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Mac Pro gets half-assed “update” (marco.org)
273 points by iand 1506 days ago | hide | past | web | 308 comments | favorite

This illustrates the issue I highlighted in another thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4097141

The fact that Apple keeps hardware and, increasingly, software, so tightly controlled leads to a situation like that of this "new" Mac Pro. If the Apple hardware ecosystem were open like that of Windows you'd have major companies all over the world evolving the platform in wonderful ways. Performance would go up and prices would come down.

There are lots of use cases where the user couldn't give a crap about a nice and polished enclosure. You are paying dearly for design you don't need. If you want to pay for design, fine, do so, but to a lot of us it means nothing.

Case in point: We have several workstations setup for Finite Element Analysis of heat and fluid flow. They are dual quad core i965 Extremes. They run overclocked at 4.0GHz with memory overclocked to 2.0GHz. They have 64GB of DDR3. All fluid cooled. Tons of storage as well. They also have dual NVidia graphics cards and sport three 24 inch 1920 x 1200 LCD monitors. Total cost, about $3,500. Including the three monitors and the OS hard drive.

These are monster machines in terms of performance and they still cost less than a Mac Pro. We have three Mac Pro's as well.

I would really like to see Apple open it up. A lot of interesting things could come of it.

Because their hardware is not subject to competitive forces, we will now be stuck with a less-than-desirable incremental update for probably three years, if not more.

The irony of this post is so hilarious to me, this is Apple coming full circle from its clone wars days.

Man, those were some shitty experiences.

Apple is an hardware company. They make money off the nuts and bolts pieced together with premium markup, software is but icing on top. They practically give away the results of their development costs on OSX.

You're encountering the cognitive dissonance as experienced in the 90's. Why, oh, why is Apple not courting customers that don't care about shiny enclosures and slick packaging?

Because that's not the Apple way.

I'm just waiting for Mac Pros to go the way of Xserves (which the group was ran for years just to break-even for the sake of pretension)

I agree with all you said except the software being the icing on the top part.

Apple knows its the end to end experience (software to hardware).

Apple is just fortunate to be in the very small category (if not the singular player) of companies that have great depth of talent in both the hardware and software realms.

This and the market they cater too (those with the money to spend) allow them to pick either pushing the hardware or the software forward and make a killing not having to move on the other end.

I say this as a person who hasn't bought an Apple product in 10 years in protest of some of their business practices:

- draconian App Store developer policies,

- 1984- esq lockdown on their platform and employees,

- the ridiculous markup on their devices, etc.

but who isn't dumb enough to not pay attention to them because they are some of the sharpest folks in the industry.

People bring up the "ridiculous markup", but when you compare the MacBook Air vs. the ASUS Zenbook, Apple really is competing on price in the "Ultrabook" market. When the form factor and construction are similar, the Apple version only adds about $150.

The problem with the early attempt Apple made at inviting the clone market is that they didn't give it time to evolve. The first wave or two of IBM clones were a mess. A disaster. Compatibility problems galore. People who buy crap don't continue to buy it and they sure as hell don't recommend it. The crap PC clones died a quick death.

It didn't take long for the market to evolve and "grow up". Companies like Compaq surfaced. Very soon you had a million hardware ideas iterating from every angle trying to do it better and for less.

Today you can buy a PC notebook for a fraction of the cost of a Mac notebook --maybe a third or less. And, frankly, quality is excellent. Today you can walk into a place like Walmart and quite-literally grab almost any notebook computer and walk out with a quality product.

That's what Apple missed out on. Everyone got spooked as they watched the evolution begin and they pulled the plug.

Also, evolutionary forces are interesting. They naturally select product that people want. Perhaps Apple was afraid that they'd loose a lot more than the hardware war if they let go of the hardware. I don't know.

Barring a few details, today a PC and Mac notebook are basically the same machine. Same processor, memory, graphics, etc. Yet Apple isn't iterating the hardware as quickly and efficiently as the PC market continues to.

It'll be interesting to read what will be written in business books about this in twenty years.

You're not remembering silicon history well.

The 90's Apple clones didn't collapse itself because they were bad, Steve Jobs tried negotiating software licensing with manufacturers and Apple opted not to renew.

You're also rehashing some old point about Apple missing the boat on low end devices. Why does that matter? Apple sells millions of computers every quarter year over year. They have excessive cash holdings. What would be the point of chasing after some mythical unicorn low end cheap device that has no margins?

Evolutionary forces are indeed interesting. They do silly things like insisting on floppy disks, VGA ports, CD-ROMs, and other vestigial residues that hinders progress.

Where did I say that Apple clones where bad? All I said was that the model was not allowed to evolve and gave, as an example, the crap-to-good evolution of PC's.

There is nothing wrong with floppy disks, VGA ports and CD-ROMs. These and other technologies still have a place in the right context and they tend to die off in an organic manner as industry can justify transitions.

Progress? A quick Google search finds estimates that say that there will be about two billion PC's world-wide by 2015. That's progress, not coming up with a new port that nobody really cares for outside markets that can afford expensive new hardware on a regular diet. I think you are confusing progress with innovation. Testing new ideas is commendable. Apple has always been on the forefront of that in some ways.

Progress is a different story altogether. One measure, as I am suggesting above, might be just how accessible a technology is to the masses (not just wealthy countries). World-wide Macs only represent 5 to 10% of the installed base. By this measure Apple has failed to deliver progress.

If you look at smart phones, then, yes, Apple hit it out of the park.

He said IBM clones (eighties PCs) not Mac clones (nineties). If you read further he mentions Compaq which has never built a Mac clone.

Apple isn't successful because of Macbooks, Mac minis or iMacs.

Bulk of Apple's success is from their iDevices and its surrounding ecosystem. iPod, iPod touch, iPhone and iTunes app/music sharing infrastructure.

So in many ways Apple isn't a computer company anymore. Its more like Sony nowadays. What you will see in the future might be computers dying a slow death in the Apple ecosystem. Expect things like TV, Stereo and other entertainment stuff like Gaming consoles gaining more traction.

Slowly but steadily Apple is transforming itself into a consumer electronics company like Samsung.

Actually, Samsung sells pretty much everything a company could possibly sell, even weapons. I know you mean Samsung Consumer Electronics, but it's a tricky example because the network effects (or lack thereof) between all of Samsung's subsidiaries are not obvious.

Also unlike Samsung, Apple depends on OS X as their developer OS. The whole WWDC was praising developers for helping iOS take off, and I think rightly so.

Of course, Apple does not depend on the Mac Pro.

That is certainly where their money is, however they built a lot of their existing consumer business on the goodwill from people who were loyal Apple computer users. All of the original iPod users that I knew where loyal Mac computer users (partly because the software didn't run on anything else at the time).

I wonder what would happen if they decided to abandon their Laptop/Desktop business and go purely for consumer electronics? This would certainly piss off many of their loyal fans such as graphic designers/musicians who aren't exactly going to be looking to go back to Windows based PCs for their work and could damage their brand.

Perhaps they will launch some sort of "Post PC" device intended for serious work, for that I am thinking something along the lines of the chromebox.

Maybe they should bundle Mac OS with their iDevices. Running as a VM stored on the device.

>Man, those were some shitty experiences.

I did IT at the time for a Mac-friendly company and had no issues with the clones of the day.

The problem with them was that they were better than the Apple products of the time, thus killing Apple's margins.

(although, really, most Apple products of the mid 1990s were abortions of various kinds -- Performa and Centris especially, and the weird education-channel-specific stuff. Good Macs stopped with the IIfx and IIci and began again with something around 1998)

In any batch of Apple products from the pre-Tim Cook days there were always a few solid products and a whole bunch to pad out the channel. They were junk that was simply intended to clutter up shelves and take up space in retail stores to command more presence.

I know people that ran their Quadra into the ground and only gave up on them, reluctantly, when the PowerMac equivalents became embarrassingly faster. Expensive, as was everything in that time, but irreplaceable.

I disagree. Apple is both a hardware and software company, and I would argue that most of the decision to buy a Mac lies in software, not hardware. People don't say "I need this computer because it has an aluminum case"; they say "I need a Mac because it's easier to use."

Not charging for minor updates doesn't mean they're giving them away. It means they've already rolled the cost into the original sale price.

Let's be honest with ourselves here. True, it's not the aluminum case they're after. But it also isn't the ease of use; The ease of use paradigm is yet another clever Apple marketing tactic to give people something to talk about when trying to explain to their friends why they made the decision to buy. The real reasons people buy Macintosh (and I'm talking about the general public here, because admittedly, the personal preferences on this board are likely to be skewed) are subconscious: People's brains notice that Apple products don't make the typical creaking/squeaking sound typical of tightly screwed together plastic parts when you touch them / pick them up. People notice things like magnetic power cords on laptops and cases and accessories designed to flawlessly fit their products without a centimeter to spare. People are influenced by what they see around them. People want to fit in, and do what's relevant. But most of all--and this is the one that a lot of us have trouble accepting--people care about style EVEN MORE than they do about function. Don't believe me? Take a look at how people dress. If people cared most about function, every single person on this planet would be walking around in New Balance trainers (or maybe Crocs), basketball shorts/track pants, and a Wallmart t-shirt. But instead, people pay hundreds of dollars for jeans that are far from functional. And sure, you might argue that not everyone does that, but a lot of the people who are buying Apple's products do.

My theory on why they don't care about the Mac Pro? They're phasing it out because Apple as a company is sustained by sexy, identifiable gadgets that are fun to flash and look at, and no matter what you do to the Mac Pro, it's still a computer tower. You're never going to bring it on vacation. You're never going to see it at a party. You can't even take it out into your living room to show your friends when they come over. The Mac Pro is a purely functional product, and Apple is about as much a functional company as C is a functional language.

" If people cared most about function, every single person on this planet would be walking around in New Balance trainers (or maybe Crocs), basketball shorts/track pants, and a Wallmart t-shirt. But instead, people pay hundreds of dollars for jeans that are far from functional. "

I think your argument is salient, but for the opposite reason. Everybody on the planet does wear these things. It's a very small majority of the population, usually urban and with money to spend, that dresses in hundred(s) dollars jeans. Walmart pulls down half a trillion per year on cheap schlock with hundreds of millions of happy customers.

Most people actually do dress like the Mac Guy


Paradoxically, in terms of computer fashion, Apple doesn't sell to these people.

Let's be honest with ourselves here. This is a tired, tired, worn cliche about Apple, as well as a misunderstanding of fashion for real people. Top it off with rhetorical tricks that don't do your argument justice; "And sure, you might argue that not everyone does that..."

