Why I think the Mac Pro could be done

sboerup

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 8, 2009
415
0
When Thunderbolt was first announced, and demoed in Feb 2011, I sorta relized that the necessity for a Mac Pro had just been void, to some degree. While data throughput barriers had just been broken (and seriously amplified), power users still need multiple core processors and extremely capable GPUs that are just not found in the iMac or MBPs. While you cannot fit big cpus and gpus into either of the consumer computers, I think Apple might have the vision that it doesn't need to be inside anymore, because the necessity of a motherboard connecting all of these devices is no longer needed...Thunderbolt changes the game completely.

I don't profess to understand the technology behind Thunderbolt, but, I know it's capable of handling a serious amount of information through its channels. And since its PCI based, what if Apple is already working on the vision, the ability, to start hooking up external GPUs via Thunderbolt? The same for external CPUs? Need more power for your iMac? OK, just add an extra CPU and GPU via Thunderbolt and you're ready! Power on demand (parallel processing).

I think this could potentially be something in the future. Maybe Apple just realized it when they started working on LightPeak with Intel. Maybe I'm completely wrong, but, as soon as the 2010 Mac Pro's came out, the rumor that they would be gone started. That was months before Thunderbolt was announced, even though they were likely working on that technology at least 1 year in advance.

So, maybe there will still be a Mac Pro, but it'll come in a different shape. Maybe its moved to a "modular" system, where you can add components on demand via Thunderbolt. This would make any custom PC builder green with envy because a Mac can now legitimately be upgraded in a MUCH sexier fashion. Who knows? The future of Thunderbolt is exciting :)
 

fox10078

macrumors 6502
Nov 6, 2009
467
86
When Thunderbolt was first announced, and demoed in Feb 2011, I sorta relized that the necessity for a Mac Pro had just been void, to some degree. While data throughput barriers had just been broken (and seriously amplified), power users still need multiple core processors and extremely capable GPUs that are just not found in the iMac or MBPs. While you cannot fit big cpus and gpus into either of the consumer computers, I think Apple might have the vision that it doesn't need to be inside anymore, because the necessity of a motherboard connecting all of these devices is no longer needed...Thunderbolt changes the game completely.

I don't profess to understand the technology behind Thunderbolt, but, I know it's capable of handling a serious amount of information through its channels. And since its PCI based, what if Apple is already working on the vision, the ability, to start hooking up external GPUs via Thunderbolt? The same for external CPUs? Need more power for your iMac? OK, just add an extra CPU and GPU via Thunderbolt and you're ready! Power on demand (parallel processing).

I think this could potentially be something in the future. Maybe Apple just realized it when they started working on LightPeak with Intel. Maybe I'm completely wrong, but, as soon as the 2010 Mac Pro's came out, the rumor that they would be gone started. That was months before Thunderbolt was announced, even though they were likely working on that technology at least 1 year in advance.

So, maybe there will still be a Mac Pro, but it'll come in a different shape. Maybe its moved to a "modular" system, where you can add components on demand via Thunderbolt. This would make any custom PC builder green with envy because a Mac can now legitimately be upgraded in a MUCH sexier fashion. Who knows? The future of Thunderbolt is exciting :)
Thunderbolt is Pciex4, gpus today are x16, And the connection from CPU to mobo is insanely quick. Thunderbolt is no where near capable of CPUs ever. Gpu could be possible in 4 years but then gpus would have moved on as well.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
8,635
1,554
I don't profess to understand the technology behind Thunderbolt, but, I know it's capable of handling a serious amount of information through its channels. And since its PCI based, what if Apple is already working on the vision, the ability, to start hooking up external GPUs via Thunderbolt? The same for external CPUs?
Thunderbolt is minor leagues when it comes to hooking CPUs. Intel's QPI CPU interlink runs in this range

"... The initial Nehalem implementation uses a full four-quadrant interface to achieve 25.6 GB/s, ... "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_QuickPath_Interconnect

AMD's HyperTransport

"... utilizing the full HyperTransport 3.1 specification's operating frequency, the theoretical transfer rate is 25.6 GB/s (3.2 GHz × 2 transfers per clock cycle × 32 bits per link) per direction, or 51.2 GB/s aggregated throughput ..."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperTransport

That's gigabytes not the gigabits that Thunderbolt (TB) rates at ( 20 Gb/s if looking at the non video aggregated throuput). Roughly, the modern CPU interconnects are 8 times as fast as TB. Even if TB doubles in speed twice it will still be slower. Nevermind, the significantly increased latencies that TB incurs.

It is fast relative to the legacy external I/O connection protocols common used in personal computers. It is not fast relative to modern purely internal bandwidth throughput. Nor against interconnects used in large big iron boxes (e.g., 40Gb/s Inifiniband )

Similarly, the current Xeon E5's have 40 v3.0 PCI-e lanes. TB is coupled to 4 v2.0 PCI-e lanes. The modern internal advantage is 20 times the amount of bandwidth of TB. TB isn't even close.


Need more power for your iMac? OK, just add an extra CPU and GPU via Thunderbolt and you're ready!
Thunderbolt is Apple ( and other system vendors ) key to making the Mac mini , iMac , and laptops more competitive against low cost PC "boxes with slots". Not really against workstations with workstation like workloads.

