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Apple is doubling down on their segmentation here. They're clearly abandoning (I don't mean this in a pejorative sense) a mass appeal with this new iteration and targeting it specifically to 'actual' professionals: graphic designers, video editors, etc.



I don't see it that way at all. The Mac Pro has always been about the top 1% power users. The appeal was twofold: it was a bitchin'-fast machine you could stuff with as many cards and drives as you want, and it ran OS X.

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).


>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.


I suspect that a lot of people bought the Mac Pro despite the fact that it has Xeon processors, rather than because of it. They're a lot more expensive without a huge performance benefit for desktop or workstation applications.

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.


I think you’re omitting the Xeon’s increased stability versus consumer grade architectures. Many Mac Pros are used to run non-stop, they need to be more dependable than other computers.


Does this really matter in 2013? Serious question. I could see ECC having been useful in 2000 in the midst of the megahertz race, but I'm not too convinced about today...


Check out http://linux.die.net/man/1/edac-util + http://buttersideup.com/edacwiki/Main_Page and look on some servers to see if they're seeing many correctable ECC errors. I've def. seen it happen on some Dell PERCs.


The probability of a bit error on normal RAM is quite high [1]. The more RAM you add the more likely you are to see corruption. Not that ECC fixes everything - I still see uncorrected ECC errors on the older HPC nodes on our grid.

[1] : http://lambda-diode.com/opinion/ecc-memory


Another interesting engineering innovation relative to the iMac is PCIe mass storage (as opposed to SATA).


PCIe will probably be in the next generation of iMacs.


It's in the current generation through Thunderbolt.


The Haswell MBAs released today use PCIe flash


A few big advantages over the iMac

The features you list are hardly innovation, just market segmentation.


And?


The most basic forms of segmentation aren't especially relevant to the discussion of the finer points of where Apple is targeting this machine. It would be like bringing up the high-power engine in a sports car, when the discussion is about where within the sports car market the maker is aiming. That it has a high-power engine is generally a given.


I mostly agree with this. I have owned three mac pros. I use them for development work. I like them because they are fast, well-built, run OS X (which I like), I can put lots of RAM in them, and put a few extra hard drives in with software RAID.

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.


Video editor and high end graphics guy checking in. I’m very excited, mostly by the size of the new Mac Pro. I’ll be able to take this workstation anywhere and just plug it into some rented displays. Lugging the current Mac Pro around means I’ll have to go there by car or settle for taking a MacBook Pro along and doing rendering on a rented Mac Pro. The new Mac Pro, I can bring along in a carry-on and have plenty of room to spare for other equipment. Too bad it won’t be available for months, I have so many projects for which this would be a dream.


You could also pop this in a backpack, possibly along with a small projector and wireless mouse / keyboard :)

I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see these showing up on tours with bigger electronic music acts.


-Thunderbolt-to-PCIe breakout module (which is what many power users have been doing in the years since the last update)

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...



12 cores is because it's a single CPU. More info: http://www.cpu-world.com/news_2013/2013040201_Some_details_o... Expected release date is Q4 2013.


Welcome to the era where you process all in the cloud. You don't need 30 HD on your machine anymore or 200gb ram. I was a bit shocked at the beginning but then I realized most of the studios are using cloud solutions to make intensive renders or local hardware farms with plenty of processing power. I think the Mac Pro still exceeds on power, but you know you will always find someone else more hungry of power :)


Heh, I bet you're somewhere with high bandwidth, no data caps and very low latency.

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.


Australia?

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.


Guessed it. I was debating whether to mention it in my post.


Most of the people I know they didn't updagraded their Mac Pros ever in 3 to 6 years of use. I heard people upgrading memory, replacing discs, but the rest it should be intact. The Mac Pro is a nice machine for people who won't upgrade in 3 o 4 years, even more and still having power.

If they didn't release this, I would continue with the idea of making my Hackintosh but this new baby is nice.


South Africa here - we're also suffering from the fact that geographically "in the middle of nowhere". As for government, don't get me started.

But I'm curious - what's happening in Australia that makes you say that it's about to back to the 50s?


Are you suggesting the Mac Pro ever had mass appeal? This strikes me as the opposite, abandoning the 'actual' professionals in favour of a weird mass market design.


I don't see how this is a mass market design. It's a bunch of Xeons cores paired with ECC RAM, stupid-fast storage, and way more GPU power than any reasonable person can use. And probably priced to match.

Weird industrial design != mass market.


But, coupled with zero internal expansion, no spinning disk bays, and a small number of RAM slots.

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.


Indeed, I've been using the same Mac Pro since 2008. I bought an ATI Radeon 6970 around a year or so ago and extended its life that much more. For most of my computer's life, its had a PCIe eSATA card.

I can't say I'm too excited about a computer that's relegated to an much more expensive Mac Mini.


The idea here is any video card you might want you can just plug in to a Thunderbolt 2 port.

Six of those, which can be chained, is way better than having four internal slots.


So on top of the almost-certainly really expensive Mac Pro, you now also need to get the really expensive PCIe expansion enclosure on top of it? Or did I miss nvidia or ati making thunderbolt video cards?

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.


The existing Mac Pro has four drive bays. That number seems to be too many, or way too few, never quite right. This design seems to surrender to the fact that one stupidly fast SSD is good enough to build a base, and the rest can be attached externally.

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.


Not quite. Note that Thunderbolt 2 can do 2x20G/bits/ per second, vs PCI-E v3 at 32G/bytes/ per second (on a 16x slot).

Refs:

- http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/19/pci-express-makes-the-3-0...

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pci_express

- http://www.zdnet.com/intel-unveils-thunderbolt-2-7000016595/

- http://www.tomshardware.com/news/lucid-gpu-graphics-thunderb...

- http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pci-express-graphics-thu...

TL;DR external video cards via Thunderbolt help but can't hang in terms of performance with real internal cards. (edited for formatting)


I was looking at that kind of thing as well and the only thing that's worth noting is that I think a lot of video cards currently actively used are only 16x so they can be run on older motherboards with pcie 1 or 2.

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.


I assume he is referring to the strange decision to make the thing so small (and beautiful) at the expense of any internal expandability. So professionals are going to have all sorts of hard drives and external graphics cards and optical drives etc hanging off this thing.


sorry if I am barking up the wrong tree.. but do you think it will be beautiful with all the breakout cables ?

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)


I think for many people it will be a beautiful black cylinder on a cluttered desktop. For people who need to use expansions this will take up a significantly larger footprint than a machine that allows for internal expansion.

For those that put the machine under their desk it will just be a mess of cables and things to kick over.


Third parties are going to have a field day designing accessories to this that will do away with the clutter. A six pronged lightning plug that splits into a meta-rack monolithic black box. Done.

The whining about this product is expected but so misguided.


This is just blind speculation (I am not apple [power] user, nor have I owned the new mac pro):

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.


My thoughts having never owned a Mac Pro (though on my 2nd MacBook Pro): SAN/NAS + the near uselessness of internal optical drives.

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.




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