I suspect the reason that they did this quietly was that these are not new Mac Pros at all. Rather, they are same as the "Mid 2010" models they replaced, with minor bumps to the CPUs and memory. They continue to use the same generation CPUs that were available in 2010 (and same chipset, I presume), despite the fact that newer generation Sandy Bridge CPUs have been available for months now.
IMHO, the RAM bump wasn't even that good -- the base config now includes only 6GB, which is still laughable for a professional machine costing $2500.
The CPU offered in the lowest Mac Pro today is the W3565, a "Bloomfield" model, based on Nehalim-B. For the record, that is now three generations behind, being behind the W36XX "Westmere"/Nehalim-C Xeon chips, the Sandy Bridge Xeon E3/E5, and the Ivy Bridge Xeon E3. A quick Googling cannot give me when the Ivy Bridge E5s are due out, but probably not soon.
EDIT: Apple does offer "Westmere" Xeons, but only as 6-core CPUs, which when looking at the website, is all but the cheapest option.
I remember in 2010 writing about how it was quite possibly the worst time to buy a Macbook Pro because they don't change the price even though the hardware was extremely old. Then I did a followup story when they updated the hardware and the internals were still not up to par for comparable machines.
I always thought it odd that they don't discount their outdated machines. Buying a MacBook Pro last week was a raw deal. Apple sells hardware that is two years old at higher-than-competing-modern-machine prices, but people buy them, so they must be "good enough" or enjoyable in some other aspect.
Looks like time for a Hackintosh. I wonder what the best platform for an E5-based hackintosh would be. Like, pretend you want more than 16GB (or 32GB maybe) of RAM, in something vaguely current, and ideally with ECC.
If this works like the old AirPort Express, shouldn't you be able to turn the WAN port into LAN for a WAN-to-LAN bridge of sort? I used to do that to connect device without Wireless in another floor, it was pretty handy.
That's pretty typical for Apple stuff, though. Although, if I remember right, you can set Apple stuff up as just bridged. I also find it interesting that there's now an iOS app for setting up their APs. That fixes a big gap for some people. I'm just hoping that IPv6 support comes back soon...
Their laptop line has been competitive enough in pricing that I'm willing to spend for the ergonomics - I don't expect a powerhouse machine as a portable. (My last 3 laptops have been either MB Pro or MB Air)
But where's the benefit - and who's the customer - for a desktop machine at these prices? Unless you absolutely need OS X with a higher powered machine, why not just use Ubuntu in that desktop / server application?
They have been heavily involved in OpenCL for a while though, which is not tied to any specific graphics card manufacturer, or graphics cards specifically. There are some pretty nice OpenCL tutorials here btw: http://www.macresearch.org/opencl
True, but they don't offer a machine that can run OpenCL well. On my current Mac Pro (6-Core Xeon 3.33Ghz) the CPU runs most of my codes at the same speed as the ATI Radeon 5870. An ATI 7970 would have been a nice (minimal) addition but I really want support for an NVidia Tesla c2070 so I can develop CUDA codes to run on Amazon EC2.
For anyone who's interested I will be purchasing $1500 worth of hardware from newegg, assembling PC's, and selling them for only a 100% markup. And oh yeah, they'll be more powerful than this load of crap they want to sell you.