Will the nMP cpu socket be outdated soon?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Stingray454, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I'm considering purchasing a nMP, and started looking at CPU options. I'm one of those that might consider buying a quad-core now, and upgrade to an 8-core or similar down the road by manually swapping CPU that I order separately - still cheaper than Apples BTO option. There is one problem though - apparently the current socket (LGA 2011) has been in use for a few years, and the current Xeon family (ivy bridge based) is the last one to use that socket. Haswell, that will bring some nice updates like lower power usage, increased speed, more cores, DDR4 support and similar, is not compatible with this socket, making the nMP limited to the current generation of CPU's. Is this something to be worried about?

    How quick do you think Apple will be to update the nMP once haswell xeons are available? Would it be smarter to sit this one out, and get the next update of nMP as that would be compatible with the next 2-3 generations of processors, making CPU upgrades far more interesting?

    Discuss, please :)
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    You never know when Intel will decide to change the socket for any processor family. And even if a processor uses the same socket, you might run in to other issues.

    If you need a new system now, buy it. Don't make plans based on the maybes. You know when Intel is scheduled to release the Haswell Xeons and that is still a maybe, they could get delayed. I expect Apple to update shortly after availability of the Haswell Xeons, but that is still a maybe.
  3. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2003
    San Jose
    intel has already announced that the socket will change.
    generally, intel changes the socket on this level of xeon with every refresh, so that's not surprising.
    you'll be able to potentially upgrade the CPU within the current family, but that's it, just like my old early 2008. I was able to go from 2.8 to 3.2 ghz, but there's no way for me to move to a later generation of xeon- intel changed the socket.
  4. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It's always 2 generations of compatibility with workstation parts. I don't expect them to keep the same physical socket either.

    The next mac pro would probably be a Haswell EP type. That could be well into 2015, and it won't support the next 2-3. It should support Broadwell EP whenever that is. These things run in generational pairs. The core count may increase at the base level, so you could see a 6 core at $3000 again. That won't be 2014 though.
  5. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2003
    San Jose
    Is it 2 generations for each socket? coulda sworn it was one, but I could certainly be wrong on that!
  6. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It's important to remember what cpus are used here. Sandy Bridge E and EP share a socket type with their Ivy equivalents. The same was true with Nehalem and Westmere. Workstation vendors come out with one board that can serve two generations, and I suspect that keeps costs down. Deconstruct claimed in another thread that it was more about stability and not introducing new hardware bugs. Anyway since Ivy is the second, there won't be anything further that retains compatibility. His best upgrade option would be to wait for 12 core parts to surface from retired hardware. Assuming his workload at that time is cpu bound and not disjointed due to gaps between hardware generations and supported frameworks, it could make sense. Apple sometimes ships a bit late on workstations, so I wouldn't even assume 1H 2015. It could be something like 2015 but not until the notebooks are refreshed for that year. You never know, but they tend to space out product launches and favor those of higher volume.
  7. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    Consider it an opportunity

    On the other hand, look at it as an opportunity for a bargain price on an E5-2xxx-v2 processor.

    With consumer CPUs, the price of the CPU drops pretty quickly once Intel EOLs the line.

    For my DIY systems, I'd buy a mobo early in the run, and get a mid-range CPU (the added price for the high-ends was just too much for the added speed). When Intel discontinued support for that socket, I'd buy the top end for about the same price that I earlier paid for the mid-range. Even better, the top end at EOL was usually quite a bit faster than the early top ends.

    I don't know if Xeons have a similar pattern of price drops at EOL, but if they do you might be able to get a 10 or 12 core for the current price of an 8-core.
  8. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2003
    San Jose
    ah, that's it- I forgot we were already on the 2nd gen for this socket.
  9. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    This time it is almost the same physical socket. It is just not the same electrically. ( similar to how USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 share same general physical socket but signals over the 'pins' is different. )

    It is going to be socket 2011-3 (R3) instead of Socket 2011. Likely there will be some confusing and a modest number of folks screwing up CPU/motherboards buy sticking the wrong match into a socket that
    'fits'. Intel is changing the package/pins layout a bit so the old ones physically won't seat right in new boards, but I'm sure some "round peg in square hole" person is going to try to jam it in there.

    The change is is largely related to DDR4.

    But yes this current one is the "second" half of a Intel tick/tock cycle and generally the socket will change. Xeon E5 v1/v2/v3 generally on the odd versions there will be a socket (and associated chipset) change.


    If wait for Xeon E5 v3 it is only likely to be compatible for Xeon E5 v4. Once it hits v5 there will probably be another socket change.

    Effectively, you would wait a year to get what amounts to perhaps an additional year. It isn't a huge win if actually need the "horsepower" now.

