Apple’s new Mac Pro: No internal expandability; closer to beefy Mac mini; launches this autumn, sources say

“More scuttlebutt on the Mac Pro, Apple’s one and only desktop tower, which the company has promised to overhaul and rerelease this year,” Josh Lowensohn reports for CNET. “New tidbits come from longtime video producer Lou Borella, the creator of the Facebook group ‘We Want a New Macpro,’ who on Monday posted details on the changes from ‘a source or two that has some credibility.'”

The gist:
• It will be heavily reliant on Thunderbolt
• There will be no internal expandability
• It will have support for dual GPUs with three-monitor support right out of the box
• No [Firewire 800] or optical drive
• It will be released in the fall
• It will be a completely new design

“While some of those details have shown up before, the rumored changes suggest something much closer to a souped-up Mac Mini than the $2,499, expandable desktop tower Apple has kept largely unchanged (physically) for the past decade,” Lowensohn reports. “The Mac Pro is one of several machines Apple is expected to update in the near future. Others include the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, which were last updated about a year ago.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Who needs internal expansion with Thunderbolt’s speed and Jony Ive’s design ability? It’s time to rethink the professional desktop. Exterior expansion can be done neatly, especially with Jony Ive’s team on the case.

Related articles:
Mac Pro supplies dry up at retailers ahead of WWDC – June 1, 2013
Evidence of new Mac Pro at WWDC: Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan drivers in Apple’s latest OS X builds – May 29, 2013
RUMOR: Apple to announce replacement for Mac Pro soon – April 8, 2013
Apple’s Final Cut push hints at imminent launch of new Mac Pro – March 29, 2013
Apple aims to win over video editors with new Final Cut Pro X marketing push – March 28, 2013
Apple confirms launch of new Mac Pro in spring 2013 – February 6, 2013
Ultimate Mac: Building the Final Cut Pro X dream machine – November 9, 2012

81 Comments

    1. I was guessing something similar around June of last year:

      “….I believe that rather than create something that is just the opposite of their direction everywhere else, Apple will stick with their new modus operandi. A new Mac Pro will be a box, but a much, much smaller one. It will come in configurations of 32, 64, or 128GB of RAM. That RAM will be soldered to the system board. It will have an option of one, maybe two internal SSD drives for a little over 1.5 Terabytes of internal storage. No SATA. It will have the most current graphics card available. The graphics card on the new iMac is already better than anything in the existing MacPro line. It will have the fastest multicore Intel Xeon processors available. It will also have lots of ThunderBolt ports probably 4 and at least one FireWire 800, one Gigabit Ethernet Port. There won’t be any PCI slots internal to the machine, the clear message being Thunderbolt, ThunderBolt, Thunderbolt….”

      http://strategicmac.com/2012/06/18/what-will-mac-pro-2013-look-like/

    2. If that comes true, the new MacPro will fail. (MDN: iCal this!) It makes absolutely no sense to stock a number of Thunderbolt drives like in the past with Syquest drives. (Anybody who remembers the ol’ days?) What a terrible idea!

      For a serious video editor like us who are running over a dozen of 2010 and 2012 MacPro’s there cannot be enough INTERNAL hard drive space. It is much safer than any external harddrive and also faster.

      In the beginning we had put 4 x 2 TB into the machines plus 2 x 256 GB SSD. Now we are at 4 x 4 TB plus 2 x 512 GB SSD and we already ordered the new bigger SSD.

      So YES we are serious PRO users and I guess the MacPro is aimed at users like us. I truly hope there will be different options, may be different cases, even I doubt it. Users like us would ask for may be 8, 12 or 16 harddrive bays.

      Again: For serious video editing there cannot be enough internal harddrive space, it’s that simple. (By the way: When can we start to edit 3D natively in FCP X, Tim?)

  1. Not sure why they did away with FireWire. A bit brainless if you ask me.

    If it’s going to be a sealed box, they might as well bring out a cheaper version running on Intel i-class Pentium processors rather than restrict themselves to Xeon processors. With desktop grade components, as opposed to the Mac mini’s laptop class components, I’m sure there will be many takers in the corporate office, airline, healthcare, educational and scientific research space who don’t want the limitations that come with the Mac mini but are not prepared to pay the insanely stratospheric prices for a Xeon class Mac Pro.

    Apple could sell the Pentium processor Mac Pro for $1,000 and still make money.

      1. really? where is the single TB to eSata adapter/cable?

        where is the single TB to USB 3.0 adapter/cable?

        and I don’t mean those expensive docks out there!

    1. Same reason they did away with Firewire 400 when Firewire 800 came out – because you can still plug in any Firewire devise using an adapter.

    2. FireWire is used everywhere in professional studios. The price of a Mac Pro is not insanely stratospheric if what you are buying is an absolute necessity. Mac minis and iMacs are not substitutes for a Mac Pro. Apple could be about to piss off the true Apple supporters, and I’m not talking about fanboys. The backbone of why Apple is still in business.

      1. … well, in truth, the backbone of why Apple is still in business (or remain as a highly successful business, more accurately0 is not in the pro-gear – but the end product produced by it – as heard and seen on iPods and iPhones. Follow the money (as well as their financial reports).

        Still, Apple surely knows that it was the consumer point and shoots that both Nikon and Canon *had* to produce to provide the seed money for the development of their contemporary pro gear (no longer just a film box – but processors, with much R&D). But, more significantly, both of those camera makers continue to *produce* pro gear – and with a fair amount of backward compatibility. That’s part of what’s expected. That said, in consideration of Apple ‘Logic’ and ProTools’ productions, say, adapters would be the least of a studio’s expenditures. It’s just the nuisance factor.

