MP 7,1 Upcoming Mac Pro upgradeability

Miguel Cunha

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 14, 2012
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Braga, Portugal
Hello!

Now that our wishes for a professional workstation seem to be realized, I still have a few questions, for which I don't know if there's already an answer.
  • Supposedly, the upcoming Mac Pro will be the most customisable Mac in the line and future proof. Will it be fully upgreadable, for instante in a few years from now, with up to date CPUs, GPUs, RAM, SSD?
  • One thing I'll need is the support for nVidia's CUDA Technology. Will it be possible to configure/upgrade/extend the Mac Pro with nVidia GPUs, whether internal, or externally?
  • When Thunderbolt 4 and Display Port 2.0 arrive, will it be possible to upgrade them?
From the top of my head, these are the questions I have for now.
What's you opinion about this?

Thank you
 

MisterAndrew

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Sep 15, 2015
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Portland, Ore.
Apple may release new GPU MPX modules in the future, but PC cards should work too (but I think without supporting the TB3 outputs). SSDs can be upgraded, both the proprietary Apple flash modules and regular NVMe via PCIe. CPU upgrades are possible. We don’t know yet if the Scalable Xeons are supported. Intel may or may not release future chips that are compatible. Only Nvidia Kepler based GPUs will be compatible unless there is an Nvidia web driver for Catalina (perhaps not likely). I don’t know about TB4, but DP 2.0 should be possible with a new GPU that supports it.
 
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JeffPerrin

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Jul 21, 2014
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What's you opinion about this?
This is NOT a machine for the "middle-class" professional. It's designed exclusively for the "1% professionals" who don't care about future upgradability -or- how much it costs.

If you're thinking about investing in this machine in hopes it may carry you through the next 10 years, then you may want to reconsider. A lot is going to change in the next 5-10 years in the Mac world - namely CPU support, as Apple shifts from Intel to ARM. Also, don't discount the price of maintaining the 7,1 beyond it's warranty period; expect the proprietary modules and components within to be very expensive to repair/replace.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors 604
Mar 10, 2009
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Hello!

Now that our wishes for a professional workstation seem to be realized, I still have a few questions, for which I don't know if there's already an answer.
  • Supposedly, the upcoming Mac Pro will be the most customisable Mac in the line and future proof. Will it be fully upgreadable, for instante in a few years from now, with up to date CPUs, GPUs, RAM, SSD?
  • One thing I'll need is the support for nVidia's CUDA Technology. Will it be possible to configure/upgrade/extend the Mac Pro with nVidia GPUs, whether internal, or externally?
  • When Thunderbolt 4 and Display Port 2.0 arrive, will it be possible to upgrade them?
From the top of my head, these are the questions I have for now.
Bullet 1. nothing in Tech is strictly future proof. You may have a longer runway but there is an end with all of these systems. Simply just throwing large sums at a system doesn't mean the runway is longer because the sums are larger.

For example, pretty good chance this Mac Pro is coming in at about the 'dead end' of the socket lifecycle. So no, 2021+ Intel CPUs probably won't go into this system. Eventually will be able to buy older, used stuff in 3-5 years time at discounts that mere mortals can afford, but won't be getting new Intel CPUs. So that isn't "future proof".

RAM is basically coupled to the CPU. So the current stuff will get cheaper but 2021+ era RAM in this system? Nope; not future proof.

SSDs with PCI-e 4 , 5 , and 6 coming.... again nope won't get top end speeds. You'll get something that runs at approximately the current speeds but future feature proof .... no.

GPUs is far more a software drive issue than a strict hardware one.


Bullet 2 Nvidia GPUs. Don't hold your breath. It is inconclusive whether those will show up eventually. If the sky is going to fall if you don't have CUDA than this isn't the system that best matches that narrow goal.

Apple and Nvidia may eventually work things out, but so far it doesn't look like it will. As Intel spins up their discrete GPU business Apple will have a "2nd source" for GPUs even if permanently put Nvidia in the 'dog house'. Some folks have spun the notion that Apple "has to cave into" whatever Nvidia wants to do or Apple is doomed. That probably isn't true. Vice Versa Nvidia isn't doom if they are locked out. The two have different objectives and don't need each other .... so working out differences is not a high priority.


Bullet 3 There is little indication there will be a Thunderbolt 4. USB4 yes. But Thunderbolt as a whole separate track will likely end if USB-IF doesn't do something that pisses Intel completely off.

I highly doubt the Apple I/O card is going to enable TBv4 if that means an major upgrade to DisplayPort pass through or to something over PCI-e v3 x4 bandwidth.

DisplayPort 2.0 has way more to do with new GPUs than anything else. That's fairly probable as Apple will probably come out with future MPX modules ( presuming sales of the Mac Pro are not a bust over 2019-2021 time frame. ). If there is not DP v2.0 source then not going to be supported.

DisplayPort 2.0 out of the current TB ports (embededded and I/O card) ? Extremely likely, No. Probably only new ports on a new GPU.

DisplayPort 2.0 picking up TBv3 also means it picks up some TB liabilities too. One is trace length limitations. The second is need for active cables over longer distances. That former is unlikely accounted for on the current motherboard.
 
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AidenShaw

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Feb 8, 2003
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Supposedly, the upcoming Mac Pro will be the most customisable Mac in the line and future proof. Will it be fully upgreadable, for instante in a few years from now, with up to date CPUs, GPUs, RAM, SSD?
No, maybe, or yes.

You most likely won't be able to upgrade CPUs and RAM. A new generation of CPUs typically need new generations of support chips (PCH) and faster RAM. Apple may be able to redo the system with new motherboards in the same chassis, but it's very unlikely that a user can upgrade a 2019 MP to use 2021 CPUs and RAM.

