This new design removes the former selling point. 12 core max (same as current)?? Four RAM slots (down from eight)?? 1/6th the volume (i.e. space to plug stuff in)??
This offers almost no advantage over a late model iMac with a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe breakout module (which is what many power users have been doing in the years since the last update).
A few big advantages over the iMac: Xeons processors, so more cores & more cache; ECC RAM; and (two) workstation graphics cards. Six thunderbolt ports means up to 36 (!) PCIe peripherals by daisy chaining, which means a lot more expandability than the iMac or even the 2010 Mac Pro.
The main advantages of Xeon were dual-socket support and support for oodles of RAM slots, and the new Mac Pro supports neither of these things.
 : http://lambda-diode.com/opinion/ecc-memory
The features you list are hardly innovation, just market segmentation.
There isn't much about this announcement that excites me. I don't think I need two graphics cards (though maybe 4K will be nicer than I realize). I don't need it to be smaller and I don't really care what it looks like, as long as it is well built. But:
* I have had really good experiences with past mac pros, and poor experiences with hardware from other vendors, so I am reluctant to switch.
* The cost differential of a mac pro vs. an imac is not that great, relative to the cost of development time, so I am likely to give the mac pro the benefit of the doubt. If the benchmarks show it is significantly faster, I will probably just go with it.
I do wonder who is excited about this machine. I think another commenter is right - it is the video editors and high end graphics types this machine is truly built for.
I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see these showing up on tours with bigger electronic music acts.
Do you have any examples of this? I did a quick google but didn't find anything. My imagination is telling me that looks like some sort of motherboard with slots in it...
Here, I'm 30-60ms away from the big datacentres, and 200-400ms away from the US. Data is capped at ~500gb per month on the high end plans, and that's both upload and download. I'm lucky to get 10 megabits down, 1 megabit up on a good day.
Coupled with the fact our country's going to head back to the 1950s with the inevitable change of government next election, screw the cloud.
But yeah, where I am I was on mobile internet for a year where I would go 2 weeks on a 2G connection and even on the 3G I had pings of 200~ to data centers in my city.
If they didn't release this, I would continue with the idea of making my Hackintosh but this new baby is nice.
But I'm curious - what's happening in Australia that makes you say that it's about to back to the 50s?
Weird industrial design != mass market.
I can't really tell to whom the product is targeted, honestly. If I were buying a Mac Pro for work, I'd want the expand ability. If I were a consumer buying a desktop, I'd get an iMac or mini.
I can't say I'm too excited about a computer that's relegated to an much more expensive Mac Mini.
Six of those, which can be chained, is way better than having four internal slots.
This is why the idea that this makes sense for professional users is silly. It's just asking them to spend a lot more money for something that's been possible with standard case designs for decades. The old Mac Pro was already a bit silly with its chassis that seemed designed to survive a car crash, but this one just takes the cake.
The cooling system design is innovative and interesting on its own, but this continues the trend of the Mac Pro being a check box for Apple instead of a real product.
NVidia and AMD have been making external video cards for a while now using external PCIe, but they haven't sold very well and support for these sorts of connectors is limited. Thunderbolt 2 should eventually change that.
Apple's in a bit of a tough spot here. The Mac Pro can never be fast enough or big enough for some, and the bigger and faster they make it, the more it becomes overkill for those that just need something more serious than an iMac or Mac Mini.
TL;DR external video cards via Thunderbolt help but can't hang in terms of performance with real internal cards.
(edited for formatting)
It's not clear that thunderbolt 2 isn't enough bandwidth to effectively run a video card, though I think you'd probably run into problems daisy chaining video cards with video cards or trying to run two out of one enclosure.
For me this whole thing looks like a blast from the past - my trusty C64 with everything outside the box (and there were some articles in the 64er magazine [german magazine] which showed how to build everything into a single case for the neat, "integrated" look)
For those that put the machine under their desk it will just be a mess of cables and things to kick over.
The whining about this product is expected but so misguided.
Maybe (sacrificing customizability[?] for portability) + (somewhat superficial/look change maybe for change's sake) + (lack of (water cooling, cd/dvd/bluray%, power surge supply/protector thingy%, raid%)) != professional market?
% = if you want these, there goes some of the portability/simplicity. (unless apple monitor usually has cd drive?)
I might be off the mark, feedback welcome. Maybe this is enough for most creative professionals? Video/3d/gaming/some programming/some engineering might be somewhat infinite in appetite for processing power and all, I would think.
In a "professional" environment, large storage is on the network, redundant, with regular backups (preferably including off-site backup). The more important the data is, the less likely anyone wants it sitting on someone's desktop any longer than necessary for that person to do their job.
The handful of people using Mac Pros in my work environment generate and store massive amounts of data, but they don't store it on their desktop indefinitely.