Radical Mac Pro Redesign

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by manewman, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. manewman macrumors newbie

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    #1
    The new Mac Pro is obviously held up by hardware integration issues. One might suspect the Intel set chips are the culprit, but never mind Intel, AMD and its potential of 48 physical cores have provided Apple's difficulties in the final release decisions.

    While the Intel processors have the been the go-to chips for Apple in the past four years, the skyrocketing prices and lack of supply are creating constraints on the marketplace that haven't been there in the past. With the requirement to submit to consumers wants and needs on the power to price ratio, Apple has been forced to explore the potential of integrating the AMD set chips in lieu of Intel products, as did Sun Microsystems.

    The rebirth of the new Mac Pro will... ehh emm... most likely include the 8-core and 12-core AMD Opteron 6000 Series chip platform requiring a radical redesign of the Mac Pro chassis. The new chassis might also be the segue for Apple to combine the Mac Pro and the Xserve product lines, as it will make more sense for the Mac Pros to run the server editions of the OS X operating systems, as well as provide the high end customers a factory way to rack mount the computers.
     
  2. belvdr macrumors 603

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    #2
    How is this obviously held up by hardware integration? I don't think OS X runs natively on AMDs without some modifications to the kexts. The Mac Pro requires too much rack space as well, given its performance is on par with the Xserve.
     
  3. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #3
    I don't see Apple creating a computer which is not supported by their operative system. :)
     
  4. manewman thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Apple has the ability to make their own operating system run on what ever chipset they choose. Additionally the 64 bit extensions between Intel and AMD are extremely similar. The beauty of UNIX is in its flexibility and extensibility. It is a solid platform to provide multiple options for multiple chipsets, as we saw in the release of OS X 10.5, which ran on both the G5 and the Intel chipsets. Those processors are as dissimilar as you can get. Creating an additional set of instructions for the AMD64 extension would take very little work.

    A radical redesign of the chassis might include taking the current width of the computer down to a one or two U form factor. It would make the most economic sense for Apple to eliminate one of their product lines, which would not only speed up development time, but create greater economies of scale, allowing for a larger reflection of cost savings that would ultimately be reflected in the final retail price.
     
  5. belvdr macrumors 603

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    #5
    I still believe you're being optimistic. I don't see Apple dropping the Xserve line.

    As for UNIX, it's only as flexible and extensible as the vendor makes it. Why would Apple offer AMD in one machine and Intel in the other?
     
  6. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #6
    It's not just a few kexts to install, you need a new kernel

    So if macpro would release next month with AMD processors, ALL THE SNOW LEOPARD COPIES SOLD IN THE WORLD would install a non-working OS on the new mac pro. does that sound "apple" to you?

    apple already turned the mini into a server, why turn the macpro into one.
     
  7. belvdr macrumors 603

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    #7
    Are you sure about that? OS X is based on BSD, and the native BSD kernel will boot on either chip. I thought Apple simply removed that ability through a kext.
     
  8. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #8
  9. manewman thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    If both Free BSD and Darwin can run on AMD chipsets, both of which are the underlying framework for OS X, then OS X would be also capable of running on an AMD chipset as well.

    It is not uncommon for Apple to patch for new chipsets. The computers would also be released OEM copies of Snow Leopard that would include this patch, once again something we have seen Apple do in the past.
     
  10. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    #10
    For me, AMD = back to PC. There is zero percent chance AMD will show in a Mac Pro at least in the next couple years or so.
     
  11. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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  12. manewman thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Sun switched from Intel to AMD in 2008. Oracle's Sun hardware sales were up over 25% this quarter alone because of the value and performance increases.
     
  13. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #13
    Nope. I think the delay of the new Mac Pros is a software integration thing.

    I think Apple would like to offer the Mac Pros with 8 or 16 cores (or perhaps 6 and 12) but have recognized that the majority of users are barely using 4 cores. Grand Central Dispatch was supposed to remedy that, but it's not really well utilized.

    I think Apple will make a showy release of some of their own flagship software, hand-in-hand with some 3rd party applications, that takes full advantage of 8 cores. At this release they will also announce the new Mac Pros that have enough cores to make these new optimized versions of multi-core aware applications work x4, or x8, or x12 times faster.

    Bumping the hardware will bump performance by 10% to 50% at most. Fully utilizing all cores will crank up performance by factors of 2, 4, 8, ?? Every pro studio would have to have one to stay competitive. It differentiates the the Mac Pros from the iMacs by putting 6 or 8 cores in the Mac Pro at a minimum vs the 4 in the iMac.
     
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #14
    They've already made a notable investment in the 2009 system design. Now what you have to keep in mind is, that Intel designed the socket and chipset to work for the architecture's full cycle (Tick Tock). That means, they run for 2x years, and the second round of CPU's only need a microcode update to make them work in equipment already being manufactured.

    In simple terms, it's done to keep things cost effective. Switching to AMD right now would be an absolutely stupid thing to do.