    If really don't need a Mac Pro now... don't buy one now. It is really just that simple.
  10. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Another way to look at this is what is the performance gain over your current hardware. If you are on a 4,1 or 5,1 that could be extended with a few upgrades, then waiting is certainly a reasonable option. If you are on a 1,1 or 2,1 then waiting another year (or more) for the "next thing" which might not even come is just silly.
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Intel ,rather than Apple, is more likely to slide the Xeon E5 if the laptop processors slide into the window that they had long term planned for Xeon E5.

    If Intel gets their 14nm process working smoothly and moves the desktop/laptop designs off of 32nm that opens up room for Xeon E5. If there is a hiccup then they'll slide the Xeon E5 update out a quarter. Large price ticket customers typically aren't frantic about updates.

    Between now and Q1 '15 there will be substantive movement in at least one of CPU or GPU (and decent chance both will move forward). If Apple wants to promote they are asleep at the wheel they'll slide out of 1H 2015.
    One of Apple's major problems is that they have not been executing well over last couple of years in this product space. To once again lapse into "well maybe eventually we'll do something" mode is going to cause them problems. All the more so when there aren't 3rd party GPU cards to stop performance.

    This 2013 Mac Pro is catching the "tail end" of both CPU (in terms of tick/tock cycle) and GPU evolution. Sliding very deep into 2015 puts them at risk of jumping from tail end to tail end.
  12. keigo macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2006
    I sa don't bother about it. If you need nMP now just buy it...

    Intel did mention the consumer Broadwell will be delay so which mean Broadwell EP too.

    So let say you got the nMP on Feb 2014, how long you expect to use your 4 core nMP? So by the time Intel EOL E5 v2 which is maybe around late 2015 or early 2016 and price start to fall, you maybe you ok with 4 core speed till early 2016 then you swap to E5 v2 8 core. Your nMP will be already 2 years old already. Then with the swap of E5 v2 8 core, you last for another 2 years.

    Total life of your nMp will be 4 years which is quite reasonable for nowadays computer life span already. Which last normally around 4~6 years max.

    Not to forget even you try to upgrade the CPU to last longer by year 5 or earlier the world would have move to PCI-e v2 or 3 already and your SSD will become a bottle neck instead of CPU.

    What I'm trying to say is, CPU is not everything unless you are talking about upgrading every parts as time go.
  13. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Well yeah... I was looking at past behavior though. They could make a change away from that, which would make them appear more desirable in this space. While it's not really weighted toward day one volume purchases, many of those potential customers do prefer predictable release schedules. I agree on intel slipping, but even then Apple sometimes ships months later than other oems.
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Xeon E5 v4 was already targeted till roughly around Q4 '15 - Q2 '16 anyway. This mainstream slide in 2014 has very little to zero impact on that. The Xeon E5 class is generally already about a year behind where the mainstream stuff is. The mainstream slide that might impact E5 v4 would be Skylake. Which there shouldn't be a process shift problem because there isn't one ( it is a "tock", new micro-architecture phase ).

    EOL? Try earliest 2016.

    Intel just discoutinued Xeon 3500 processors this year.


    The 3500 came out in 2009 ( 4 years ago ) and 3600 ( 3 years ago ). E5 1600 v1 came out in 2012 so 2016 minimum. However, if will to throw in a E5 2600 CPU then the window is longer.

    The 5600 lauched in 2010 but not being EOL'ed until 2016


    If the E5 v1 gets 6 years then 2018 is earliest these would drop out. Longer if date starts on E5 v2 release.

    This. in 4-5 years there could be new versions of PCI-e , radically different GPUs, substantially different RAM , etc. If have new, even higher performance needs changing the whole system infrastructure would be more aligned than pushing this one forward.

    If the performance needs have plateaued then far more affordable Macs and PC models will be available also. Or can just stick with "fast enough" old Mac Pro for a several more years with no hardware service from Apple


    as you plow past the 6-7 year mark.
  15. Tutor macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2009
    Home of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
    As stated above by many others, the post-Ivy CPUs will bring a socket change. As stated above by many others, if you need the new nMP now then buy it now, but if you don't need it right now, let your money continue to burn holes in your pockets. Here's other considerations for those (1) needing to purchase a nMP soon but not immediately (and to a certain extent it can apply to those who have an immediate need to purchase or have already purchased), (2) needing more power than the base model nMP, (3) whose money is tight, and (4) having the skill to swap the CPU.