This is just a variation on the "Apple only succeeds because of marketing, or shiny iObjects, or consumer stupidity." That if consumers were only intelligently informed, they'd all run either Linux on home built desktops or something other than what is currently popular.

Why is it so hard to accept that sometimes things become popular because they are good?

>But it also isn't the ease of use;

That's not strictly true. Perhaps for the fanboy. I got Mac because I just don't have time to admin windows anymore. When I realized how much time I was spending on this and how many times cheap hardware had failed me I made the switch. I didn't want to because I didn't care to learn a new OS but at some point I decided the potential savings were worth the risk.

I'm not sure about jeans, I think they are quite practical as they are comfortable , warm , durable and provide basic protection if your leg touches something sharp etc.

One thing larger Apple computers have provided them is exposure, it's difficult to walk into a primarily Mac office and not notice the giant Apple logo staring at you from everywhere. I guess it also helps that people are able to use Apple products for basically everything, as somebody who has a MPB , an iMac as well as an iPad etc is good marketing to other people who may just be interested in buying an iPhone or whatever.

It's also very rare to see a computer used in a movie or TV show now that isn't a Macbook.

Actually, the first argument I hear from everybody is "Apple has the nicest hardware".

Funny, I remember the Mac clones being quite nice machines.

Shitty experiences? Apple made some really, really awful computers during the clone era.

They practically give away the results of their development costs on OSX.

Most of the development was already done for them in the development of Open-BSD.

I really wish people would get over this meme.

(1) You're thinking of FreeBSD. Not OpenBSD. A lot of the command line utilities Unix nerds would use in the terminal are ported from FreeBSD.

(2) The kernel, Darwin, is NOT based on FreeBSD. Darwin is a direct descendant of NextStep, based on the Mach microkernel.

(3) And pretty much all of the GUI and indeed the whole Cocoa API are also from Apple/Next. Not FreeBSD. Essentially, everything that isn't what Unix nerds interact with? That's pretty much all Apple. (Except for Apache if they turn on personal web serving, but that's not FreeBSD. And Webkit started as a fork of KHTML, but, y'know, not FreeBSD again.)

(4) For that matter, even a fair amount of the Unix nerd stuff is specific to OS X, like launchd, or has tweaks to support OS X-specific nerdosity.

So, vain hope, could we _please_ knock this sort of nonsense off? For both better and worse, OS X is very much its own animal, and whether or not you like it, it's ridiculous to claim that Apple doesn't put a hell of a lot of development work into it.

(2) The kernel, Darwin, is NOT based on FreeBSD. Darwin is a direct descendant of NextStep, based on the Mach microkernel.

Darwin[1] is not the kernel, is the operating system. The kernel is called XNU[2] which was a combitation of a non microkernel version of Match with the 4.3BSD unix kernel interface. Apple remplaced the 4.3 BSD code with FreeBSD code[3].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_(operating_system)

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XNU

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XNU#BSD

(1) you are probably right.

(2) the Mach kernel was originally developed for BSD.

(3) true, they did make a shiny wimp variant.

(4) is that why stuff like rename is not there? The man page for rename is there, but rename isn't for some reason though. I had to rename lots of things and I had to write a script and everything.

(5) an apple is a fruit, not an animal.

Apple is what it is because they tightly control the end-to-end user experience, from the hardware to the software. You can't maintain that and open up the hardware ecosystem; it's an either/or choice. So far, their choice has worked out really, really well for them, so why should they mess with that?

I'm sure you're aware of Apple's fairly disastrous entry into the world of Mac clones back in the day. What you're arguing now is essentially the same theory back then: clones would benefit them by increasing the marketshare for their OS. Instead, clones just cannibalized Apple's own sales and diluted their brand with a bunch of crappy knock-offs. I'm not sure why anyone would expect it to play out differently now.

Sure, it might be in your interest as a consumer to have choice in hardware, but I don't see how it's in Apple's interest to do so. They seem to be doing pretty well precisely because of the choices they've made to lock things down, not in spite of them.

What you're arguing now is essentially the same theory back then: clones would benefit them by increasing the marketshare for their OS.

That's not what OP is saying:

If the Apple hardware ecosystem were open like that of Windows you'd have major companies all over the world evolving the platform in wonderful ways. Performance would go up and prices would come down.

This isn't "moar market share," it's "the end user would benefit greatly if Apple hardware opened up."

Today is much different than the Mac clone era for two reasons:

(1) Apple clearly has no intention of offering a high-end desktop solution. Instead of losing those users to high-end Windows or Linux machines, they could keep them in the ecosystem by licensing OS X for use in boutique-style desktops.

(2) Apple holds much more power now. In the 1990s they licensed Mac OS from a point of weakness; today they could license to high-end, boutique manufacturers who meet their design standards.

Is this the right way forward? Maybe, maybe not. But OP's suggestion does not necessarily lead to the Mac clone days of the 90s.

That isn't what has happened with Windows machines, though, or Windows itself. It's also the opposite of what has happened with Android: you've ended up with a fractured market full of underpowered phones running obsolete and incompatible versions of the OS.

All this Adam Smith idealism is great until we look at the real world, where the barriers to entry, integration costs, barriers to accurate consumer knowledge and platform compatibility hurdles are too high for competition to actually produce ideal outcomes.

If people wanted a competitive platform with a propitiatory OS they'd all be developing on Windows. There is no reason for Apple to try to compete in the same space, especially not when they are winning everywhere that matters for consumer electronics.

I'll skip the Windows/Google comparisons, because Apple is not them and has never been like them, and get to my main point: I agree!

Apple prints money, and could afford to choose only the cream of the licensing crop (which, to be fair, will be pretty curdled). Here's where we violently agree:

All this Adam Smith idealism is great until we look at the real world where [stuff is] too high for competition to actually produce ideal outcomes.

In this hypothetical I'm not considering "competition." I don't know if this was obvious from my last post, but I'm wondering what would happen if Apple licensed OS X to a high-end desktop manufacturer that would make Mac Pros on its behalf.

Let me be clear: there is a 0% chance this happens. At the same time, it is clear Apple is not interested in the high-end desktop game. So it's fun and interesting to consider the possibility that Apple -- a company with negotiating power in spades -- could pick from any manufacturer on this planet and choose a licensing partner.

> If the Apple hardware ecosystem were open like that of Windows you'd have major companies all over the world evolving the platform in wonderful ways.

And OSX would also be crashing all the time, getting a reputation for being unstable. This is exactly why they have such tightly controlled hardware configurations: so some cheap company with bad drivers can't make Grandmothers think Mac OSX crashes all the time.

It's not "free" throwing in support for any stupid (even conflicting!) configuration that people could come up with. You have to write your OS different and you're still not going to stop all the problems. Most of Windows old reputation for being horribly unstable came from a handful of drivers.

"Crashing all the time"? This isn't the days of 95, 98, and early XP...

Crashing and BSODs are a thing of the past now, unless you buy a non-name peripheral, or have faulty hardware (which will crash an Apple just as quickly).

That's pretty much exactly what I was saying. And this is why Apple would be hesitant to open up the hardware configuration.

The crowning irony is that it looks like the digital creative set is going to be pushed into the arms of Microsoft, for so long the subject of their scorn. If you want a fast digital workstation now Windows is your only reasonable option.

Discounting home-made computers, which the big names are not interested in competing with, where you can you source a workstation that's more powerful than the 12-core Mac Pro?

The Dell T7600 with 2x2.2GHz 6-core Xeon chips and only 8GB of memory and a 500GB drive comes out at $4,300. The Mac Pro with 2x2.4GHz 6-core, 12GB and a 1TB drive is only $3,800.

Unless I'm missing something, the Mac Pro is still a better deal, even for Windows.

Except that Dell is now using the newer Sandy Bridge E5 Xeon processors while Apple's using models over 2 years old.

One simply can't compare what Apple's now offering with other workstations.

Exactly. Plus, for the kind of people that really need a machine this powerful +/- $1000 isn't decisive.

And the cloud of uncertainty hovering over the Mac Pro has got to have a lot of people worried. It's bad enough that you can't get anything resembling a roadmap from Apple but it really looks like the Mac Pro is headed for extinction.

Your right I recall a few years back that sound on sound (pro audio industry bible) Mac columnist was getting worried that Apple was going to abandon the creative industrys.

Looks like Apple is transitioning from a tech to a consumer company.

They made that transition when they dropped "Computer" from their name. The rest is just logical follow-up.

Presuambly EVGA and the Other Workstaion Class kit makers will be holding a viking funeral for the Old Apple Woz would be invited to light the funeral pyre

It's a good point. A quick look on Newegg lets me know I could probably build a much better machine for around $3k even. But systems builders charge much much more for worse hardware.

Sidequestion: people still buy hard drives as small as 500GB? 3tb runs around $170.

ibuypower or one of the other custom rig manufacturers. or buy bare-bones kits on tigerdirect and put it together.

If you want non-Apple hardware, go buy it. There's nothing stopping you (or anyone else) from doing so. I think Apple fills an obviously valuable niche (several niches, really) and I don't see any incentive for them to open up like you suggest. A lot of us do like to pay for design, reliability, and the end-to-end experience, and I'm glad there is a company like Apple to provide for customers like myself.

"If you want non-Apple hardware, go buy it. There's nothing stopping you (or anyone else) from doing so. "

Unless I want to use non-Apple hardware with Apple software.

I just built a fairly powerful desktop hackintosh and I'm running OSX 10.7.3. The little bit of research that went into ensuring all the parts were compatible was well worth the cash savings.

Just to make a slight change:

"I just build a fairly powerful desktop hackintosh and I'm running OSX 10.7.3 illegally"

Now you might not care about the licensing restrictions on Mac operating systems (I don't) but saying "Oh you can just do this" when it is technically* breaking the law is not an alternative for many people.

* Rather up in the air at the moment to be sure, but err on the side of caution

You are correct and that is unfortunate. For what it's worth, I purchased a copy of Lion.

Sorry, I did not mean to imply that the copy was not paid for; just talking about the licensing restrictions.

Your not breaking "the law" as nobody can come and arrest you for running OSX on your PC.

The worst that could happen is that Apple would try to sue you, but have there been any successful cases of this? End user being sued that is , not companies that were selling PCs with OSX on.

You're breaking "the law" in that you are (in the US at least) violating the DMCA (Possibly, like I said, grey area).

Having said that, I am not interested in arguing pedantic semantics about about what constitutes "the law" and what "breaking" it entails.

