MP All Models Speculating about an xMac's future.

mattspace

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So, many months ago, I speculated that "rethinking the Mac Pro" would be really rethinking, & the mMP would be an all-in on PCI, including putting the standard IO on a PCI card (apart from ethernet in the actual machine?), to which the "Apple is all about minimalism and simplicity and would never do that" folks reacted as expected, and lo and behold, Apple gave us the slottiest slotbox they've ever made - hell, it's more slot-centric than your average slotbox PC as far as I can see.

Something I also speculated (IIRC as a part of "choose how many slots you want" modular ideas) they'd do is provide software to allow people to manually manage the hardware configuration, in terms of assigning bandwidth / lanes and priorities etc - again, "Apple is all about simplicity, they'd never let or make people do manual things like that".

Well, courtesy of Guilherme Rambo:

https://twitter.com/_inside/status/1145761278251741185

(attached image)

With that in mind, I think we can become more confident that the "Apple is all about simplicity and minimalism" era is pretty much over, and we might be transitioning into an "Apple is about Utility" era, a return to "Design is about enabling function".

Ive has been sh*tcanned the way Forstall was, probably something along the lines of:

Tim: You screwed up our most important Mac products by having your eye off the ball.
Ive: You never come down to look at and approve what we're working on.
Tim: Steve did that, I'm not Steve. It was your job to care for the products. You're either here to do that, or you're not.

Now we have the feeding frenzy as the Cook and Ive camps are media-leaking their own sides, Ive's people are letting slip that Ive didn't like how numbers-focussed Cook was, Cook's people are leaking that Ive was disinterested and never there.

Either way, the old orthodoxy about what Apple would do may not be a predictor for the future. If this next Macbook Pro comes out, and gets a similar Pro treatment, focussed on utility, and giving control back to the user (fixing the keyboard, for example, or having a PCMCIA-like cardslot module that accepts adapters so it can be a CF, SD, or XQD slot), personally, I think it may be a good sign that our much wanted xMac has a future.

Clearly, Apple recognises that external expansion isn't good enough - and they'll also hear that this new Mac Pro is too expensive and too high-end for a significant segment of users - the folks who want the pickup truck with the full-sized bed & load capacity, but don't care about having carpets, or leather seats in the cabin. And sure, call it a gaming-machine all you like, but Apple launched a game service, and people who develop games (a lot of whom are indy), need a machine as good as any customer's gaming machine to test them on. The old orthodoxy of "Apple doesn't care about gamers" may be just as fragile as "Apple is about minimalism".

So, personally I'm growing in confidence that after the next Macbook Pro, we're going to see the return of a displayless machine between the Mac Mini and Mac Pro - they'll give the Mac Pro some time alone to soak up all the orders they can, then they'll release this new machine, which will be iMac-class processors & ram, and have a single MPX bay for one MPX module, or two standard cards, including the power headers, to broaden the MPX volumes, while still reserving the dual MPX (Quad GPU) option for the Mac Pro. Wouldn't surprise me to see the Mac Plus name resurrected, either.
 

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Strider64

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Dec 1, 2015
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I don't see Apple doing anything like that as there isn't that much of a demand for iMac line of computers as it is. Heck, experts only about 6 months ago were even wondering if Apple was going to continue making iMac computers (I'm not talking the professional line). Apple's bread & butter is the iPhone & iPad lineup and that is where they make most of their $$$.
 

casperes1996

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I don't see Apple doing anything like that as there isn't that much of a demand for iMac line of computers. Heck, experts only about 6 months ago were even wondering if Apple was going to continue making the iMac computers (I'm not talking the professional line). Apple's bread & butter is the iPhone & iPad lineup and that is where they make most of their $$$.
The iMac represents the majority of Apple's desktop computer sales. Apple has shown a stable interest in the Mac lineup, even on the desktop, and in that space, the iMac is their top-seller. They sell more laptops than desktops, but more iMacs than Mac mini and Mac Pro combined, and the Mac Pro got a big overhaul.
 

