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The new Mac Pro's vent holes

Photo by Apple


New Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Offer Power for a (High) Price

As we learned last year, Apple was stepping away from the debacle of its cylindrical Mac Pro and bringing in actual pro users to consult with on a complete reimagining of what a Mac for professional users should offer (see “New Mac Pro Slated for 2019; May Be Modular,” 6 April 2018). At WWDC 2019, Apple unveiled the results of that effort with a new Mac Pro that looks something like the old “cheese grater” Mac Pro—that is, if extraterrestrials were grating the cheese.

Built on a stainless steel frame and encased in a high-tech, highly perforated slip-off aluminum shell, the new Mac is designed for serious, well-heeled users who want a maximum of expandability and customization options. With the Mac Pro’s shell off, users can get access to any side of the Mac, and take advantage of its copious expansion capabilities.

The Mac Pro from the side, with the case off


And expansion capabilities it has! The new Mac Pro boasts eight PCI expansion slots: four double-wide slots, three single-width slots, and one half-width slot preconfigured with an Apple I/O card.

Those double-wide expansion slots won’t go wanting for components to populate them, either. Apple is offering several Radeon Pro-equipped MPX (Mac Pro Expansion) modules to take advantage of the Mac’s 64 PCI Express lanes, ranging from a single Radeon Pro 830X for less GPU-intensive applications to a Radeon Pro Vega II Duo, capable of providing a terabyte of memory bandwidth and over 28 teraflops of single precision math co-processing. To add to the fun, and, doubtless, to the price tag, these MPX modules can be added in pairs, increasing the capability of the Mac to perform intensive graphics processing, passing data around via something called “the Infinity Fabric Link”, a technology that quintuples data transfer rates between the modules’ GPUs. Paired Radeon Pro Vega II Duo MPX modules also provide a combined 128 GB of HBM2 memory.

The new Mac Pro’s single-width slots probably won’t remain unpopulated either. They have been engineered to support cards like Apple’s new Afterburner hardware accelerator card. This handy little add-on gives video professionals the ability to play back up to 3 streams of 8K ProRes RAW or up to 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW data.

Memory, CPU, and Ports

Speaking of memory, the Mac Pro comes standard with 32 GB of RAM (courtesy of four 8 GB DIMMs), but a high-end Mac Pro with a 24-core or higher processor can support as much as 1.5 TB of RAM in the form of 12 128 GB DIMMs.

Did we say “24-core or higher processor”? We did, indeed. The Mac Pro offers a variety of CPU options, starting at the low end with a 3.5 GHz Intel Xeon W 8-core processor that can handle 16 threads of execution at a time and stretching into the high-performance stratosphere with a 28-core 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon W, capable of supporting as many as 56 threads of execution.

Then there are ports: the base model comes with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, and two 10 Gb Ethernet ports. But that’s just for starters because each MPX module you add increases the number of available ports.

Power and Cooling

To provide power to all this screamingly fast technology, the Mac Pro has a 1.4-kilowatt power supply. 300 of those watts drive the CPU and the Mac Pro’s memory, with the remainder available to its PCI modules. For example, the Mac Pro can supply an MPX module with as much as 500 watts.

To cool it all down, since that much power will generate a lot of heat, the Mac Pro has three impeller fans on one side to cool the CPU and GPUs, while the other side provides a blower that sucks air across the RAM, storage devices, and power supply.

All of this huffing and puffing, according to Apple, is quiet enough to be almost silent under normal workloads. Cooling, by the way, is why the cheese-grater vents look so startlingly alien: Apple claims the lattice pattern is based on natural molecular crystal structures and employs a network of interlocking hemispheres to provide more surface area and enhance the airflow.

Pro Display XDR

So let’s say you’re planning to get one of these new Mac Pros. What kind of monitor will you hook up to it?

Apple has that covered, too, with its new 32-inch Pro Display XDR (“Extreme Dynamic Range”), capable of offering a 1 million-to-one contrast ratio, made possible by a finely tuned LED display that employs real-time intelligent image processing. The monitor can produce 1000 nits of full-screen sustained brightness and as high as 1600 nits. The display boasts a P3 wide color gamut with 10-bit color, capable of displaying more than a billion colors accurately.

The Pro Display XDR

But why stop at just one of these displays? (Apart from needing a third mortgage on the house?) If you trick out your Mac Pro with enough MPX modules, you can drive as many as four of Apple’s new wide-angle 6K displays at once. Cinerama has nothing on a fully loaded Mac Pro with a quad-display setup.