Whether something is a federal crime (you know, with warrants and handcuffs and all that) or not hardly seems pedantic. You're the one making the assertion here, so do you have any legal sources to cite or are you sticking with the "pedantic semantics" argument when someone challenges your point?

Ok, then for me breaking "The law" covers Civil Law and Criminal law. I never made any mention of Federal or not and don't see how that matters.

I thought it was well known on HN that Apple used the DMCA ( Digital Millennium Copyright Act, aka, part of "the law" in the US) against the Hackintosh company Psystar, I guess I was wrong. A quick google will bring up the specifics if you want it. (e.g. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/02/apple_psystar_dmca/)

The reason I said it was a grey area was that the DMCA supposedly has provisions for compatibilty and personal use. So it could be argued that installing it yourself on your own hackingtosh (not commercially like Psystar did) does not violate the DMCA, but since this has not yet been tested in court (as far as I know) do this at your own risk.

I think the reason we ended up down this road was that your original comment accused somebody of "illegal" use of OSX.

Firstly this makes the assumption that the person fell under US jurisdiction at the time of their use of the system.

It would also assume that the DMCA would apply to this specific person in this case. I don't know of any instance of a successful crimimal conviction against somebody for using their own legit software on a system they own themselves and we will not unless this is tested in court.

"Unlawful" would probably be a better term in this context. You could argue that this is pedantry but I think that throwing terms like "illegal" around in this way could cause undue anxiety to people who do not understand the specifics.

Fair point on the first one, I did assume US & DMCA.

For the second. A law is a law is a law, even if there is no successful conviction using it yet. It is a "Damocles Sword" hanging over every person in the country it was enacted until courts actually rule on it at which point we will know what the judiciary thinks of it.

As for "illegal" vs "unlawful". As far as I am concerned they are synonyms.

Would it be a DMCA violation? I'm not really sure of the specifics here.

You wouldn't be breaking copyright , since you're not making a copy (assuming you bought a legit copy of the OS). You also aren't circumventing any of the copy protection afaik since OSX doesn't really have any.


Basically Apple says there is code in there to lock their OS to their hardware, it doesn't have to be particularly good, as long as it is there and has to be circumvented for a hackintosh (you cannot just pop a DVD in and install, unless things have changed since I last had a look).

The Apple statement is in that article if you want their legal definition.

I can't see much benefit to Apple though they obviously already make heaps on markup of the current Mac Pro's. Selling OS X standalone I imagine would devalue the rest of OS X products.

You are forgetting the primary question here: What is in it for Apple to cater to users who couldn't give a crap about a nice and polished enclosure? They are happy to play in the premium segment.

They don't play in the premium segment for high-end desktops anymore. That's their right but it does bum out users who would like a high-end OS X desktop.

Even though I agree with your sentiment, you're comparing a desktop/server with a laptop. One is built to be portable, and will have big tradeoffs because of this.

Why would apple want to let some else use their software to undercut them on hardware? It makes no sense. Apple's margins a huge for a reason.

Which monitors did you buy? How did you get them so cheaply?

You can get the Dell U2412M for $300. Reviews seem good; e.g. http://www.flatpanelshd.com/review.php?subaction=showfull...

I prefer U2410.

If you buy in quantity or through the right channels, pricing should be 300-400, 500-600, and 800-1100 for 24/27/30 Dells.

I don't know what robomartin got but the Dell U2412M which is a decent 24" 1920x1200 IPS panel can be had for $300.

NEC 24WMCX We bought a pile of them way back. Found a deal.

Our sound guy is PISSED at the lack of update. Seriously, incredibly pissed. I've honestly never seen him this angry before. He'd been counting down the days till WWDC and a long overdue update. There are three major pieces of software he uses on his Mac that he swears by. It sounds like they have all just released or are about to release Windows versions.

I'm beginning to wonder if this is a trend? Apple is clearly focused on iOS and consumer/prosumer and not professional. I certainly don't blame them. Is the future of professionals going to be Windows? Even for lifelong Mac die hards? It seems plausible imo.

Except there's not really a premium Windows platform to compete with the overall integration that a high-end Mac and Mac OS X offers.

If you can get the same performance out of, say, the new MacBook Pro plus a couple Thunderbolt displays and a Thunderbolt RAID, the pros can just move in that direction.

Notice that there was no iMac update at all today; Apple might be planning to release a new high-end iMac to better serve the old Mac Pro crowd.

I have 2008, 8 times 2.8 GHz core, 32 GB of RAM Mac Pro with SSD for boot drive. That thing is still faster than latest and greatest 17'' Macbook Pro when it comes to doing actual work, like compiling, transcoding video etc (rather than running benchmarks, where newer CPU in the laptop gets about 15% higher score). And the Mac Pro does all this without breaking a sweat. The cooling solution in the large case with huge slow rotating fans means Mac Pro stays quiet and cool under serious multi-hour load.

17'' Macbook Pro gets all huffy and puffy after just a minute of actual work and stays pretty loud and too hot to hold on lap during entire compiling/transcoding session.

So, no currently, you can't replace Mac Pro with a laptop, nor with iMac (I have a couple of latest 27'' iMacs as well, and it's pretty much the same story).

I don't think this will change any time soon. The box size of Mac Pro will always be able to contain more cool, quiet computing power than any laptop.

True, not everyone needs this kind of computing power. It seems Apple's target audience most certainly does not. Majority of them need an appliance running on a phone/tablet it seems.

I really doubt you can get the same performance out of a MacBook Pro. Professional media software (audio or video) takes a -lot- of power. Trying to run through a big multi-track synth setup would probably bring a MBP to it's knees.

I mean for one thing, despite all the awesomeness that is Ivy-Bridge, I still do not think that Intel can cram in the same level of performance into a 35W chip that use to go into a 90W platform just 2-3 years ago.

> I really doubt you can get the same performance out of a MacBook Pro. Professional media software (audio or video) takes a -lot- of power. Trying to run through a big multi-track synth setup would probably bring a MBP to it's knees.

With audio, it is seriously child's play. Compression is about as CPU intensive as you can get with audio outside of voice recognition, and it just isn't there.

Video is mostly offloaded on to GPU's these days. The MBP GPU is definitely a big step down from what you can get on a desktop, but you can always get a dedicated bit of hardware that you attach to your MBP to get that job done. The real killer on video has traditionally been I/O. With SSD's and Thunderbolt, you have some alternatives.

> I still do not think that Intel can cram in the same level of performance into a 35W chip that use to go into a 90W platform just 2-3 years ago.

You might want to check out Moore's Law.

With audio, it is seriously child's play. Compression is about as CPU intensive as you can get with audio outside of voice recognition, and it just isn't there.

Not true. Try running a really complicated Logic set with a lot of virtual instruments on a low-end machine and watch it grind to a halt. In the last year we've seen new virtual instruments that bring analog emulation to a new level but they can eat as much as half of my Macbook Air's CPU playing a single note. Extrapolate this to a professional mix with as many as a hundred tracks and you can see why some people still need a real computer.

This is true, there is still a gulf in performance requirements between something that needs to run a browser and angry birds and something that will be used for high end gaming (or game dev) and stuff like Music, CAD , Video creation.

Assuming that we can keep cranking the moore's law handle in one way or another people will always find a way to use that extra power even if the rate of return is somewhat logarithmic there is always a wow factor in something that is better even if only by a marginal amount.

The question I guess becomes how much of this can we move to the cloud? If the math for the virtual instruments in this example could be run inside a data centre and then streamed to the computer , perhaps some of the need for high end local hardware is alleviated.

Of course this will be cyclical , we move to a world where software is something that is paid for by the month and after a while of paying lots of different monthly fees for different apps somebody will start offering people a "local cloud" that will look like a great deal because you only pay once.

If the math for the virtual instruments in this example could be run inside a data centre and then streamed to the computer , perhaps some of the need for high end local hardware is alleviated.

Music is a particularly difficult case because latency is an absolute killer. If your response time is over about 10-20 milliseconds people will start to complain. You could farm out offline rendering I suppose but so far it's a lot easier to build a big beefy workstation and freeze tracks to audio if necessary on the local disk.

Macbook Air CPU < MBP CPU

By a long shot.

But I'll stand corrected. I'm obviously just playing with inferior tools.

> Try running a really complicated Logic set with a lot of virtual instruments on a low-end machine and watch it grind to a halt.

Barking up the wrong tree, mate. Obviously he won't try it, because he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about - and certainly never heard of Logic.

> Compression is about as CPU intensive as you can get with audio outside of voice recognition

Highly polyphonic physical modeling synthesis is more CPU intensive than compression... then you start adding on many instances of complicated reverb effects, some effects that require fft/ifft passes, autotune, &on and on, all with realtime constraints (not to mention all of the copying of buffers and context-swapping that goes on with the way these systems are designed)... and you get a high-cpu monster pretty quickly.

Moore's Law doesn't apply to this situation because you aren't comparing CPUs designed for the same market and purpose. A low-power laptop CPU might very well be a year or more behind its desktop brethren.

Yes, it might be. It tends not to be behind several years behind though, particularly given the CPU's in a MBP.

The memory bandwidth, # of cores, fixed point and floating-point computational characteristics of MBP's are not that different from their desktop brethren (smaller, but they tend to be proportional). Bottom line is chewing half the power still puts you ahead after a couple of iterations of Moore's Law.

If your problem is bigger than that, or requires specialized hardware, it tends to make sense to support external hardware and/or distributed computation, in which case the MBP's limitations tend to matter far less.

With audio, it is seriously child's play. Compression is about as CPU intensive as you can get with audio outside of voice recognition, and it just isn't there.

No offense, but that's not even wrong.

> With audio, it is seriously child's play. Compression is about as CPU intensive as you can get with audio outside of voice recognition, and it just isn't there.

Don't do much audio work, do you? Between softsynths and DSP effects on 32+ tracks, professional-level audio workstations will eat all of the processing power available on pretty much any modern CPU and ask for more.

I say the future of desktop software is going to involve Linux, finally.

Both Windows and OS X are becoming walled-garden tablet-centric shitfests.

As a Linux desktop user, I want to agree with you.

As a Linux desktop user, I'm not sure that I can.

The real problem is that the most popular Linux distribution (Ubuntu) and one of the two most popular window managers (Gnome) are going in exactly the same direction as Apple and Windows. These two projects are so busy emulating what Apple and Windows do, they can't see that they're going to go right off the usability cliff for desktop users.

That, more than anything either Apple or Microsoft does is what worries me about desktop Linux. We have met the enemy and he is us.

