've admitted their blunder with the trash can, it seemed to me to be more about the dual gpu than anything else, notwithstanding their lip service to the professional user community.

    I'm not sure I see much hope for change when the man in charge was raised in a logistics environment, which is all about control, particularly cost from end to end, i.e. conception to end of life. The more flexibility built into a device the less control Apple has over both the user experience and its cost environment. While they seem to have tried to address the interest in the professional community with the iMac Pro, it is still within the controlled Apple environment, which making a modular MacPro would not.

    Maybe Tim Cook realizes that there is some value in allowing some leeway with MacPros, which Steve Jobs evidently understood, though it also appeared to frustrate him, so maybe he just tolerated it. So the best anyone can hope for is that Cook has reached a Jobsian toleration for this wild community of users and allows his engineers to make exactly what the trash can wasn't, but the cheese graters were. They can figure out how to have flexibility with gpus while still using TB, as well as RAM, hard drive flexibility and whatever else the pro community might need. That is, if Tim Cook let's them.
  13. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009
    double post
    --- Post Merged, Feb 28, 2018 ---
    God forbid we have more than one cable!

    I mean, the Trashcan we had here had about 12 cables sticking out of it.
  14. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

    Dec 1, 2013
    Houston, TX USA
    MEGA snip. Thanks for the insight on mezzanine GPUs and those Xeon SKUs. Regarding mini Z8 - no, not tiny, but considerably less volume minus all the spinners.
  15. spyguy10709 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2010
    One Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA
    This poll should have a thunderbolt 3 only option, which is what I think is likely.
  16. Mago thread starter macrumors 68020

    Aug 16, 2011
    Beyond the Thunderdome
    TB3 is only a solution feasible on low-end system coz provides only 4x PCIe lines equivalent, not enough bandwidth for a High end Vega or nVidia Pascal, develop a custom TB interface capable of 16x PCIe BW is beyond current Apple R&D capabilities, and i dont see PRO users paying such premium (300$ on a STD TB3, consider a special TB-X wil cost much more)
  17. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003
    If the new MP doesn't have user-accessible PCI-e slots, Apple shouldn't bother releasing it.
  18. Horselover Fat macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2012
    It should be obvious: A company that releases a computer without all the standard connectibility and expects it to succeed in a market where customers highly appreciate standard components and easy, cost-effective expandibility, seems to be guided by a deranged view. I'm not sure Apple have learned enough from the past to know that Pro does not stand for Proprietary.

    To answer the OP: I don't know. There might be a chance since they, for the first time, excused themselves for neglecting this important market and promised something new. Let's see.
  19. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    TBv3 only with an implication that there are no GPUs inside at doesn't work as pragmatically need to feed the video from inside the primary system.

    TBv3 as the only way to add a 2nd or 3rd GPU is largely covered by option 4: "Proprietary PCIe slots " ( which are presumably filled with 1 or more Apple GPUs) . Technically soldered to the motherboard could also fall into the "Proprietary PCIe" too. ( no 3rd party parts or no module replacement from Apple .... not much of a difference. )
  20. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    One other issue the poll is sweeping under the rug more than bit. The kludges in option 1 and 5 seem to implicitly is basically copying the solution on Dell/HP/etc workstations have done for just one TB port. If there are 4-6 TBv3 ports then would need 4-6 loop back Rube Goldberg cables. For options 5 you'd need 4-6 internal headers and space so that the 4-6 cables coming out of card didn't inpeed the air flow in any significant way. For option 1, after 4+ years of ranting about too many cables coming out of the back of the current mac pro this will be some kind of reduction and/or acceptable?
  21. ActionableMango, Mar 2, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018

    ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Can someone explain why people would want their discrete PCIe GPU to use the Thunderbolt port instead of just using its own output ports? I can think of reasons not to:
    • Ugly cable kludge
    • You block a Thunderbolt port from being used for other devices
    • Thunderbolt is typically years behind Display Port for display capability
    So discrete-PCIe-GPU-over-TB3 requires twice the number of cables in an ugly setup, reduces your device capability, and reduces your display capability. What's the advantage?
  22. barmann macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2010
    I'll accept the cables, if they and everything connected to them are free of charge and don't make any extra noise .
    Until then, I'll complain about externals that cost a fortune, have worse performance than internal solutions , add fan noise and make me find a fix for the weekly OSX updates .
    And about the cables and dongles too .

    As for the poll, the next MP will have industry standard everything and lots of internal expansion slots .
    Including a bottle opener .

    Seriously though , Apple better go full vanilla, or go .... ......... .
  23. Mago thread starter macrumors 68020

    Aug 16, 2011
    Beyond the Thunderdome
  24. drewsof07 macrumors 68000


    Oct 30, 2006
    tbh I fully expect them to come out later this year and say "The response to iMac Pro has been overwhelming, it outsold the last three Mac Pros combined. We really feel the Pro market has evolved beyond a traditional desktop" or some other nonsense to justify killing the MP for good
  25. AidenShaw, Mar 8, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018

    AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    I made a similar observation right after the mea culpa.


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