GPUs - for standard PCIe modules, it should be possible. Of course, Apple blocks support for the most popular PCIe GPUs today.... As far as MPX upgrades - it's hard to predict. This proprietary format could be dead on arrival, only to be found at phenomenal prices for a limited collection at the Apple store. Or, Apple could ditch the hubris and invite the green team to make killer MPX GPUs for add-ons.

SSDs. Since PCIe SSDs and some SATA ones with proprietary mounting will work - upgrades are fine. The default boot SSD, though, is very proprietary. The SSD controller is on the T2 chip on the motherboard, and the FLASH storage chips are on proprietary daughtercards. There's no M.2 PCIe or NVMe slot to upgrade the SSD. Will Apple sell higher capacity FLASH daughtercards? Probably not.
 

MisterAndrew

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Sep 15, 2015
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AidenShaw, I don't know what this means, "Apple blocks support for the most popular PCIe GPUs today." Essentially all current AMD GPUs are supported in macOS.

I agree Apple probably won't sell the proprietary SSD modules separately from the Apple store, but they are available as service parts.
 

handheldgames

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Apr 4, 2009
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AidenShaw, I don't know what this means, "Apple blocks support for the most popular PCIe GPUs today." Essentially all current AMD GPUs are supported in macOS.

I agree Apple probably won't sell the proprietary SSD modules separately from the Apple store, but they are available as service parts.
Those are not SSD's. They are stripped down NAND cards as the T2 chip does the heavy lifting. I guess the fact they are stripped down components compared to the Samsung 970 Pro is the reason why they are 2x the price? Apple vanity tax bs..
 

Blair Paulsen

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Jun 22, 2016
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San Diego, CA USA
Back in the day it was orthodoxy not to mix Apple RAM sticks with 3rd party sticks. This meant you had to either pay Apple's premium price - or - get the least RAM possible, pull the sticks for resale and put in matched 3rd party DIMM sets.

I bring this up as some folks might want to go to 48GB (or 96GB) of RAM for 12 core + configs. If so, they might want to add 3rd party sticks to save some cash. With modern DIMMs will it still be a potential stability issue if you mix RAM from different vendors?
 

handheldgames

macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2009
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Back in the day it was orthodoxy not to mix Apple RAM sticks with 3rd party sticks. This meant you had to either pay Apple's premium price - or - get the least RAM possible, pull the sticks for resale and put in matched 3rd party DIMM sets.

I bring this up as some folks might want to go to 48GB (or 96GB) of RAM for 12 core + configs. If so, they might want to add 3rd party sticks to save some cash. With modern DIMMs will it still be a potential stability issue if you mix RAM from different vendors?
No. As long as you are not mixing ecc 2rx4 rdimms & non ecc dimms, I have not seen any issues mixing manufacturers.
 
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Blair Paulsen

macrumors regular
Jun 22, 2016
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San Diego, CA USA
No. As long as you are not mixing ecc 2rx4 rdimms & non ecc dimms, I have not seen any issues mixing manufacturers.
Thanks for the info. If I decide to stay at 48GiB for a 12c/dual GPU build I'd probably eat the Apple tax to keep the warranty situation tight. If I decide to go to 96GiB or more, and the bump in cost is similar to typical Apple pricing for RAM, I'd go 3rd party for the savings - knowing I might have to pull all but the Apple RAM if I needed servicing.
 

handheldgames

macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2009
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Thanks for the info. If I decide to stay at 48GiB for a 12c/dual GPU build I'd probably eat the Apple tax to keep the warranty situation tight. If I decide to go to 96GiB or more, and the bump in cost is similar to typical Apple pricing for RAM, I'd go 3rd party for the savings - knowing I might have to pull all but the Apple RAM if I needed servicing.
from the benchmarks i've run in geekbench, samsung ram has the best performance and good 2rx4 16 dimms can be picked up for 22 usd each on ebay.
 

MisterAndrew

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Sep 15, 2015
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Those are not SSD's. They are stripped down NAND cards as the T2 chip does the heavy lifting. I guess the fact they are stripped down components compared to the Samsung 970 Pro is the reason why they are 2x the price? Apple vanity tax bs..
Yes, I know that, but NAND flash is solid state storage so I'm still going to call them SSDs. I didn't call them NVMe drives this time which Alex already corrected me on in the SSD blade thread.
 
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thedeske

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Feb 17, 2013
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This is NOT a machine for the "middle-class" professional. It's designed exclusively for the "1% professionals" who don't care about future upgradability -or- how much it costs.
My first thought was Apple presents this as "OK, here it is! It kicks ass right now and you can play with the internals like you always wanted (to what point we don't know) so no complaints on what it costs. You want high performance - here!! I remember a time when you could take an iMac 27 to 5k without much trouble. Now you can take one a bit further, but for what reason?

Want a high performance car that requires operating costs per mile that would choke most people into submission? OK, here's the same thing. Very few will need this, but the one's who do will love it and pay the price.
 
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JeffPerrin

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Jul 21, 2014
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Want a high performance car that requires operating costs per mile that would choke most people into submission? OK, here's the same thing. Very few will need this, but the one's who do will love it and pay the price.
Right. However, the pros did not complain that the 6,1 wasn't powerful enough - they complained about a lack of internal configuration and expandability. Pricing the 7,1 out of reach for the majority of pros and pointing them towards a Mac Mini or an iMac doesn't fix the problem one bit. It kind of feels like adding insult to injury... with a sprinkling of condescension.
 
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