As a strangely pertinent anecdote: I've been a Windows "poweruser" for a long time, and have never used much of Linux. I never had a real need for it. But I've been doing rails development lately and Windows kept getting in the way, and so many people are using OSX and I can't afford a Mac... so I tried Ubuntu.

I'm using 12.04, and it's the first significant amount of time I've used spent with Ubuntu. I can say that a month in, I'm digging it. It beats Windows for me in a number of ways but I actually like the level of ui polish -- it's smoother than Windows. (That and it renders fonts far better than Windows, for some reason).

Rails on Ubuntu is also far, far easier. Terminal beats every pretend version on Windows, rvm and bundler work the way they're supposed to, and I really like gedit more than Notepad++.

> I really like gedit more than Notepad++

gedit is available on Windows too. If you really want to harness the power of Linux, run Vim. You'll see at least an order of magnitude in productiviy improvement.

I've heard this a lot -- in fact in a recent Stack Overflow "best rails IDE's" thread, Vim was near the top of recommended answers. I've been using gedit with a few add-ons installed to make working with rails a little easier.

I also grabbed RubyMine but I haven't spent any significant time there yet as I already have the terminal->gedit workflow down and fighting through RubyMine modal menus to setup BitBucket git pushing started to get old quickly. Terminal is easy. I just push.

What does Vim offer that gedit doesn't? I guess I don't understand the main difference.

I would really like to get some code suggestions/completion features, certainly not a need but I think it would help cut down on my occasional stupid mistake.

> What does Vim offer that gedit doesn't? I guess I don't understand the main difference.

It's about the modal editing. It's a completely different paradigm for text editing. It changes the way you interact with your code.

I keep hearing this. I can do basic Vim (i.e use it as a standard text editor) but for "serious" programming tasks I mostly use Eclipse.

What advantages other than freeing up screen room and RAM would I get from using Vim over eclipse that would give me an "order of magnitude" productivity increase?

I know vim has a lot of keyboard shortcuts, but there are also quite a few in eclipse.

See my other reply: http://hackerne.ws/item?id=4101878

Well, to be fair, it depends on whether you're willing to spend a week or so getting the hang of it. That level of investment isn't necessarily for everyone (even developers).

Not to mention VIM has been available on Windows for many years, so the gp has probably already eliminated it as an option.

The future of Linux on the general "desktop" space will be as a front end for the cloud/web I believe.

Rather than "Linux apps" expect it to be running stuff using things like Google Native client or increasingly sophisticated JS virtual machines.

I think if we just keep saying it, it'll happen eventually.

We live in hope...

haven't we been living in hope in the last decade?

I'd dare say: longer!

No. There are monetary and performance gains for using Linux on servers and embedded products. As a result, OEMs have a financial incentive for making sure those products run Linux well. No such incentive exists for desktops.

Apple incorporates the cost of OS X into selling hardware. Windows' licenses are effectively free for OEM manufacturers.

Dell is the only major OEM I know of that offers a Linux laptop and I'd guess that division is in the red. The original Asus EEE PC was Linux only and spawned the netbook revolution, but Linux only did not last very long once the market took off and Microsoft intervened.

I believe some countries require vendors to supply the computer with an OS installed; in this case not needing to include a half-assed version of Windows Home Underwhelm Experience can help them cut away those 10% of $300 low-end models. There's a reason many netbooks come with linux and it's not user-friendliness.

Additionally, more and more governments pass laws that require their institutions to use linux or open source, or choose bidders that do. Then you have an incentive for a company which wins such a bid to use linux on umpteens of desktops.

Those are just two incentives. There are probably more.

OEMs get paid for pre-installing bloatware onto machines which can add up to $40+ per machine. Offering Linux costs them money (in addition to R&D, support, training, marketing, etc).

Right. I wish we were in a world where you didn't have to remind me of that, and I didn't instantly want to forget about it.

That begs the question, what is the future of the desktop?

It's not a knock on Linux, but if the mass market moves to tablets and smartphones (not sure if you count laptops as desktops), owning the desktop is going to be like owning the mainframe market. It doesn't disappear but it's not what it once was either.

I've heard variations of this since 1999 or so on slashdot. I'm somewhat reserved on Linux becoming a desktop platform.

Is the future of professionals going to be Windows?

Which itself is going super-consumery with Windows 8..

I believe that professionals are now excepted to skip every other version. Windows 7 is the new XP. I bet we will be seeing it for a long time.

Definitely a trend. I wonder if the iPhone will see a micro SD card reader? I don't think so. It would render their good, better, best model useless.

To confirm, what kind of professionals are you talking about for whom a new Macbook Pro isn't going to be fast enough?

Video game audio. He does all of our audio work. Sound effects, voice over, music composition, etc. I asked him what audio he used and his answer was Pro Tools, Digital Performer, and Peak. He's got a super top of the line Mac Pro that's only 2 years old and he's been salivating at the prospect of an upgrade for a long time.

He was extra pissed that the new machines don't even have Thunderbolt. He has many hundreds of gigabytes of audio libraries on a variety of external storage devices and just having Thunderbolt would be a pretty decent productivity improvement.

Funnily enough, Peak has just become a dead product as BIAS are out of business: http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/06/bias-makers-of-peak-ce...

You can never have enough processing power when you're editing and re-rendering videos.

Hell, I find lightroom able to use all the CPU I can throw at it when I muck around with ~400 photos that I shoot in a day.

I have no doubt that video work can easily use all the CPU/memory you throw at it: imagine rendering a finished video in five different formats and resolutions in the background, while you're editing/tweaking your next project in the background.

Remember these are professionals.

Probably the ones who have 32gb of memory for their photoshop scratch buffer. There's still quite a few of these types of professionals. You just can't put that much memory in the Macbook Pro. Processor speed is probably less of an issue compared with memory capacity.

Why not just use a top-of-the-line iMac with 32GB RAM? It's not officially supported, but it does work.

Because 32GB is the supported max for the lower end Mac Pro. The higher end ones support up to 64GB officially, 64GB and 96GB respectively are the actual maximums.

All of the above. Audio, video, 3D. Any pro level design. Even print design.

Having a Mac Pro with lots of storage and big monitors when you're working on a 300 page book with 300GB of photos is much less annoying than poking along with a laptop.

It's not just the speed, it's also the usability. Eg, a comfortable trackball and a nicer keyboard. Sure, you can add those to a laptop, but then you have a kludge.

How is that a kludge? You have to add them to a Mac Pro exactly the same. And you can just stick all of your "desktop" stuff on a USB hub and call it a docking station...

With a Mac Pro, you can stick the original keyboard in a closet. With a laptop, you'd have two keyboards, plus a trackball and a trackpad.

Audio professionals editing large surround sessions with lots of plugins and lots of tracks for one (plus you need 3-4 or more PCIe slots to stick Pro Tools or similar DSP cards in). These need as much horsepower as you can throw at them.

Video professionals doing rendering or compositing, ditto.

Not to mention the video cards available, plus being able to throw four full size drives directly on the SATA bus.

What everyone else said, plus the fans. Man, there are times I actually think about a Mac Pro as a humble Rails developer. If I fully parellelized my test suites it might even be worth the money.

People in the business of video editing are one example. They need/use more RAM and processing power than you can get on any new model of Macbook Pro.

I imagine he is talking about sound engineers. Also, he is talking about the Mac Pro (the desktop) not the Macbook Pro, the laptop.

FX artists for digital cinema. 4K takes nearly half a gig a second uncompressed.

Why is he pissed? I assume he has custom sound hardware anyway, what can't he do with the last gen Xeon he can with the latest gen Xeon? It's Xeons...in a box. Most editors (video/sound) would be provided with fibre storage links from an all-in-one vendor, whilst it might be nice to see thunderbolt on a mac pro, you can't put infiniband on an imac...

Audio folks like to have as much power as possible - it allows them to pile on plugin after plugin without much fuss.

Every bit of CPU power gained from an upgrade is promptly put to use in doing audio processing .. and I would imagine that this Audio guy is probably using Pro Tools or Logic, and has reached the ceiling for what he can do without upgrading to a faster CPU.

Fact is, Mac Pro's are no longer the really best solution for a high-end audio/studio situation - sure, they look good as furniture, but for the same price you can get 2x the number of plugins running on self-built hardware. This matters in the audio business.

(Disclaimer: My DAW is a Linux machine. It rocks. I also have a portable DAW: Macbook Pro. It also rocks.)

What does your sound guy need that a top-end MBP with Thunderbolt storage wouldn't handle?

What the hell does your sound guy want, exactly? A 64-core system that uses 6000W of power simply to boot?

I read recently that the Mac Pro accounts for less than %2 of Apple's Mac sales.

Since thunderbolt basically is a PCI express cable, there's nothing to stop people from building external cases that can hold PCI express cards, like the Mac Pro can. Since thunderbolt is becoming prevalent across the line, I can't really see a need for the Mac Pro so much anymore.

True it is nice in some situations to put all your hard drives and all your PCI cards in one box, but at %2 of the total sales (by units) the big old tower is less relevant these days.

The other thing the Mac Pro had was the highest end of Intels CPUs. If the sales aren't making the engineering effort worth it, then the answer Apple's intending people to take may be a high end iMac.

I edit a lot of HD in Final Cut X on my 2 year old Macbook Pro, and background rendering seems to have no trouble keeping up. I've not really felt CPU constrained in awhile with HD.

I think it's funny that Apple markets itself as simplifying and reducing wires and reducing clutter... but boy, they like adaptors!

A wire is a commitment, an adapter is a training wheel. The intent is for you to grow out of needing it. Apple's guesses about what you'll eventually stop needing have been pretty good so far (e.g. ditching floppy drives, going to USB-primary early).

Those were really early decisions. What about Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt? I still rather had DVI on my Mac Mini. What about Ethernet? Anyone who needs it in a wired company is likely stuck with it.

And one more ugly piece of plastic that many people ruin their Macs with - USB 3G sticks, because no Mac series can hold a SIM card, even though Apple has successfully pushed for a more compact standard.

So 3g radios magically work through sim cards now? I actually think not including CDMA/GSM protocol of the year antennaes is a better future proofing move.

The radios typically included in new laptops are pretty sophisticated, with the right firmware, one card works on pretty much any network in the world.

Future proofing a box with a non-user replaceable battery? They don't want future proof, they just have other gadgets to sell to the people that want mobile connectivity.

> Future proofing a box with a non-user replaceable battery

My battery lasts 6 to 7 hours and is more than two years old. I can't remember the last time I had to stay six hours straight without having a plug nearby long enough to pump up some serious juice (and remember, charging is non-linear, the first 80% come up in a blink). Swapping batteries is a niche, yet it's the standard in PC land. I'd rather have a couple more hours in a thinner enclosure than twice but at the cost of lugging around a bulkier design, along with the second battery. Plus recharging two batteries is a chore.