The now outdated knock against those form factors not be "expandable" or "upgradable" is in the process of being largely muted over a significant spectrum of needs.

The primary Mac Pro tie in here is the group of people who really wanted a low-mid priced "tower" or "box with slots" who were kind of tracked into buying a Mac Pro. Those folks primarily bought the Mac Pro almost purely for its form factor and not for performance. Apple (and other system vendors) are gong to peel those folks off. Technically, they weren't really workstation (or in the broader PC market "tower") customers in the first place.

If enough people are peeled out of buying Mac Pro's and the group that really needs the power largely stagnant in size then Apple will shut down the product line. No growth equals death. This is just a natural progression that has a long historic track record in computers. Smaller computers take share away from bigger computers over time. The billions of R&D that go into making computers smaller and faster is the driving force.



So, maybe there will still be a Mac Pro, but it'll come in a different shape.
For the "I just need one or two 4x PCI-e" slots crowd, it already does. They are called the Mac mini and iMac.

Apple may introduce a smaller Mac Pro box. Where they remove 2 or 3 PCI-e slots and replace them with TB connectors. I don't think it will make the "xMac" folks happen because the cost would still like be above that of the iMac. But the GPU and CPU would be embedded inside the box.

The contra-indicating factor with TB is that is "requires" that the PC box that pragmatically servers as the central nexus of TB network has a GPU in it. That could be just a integrated GPU.... but there is huge driving factor to have at least one of the GPUs inside the box given that PCs with TB must product video out. (at least that is Intel's rule so far. I suspect they will keep it over the long term also. )
 
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philipma1957

macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
6,273
192
Howell, New Jersey
iCloud has crazy profit dollars. Numbers that are completely and totally unreal.

The macpro does not fit into the iCloud model very well. When I had my macpro i had 12tb of storage in it and a 600gb intel ssd.

My need and or desire for iCloud was and still is none. My feeling is Apple sees mac pros as a roadblock of sorts for more iCloud expansion.

I moved on from mac pros as I really need a decent cpu and fast/large storage. I never needed a 6 core although my 6 core upgrade thread has helped many 2009 and 2010 users.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1122551.

I am meeting my needs with mac mini with t-bolt a diy pc and a nas. To be honest I suspect a lot of lessor mac pro users have done this. My mac mini has vmware/fusion with windows 7 and plays well with the diy pc.

It all points to Apple wanting iCloud, Apple tv, real tvs and ipad iphone as the money makers for the company.
 

sboerup

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 8, 2009
415
0
Great explanation on the data. Like I said, I didn't understand all the points behind CPU and GPU bandwidth.

So here's hoping there is still a Mac Pro!
 

fastlanephil

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2007
1,160
195
I have a feeling the Mac Pro is dead. If it was business as usual Apple would have already announced a refresh with the new Xeons. But I also think there will be something released to satisfy the needs of industrial strength users. So maybe Apple had to wait until the new generation Xeons were made available because there was going to be more to the engineering of this product than a simple CPU upgrade and the inclusion of thunderbolt technology.

I think the delay could actually be a sign of something hopefully new and exciting coming.:)
 

Umbongo

macrumors 601
Sep 14, 2006
4,931
54
England
I have a feeling the Mac Pro is dead. If it was business as usual Apple would have already announced a refresh with the new Xeons.
No they would announce them when they could sell them so they could continue to sell current systems until the very last moment.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
You couldn't post this in one of the other twenty threads?

----------

iCloud has crazy profit dollars. Numbers that are completely and totally unreal.

The macpro does not fit into the iCloud model very well. When I had my macpro i had 12tb of storage in it and a 600gb intel ssd.

My need and or desire for iCloud was and still is none. My feeling is Apple sees mac pros as a roadblock of sorts for more iCloud expansion.

I moved on from mac pros as I really need a decent cpu and fast/large storage. I never needed a 6 core although my 6 core upgrade thread has helped many 2009 and 2010 users.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1122551.

I am meeting my needs with mac mini with t-bolt a diy pc and a nas. To be honest I suspect a lot of lessor mac pro users have done this. My mac mini has vmware/fusion with windows 7 and plays well with the diy pc.

It all points to Apple wanting iCloud, Apple tv, real tvs and ipad iphone as the money makers for the company.
I can't quite see what threat iCloud is to the mac pro.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,530
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
I don't understand the logic behind some people thinking TB will replace everything. I would rather have a tower with " slots ". TB doesn't come anywhere close to the bandwidth of PCIe16x 3.0 slot, so external GPU is out. Unless you want to choke it.

Why in the hell would someone want a bunch of tiny little boxes all over the place, when they could just have everything in one simple tower with a monitor?
 

derbothaus

macrumors 601
Jul 17, 2010
4,060
4
I don't understand the logic behind some people thinking TB will replace everything. I would rather have a tower with " slots ". TB doesn't come anywhere close to the bandwidth of PCIe16x 3.0 slot, so external GPU is out. Unless you want to choke it.

