Thread: New MacPro predictions? Hopes? Fears?

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  1. #31  
    Senior Member Terry VerHaar's Avatar
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    The argument for Apple keeping control over the hardware+software combination has always been the same; controlling the entire experience. From the beginning, Microsoft and the PC community struggled with incompatibilities and overcame them sometimes and only with great effort a lot of gnashing of teeth.

    Steve Jobs may be dead but Tim Cook is still very much alive and I sincerely doubt he'd consider it for even 10 seconds.
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  2. #32  
    Apple's walled garden or vertical market approach is both the best and worst thing about the Mac platform (and iOS as well). It offers many advantages, but also creates some real shortcomings. I really doubt they would open up OS X to run on arbitrary PC hardware. And I don't think most in the industry mind the vertical paradigm. The problem is that they have a viable platform that demanding professionals want to use and they don't seem interested in offering solutions to satisfy the higher end of the market.

    The 2013 Mac Pro was not a bad system, but in terms of demanding content creation, computational work or other such tasks the previous generations of Mac Pro were praised for by the industry elite, it fell flat on its face. A quad-core trash can with D500 GPUs, 32~64GB RAM and dual 4K displays was a smash hit in the photo editing, publishing/ print and editorial markets and still is. Unfortunately the GPUs were never fully realized and that same quad-core Mac Pro when equipped with D300 GPUs is often performance matched, and sometimes exceeded, by a quad-core i7 iMac for less money.

    Apple needs to get their collective shit together and release a real workstation. Or they need to suck it up and push out OS X as open source as they have done with several of their recent technologies and open it up to all.

    That said, the workstation market is shrinking and the current paradigm needs a massive rethinking. Apple sees this. They see it better than anyone else in the industry for some reason. This is what they tried to do with the 2013 Mac Pro refresh. In many ways it was an admirable effort. Unfortunately they missed the mark with some of the key features needed. And as much as people like to complain about the over-engineered and over-priced little trash can of a workstation, I don't think the bulk of the user base out there knows what they really want or need at this point. The bulky tower workstation needs to go away. Many innovations that were included in the trash can are very much a step in the right direction. But we need something that can take commodity GPUs and at least two, preferably four of them. We need room for dual CPUs with proper cooling and ample power to drive them and a good amount of RAM along with those previously mentioned GPUs. PCIe flash storage is great, but we also need internal storage in other forms as well. I don't always want my workstation tethered to an external RAID.

    Here's what I want to see from Apple:

    Scalable and modular configuration architecture that allows for single i7 or Xeon CPU or dual Xeon CPUs within the same system / logic board design. 4 (preferably 8) RAM slots per CPU socket. 5 PCIe slots, maybe 6. Proper spacing to run up to 4 dual-width GPUs. Internal support for 2.5" devices. Preferably 8 bays. As well as dual PCIe M.2 style connections. Base configuration with minimal, but functional GPU, 16GB RAM, 256GB flash and quad-core i7 CPU should come in under $1500. And I want to configure any option I want all the way up to dual Xeon with quad GPUs, 2TB flash, 8 X 4TB NVMe SSDs and 512GB RAM. Equip it with dual TB3 ports and make the jump to USB 3.5 ahead of everyone else and they could completely dominate the workstation niche of the computing market.

    But let's step back from that fantasy for a moment and realize that we'll probably get a lame duck of an update.

    Here's what I'm expecting:

    Updated 2016 Mac Pro. Same cylinder design, but now supports single or dual Xeon CPUs. Due to TDP, some of the most compelling Xeon CPU options won't be available in dual form within the small cylinder. Still be slumming it with 4 RAM sockets meaning that to get 128GB or more RAM, we'll have to spend big money and end up with less performance. New GPUs with more RAM and more specs that look awesome on paper. But the same crap support for drivers and even though the form factor is open, no one outside of Apple/AMD will want to support it. So that means we won't see any GPU updates until the next Mac Pro refresh in another 2~3 years.
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  3. #33  
    Senior Member jake blackstone's Avatar
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    People need to remember, that Mac clones were allowed at a time, when Apple was on the ropes. They were barely surviving. Gil Amelio was in charge of Apple and he had no clue about anything, including bringing Steve back, only to be kicked out and replaced by the very same Steve. To be fair, Gil did push for the purchase of NEXT, thank god, as they almost bough Be. Apple desperately needed to move Macs, no one was buying them and Apple was bleeding cash. Money paid by clones helped to keep Apple afloat and even Microsoft invested money in Apple after the return of Steve. Everyone probably remembers the outcry and grief that cash infusion caused Apple. Fast forward to today, does anyone thinks Apple needs money in order to ruin the most important aspect of Apple experience- a full control over software and hardware? That is what makes Apple... well Apple. They don't have any desire to turn into another Android, because that is what you're proposing.
    And just for the record, would I want Mac in Z800 form factor? Hell yeah!!! Do I think this will ever happen? Hell no!!!
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  4. #34  
    The problem is the tower design is stone dead at this point. We're all using it still because that's what the PC vendors keep shoveling. The HP Z8x0 workstations need a serious overhaul. Whoever was in charge of picking the slot layout on the Z820 and Z840 needs to go back to computer building school. That airflow design with the stupid plastic shroud over the PCIe slots completely infringes on PCIe spec and I've run across several GPUs that just don't fit in the Z8x0 because of that.