A battery isn't a 3g radio, and what happens if you put in hsdpa and all of the sudden the lte bands being used are different?

The battery analogy is flawed.

In general this is true, but there's at least one thing you never grow out of needing: more storage. And until now the mac pro is the only one with expandable internal storage. On top of that most apple software[1] don't deal well with network storage, so it's twice as bad for some users.

[1]especially time machine and aperture but a lot of others as well

It's improving the base model look and size for the majority at the cost of adapters for the outliers. Apple has always been consistently designing for mass market appeal for the past decade. If you are an outlier, Macs are not for you.

What is the opposite of "If you are an outlier, Macs are not for you"? Is it, "If you are average, you should buy a Mac"? That doesn't sound like a very good marketing tactic.

No, it doesn't, but the quality of the "opposite" is rarely a relevant indicator – if you tried to recruit people into the pro-choice movement, you'd have a far harder time if you called it the "anti-life" movement.

I also think it's funny that Apple marketing switched so strongly from "Think Different, personalise your stuff" to "You will all be the same, abandon choice"

Maybe it's because I'm used to seeing Macs in businesses, but I've never known a MBP user who didn't carry along a VGA dongle.

there's nothing to stop people from building external cases that can hold PCI express cards, like the Mac Pro can.

Such a thing has been announced: http://www.magma.com/thunderbolt.asp

then the answer Apple's intending people to take may be a high end iMac.

Maybe, but the 3.4GHz i7 - currently the highest CPU in the iMac range - still comes in at 2-3x slower than the highest end current Mac Pro CPU.. and there are E5 Xeons out there already faster than those.

Very cool, but wow I wasn't expecting the price to be at almost a grand.

Oh Goad, magma is so SHIT. We've had one of their offerings in the 2000's and it smoked a high-end piece of hardware when it died. Cause? Very shitty chinese psu that went up in flames on its own. It was just after warranty, so they didn't take it back. In retrospect reminds me of this:


Please, please don't use magma. It's for your own good.

I read recently that the Mac Pro accounts for less than %2 of Apple's Mac sales

What % of media and apps consumed on other Apple kit is created on Mac Pros? Are all the devs and videographers etc using laptops now?

FWIW my dev setup is a MacBook Pro connected to a Cinema Display.


> Is the future of professionals going to be Windows?


My Dad, who is really into video editing and 3D animation, swears by the Mac Pro line. I have been suggesting that he get a fast MacBook Pro, use Thunderbolt with the nice raid box Apple sells, and move on. After the new MacBook Pro hotness and the minor Mac Pro update, I bet he will make the switch.

My world is Linux servers and a MacBook Air (and a good SSH shell on my iPad if I am travelling light) work fine; some local develop using IntelliJ/RubyMine, etc., and good access to servers == happiness. I could personally care less if Apple wants to concentrate on what makes them money.

For people who do professional video, sound, etc., maybe the Windows world is looking better, especially with Adobe's neat Creative Cloud stuff. I am a rank amateur when it comes to video and digital photo post production, and even I am thinking of dropping Final Cut Pro 7 and paying Adobe $50/month for Creative Cloud. I think that Apple has made their intentions clear.

I think there are two possible explanations:

1. Marco's pessimistic take that they are clearing through existing inventory in slightly reconfigured and cheaper machines.

2. grecy's comment here that they needed to keep people hooked while they get the real bump out the door.

If the answer is 2, then they really can't wait too long. A few people will be satisfied that they can get 12 cores for $3800, but it's only a stop gap.

My pessimistic gut says Marco is right (see FCPx/exFCP fiasco), but I keep hoping he's wrong. Right now I have too much invested in PCIe in my studio (audio hardware) and might get one of these new 12 core boxes and nurse it along for as long as I can.


If #2 is correct, wouldn't they tease a new release instead of introducing a new model? No sense making customers buy something only to release a new model out of schedule.

You don't want to Osborne your existing line.

Osborne? Never heard this term. What's this from?


Osborne Computer announced a future product that would outperform the current line. People waited, rather than buying what was currently being offered. In the meantime, with the drop in sales they ran out of cash and went bankrupt.

Mountain Lion won't even be available for older MacPros, that speaks to answer 1

(my 2007 MacPro is still humming along nicely, I really can't see why Apple won't allow me to install their new OS on it, other than that they just want the whole line to disappear)

U should build a hackintosh using E5 Xeons


If I used your logic last year when they did soft bumps to the MacBook Pro after not having a major upgrade since 2010, I would've been shitting my pants thinking they would be dropping the MacBook Pro and only going consumer... which, as we learned today, is not the case.

The Mac Pro is a necessary part of their line for professionals and aren't going anywhere. My guess is next upgrade will be a big overhaul. It will also probably come with Mac Mini upgrades & a complete thunderbolt display selection (which I am waiting for).

EDIT: the upgrade I'm referring to is April 2010 when the MacBook Pro's started using the Intel Core i5 and i7 processers, removed the express slot, etc. That's 2 years and 2 months between major updates AND you could say the 2009 was really the last time it was upgraded THIS much. So 3 years? and you're complaining about 2 which is not abnormal by any means.

You and OP have made clear, concrete, differing predictions about the future, predictions which can be checked within the next 6-12 months. This is epistemically virtuous -- congratulations! If you want to be even more epistemically virtuous, you could arrange a bet. How much would you be willing to bet that there will be a new Mac Pro within the next year?

Like I said: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/06/12/tim_cook_confi...

If you're into home recording (who isn't, these days?), this is a huge blow. When your Pro Tools/Cubase/Logic project has 40+ tracks of high resolution audio files and several high quality real-time plugins processing each one of them you really need a lot of CPU power.

I purchased a Thunderbolt display just a couple of months ago. I wanted to use it with my Macbook Air while waiting for the Mac Pro to be updated, feeling that not even Apple could get away with a $1000 display that was not supported by its super expensive high end computer.

I was wrong, apparently. Now I know what it must have felt like to have bought NeXT computers or Betamax VCRs.

I might be wrong, but you can still use the display with a current Mac Pro using DisplayPort, right? (You just won't get to use the other connectors.)

I have a 2008 Mac Pro and was looking into doing this, but I'd need to buy a graphics card with DP first.

UPDATE: Thanks! Yes, I was wrong ;-) Another source: http://store.apple.com/us/question/answers/product/MC007LL/A...

I wouldn't count on that, because I actually had to update my macbook air just to get the Almighty Thunderbolt Display to work. In fact, my previous MBA (2010 generation, display port)didn't even power the thing up (it's powered exclusively over thunderbolt).

I don't think that's accurate. The thunderbolt displays include a power supply with a magsafe power OUTPUT for charging a mac laptop plugged in to the thunderbolt cable, so it logically follows that they must have their own AC input.

You are right, the monitor does have AC input. Still, it won't even power up unless it's connected to a Thunderbolt port. Believe me, I've learned this the hard way.

No, the Thunderbolt Display definitely requires Thunderbolt.

Cubase VST was doing 32 track audio flawlessly on Windows back in the late 90s on an original Pentium. Seriously weird seeing people demanding more power for audio work.

That's like saying people were multitasking just fine on Windows 3.11, so why would anyone want a modern OS? If you want to work at a professional level and produce music that actually sounds good you need to work with high resolution audio files and complex, CPU-intensive plugins.

Unless, of course, you own extremely expensive hardware or happen to be a lo-fi genius like Bob Pollard or Calvin Johnson :)

Well, if you are banking on OS X as your platform for scientific computing, it seems you have chosen very poorly. I still don't understand why an organization would choose Mac Pros for workstations. That seems to me to be a class of machines where price/performance is very important, and Apple hasn't been very competitive in that area.

I think Apple has done a pretty good thing today. They've politely signaled to the market that they want you to f' off and buy someone else's product in this segment, because you aren't worth the effort anymore.

The money is in iOS and the laptops. And you don't need more than an iMac to develop for iOS or the laptops, so they just can't be bothered to make a workstation anymore. If you are pissed off about this you should investigate Linux or Windows.

At the moment, this feels very much like a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Well, sales are down" or "Sales are such a small percentage of revenue"... that they question keeping the product line around. Given that there haven't been any major updates, yes, sales are down.

I suspect if they hadn't put out a new model of the iPhone since the 3GS, sales of the iPhone would probably decline over the last 2-3 years.

A souped-up iMac and some sort of thunderbolt 'bay' for expansion cards would serve the pro market, one would think. A large-scale touch display would be on the wish-list as well. That's my complete guess as to where they might be headed. I can't really imagine that Apple is unaware of how important the pro market is to their image, if not the bottom line. Consider the strong ties with Pixar – they must get constant feedback into what a pro setup needs. I'm betting on a big iMac/Pro update in the fall.

A touch screen display? Are you proposing everyone get gorilla arm (http://catb.org/jargon/html/G/gorilla-arm.html)?

There's nothing wrong with the Mac Pro but the whiny ones who can't afford it or prefer to scoff at the price rather than recognize the value. Yes, we all want a smaller "Pro" system you can upgrade, but there's no market for it.

The sad truth is Apple sells only "thousands" of Mac Pro systems compared to "millions" of their more mainstream products. That they make them at all is interesting considering the expense that must go into designing them.

It's possible as Apple makes an increasing proportion of their revenue from iOS and are less threatened by the possibility of losing control of a portion of their OS X market that they might allow a few select manufacturers to produce and support a true workstation-class system. For Apple it'd be checks in the mail for licensing fees and an almost imperceptible loss of market share.

I'm aware of gorilla arm, and sure, that's an issue with an upright display... but I see no reason why you couldn't have the display on a swivel – like a drafting table. Swivel down, and the display becomes a table-top. Swivel up for traditional computer interaction.

As far as Apple licensing OS X, that seems highly unlikely given how things went during the 1990s with Apple clones.

What's important to remember is in the 1990s the Mac business was the vast majority of the then "Apple Computer" company's revenue. Today it's a small and shrinking percentage.

Perhaps you should actually bet with OP then!

Haha. We need a Hacker News version of intrade: prediction markets for the speculative hacker.


I agree this is a lame "update"

But I don't think that means it's dead for certain. Maybe they are having a hard time figuring out if Thunderbolt will go on the gfx card or the motherboard...maybe they are still waiting for a usb 3.0/thunderbolt/ivy bridge chipset from inel?

In fact, I think a "lame" update is a good sign that Apple wants to keep it around, and for whatever reason doesn't have the tech yet to make it much better.