      1. Except that even last year’s high-end graphics cards can run 16 lanes of PCIe 3, for a max data rate of 15.75 GB/s, compared to the Thunderbolt standard’s current limit of 4 lanes of PCIe 2, which gives you a max of… 2.0 GB/s (the Thunderbolt max. speed per channel is 10 Gb/s or 10 gigaBITs/sec, which is in fact only 1.25 GB/s).

        For emphasis: that’s almost 16 versus 2 (or 1.25) GB/s. You’re getting 1/8 to 1/12 the maximum theoretical performance. Even in the real-world, benchmarks of a mobile-class GPU saw host/device data rates of 4-6.5 GB/s.

        There are (or will be) external Thunderbolt cases for GPUs, like the MSI Thunderbolt GUS II, but it can’t even support the high-end GPUs since there’s no internal power sockets for such cards to plug into.

        Thunderbolt is a great replacement for many things, including eSATA and Firewire (USB3 isn’t going anywhere), but it falls very far short for high-end PCIe hardware.

        Sources:
        http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16709181/memory-bandwidth-test-on-nvidia-gpus
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express#External_PCIe_cards

    1. A long time ago (in the world of Mac computers) this same issue happened with the SCSI port. There was a secondary box made that you plugged the SCSI cable into that expanded into several PCI slots. A small or box the scale of your expansion cards could sit in this box isolating the EMF and heat from the Mac. If your mac fails, you just plug in another Mac. This is a smaller more elegant solution not forcing everyone to have a large unused box. Need 2 or more, just stack what you need. You will be Ok. Just Think Different.

  2. The MDN Take is a bit glib, IMO. What defines a pro-level computing system? In the past it has included the number and power of CPUs, graphics options, storage capacity and options, expandability (addition types of cards and I/O), and high-speed networking. At one time, Apple even placed the CPUs on a daughter card to support a CPU upgrade path. Back around 2001, I used that daughter card capability to upgrade my aging PowerMac (circa 1996) with a G3 processor which extended its useful life by several more years.

    If, as the source indicates, Apple attempts to heavily leverage TB at the expense of any internal expandability (or even upgradability?), then I suspect that many pro users will be highly dissatisfied and very vocal in their criticisms.

    But this is just rumor. Only time will tell.

    1. Agreed. But I do have mixed feelings because this could be exactly what I need, so personally it might be great. For my colleagues, I’m not so sure.

  3. Oh just great, rather than having all my PCIe cards and hard drives and burners in a nice neat tower with a power, monitor and network cable: I get to have random piles of cables all over the place and buy overpriced thunderbolt accessories

    1. I thought Ive was designing this. Why would there be cables all over the place? Mini rounded blocks that connect seamlessly and seal magnetically like futuristic legos sounds far more likely to me.

      1. Seriously, exactly that sort of packaging was being looked at Apple in the early 80s. I’ve seen the idea pop up at every computer company I worked at since then, at one time or another.

        It was similar to electronic device packaging methods being researched by the Navy during the initial entry of solid-state devices in the 50s and 60s, too.

        Nobody seems to have been able to make it work so far.

  4. “Who needs internal expansion with Thunderbolt’s speed and Jony Ive’s design ability? It’s time to rethink the professional desktop. Exterior expansion can be done neatly, especially with Jony Ive’s team on the case.”

    It’s amazing to watch MDN line up brainlessly to support any move that Apple might make.

    Who needs internal expansion? How about any professional-level developer who might need to add storage capacity without the added hassle of cables, or someone who needs to replace a drive? How about someone who might, for whatever crazy reason, not want to rely on Apple’s slowing pace of upgrading its professional-grade hardware?

    Thunderbolt drives remain (a) significantly more expensive, and (b) more rare than internal hard drives. And while TB does offer the possibility of third-party GPU, it forces end-users to rely only on solutions developed by companies instead of giving them the opportunity to upgrade themselves.

    What irks me isn’t the possibility of Apple nixing its professional-grade products, but instead the dogmatic support given by sites like MDN. I’m a fan and user of Apple products, but I resent when companies pull even more control away from me.

    1. Yah know while this specification might be true it may also mean Apple may come out with TWO versions of it’s Mac Pro line and this is only one of them. The Mini & Maxi Tower versions, separating those who just need raw power from those who need raw power and expandability. It would be great to have a choice. Jes sayin’…

  5. I said this before & I’m saying it again, we need a Mac Pro Mini Aluminum Cube between iMac + Mac Pro Tower.
    Too big of a gap between iMac & Mac Pro Tower. Mac Pro Mini needed. Still expandable & more powerful than iMac, but not the top of the line Mac Pro. MPMini equals 1/2 of current Tower. 1- 6 Core Server chip. 1 on board GPU + 1 expandable graphics card slot, same external ports, 1 optical slot drive, 2 drive bays, 1/2 number of RAM slots. Smaller aluminum cube form like Pro Cube.

    1. This is very true. Hopefully the new MacPro will be what the Pro users are waiting for. But, until a new product is finally unveiled, it’s always a guessing game. I think Apple should take this opportunity to excel in both the Consumer and Pro divisions. Since they have all this cash at their disposal, why not put out the killer pro system to end all killer pro systems and thus lead the industry in personal computing (the iMac) and pro computing (the MacPro). With the PC market currently in flux, take complete control of the industry and leave no doubt about who makes the most powerful and useful computing systems.

  6. Doing this right is tough. Even with Thunderbolt, data transfer with external modules can be interrupted or slowed down for many different reasons. It would need the ability to do things like read an external RAID stack reliably and at native speeds. If Apple does get it right, it would be a game changer for professional computing. Mac Pro modules could be tailor designed for specific purposes or industries, like audio, animation, or genetics. The initial cost of a desktop workstation would be significantly less, and major hardware upgrades would be easier buy, install, reuse, resell, and swap out.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.