    Perhaps the 2012 systems could be, but even then, AMD's parts aren't as fast as Intel's enteprise grade parts (Xeons). AMD tends to focus on the lower end, though the cost/performance ratio is better than Intel. Overall, AMD's performance is great for budget to low mid-range servers (where that cost/performance ratio benefits them), but not so much for workstations, as they need real power (power consumption is a bit less of a concern vs. performance). Though there's similarities, they are different markets (each is a subsection of the enterprise market).

    As per the supply problem related to Intel, it's total BS now (over), and even when it was "True", the article made a great disservice to the actual facts. There's two ways you buy parts from Intel. One is Direct (how vendors such as Dell, HP and Apple buy), the other Distibutor channels (for smaller vendors that can't buy in lots; 1 lot = 1000 parts), and it's the Distributor Channels that it was applicable to (Direct customers purchases are negotiated in contracts, so parts are used to fill these orders first to avoid penalties).

    Dell has had those processors available and shipping for awhile now (there's a delay between when the vendor gets the parts, and they ship, as there's manufacturing related validation testing involved). Even small independent shops can get their hands on the 36xx and 56xx parts now.
     
  15. manewman thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Supply works much differently when you purchase a million processors. Allocations are set on futures and if Apple hadn't requested an allocation then those processors would not be preserved by Intel on good faith that Apple would eventually purchase them. Additionally, it is quite easy to get a few processors when you purchase it off the gray market and that is why you see the little mom and pop shops having those processors available.

    Also explain why AMD engineers have been spotted on campus at Apple many times in the last six months.
     
  16. mattbatt macrumors member

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    #16
    I think Apple will do a silent update near September that includes the new 6 core chip and some minor enhancements (HD, SSD options).

    Maybe faster ram. Maybe.

    No blueray
    No FCP suite yet
    No case redesign
    No usb3
    No AMD

    Now, that said, I hope I'm wrong!

    Also, I feel splitting their lineup with different processors is counterproductive, but remember that rumor with AMD execs seen at Apple headquarters? Who knows. . .
     
  17. strausd macrumors 68030

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    #17
    Whats your reasoning for believing they will be released in September?
     
  18. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

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    #18
    36xx parts? Like the 3640 and 3620 ? How about the 36xx part; singular.

    When was the last time Apple shipped half of a "basic, better, best" product line up where the "half" that would ship later is the lower one? Last Fall iMacs came out and the upper end i5/i7 ones shipped later. Would it have made sense to ship the i7 one and then hold the more entry level ones back for later ? Or orient the product launch around the entry offering and perhaps add in the upper end faster options later.


    So basic root cause behind Distribution being restricted till end of June. The 32nm fab lines do not have all the products rolled out to them yet because Intel can't make as much of everything that all customers would want.
     
  19. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

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    #19
    And yet a large fraction of the protests about the Mac Pro in this forum is that they cost too much. Apple is due for a new board in 2011. It isn't that they don't have the financial resources to move that up a year if truly motivated.

    For what Intel is charging for 6 core , $999+ you can get a 12 core CPU package. ( http://www.amd.com/us/products/pricing/Pages/server-opteron.aspx ). Likewise what Intel is charging for 4 core , ~$300 , can get an 8 core.


    If the bulk of the Mac Pro market is composed of folks who only want 1-2 cores running at max GHz then the Mac Pro is in trouble.
     
  20. theaero macrumors 6502

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    #20

    I'd rather wait till 2011 and have a chance at PCIE3.0 / lightpeak / USb3, etc.

    as for AMD/Bluray? No thanks. External solutions if you REALLY need it, but I hate magnetic media. Also, rackmount case, plz?
     
  21. Vylen macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Ignoring credible source citation...

    AMD owns ATi... so no surprises if it were true. Get the ATi/AMD folk on campus to help improve graphics drivers/etc.

    Also, there will be no AMD CPU's in a Mac unless Intel sinks. So drop it - you're just on some deluded wishful high.
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #22
    Which is why some vendors are able to purchase directly from Intel rather than dealing with the volitile distributor channels.

    I see that as Engineering Samples being sold off on eBay, not "remnants" sold off by other vendors, but are the same P/N as sold by Intel during full production (i.e. bought 100 for example, and used 96). This is how parts brokers make their business on.

    Apple could be taking a serious look at AMD chips, but it's also a way to corner Intel over a difficult negotiation (business tactics, and seems more likely to me).

    I know the current part ATM is the W3680, as the other 2x models aren't released yet (staggered).

    But it's not unknown that all the W36xx parts released simultaneously. My comments are based on what's available now, not a quarter or two down the road.

    Yes, a vendor could wait. But given the simplicity of using the new available part and the release dates of the remaining W36xx part (since there's no need to create a new board), it makes better sense to go ahead and release it now IMO.

    No, my point was, that it makes better financial sense to time a CPU vendor switch with a new board design (2011 could be the introduction of AMD equiped systems).

    I just don't see them doing it earlier than that, and am more inclined to think the negotiations with AMD are as a negotiation tactic.

    Yes, but it makes sense to do this with consumer models, such as the Mini, or a low end iMac.

    And as per AMD, it will give them the ability to make a lower cost product with a discrete graphics processor if they want to skip IGP equiped Sandy Bridge parts. This would make some sense.
     

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