They've had years to figure out the Thunderbolt thing. Xeon E5 was delayed 9 months, so the new Mac Pro actually should have been ready in September.

Has it come to the point that the only way to build a serious Mac rig is a high end hackintosh? I had high hopes as I need a very serious rig for work related stuff, I put off doing soe RMA and other nonsense waiting for this thing... and ... this is it?

Speaking of which, has anyone built a monster hackintosh?

I was thinking about it, but then I just bit the bullet and got the top iMac, ordered 4GB with it, then ripped out the 2x2GB from Apple and put in 4x8GB. It's acceptable, though sometimes when I am churning data I wish I had more than 8 threads.

Having to deal with opening up one's computer and also occasionally losing a half a day to tracking down proper kexts is not my idea of cost savings. (I'm not afraid of it, it just sucks and absorbs my only non-renewable resource.)

My current rig is a last gen Mac Pro 12 core with 128GB of memory from OWC and 4x2TB in raid.

I was hoping to upgrade to a box that could support more memory (the 128GB is already over the official spec, but well tested) ... but just meh. I am disappointed.

But, it gets me off my butt to research how to build out a decent hackintosh.

The Mac Pro clearly isn't on their radar.

That said, a Hackintosh can save you a lot of money if you're looking at the Mac Pro line. It's a crappy solution, for sure. Apple would never bless such a thing, but they don't seem to try and stop it.

Ditto to Hackintosh. The Mac Pro never was a good buy.

Half the reason one buys an Apple product is because of the terrific build quality and design. That's extremely important in a notebook computer, something you'll carry around day in day out and have to depend on to not fail when you're in the field.

There's far less incentive in buying a terrifically sturdy and pretty machine that will sit under your desk and not be moved for years on end.

I dunno about you guys, but as a college student that frequently takes internships, I move every 4-6 months.

Having a really powerful desktop that can be thrown back into its (incredibly well designed) original box and shipped here, there, and everywhere while continuing to work perfectly and housing all my disks has been awesome.

Any desktop case can be put back into its box and shipped in the same fashion.

Actually, it's annoying to need a box for a desktop nowadays. But the trend towards ventilated cases makes it a necessity - there's no protection against the elements.

Heck, I have problem with mine sitting near the door after I come in from the snow.

Not really - most other desktop cases are much flimsier and don't come with as well designed packaging. I've had computers not POST after shipping because something was dislodged in transit, but that never happens with the Mac Pro.

The fact is Mac Pro's aren't as profitable as iPads or iPhones. If you were CEO you'd de-prioritise the line as well.

They're not killing off the line altogether probably because it's a less risky market. iPads and iPhones are new, and tomorrow a new phone could kill off iPhone sales over night.

It is pretty shitty to see Apple do this however. I'd love for them to put in the bleeding edge hardware on the line.

My problem with that line of reasoning is that the company has (had) over $100 billion in the bank. They have no reason to de-prioritize any area of the business that's making a profit. They have enough resources to pump into all their profitable lines of business and more.

Is the potential of pissing off dedicated customers worth the money they'll save? What will they do with the money they save? Add it to their unimaginably large mountain of cash?

It's not about profit, it's about executive focus. That's the limiting factor. Mobile is changing so fast, and they don't want to take their eye off that ball.

Who says the Mac Pro line is profitable?

How could it not be? The engineering is all sunk and the margin is ~35%.

There's profit and there's profit. The margins are there but the units sold are not.

That could easily be fixed by bringing the price back down into reality (i.e. 30-50% more expensive than equivalent x86-hardware, but not 300% more expensive).

Currently you'd have to be lobotomized to buy a MacPro at this price point. You can buy literally 2-3 "beige boxes" with similar specs for that money.

The shiny case and OSX make up for a lot, but there's a limit to what people will bear.

Really? iPhones alone brought in $22 billion in revenue last quarter.


The entirety of worldwide PC shipments for a quarter is less than 100 million units. So, no, cutting prices is not going to help catch up to iOS revenues.


Exactly. Apple may be figuring that if they could divert the resources currently devoted to the Mac Pro line to other products, they would be making a greater return.

Or perhaps they have something in the pipe but not ready yet. They've never been a company to tip their hand early.

Apple thrives on hype and unpredictability. Good for going after the impulse buys; lousy for people who bother trying to plan things.

I suspect that Apple has delayed significant changes to the Mac Pro until desktop Retina displays are ready. Likely there was some snag, and the whole kit (including a Retina capable video subsystem) wasn't ready when originally planned. In that case, a small incremental update is the only option.

I wonder if this is a tacit acceptance of the DIY hackintosh. Has anyone seen hacintoshes used by audio/video pros for production work?

Everything I've read over the last year seems to imply that Apple is losing interest in the pro A/V market in favor of the profitable portable market, instead of keeping both going.

Apple don't update their line, obviously dead. Hmm? Weird conclusion. Tim Cook has come out and said there'll be an update next year: http://www.macrumors.com/2012/06/11/david-pogue-new-imacs-an...

But the truth is, this is really self-entitled. There's huge iPhone updates on the go (iOS6 and hopefully iPhone 5 later this year), big MacBook Pro updates but that wasn't good enough. Nope, because they didn't cover Marco's chosen line of computers… they're playing a half-assed game.

Buying a computer is a 1:1 deal. You give money, they give computer (and support for a year.) That's it. That's the deal. There is no "we'll forever be in your debt" by Apple. Just because you want something, and you kick and stomp doesn't mean they should do it.

We also don't know why. There could have been a hardware issue holding them up, or a software. We've got no idea on this.

Apple are doing a pretty good job at the moment if you ask me.

The Mac Pro isn't just for those in the A/V industry. It's for anyone who wants a Mac with more than four cores. No other Mac can do 6+ cores.

The Mac Pro hasn't seen a case update in at least six years. What other Apple product has been neglected like this?

Neglect on the internals side is objectionable, but what of the the case? It's still just as (subjectively) beautiful today as it was six years ago. Does a product really need to radically look different just to be "new?"

Well, for one, it's huge. I'd love to see a smaller package that could still hold as many internal drives and PCIe cards. Something that could sit comfortably on top of a desk or be easily rack-mounted would be nice.

Marco actually wrote a nice article about this: http://www.marco.org/2011/11/02/scaling-down-the-mac-pro

Personally, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Apple was just keeping the Mac Pro alive long enough for third-party Thunderbolt accessories to catch on. Once you can plug in all the expansion you needed over Thunderbolt, what's the point of the Mac Pro? Just faster CPU and more RAM -- so maybe they'll release a special Mac Mini that's like a normal Mini but with Xeon processors and a ton of memory.

They have a "Mac mini server" today, and they've had an "Xserve cluster node" in the past, so it wouldn't be completely out of line for Apple to release a special version.

A lot of us wouldn't find it ideal, but it could be an answer to the "I need a Mac with 32GB of RAM" question, and Apple does seem to prefer all-in-one boxes that users plug their own external accessories into.

I'd politely like to ask..

What, besides A/V work, is a 6+ core OS X machine necessary for?

Scientific computing, system modeling, numerics, CAD/CAM, visualization, developing highly concurrent software, event processors, rendering, machine learning (esp vision/video/spatial stuff), genetic algorithms, databases, GIS, crypto, traffic processing, theorem proving, compiling stuff, exploratory data mining. Gaming, maybe. I routinely saturate my MBP's 4 HT cores. It's also nice to develop on the same architecture you'll deploy to; helps with concurrency tuning.

Not that you can't run these on smaller devices; these are just easy ways to use up a lot of CPU.

Good reasons but I wonder is the current/new generation 12-core Mac Pro inadequate for this? It could be better but it still seems to serve its purpose.

Depends on what you're doing. I'd be satisfied with a 12-core Mac Pro for everyday development--but if a 128-core Xeon were available I'd take it gladly.

When I was working on quantum state diffusion, it took many hours on a 24-node cluster for a single run. In many of these tasks, the problem will expand to consume all reasonably available resources; more cores allow greater precision, wider sampling of parameters, higher fidelity, etc.

some of the iOS developers at my work use them just so they can compile faster.

then they're doing it wrong.

what? Clang parallelizes compilation 6 > 4. duh.

I do not understand. What is the appropriate use case for a Mac Pro where something equivalent and much cheaper cannot be used?

PCIe cards. Multiple matte 30" monitors. Anything really CPU intensive.

I think he meant, why wouldn't a windows/unix/linux machine with similar hardware work just as well?

Because it doesn't run OS X?

Most creative pro apps are only available on Windows or OSX. I don't hate Windows7 but I find OSX superior (integration, stability, decent shell etc). If you want OSX, you generally need a Mac.

I'd switch to Linux if the apps were there, but it's not even close. And I'm an edge case, I suspect most creative types would rather not mess with xorg.conf.

That's why I wish, over and over, for a Wine equivalent that runs OSX apps.

I have ran some windows audio applications on Ubuntu 10.04 and the timing accuracy (tested by specialist software) was several orders of magnitude higher. In addition, I can achieve higher workloads. This is all with software that wasn't even compiled for my OS.

Logic Pro with high numbers of tracks and effects/filters.

Anything that needs workstation-level graphics like the NVIDIA Quadro (for doing stereoscopic graphics, multi device synchronization, broadcast pipelines, and more).

IOS + OSX developers (edited out my not really interesting comment about XCode)

Final Cut Pro?

I don't get it. Why don't they just discontinue the Mac Pro?

Mac OSX is still solidly used in many industries, such as media and publishing. Recording studios need the Pro to install expansion cards, video production houses the same. I've seen close to riots because a production house wanted to move all their staff to Windows, and as much as you think it might save costs, you don't have to worry about Anti-Virus and Firewall software management, admin permissions etc on top of all that, Windows Pro licenses etc. Integration with iPad and iPhone is also important given that a lot of media development for these goes on in this studios.

I (still) work in old-world publishing. Honestly, Mac Pros are losing their edge in this industry. My machine was recently upgraded from an old Mac Pro to a new Mac Mini. Even when I spam my machine with a half-dozen Adobe apps at once, I don't really hurt for performance.

Granted, some still need a Mac Pro to drive multiple huge monitors, cut video, add weird device interfaces, etc. Some will demand super expensive hardware for reasons more political than practical. All that said, overall, the publishing industry seems to be hitting a performance-plateau where the old Pro is no longer necessary among many practitioners.

Right, I wonder if the Thunderbolt isn't going to replace the expansion cards in the future. As long as latency is as low there is no other reason I can think of to maintain expansion card chassis, and thus discontinue the Mac Pros for the Minis.