Pricing and Availability

It’s not clear how pricing will break down for various configurations of Mac Pro. All Apple is saying at the moment is that a base model Mac Pro will lift $5,999 from your wallet when it is released later this year.

The Pro Display XDR is also not for the budget-conscious: it will start at $4,999, with the Pro Stand that attaches to it (itself a high-tech marvel) running another $999. Fortunately, an easy-to-attach VESA mount for the Pro Display XDR costs only $199.

So, as great as it is to see Apple returning to the monitor market, we don’t see many people adding a Pro Display XDR to a Mac mini or MacBook Pro. It’s just too expensive for anyone who wasn’t previously considering a super-expensive reference monitor.

Unlike the previous generation of Mac Pro models, which sacrificed capability for compactness, this Mac Pro is made to be configured and reconfigured to suit the needs of a wide range of professional users. Although the prices are certainly high for “the rest of us,” for those who need a Mac capable of crunching and shuttling data around at very high speeds, Apple may have finally gotten this Mac Pro right.

(Did we mention that the nearly 40-pound Mac Pro comes with wheels? We didn’t? Well, they’re optional, anyway.)

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Comments About New Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Offer Power for a (High) Price

Notable Replies

  1. There sure is a LOT to say/question about this new machine, but my central one is how in the blazes can they call this a REAL pro machine if it’s not capable of running CUDA? Far as I know, CUDA is a very essential part of a LOT of actual professionals…

  2. Why can’t they do a reasonable priced computer? I’m using an iMac right now but I don’t need laptop components. The iMac can’t be height adjusted and is really loud when doing heavy computing.

  3. Would’ve taken ‘courage’ for CUDA support.

  4. In reality, while hideously expensive for a desktop machine it is only about 2K more than the 2010 ‘cheesegraters’. While likely not very cost effective for most new Mac users, it can be an effective solution for existing Mac users with ‘cheesegraters’ who have the funds and not wishing to switch OS platforms. It seems to be a far better solution than journalist were predicting which was a closed system made up of only Apple modules, who felt on the bases of those articles that Apple was not listening and that they would be likely forced to abandon the Apple platform. If you have the funds, then paying an extra 3k for a new machine when compared to what upgrading a old ‘cheesegrater’ with new high performance processors and graphics cards, which will likely not be installation supported by Catalina, even with the improved processor and graphics card, is not totally outrageous when you consider the time, effort and costs to convert or substitute all your current apps to another platform or custom build a ‘Hackintosh’. I also suspect that one could use 3rd party ram and SSD’s in a effort to control costs as if they are not currently available they are likely to be available at or soon after the release date. My only disappointment so far, other than the costs, is no provision internally for traditional drives, which are currently still more cost effective than SSD’s especially for storage sizes greater than 1TB. They still are great options for backups and storage rotations for off-site physical archiving. Also there is no internal provision for a DVD drive which is handy to have for creating disks to be used at other sites, especially when computers or the internet is not available as phone and ipads don’t interface easily.with DVD drives and have some other advantages over flash drives in certain situations. All this means I am no longer feeling that I am being coerced by Apple to change platforms to obtain the flexibility I need in a desktop computer, but it does come with a hefty price tag in order to maintain presence in the Apple universe. As such I still feel that sales of this machine will be quite limited for general enterprise work or as enterprise servers. Perhaps Apple at some point in the future will consider creating a lower performance and less costly MacPro Desktop for more general usage. I have friends that would jump at the opportunity to purchase such a desktop machine; one with open architecture with lower performance processors and GPU’s at a lower cost that was configurable. It might also appeal to the general enterprise community and to small business. Tower desktop machines actually improve security as they are harder to steal and fence. They are also more ergonomically friendly and less susceptible to damage. It is just not that easy to accidentally drop a tower machine onto the floor as most are already on the floor or close to it. If not they are usually firmly attached.

  5. Glad they took the box with slip off case route, possible to add third party cards etc. Really nice to see all the pro video companies on board on launch. Great there’s a rack-mounted version. Wonder if it’s cheaper?

    Can’t say I love the design. It has impact for sure but the word ‘elegant’ doesn’t apply at least on first look.

    The price for the base Pro is kind of expected, will be interesting to see if add-ons are premium priced too.