    (1) Wait a few months and buy a refurb base unit (if you must purchase now or have aleady purchased, then this will not apply to you unless you need more units);

    (2) Time has a way of letting the more adventurous creative minds clear away the brush and sometimes it better to backup when confronted, before going forward again. The Sandy Bridge Xeon CPUs are socket compatible with the Ivy Bridge Xeon CPUs. My experience with Windows computers is that you can use Sandy Bridge Xeon CPUs on Ivy Bridge motherboards because the bios is backwards compatible. It may be the same on the nMP. In all likelihood, Sandy Bridge Xeon CPU prices will fall before and more than Ivy Bridge Xeon CPU prices fall, at least for the next couple of years. Thus, don't forget to look at high performance Sandy Bridge Xeon CPU options that you can use to boost your system's performance while saving you some cash. Just gird yourself with what knowledge about what you may be sacrificing and what you may be gaining; and

    (3) Used Sandy and Ivy Bridge Xeon CPUs have a disadvantage to clock tweakers that becomes an advantage to someone looking to purchased a used CPU. Unlike Nehalems and Westmeres that could be overclocked to smithereens, Sandy and Ivy Bridge Xeon CPUs can be overclocked successfully, at best, by 1.0755x. That amount of overclocking would not require any voltage boost. These facts lessen what should be one of the greatest concerns to someone purchasing a used CPU. Having overclocked a CPU by that modest amount would do very little to affect its longevity.
  16. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    It seems very possible that Apple will keep their Mac Pro updates on the tail end of CPU update cycles, taking their time to tune them up before release. It could be that the bonus Nehalem - Westmere phenomenon was a rare event that won't be repeated, and those that were in that cycle (and took advantage with updates to their Macs) were just lucky.

    I know that when it comes time to replace my 4,1-5,1 Mac Pro, I'll look at what options are available, and if there is an opportunity to buy a base model Mac Pro and a better CPU/GPU for less than what Apple will BTO, I'll go that route, because I'm not at all afraid to swap out parts. If it turns out that an updated CPU family continues to be compatible with my system, I'll count myself lucky again, but I really wouldn't count on anything being a sure thing.
  17. Stingray454 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    First of all, thanks for all the input and comments. I agree, we probably shouldn't worry about CPU sockets too much - the current line of CPUs will probably be enough for a few years to come.

    Does anyone know how the Haswell series will be designed? As the main advantage of Haswell is reduced power consumption, will the new processors have a lower TDP for equal performance, or will they instead release Xeons with more/faster cores with the same TDP? Currently, the power supply in the nMP seems to be pushed to its limit more or less, and that's with quite heavily underclocked GPUs. I'm thinking the next interation with haswell might bring lower cpu TDP and massive GPU increases, something anyone with the current nMP would also miss out on (assuming GPUs would be sold serparately).
  18. handheldgames macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2009
    Pacific NW, USA
    It's already past EOL. Haswell-E CPU's are due in 2014, with an enhanced chipset and socket to boot.

  19. ozbimmer macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2012
    The next gen nMP would probably use Haswell-EP which is expected to be released in late 2014 Reference 1 Reference 2. I think Apple would wait till mid-late 2015 to release the 2nd gen nMP. If they decide to use Broadwell-EP then the timeframe would be sometime in 2016
  20. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    EP which is the important one always comes out later than E. Intel then takes however much time to ramp up volume. Whatever date you see for E shipping, add at least 6 months to a new mac pro.

    Can you see any logical reason to skip Haswell? Here they arguably started too late for Sandy. Note that they aren't even first to ship Ivy. I see no reason why they would skip a generation here. Haswell and Broadwell would share a socket/board design.
  21. keigo macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2006
    nobody can tell you that and only Apple know...

    But my guess will be with the shrink in size, Apple might introduce dual CPU. As you look at the design of the nMP there is no space of dual CPU. So if the Haswell if not Broadwell will be small enough for Apple to put dual CPU in.

    Unless Apple think Intel able to put 24 or more core in the CPU??
  22. ozbimmer macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2012
    I understand your point of view, but I wonder if a 1.5-2 years upgrade cycle is reasonable for the target consumers of nMP.
  23. PaulD-UK macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Surely its not CPU generational advances that will dictate the nMP refresh schedule, but rather new Thunderbolt generation release dates.

    From my worm's eye view late 2013 for nMP v1 was all about TB2 (and an Intel chipset to support it), rather than Ivy Xeons.

    I reckon Steve J and Jony had a concept-prototype of nMP as soon as LightPeak was announced, then put it in the 'pending' queue until Intel delivered the ancillary chips to make it achievable. From that moment the old MP line was deprecated.

    As to the future longevity won't DDR4 make any current Macs as obsolete as DDR2 Macs are now?
  24. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Apple cannot possibly count on their buyers to upgrade with every cycle. You might have a little of that in the 12 core purchasers, but many of those businesses cycle hardware. That means buying however many new ones of each generation while cycling the prior generation down to less critical tasks. Anyway why would they intentionally refuse to ship updated hardware when the board can also be used for Broadwell?

Share This Page