"you don't have to worry about Anti-Virus and Firewall software management, admin permissions"

Are you sure about that? "Flashback" is just one example. Apple has also approached an av vendor to help harden OSX.

Flashback is the exception that proves the rule. As much as I like to disagree with people who suggest that the OS X is "fundamentally more secure than windows" (it really, really isn't) - it does tend to have many fewer active exploits than Windows Platforms do - and your average OS X system is much less likely to be loaded up with malware than your average Windows XP system.

Perhaps, but I find it unlikely that professional companies would let their workstations - Windows or OSX - get loaded with malware. In fact, I hardly encounter exploits or malware on PCs nowadays, and never at all in the few corporate environments I've been in.

No, Apple hasn't approached an AV vendor to help harden OSX. That was marketing FUD by Kaspersky that was later retracted. Kaspersky is conducting its own internal audit of OSX, and Apple has said that it would naturally be open to listening to any reports of vulnerabilities that Kaspersky might discover. This is far different than what was reported by computing.co.uk.

Because there's still a handful of people willing to pay $5000 for an above average desktop computer.

Because there are audio/video professionals who want a Mac that has hardware expandability similar to a PC. The market becomes more niche by the day, but it's there.

That being said the vast majority just have a laptop Its fast enough and support high rez external monitors.

That's probably the reason. When the niche for desktops is too small, it will eventually die. Because Apple only produce stuff that makes a pretty good amount of money. If it doesn't, it's removed.

It make sense, even if it's annoying.

It make sense on pure dollar value, but I think it would really hurt the brand perception of Macs as a premium computer, and it would drive the pro market elsewhere which could have a nasty trickle down effect over time. I don't think Mac Pro is going anywhere, maybe they have something bigger in the works and just need more time.

Probably because they want to clear out some parts, or finish up supply agreements as Marco suggested.

I really doubt it. As long as there's a few customers willing to buy it, and as long as they can make what must be a ridiculously large profit margin on them, they're gonna continue to make 'em.

I think Apple's "ridiculously large" profit margin is lower than other vendors on their high-end workstations.

Dell charges through the roof for memory. 16GB of 1600MHz ECC memory for only $700 more? Wow, that's thrifty!

A 12-core Mac Pro still offers significantly more processing power than a quad-core Ivy Bridge i7. So the Mac Pro still serves its purpose.

Because its easier to sell your stockpiles of CPU's/other left over assets this way.

If a product is still profitable, why discontinue it?

Perhaps they would save more by discontinuing the line than they make in profits on it.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this. Any profit, however small, will exceed any savings you get.

I guess maybe we have different assumptions about what "profit" means. I'm assuming that when someone refers to a line of products as profitable, they are taking into account all administrative costs as well.

The factory could be used to make other even more profitable widgets. The guy who writes hardware drivers for it could be writing drivers for some other next big thing. If you're offered the choice between a penny and a dollar, you choose the dollar, even if the penny is "all profit".

Youre talking about opportunity cost. Most definitions of profit account for opportunity cost. So that penny in all profit takes into account the dollar you are forgoing.

Only tangentially related, but what's the consensus on which "ultrabooks" look best to compete with MBP/MBA? I was hoping that Apple would make my choice for me, but I'm underwhelmed.

I'm personally surprised that the Lenovo X1 Carbon hasn't gotten more notice: 14 inch screen, 1600x900, made of carbon fiber, beautiful body, less than 3 lbs, embedded 3G connectivity.

Question marks seem to be battery (I've heard numbers ranging from 3.5 hours to 10 hours) and price (I'd wager around $1200ish?).

Skepticism around the claims of improved sound.

The Samsung Series 9 (also 1600x900, but 13.3 inch screen) also looks solid. Any others out or on the horizon worth noting?

The new ASUS Zenbook Prime (UX21A 11"/UX31A 13") models that were announced last month have similar specs to the new MBA (Ivy Bridge, up to 256Gb SSD, etc.) but are both available with 1920x1080 IPS screens. I had the original UX21 and sold it because the keyboard was not so great, but from the reviews of the new models, they have improved the keyboard and trackpad.

It occurs to me that the single biggest complaint about the current update is the lack of processing power in the current MacPro. Why not rig together a box the size of an external drive that contains a dozen core Xeon processor and 64GB of DDR3 RAM? Then you could attatch it to whatever Mac product you were using via Thunderbolt and have all the horsepower you needed. Has any company done this?

I'm curious, why is it not possible to buy pre-configured, off-the-shelf dual or quad CPU PC systems?

I know that you can get dual CPU server motherboards and build your own system, but as far as I know no one sells a pre-built desktop system that looks anything like the Mac Pro (spec-wise).

EDIT: Looks like I was mistaken. You can get high-end PC workstations.

Take the Dell Precision T5500. Google it (to get the crazy long Dell configuration page URL) and you can configure it with dual six-core Xeons, for example.

Thanks, I learned something today. Oh, and the Dell is less than half the price of the Mac Pro.

A quad core Dell is half the price of a 12-core Mac. Once you put the same CPU, RAM, and hard drive in the Dell, the difference is about $200. It's cheaper, but not that much cheaper. The bulk of a Mac Pro's cost is really just passing along Intel's price for Xeon processors.

Of course, the Mac Pro uses 2 year old hardware while the Dell is using the latest Xeons.

It's possible; they're called workstations.

I don't think any "major" brands do but you can find similar stuff in the "gamer" market.


Another good option for that:


HP has the Z-series of workstations. Z600 and Z800 are rather nifty (and pricy too).

It is perfectly possible. You buy them from companies that supply the professional CAD market and it is relatively easy to find 32 core, dual processor, twin graphics card systems for less than $5000.

I think you mean 12-core. Who's selling 16-core CPUs? Also worth pointing out that the Mac Pro is one such system as you just described.

AMD makes 16 core Opterons (codename Interlagos), however they're slower than the latest 8 core Xeons.


Slower per-core, certainly. But for some workloads more cores is worth it.

I should have been more specific. They're so much slower per thread that they're still slower overall even in heavily multithreaded tasks.

In this Anandtech review, the 16 core Opteron trades blows with a six core Xeon (clocked at 2.3ghz vs 2.66ghz):


The 8 core DP Xeons weren't out yet when that review took place, but the Sandy Bridge chip was a big improvement over Westmere, in addition to the extra cores.

I'm not sure it's such a slam dunk -- a brief scan of the virtual machine benchmark didn't seem to have a more heavily concurrent load. Plus the Opterons are substantially cheaper.

If I was building a server I'd probably look at the Intel parts, the cost/performance curve is justifiable. But my personal case right now is running lots of test VMs simultaneously on a workstation, the Opterons are more attractive.

I should probably have linked to Sandy Bridge EP vs Bulldozer, which is much more lopsided. The 6C holds its own nearly everywhere, with comparable price and much lower power usage, and there's always the option of bumping up to 8C when needed:


This latest generation was not favourable for AMD. 16 core Interlagos in many cases barely outperforms the old 12 core Magny Cours.

I don't mean 12 core, I mean 32 core. AMD is selling 16 core CPUs. And the Mac Pro is not a dual CPU, 32 core, twin graphics card machine, which is what I described.

here is one company selling them - http://www.titanuscomputers.com

I priced up a 32 core AMD machine with two 2GB Nvidia GTX 680 cards and it comes to just under $5000.


No hassles. Sorry if I came across a bit grouchy.

You haven't.

That's lucky.. I've been feeling pretty tired and grouchy.

I was bummed, too, but I can also see why Apple doesn't put as much effort in to the Pros anymore. First off, those machines are meant to have longer lifecycles given their bumped hardware. So when you take that in to account, the biggest piece of tech I can see missing is Thunderbolt, but the Pros are meant to be hooked to bigger things with fibre cards and other Ethernet connected SANs. As for video, being the expandable machine means it will probably have extra GPUs with their own, non-Thunderbolt video cards in, so it's completely erroneous. As for the software updates, Mountain Lion will run just fine, as will the updated versions of the pro apps.

I'd love an update as much as the next guy, but I take solace in the fact that my machine is a little less outdated than it can be, and understand that Apple is smart enough to know where their bread is buttered these days, even if it sucks.

It would be a huge mistake for Apple not to keep the Mac Pro and the core of content creators/developers happy. We want/need a big machine to run OSX and Windows via Parallels, we need 16-32MB+ RAM minimum, We need many cores and lots of memory to do that with minimal problems. We want to run OSX. Where else can you run OSX on powerful hardware that isn't a Mac Pro? Apple better keep this in focus and see it as an investment.

I love my Mac Pro. It is the best desktop I've ever had and what actually got me into Apple products. I can also develop all my Mac/iOS, Android and Windows apps on it, without it I'd need a windows machine again.

The Mac Pro is still key to getting Windows people to switch so they can run it in parallels.

Gonna play devil's advocate for a moment. Disclaimer: I don't work for Apple. I love their products (4 iPhones, 1 iPad, more 3 laptops in the last year, 1 Hackintosh that was an old gaming tower I built 3 years ago and never used till I put OS X on it, which I purchased).

Apple's core revenue sources have changed significantly over the years. Used to be towers were a primary source of revenue. That's most likely no longer true, and hasn't been for a while.

Take into account how much money Apple has to spend on R&D internally for their products. That's not only hardware, its also software support. One thing I've learned in the Hackintosh community is that while there's a lot of hardware that works really well, its a subset of all the hardware out there (chips, mobos, graphics cards, etc). You have to pay special attention to your hardware or getting OS X running is a huge pain in the ass, if impossible. It costs a lot of money to have good programmers to support hardware.

I have to choose to believe that the people at Apple know what they're doing for the benefit of their company. If the internal folks responsible for weighing the scales have found that the amount of revenue earned for cost of development and all for Mac Pros is too narrow, or even negative, then its entirely responsible for them to be phasing out the availability of this product line.

Yeah, lots of people want Mac Pro towers. That includes me. I'd still love to switch out my Hackintosh for a Mac Pro if just for the freedom to freely do software updates without worry. I develop about 50/50 between it and my laptop.

But for Apple, who have proven over and over again that they know where their markets are going, they may be finding little to no value in continuing the Mac Pro line.

A lot of people will counter with the argument that since Apple has so many billions of dollars, its just a drop in the bucket for them to continue Mac Pros. That may be true, but Apple isn't a company like Microsoft. They don't tend to waste billions of dollars on products that go nowhere or have little chance of success. Its true that Apple has had failures (Ping anyone?), but they are very small in comparison to their successes.