StuAff

macrumors regular
Aug 6, 2007
165
58
Portsmouth, UK
Either the pricing for the MP is a deliberate ploy to make room for AN Other model (be it a mini Pro, a Pro Mini, or something else), and something else is coming, or…no it's not, they're happy with the model range as it is, and if you want the midrange model Apple has never released, go elsewhere. I wouldn't be surprised either way.
 

bsbeamer

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Sep 19, 2012
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It's clear there is an appetite for a machine between the Mac Mini that is cheaper and less expandable than MP7,1. It's been there for 10 years. Throw in a modern Core i9 option, 4-6 slots for RAM, 2-3 PCIe, 1-2 SSD and it would be an easy sell for $2500-3000 starting. This is the bulk of the Hackintosh community. Some would still circumvent Apple, but it would lead to more unit sales overall. It could (would) sacrifice some iMac sales which might be why they don't want to do it. Don't get me started with the environmentally friendly counter argument...
 

crjackson2134

macrumors 601
Mar 6, 2013
4,495
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Charlotte, NC
It's clear there is an appetite for a machine between the Mac Mini that is cheaper and less expandable than MP7,1. It's been there for 10 years. Throw in a modern Core i9 option, 4-6 slots for RAM, 2-3 PCIe, 1-2 SSD and it would be an easy sell for $2500-3000 starting. This is the bulk of the Hackintosh community. Some would still circumvent Apple, but it would lead to more unit sales overall. It could (would) sacrifice some iMac sales which might be why they don't want to do it. Don't get me started with the environmentally friendly counter argument...
I plan to (eventually) buy a 7,1... That said, I would buy the machine you described at release...
 

Flint Ironstag

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Dec 1, 2013
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Houston, TX USA
They should just release it (as described above, basically a scaled down mMP) for 2020 and call it the Mac. If reasonably priced, the nostalgia alone would make it a hit. I can see the commercials now...

They really need a Mac in the lineup.
 

goMac

macrumors 604
Apr 15, 2004
6,765
782
I don’t think the Hackintosh market is big enough for Apple to care. And they don’t want to go head to head against Dell and HP.

They’ll probably continue frowning disapprovingly at Hackintoshes but looking the other way and allowing them to exist. And they’ll keep working on making existing Macs fill the gap better than creating new ones.

I think the next MacBook Pro redesign could maybe be Apple’s answer to a mid range machine. Especially if it’s been through the pro workflow group.

With Thunderbolt, Apple has a way to avoid PCIe slots. I think PCIe slots will stay exclusive to the Mac Pro.
 

casperes1996

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Yup, "Mac" is a brand, not a product.

Yeah, exactly. Though arguably the same could be said for iPad, yet iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad mini live alongside a device simply named "iPad".
It just feels different with the Mac considering its history though. I would smile a bit at the return of a name like PowerMac, Mac Plus or something like that... Or it would be quite fun to call it the Apple IIIe...
 

mattspace

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Yeah, exactly. Though arguably the same could be said for iPad, yet iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad mini live alongside a device simply named "iPad".
It just feels different with the Mac considering its history though. I would smile a bit at the return of a name like PowerMac, Mac Plus or something like that... Or it would be quite fun to call it the Apple IIIe...
Thing is, there was, and still is "iPad". There's never been a product called "Mac" - The original Mac was "Macintosh" the Macintosh 512, SE, Plus etc.
 

casperes1996

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Thing is, there was, and still is "iPad". There's never been a product called "Mac" - The original Mac was "Macintosh" the Macintosh 512, SE, Plus etc.
Good point, mate. Good point.

On discussion though; If Apple are eventually moving to ARM chips anyway though, a mid-tower with a socketed Intel chip is even more unlikely
 

handheldgames

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Apr 4, 2009
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Pacific NW, USA
So, many months ago, I speculated that "rethinking the Mac Pro" would be really rethinking, & the mMP would be an all-in on PCI, including putting the standard IO on a PCI card (apart from ethernet in the actual machine?), to which the "Apple is all about minimalism and simplicity and would never do that" folks reacted as expected, and lo and behold, Apple gave us the slottiest slotbox they've ever made - hell, it's more slot-centric than your average slotbox PC as far as I can see.

Something I also speculated (IIRC as a part of "choose how many slots you want" modular ideas) they'd do is provide software to allow people to manually manage the hardware configuration, in terms of assigning bandwidth / lanes and priorities etc - again, "Apple is all about simplicity, they'd never let or make people do manual things like that".