Why in the hell would someone want a bunch of tiny little boxes all over the place, when they could just have everything in one simple tower with a monitor?
Agree. Apple marketing is to blame for the "Thunderbolt will even fix your broken arm" claims. Cool, I'll just stack crap a foot high and save all my twisty ties for neatness:p
Now where DID I leave my GPU?
 

Chilla Frilla

macrumors member
Sep 26, 2009
89
0
United States
I don't understand the logic behind some people thinking TB will replace everything. I would rather have a tower with " slots ". TB doesn't come anywhere close to the bandwidth of PCIe16x 3.0 slot, so external GPU is out. Unless you want to choke it.

Why in the hell would someone want a bunch of tiny little boxes all over the place, when they could just have everything in one simple tower with a monitor?
Agree. Apple marketing is to blame for the "Thunderbolt will even fix your broken arm" claims. Cool, I'll just stack crap a foot high and save all my twisty ties for neatness:p
Now where DID I leave my GPU?
For some reason this just came to mind...




Oh the irony
 

philipma1957

macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
6,273
192
Howell, New Jersey
For some reason this just came to mind...

Image


Oh the irony
i like this.


to theSeb;

It is really frustrating to wait this long. The pro was a nice machine and apple has been too long on this item's update path. I have been really repetitive about the entire desktop line of apple due to a lot of frustration about updated gear or the lack of it. I will attempt to go with this motto;

"If you don't have anything nice to say don't say it"

Most likely I will fail at that. ( oh shoot just failed)
 
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G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,530
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
Thunderbolt is Apple ( and other system vendors ) key to making the Mac mini , iMac , and laptops more competitive against low cost PC "boxes with slots". Not really against workstations with workstation like workloads.
Well, The Mac Mini starts at 600, iMac and the laptops are all over 1000, so they pretty much kills the whole low cost thing. And I'm sure Apple will charge out the ass for these devices

I don't understand why you would want a bunch of TB cables all over the place with a bunch of little boxes all over your desk, when you can just have it all in a tower. TB it also useless for things like a external GPU, way to slow.
 
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Dr. Stealth

macrumors 6502a
Sep 14, 2004
812
718
SoCal-Surf City USA
Thunderbolt Cables.....

I recently threw out my 20 year collection of SCSI cables. When I was dumping them I thought "Thank God I'll never have to buy another $75.00 cable".

Then along came Thunderbolt....... :eek:
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
91
Poole, England
i like this.


to theSeb;

It is really frustrating to wait this long. The pro was a nice machine and apple has been too long on this item's update path. I have been really repetitive about the entire desktop line of apple due to a lot of frustration about updated gear or the lack of it. I will attempt to go with this motto;

"If you don't have anything nice to say don't say it"

Most likely I will fail at that. ( oh shoot just failed)
I am frustrated as well, but I don't think it's time to panic yet.
 

derbothaus

macrumors 601
Jul 17, 2010
4,060
4
I don't get the point of TB, I think it'll end up like Firewire, a niche product that won't compete with USB
I get the point but it is for the little portables and RAID's and SSD's which, come to think of it never mind... Those users rarely need RAID sets and SSD's externally. My favorite is the LaCie single HDD in TB case. Sooooo much faster:D
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,530
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
I get the point but it is for the little portables and RAID's and SSD's which, come to think of it never mind... Those users rarely need RAID sets and SSD's externally. My favorite is the LaCie single HDD in TB case. Sooooo much faster:D
Yeah, I can see the point for that. Most external big hard drives ( which is what most people use ) spinning platters that are WAY slower than USB 3.0. I don't know very many people who use SSDs externally. Horrible GB/Dollar ratio lol.

What I don't get is a ton of people who think it means extra CPUs, or external GPUs, thats just silly. Its not close to being fast enough to do either of those tasks.
 

beaker7

Cancelled
Mar 16, 2009
920
4,998

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,530
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
A pile of crap GPU if TB won't choke it.

What's with this then?

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5352/m...ia-thunderbolt
That is an external GPU slot that runs over Thunderbolt. This is suitable for low power and low performance cards as it has 1/4 the raw bandwidth and orders of magnitude higher latency than internal x16 slots. Also is TB power only so you're extremely limited on power draw. It would also saturate one of your TB channels so you couldn't run much else on it.
This.

You are correct TB has about 1/4th the bandwidth and a ton more latency.

So, no bandwidth. And no power. I don't know what the hell kind of GPU that's worth its weight doesn't have an external power connector. I mean, I suppose if you want to add something similar to a Geforce FX Series, then you could go ahead with a TB GPU lol
 

Wardenski

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2012
464
4
I agree with what G51989 et al have been saying about TB.

The idea of an external GPU translates into wallet rape for me. Cable is expensive, dock is expensive, GPU probably expensive if specially made. Would need an external power supply for beasty GPUs - expensive.

Though I suppose some monitors could have built in GPUs but I don't see the practical side for this. I suppose chaining HDDs could be useful.

As for monitors, I will gladly take a monitor with DP/DVI and HDMI any-day. I currently use a Denon AVR1910 to input HD from Blu-ray player and Wii (upscale) for joys. Not possible on the Apple Display.
 
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