Many people reading this may be too young to remember Apple from the late 80's and 90's. They were lost and wandering in the woods. They almost died a few times. I remember going with my mom to get our first Mac in the early 90's and having to pick between 3-4 different models of the same Performa series. They had multiple types of desktops available, including the Performa, Quadra, and others. Their product skews were all over the place.

It wasn't until Jobs came back and brought a laser focus to their product lines that they turned around. He spent the last decade imprinting that way of thought on the entire company. Its vital to their future success, and our enjoyment and the productivity that comes from their products, that it continues. I would like to hope that there is an endemic fear in the company of losing that focus and going back to the Apple of old.

So if Apple has found that the Mac Pro line is no longer worth it, its entirely reasonable that they begin phasing it out. I'm choosing to look forward and see what they're doing next, and how I can use what they're building to make cool, amazing new stuff. Not looking back and complaining that old things I thought were valuable are being taken away.

> Gonna play devil's advocate for a moment

ITYM fan, because "devil's advocate" means arguing for the sake of something you dislike a lot, in order to bring better criticism.

You're playing bait and switch. Can it be you have learnt this from AAPL?

Let's say I'm running a post shop and I want to render from After Effects as fast as possible. In normal use, just how much faster will one of these dated Xeons render my comps than the quad-core i7 in a top-of-the-line iMac?

Here is a relevent benchmark. The top of the line iMac has a Sandy Bridge 2600, and the 980X is the desktop version of the equivilant server part.

980X vs 2600 video transcoding: 24s vs 29.1s (lower is better)

But there are still 2 CPUs in the Mac Pro, so you can double performance; it should be 2.5x faster still.

Ivy Bridge, which features in the new MacBook Pros, and likely iMacs soon, nets another 10% or so for the same clock speed over Sandy Bridge.

Haswell will likely be the point at which a quad core Haswell chip roughly equals a 6 core Westmere chip (not bad for a 3 generation gap).


Edit: Another commenter pointed out that AE has CUDA acceleration. In that case, even a mid range graphics card would be faster than two high end CPUs.

After Effects has NVidia acceleration (CUDA), so a Mac Pro with multiple NVidia cards might be a better choice.

This is an "upgrade" in the sense that the processors they were using became too expensive and they used the currently sold ones.

Depends on how heavily After Effects leverages threads. With up to twelve cores on a Mac Pro, it could potentially be much faster.

Why can't you offload to render nodes?

There might be some hope, after all, at least according to David Pogue: "Many Apple observers also wonder if Apple thinks that desktop computers are dead, since not a word was said about the iMac and Mac Pro. An executive did assure me, however, that new models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013."

2013, really?


This isn't surprising. Look at the product wikis and see the comparison of all the hardware. From the mac pro all the way down to the phone. They have been selling overpriced hardware for a very long time.

To be fair.. before the intel switch the hardware was theirs. Now, after the intel switch they're still selling over priced hardware except now it's cheaper for them because they're not using powerpc's anymore, and are now able to reap the benefits of using PC hardware.

Uh, except they aren't overpriced, as evidenced by the fact that nobody can undercut the Air or the iPhone or the iPad on price yet.

And they aren't reaping the benefits of using PC hardware, either; other than Intel CPUs, Apple is custom-building all its motherboards and parts.

So basically, you have no valid points at all and are just posting an anti-Apple rant.

I haven't checked since this mornings refresh, but at least here in AU, there are some arguably cheaper options to the Air. Where the Air excels is giving you a nice machine that is also really well made + all the little niceties of Mac hardware like Magsafe, backlit keyboard, ambient light sensors.

Also Apple is actually making a nice profit on their machines.

You only named 3 devices. All of which have only been on the market less than 5 years. It won't take the industry long to surpass those. Intel chips are the brain of the computer. Therefore the rest of the device benefits from it. And you can't argue that Apple didn't benefit greatly from the switch. Or else they wouldn't have rewritten their entire OS for them.

So maybe 1/3 of my points are invalid.and I'm not anti apple I happen to own the latest macbook. And used to work there.

I don't need to name more than 3 devices. You said the ENTIRE LINE was overpriced. You were wrong about that.

You're also wrong about "the industry" not taking long to surpass the devices in question; they have had 4-5 years to surpass all the devices I named. Ultrabooks still haven't surpassed the Air or beaten its price point, and Android phone hardware hasn't surpassed the iPhone or beaten its price point, etc.

You're just wrong. Own it. I own the latest MacBook Pro and used to work there, too, btw. :) I didn't accuse you of being anti-Apple. I said you posted an inaccurate, anti-Apple rant. Which you did. Peace.

I don't think the "overpriced" myth would ever be dispelled. Apple produces premium products, and premium products are typically associated with higher costs. Until Apple decides to become the walmart of laptops, people will always think they're selling overpriced goods.

It would be interesting to run an experiment where someone is shown 2 completely identical products, but one is marked as premium. Would that someone think the premium product is made with inferior materials to justify the identical pricing?

I don't think they had to rewrite the entire OS when they switched to intel. It only took 1 person over a span of 6 months to do the "conversion", and that 1 person was just doing it for fun. It wasn't until he finished that Apple decided to use his secret project as part of something bigger. I believe the wife briefly talked about this story on Quora. You can probably find the story if you google "marklar"

Not overpriced. Nobody could come close to the price of the Macbook Air with fully equivalent hardware, for example, and today's MBP release is the same. When competitors try to meet the specs across the board, without any major compromises, they cost 20% more.

The overpriced thing is a decade old, and used to be justified as a brand positioning (pay more for quality build).

Now, Apple's supply chain lets them offer even higher build quality but at a discount to inferior products.

Nonsense. Comparing a Lenovo X220 with equivalent specs, it comes out slightly cheaper on the Lenovo side. There are minor differences on both sides (eg thunderbolt versus replaceable battery) but going for SSD, same RAM, same CPU, similar screen size, the Lenovo comes out at $1216 and the Mac Air at $1349 (in Australia).

I don't think they're really equivalent specs, though. Notably, the 11" Levovo X220 weighs 2.9 lbs vs 2.38 lbs for the MacBook Air.

That's more than a 20% difference on the defining characteristic of the MBAir line.

Edit: Is this data wrong? Is it an inappropriate comment? I've been on HN for nearly 5 years and it seems like there's more downvoting by the month.

You're exactly right, bu those downvoting you don't want to admit it. It's why I was careful to specify all specs, no compromises. The other corners typically cut are screen quality, battery life (without hauling around still more weight as extras), and backlit keyboard.

I agree with you the 20% weight difference without the other compromises is remarkable.

You're probably being downmodded because half a pound of weight is not a major feature, but you're trying to shoehorn it into a trump card. For me, the trackpoint mouse is a major feature which leaves the Air dead in the water, but it's really a minor feature between the two.

Same as all the extras that the X220 has over the Air, like card slots, swappable batteries, and a perimeter that doesn't cut into your hand. And vice versa. These things are all minor differences. The Thinkpad laptops are also as tough as the Apple laptops, if not tougher - despite looking like a normal laptop, they survive more military tests than 'hardened' brand laptops.

The short version is simply that the Lenovo X-series and the Apple Airs are equivalent laptops at the same price point - the Air is not 'better' for 'less' than the 'inferior' product.

It may sound odd, but last year I had a 13" MBP (4.5 lbs), and its weight really bothered me. I actually swapped it for a mac mini that I carried to and from work each day, hooking it up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse at each place just because it was a bit lighter.

The only I'd want an air over a pro is the weight. As far as the X220 is concerned, weight would be my number #2 complaint after the OS. The lack of an Apple-level quality trackpad might be #3. The hundred bucks does matter, but honestly when you consider how many hours you, or at least I, spend on a computer, the price is almost negligible compared to improvements in user-experience or efficiency.

The trick to your claim is "fully equivalent hardware". I just bought a System76 laptop after a lifetime of using macs exclusively, and there was just no contest on price. To get a roughly equivalent machine from Apple would have cost nearly twice as much. Yes, that would have included a few nifty little things here and there that simply weren't available for the machine I got, just as my machine has some things I couldn't have gotten on a mac.

But to claim that Apple is competitive on price is just absurd. They're very competitive on hardware/software integration, on usability, an aesthetics, on stability. But not on price.

I'm confused: what hardware specifications are you referring to? A simple NewEgg browse disproves this comment unless I'm misunderstanding you.

You're right in terms of the Air; it's a great deal for how well it's built. Almost every single other computer they offer is demonstrably overpriced based on specs.

According to David Pogue, "Many Apple observers also wonder if Apple thinks that desktop computers are dead, since not a word was said about the iMac and Mac Pro. An executive did assure me, however, that new models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013."


The upgrade path from a Mac Pro is to a MacBook Pro with external monitor, and external Thunderbolt disk array if you need it.

> I bet this is the last Mac Pro. If you wanted to kill a product line, an “update” like today’s would be a good way to clear out parts and keep selling to a few desperate buyers for a bit longer without any real investment.

Apple's products build off one another. Apple is not going to kill the Mac Pro line because the iPad and iPhone would suffer.

I guess it's going to a thin client approach. iMac workstations with thunderbolt expansion and processing farms for rendering or what have you. I bet someone would make a killing with the pro market if they sold an easy to integrate and expandable render farm, or something that uses amazon services.

Except that you would have to pipe giga/terabytes of data to/from the cloud - that is why lots of in house rendering and catalogue systems use Fibre Channel and similar technologies - one of the bottlenecks is I/O from the workstation

It wouldn't be the cloud, it would be local gigabit ethernet and thunderbolt interconnects.

I was referring to using something like Amazon services for rendering

Am I the only one who is stoked it comes with a third USB, standard SSD, and HDMI port?

How is a 12 core 3.06ghz xeon not sufficient to develop Instapaper?

The only reason I use OSX is because it's on a Macbook. I would never use this OS anywhere else.

Please, someone give me a replacement for this damn hardware already.

Did my 17" MBP just become a collectors item?


What are you going to do with a Xeon processor, run a server on there?

"No Xeon E5 CPUs"

I must admit I've lost track of what the latest and greatest CPU is at any given time, so I googled for "Xeon E5" and found this article:


So what is it? Have they stuck in an Intel Xeon E5 or not?

AppleInsider is confused. Xeon E5645 is two years old. Xeon E5-26xx is the new hotness.

That's quite a mistake to make!

Consumer wise it's the i7-3930k and 3960x. For the XEONs as the other person noted, it's the E5-26xx and the E5-1650 is pretty badass.

You can still go higher than these, but the prices skyrocket on the E7 line, eg the E7-8870, and the core to core value isn't higher:


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