Well, courtesy of Guilherme Rambo:

https://twitter.com/_inside/status/1145761278251741185

(attached image)

With that in mind, I think we can become more confident that the "Apple is all about simplicity and minimalism" era is pretty much over, and we might be transitioning into an "Apple is about Utility" era, a return to "Design is about enabling function".

Ive has been sh*tcanned the way Forstall was, probably something along the lines of:

Tim: You screwed up our most important Mac products by having your eye off the ball.
Ive: You never come down to look at and approve what we're working on.
Tim: Steve did that, I'm not Steve. It was your job to care for the products. You're either here to do that, or you're not.

Now we have the feeding frenzy as the Cook and Ive camps are media-leaking their own sides, Ive's people are letting slip that Ive didn't like how numbers-focussed Cook was, Cook's people are leaking that Ive was disinterested and never there.

Either way, the old orthodoxy about what Apple would do may not be a predictor for the future. If this next Macbook Pro comes out, and gets a similar Pro treatment, focussed on utility, and giving control back to the user (fixing the keyboard, for example, or having a PCMCIA-like cardslot module that accepts adapters so it can be a CF, SD, or XQD slot), personally, I think it may be a good sign that our much wanted xMac has a future.

Clearly, Apple recognises that external expansion isn't good enough - and they'll also hear that this new Mac Pro is too expensive and too high-end for a significant segment of users - the folks who want the pickup truck with the full-sized bed & load capacity, but don't care about having carpets, or leather seats in the cabin. And sure, call it a gaming-machine all you like, but Apple launched a game service, and people who develop games (a lot of whom are indy), need a machine as good as any customer's gaming machine to test them on. The old orthodoxy of "Apple doesn't care about gamers" may be just as fragile as "Apple is about minimalism".

So, personally I'm growing in confidence that after the next Macbook Pro, we're going to see the return of a displayless machine between the Mac Mini and Mac Pro - they'll give the Mac Pro some time alone to soak up all the orders they can, then they'll release this new machine, which will be iMac-class processors & ram, and have a single MPX bay for one MPX module, or two standard cards, including the power headers, to broaden the MPX volumes, while still reserving the dual MPX (Quad GPU) option for the Mac Pro. Wouldn't surprise me to see the Mac Plus name resurrected, either.
As long as Tim Cook as the reigns, I doubt this will ever happen.
 

Objectivist-C

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2006
398
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I don’t think there are enough dollars there for Apple to chase, and they’re probably on the verge of switching to ARM anyway.

On the other hand, Apple seems to be all about product line bloat right now.
 

mattspace

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Good point, mate. Good point.

On discussion though; If Apple are eventually moving to ARM chips anyway though, a mid-tower with a socketed Intel chip is even more unlikely
I honestly don't think ARM on the Desktop is all that likely a thing in the near future - too many of the "iPad benches higher than a Mac" things seem to not involve how quickly processes get killed in iOS if they actually use the sort of resources a Mac app can use. My suspicion is that ARM isn't all that competitive with intel / AMD when used for the sort of workloads desktop machines encounter.

I don’t think there are enough dollars there for Apple to chase, and they’re probably on the verge of switching to ARM anyway.
The "Gaming PC" market, which is also what Puget Systems, Boxx etc sell as Workstations, has been growing at north of 20% year over year for a fair while now. It's about the only part of the PC industry (including Macs) that isn't moribund.

If Apple were to basically do the 2019 Mac Pro, with everything between the processor / ram & IO PCI card, and the bottom MPX bay removed, I think it would be a significant product, that would grow sales, far more than it would cannibalise Mac Pro, or iMac volumes.
 

handheldgames

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I honestly don't think ARM on the Desktop is all that likely a thing in the near future - too many of the "iPad benches higher than a Mac" things seem to not involve how quickly processes get killed in iOS if they actually use the sort of resources a Mac app can use. My suspicion is that ARM isn't all that competitive with intel / AMD when used for the sort of workloads desktop machines encounter.



The "Gaming PC" market, which is also what Puget Systems, Boxx etc sell as Workstations, has been growing at north of 20% year over year for a fair while now. It's about the only part of the PC industry (including Macs) that isn't moribund.

If Apple were to basically do the 2019 Mac Pro, with everything between the processor / ram & IO PCI card, and the bottom MPX bay removed, I think it would be a significant product, that would grow sales, far more than it would cannibalise Mac Pro, or iMac volumes.