    Ultimately it's not the tower that is the inherent problem -- other than the amount of typically wasted space within them and terribly inefficient cooling due to the only somewhat directed airflow or targeted liquid/ vapor cooling used. A small tower or cube is still the way to go, but a massive re-thinking is in order. None of the PC vendors want to deviate from reference designs and established form factors for new motherboards and related components. Really makes it difficult to advance the industry. OTOH, it only takes one computer maker to break the mold with a product that becomes popular and everyone follows suit. Apple continuously does it with their notebooks -- too bad they can't find a way to do it with a pro workstation. 2013 Mac Pro -- right idea. Poor execution. Almost like they weren't sure just who they were designing the system for...
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  5. #35  
    Senior Member AndreeMarkefors's Avatar
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    The reason Apple takes such a laggy, hesitant approach to the Mac Pro is because building workstations is for losers.

    It's quite obvious what the problem is: there isn't a single component in a Mac Pro worth drooling over, that Apples makes. Outside of running Mac OS, what sets a Mac Pro apart from a generic PC? Not much.

    Going by your (as in most people in this thread) posts, few people here sees a workstation as anything more that a simple sum of its parts. You get your CPU, your GPU, a few slots, SSDs, RAM and so on. In true PC building mentality, you can look up the prices of those components online—and then you get the price tag of how much that computer is worth. And guess what, Apple does pretty much the same! They look at the Mac Pro and ask themselves where the money is in that machine.

    I'm sure someone goes "but it's exactly the same thing for any other phone or Notebook". But it isn't. A mobile phone or Notebook still has enough design in it (not just how it looks, but how it's built) to become more than the sum of it's parts. Even if Apple still relies on other manufacturers for key components here, when it's built it's enough 'Apple' for them to price it accordingly. And people who buy these things know to value the design (again—not just a question of looks).

    Since anyone can build a workstation with off the shelves components, a large number of people will just look at final price vs number crunching ability. That's totally fine. It's performance in its rawest form. It's also the reason I built my own PCs back then. But Apple don't typically compete on price (since it's an unsustainable race to the bottom).

    I think the current Mac Pro design is a mistake. No one asked for a portable Mac Pro. Well, maybe a few did—and it can be useful as someone has already stated above—but it's not the core function of a workstation. We want power and expandability. But there we are again: what good is it to Apple if I can make my 4.1 or 5.1 last 10 years because I can buy next gen CPUs or GPUs from other companies?

    While this 'reality' might be annoying, we can't be ridiculously naive here.

    I think the rumors of a gfx infused display sound great. I think that display is coming later this fall, together with the new MacBook Pros. Think of the size of a 27" display. You think Apple would put a graphics card in there? No. They'll put 4. Four small chips producing awesome parallel power. Not just to cover the display's needs, but to boost the performance of any computer hooked up to it. That's the kind of solution that Apple needs. Something unique and custom that looks and works great.

    A new MacBook Pro with two 27" 5k displays with 8 gfx cores sounds good to me. Power at home and portability on the road: I'll take it.
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  6. #36  
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    Am I the only one waiting for a Macbook Pro 15" with Thunderbolt 3, more Ram, faster GPU and a 4K retina screen while keeping the excellent form factor?
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  7. #37  
    Senior Member DJ Meyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sergio Perez View Post
    Am I the only one waiting for a Macbook Pro 15" with Thunderbolt 3, more Ram, faster GPU and a 4K retina screen while keeping the excellent form factor?
    I was until I bought a Dell 5510 notebook.
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  8. #38  
    Senior Member Steve Sherrick's Avatar
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    Well, this thread was predictable. :-)
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  9. #39  
    Senior Member DJ Meyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Kilgroe View Post

    That said, the workstation market is shrinking
    The latest data I could find claims the workstation market is growing. Not quickly, but ~2% vs -11% for overall "PC" market.
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  10. #40  
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Meyer View Post
    The latest data I could find claims the workstation market is growing. Not quickly, but ~2% vs -11% for overall "PC" market.
    Software design development is catching up and even starting to push current hardware design development versus staying a couple years behind. The HPC market which media content creation is part of is really one of the keys driving that at the moment with the hardware development cycle now down to 1 to 1.5 years on average.
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