    • Afterburner
    • memory, what’s 1.5Tb of Apple priced RAM? Hmmmm.
    • That do-hickey they can pop the video cards in. Not clear if that was standard but given that you can have two, probably not.
    • not to forget the castors, set of four…

    The screen is impressive spec-wise. Very impressive in fact, but that design… I’m not sold, holding judgement until one is in front of me, when I suspect I’ll want one.

    999 for a stand got a deserved audience reaction. I think if we had heard a price breakdown for the elements within the box (and the castors…) stunned silence might have dominated the room.

    Where’s it made I wonder? The US factory story got a big mention last time.

  6. You kids don’t know what high cost is. My first Mac was an SE/30 bought in January 1989 and it cost. $6,500. To put that into perspective, " $100 in 1990 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $187.54 in 2017, a difference of $87.54 over 27 years." That brings the cost of a MacPro to about $12,220 for comparison purposes. BTW I still have two of them that are used often and have never been in the shop. Another way to look at it is I bought my first house in Wellesley Massachusetts (a wealthy town) in 1966 for less than $24,000. It was most recently sold for more than $800,000.

  7. In that picture used in the article, what are those things that look like internal ports next to the CPU and right above the half length PCIe slot? And what does the thing do that appears to be some kind of locking mechanism to the left of those ports?

  8. Fair question. Is no CUDA on Mac really still a consequence of petty Apple trying to punish Nvidia after they had some falling out over nothing about a decade ago?

  9. I’ve changed camps a bit on the question of Apple overpricing its hardware. These days, I’m inclined to take a stance that if Apple chooses to cater to a specific Mac segment at all, I’ll appreciate that regardless of how high the cost. The stagnation and/or outright neglect were bad enough while they lasted (and still do for certain products/uses).

    That said, you’d think that for $5k a monitor would come with some kind of stand. I wouldn’t mind if they charged extra for an extra fancy stand, but the fact that $5k gets you zilch in terms of stand/mount is just preposterous.

  10. Sure seems to me that they seem to be serious about selling a freaking stand for that monitor for a grand, (and the 5-6k cost does NOT come with anything to hold it up) sure seems to point where they are aiming sales at. I’d still like to know exactly what percentage of the cost is no object scientific and 3D animation is solidly using CUDA. Everything I have read ALL suggests that whatever CUDA brings, it is generally considered better than anything AMD has come up with. So maybe the question there is does whatever else the machine can do justify end users ditching using CUDA?

    Of course this really is 100% dumb, there is no reason whatsoever for the machine to NOT be capable of supporting CUDA… seems like petty vindictiveness over something that happened many many years ago that, to this day, most seem to blame the fruit more than nVidia.

    SO fine, we have an uber expensive machine (properly equipped to actually DO the stuff they claim the machine was built to do seems to get into the $20,000 category) that is aimed at not that big a market. While I would have to really stretch to spend 3 grand to replace my cMP (more want it than need it) I just gotta think this is a HUGE market. Might take 6-7 folks buying machine like that compared to the return on one of these new monsters. More than 7, more net income for Cupertino.

    AND let’s look ahead. Isn’t it clear that as the smartphone market leaves middle for old age (AND seemingly shut out of China due to Tim Apple’s good buddy in the white house), the revenue ain’t coming from there, but for “services.” How much of that “20 grand machine” market is at all interested in said “services?” NONE. How about the market of my mythical 3k machine? Seems THAT is the sweet spot for said services. Flip it around… they are not in any way making any machine I would consider buying at this point. How inclined do you think I would be to give them money for “services?” NONE. Oh I’ll keep limping along best I can on my Sierra-ish cMP (OS dead end due to nVidia card and apple refusing to let them ship already developed drivers for mojave) then if it blows up, 2k will get me a perfectly fine wonblowzen gaming box that will do all I need it to do.

  11. Why can’t they do a reasonable priced computer? I’m using an iMac right now but I don’t need laptop components. The iMac can’t be height adjusted and is really loud when doing heavy computing.

    The new Mac Pro is targeted at the highest of the high end professional market, probably a big % of which will be corporate buyers from companies like Pixar, Disney, ad agencies, Adobe, Cartoon Network, game design companies, studios that do VR, AR, CGI, etc., as well as general film and TV production studios. Scientific communities would be good targets as well, as would automotive and other transportation design, architecture and engineering. Even for a very small production company, a high end pro camera or a even a Steadicam will cost more, usually a very, very lot more, especially if they are added on to mobile rigs, than a fully tricked out new Mac Pro. And the cameras and Steadicams often take beatings on sets, so their lifespans aren’t very long. The Mac Pros will be chugging along for years, especially since they are now very expandable.