Hmmm. ARM has been ready for Desktop Class CPU's for the iPad Pro and is delivering Server class CPU's. Imagine what they could do with a sustained power supply vs running off of battery power. Just saying...
 

mattspace

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Hmmm. ARM has been ready for Desktop Class CPU's for the iPad Pro and is delivering Server class CPU's. Imagine what they could do with a sustained power supply vs running off of battery power. Just saying...
I'm not convinced by the iPad Pro as being "desktop CPU" in the slightest - on a Mac I can power up a multi gigapixel image render that can run for 20 minutes, and do something else while that's running. You can't do that sort of thing on a "desktop class" iPad Pro.

It may seem similar for situations where there's only a single foreground app, but outside of that use-case, I think the whole "ARM is Desktop class" thing is hype.
 

casperes1996

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I honestly don't think ARM on the Desktop is all that likely a thing in the near future - too many of the "iPad benches higher than a Mac" things seem to not involve how quickly processes get killed in iOS if they actually use the sort of resources a Mac app can use. My suspicion is that ARM isn't all that competitive with intel / AMD when used for the sort of workloads desktop machines encounter.

Yes and no.
It's not so much about the processes getting killed when we talk performance here. On unrestrained workloads, where you are not power or thermally limited, what you see from the benchmarks is somewhat accurate. I say somewhat, since the benchmarking programs like Geekbench will have different characteristics on different platforms. The developers may try their best to make it as similar as possible, but even with identical code, you're working with a different compile path.
But add in thermal load over time and it won't stay that way. Geekbench has always been a "best case" benchmark, and also doesn't bring up throttling issues on other platforms. It shows off boost speeds. And to that end, the iPad has really impressive peak performance. But that can't always be equated to sustained performance. Especially not if all aspects of the system are being taxed, not just a CPU core or two.
So no, you couldn't just take the iPad CPU and put it in a desktop Mac and expect it to be on par with something like an iMac.
But that's not even the biggest concern. ARM based CPUs do exist in really high end server environments, and it is definitely possible to get high levels of performance out of them. And I do think the A-series of chips perform incredibly well already so the architecture might be able to scale up to desktop levels of performance without too much reworking.
But that's not all that makes a desktop chip. They'll need to re-work the memory controller and generally the whole I/O aspect of the chip, including adding PCIe lanes to it. The iPad SoC is not just so low wattage because its architected well. It's also that it just doesn't need a lot of CPU features that aren't directly linked to pure performance that you'd need to spend die space and power on in a traditional desktop chip.

But if Apple does plan on transitioning their laptops to ARM, I believe they'd eventually have plans to do the same for desktops, even if in a more limited fashion, starting out more like co-processors. Thus I also think it'd make the endeavour of a mid-tier Mac like discussed here be potentially way too short lived a concept to bother with. Plus I already don't think Apple has much interest in it to start with.
 

JesterJJZ

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Jul 21, 2004
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The direction Apple took with the new Mac Pro proves anything is possible. Literally no one expected Apple to make a BeastPro tower slotbox. Sure, many of us dreamed of it, but even we were doubtful.
 

Objectivist-C

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Jul 1, 2006
398
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The "Gaming PC" market, which is also what Puget Systems, Boxx etc sell as Workstations, has been growing at north of 20% year over year for a fair while now. It's about the only part of the PC industry (including Macs) that isn't moribund.

If Apple were to basically do the 2019 Mac Pro, with everything between the processor / ram & IO PCI card, and the bottom MPX bay removed, I think it would be a significant product, that would grow sales, far more than it would cannibalise Mac Pro, or iMac volumes.
There isn’t much developer support for games on macOS and a sizeable chunk of the existing library is going to stop working with Catalina.
 

mattspace

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There isn’t much developer support for games on macOS and a sizeable chunk of the existing library is going to stop working with Catalina.
Chicken & Egg, same for VR - the virtuous cycle can't be started by developers if there's no install base of suitable hardware, and for the latter it's a pretty hard nausea cutoff.

Build suitable hardware, and developers will populate it.
 

swamprock

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Aug 2, 2015
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If they do decide to do this (I HIGHLY doubt it, though), expect it to be around $3-$4000. That's about as "mid-priced" as they're going to get. Apple would never release a mythical unicorn machine like the "xMac" that would cut into their higher-end sales. Never.
 
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