    Mac Pros are aimed at an entirely specific, and different, market than the average TidBITS reader, and the high end market is a highly lucrative one. Beyond that is the rub off effect. A less expensive model benefits from the good karma of an associated, stratospherically priced brand.

  12. The higher end MacBook Pros, the top end of the new 2019 iMac, the iMac Pro all count as high-end machines. All bring great power, and the base model of this overlaps them in some regards, what it brings is expandability beyond anything else we’ve seen on the Mac. You can ramp this up all the way and then some.

    And that will cost. I am curious to see how much is all and so glad it’s there.

  13. As I remarked to my TidBITS colleagues, back in the 90s I worked at a video editing company. One day I was asked to pick up 64MB (not GB, MB) of RAM for one of our new tower Macs (an 8500 or 8600) from a local computer store. The RAM cost close to $1K (I felt like I was participating in a drug deal as I slipped the anti-static bag of RAM into a pocket). Installing the RAM was a trial; though the case of the Mac could be opened, working in it was awkward and often ended up in tears and blood. The price of the Mac was about $2.7K: $4.3K in 2019 dollars.

    The new Mac Pro plays right into the same market that I worked in back then, and my few remaining contacts in the profession are excited and encouraged by the new Mac Pro. I can see a lot of the new Mac Pros being gobbled up by post production facilities. Also, keep in mind that Apple is working very closely with such facilities these days now that it is, in essence, also a video production company producing a slate of programs for its TV service, so it probably has access to a lot of feedback from potential purchasers of the Mac Pro.

  14. If Apple wanted to “punish” a company, they’d most likely follow president set by Steve Jobs years ago that quickly became b-school textbook cases…the serious damage Apple did to Adobe and Avid. Not long after Jobs returned to Apple, Avid, which only ran on very expensive big iron from companies like Sun that cost at least $25k+ a workstation, unveiled a Windows Version. They also said they would never develop a Mac version and kept making it clear. Adobe, who had Premier and After Effects, not only said they would not develop a Mac version, they announced they would stop Mac development for Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc. They had already slowed development on their apps so they were released well over a year later then the Windows versions.

    So Steve went into high gear and quickly developed Final Cut Pro. At its release, it cost about $1,000 and would run on any Intel Mac, even the lowliest Mac Book. The cheapest version of Avid software ran over $20k for the basic package (and extensions were mostly developed by Avid and were never cheap). After Effects or its extensions were not cheaper; the Windows versions also needed to run on big machines and also couldn’t run on Windows laptops that were available then. It was a humongous, groundbreaking and earth shattering innovation to bring non-linear editing directly on set. So even though Final Cut Pro didn’t do everything that Avid & After Effects could, it did do a lot, saved a ton of money, and changed production schedules for the better. Apple provided extensive training sessions for professors and teachers and for professional organizations. Even better, college students majoring in film were given free copies, establishing a valuable base early on. And there were very advantageous rates for students that were not film majors. Apple also made FCP very extensible, while the competition was not.

    So FCP quickly became number three and Final Cut Pro X currently boasts over two million active professional users.

    The other two aren’t releasing their numbers, and rumor has it that it’s close to a three way tie with Avid falling gradually. FCPX is supposedly the strongest in the documentary and news markets.

    While there wasn’t much they could do in the professional market against Adobe’s Photoshop, Apple did, and continue to do, a huge amount of damage to Photoshop Elements and profits for the PS group buy releasing iPhoto for a fraction of the cost, then giving it away for it free a very short time later and rebranding it without the “i” as Photo. And don’t forget Steve Jobs vs. Flash. Though Flash deserved what it got 1,000%, Steve hit them frequently with atomic bomb attacks. And Android and Windows phone manufacturers looked really stupid for sticking up for Flash, especially ones that made phones the supposedly worked well with Flash.

    The moral of the story…mess with Apple and they will kick you where it really hurts, hard and fast.

  15. What I have heard is that there are two SATA ports and one USB-A port internally, so I suspect that’s what three of those ports are (and that’s what they look like.) I’m not sure what the one to the far right is; I’m not sure what the switch does.

  16. Sure seems to me that they seem to be serious about selling a freaking stand for that monitor for a grand, (and the 5-6k cost does NOT come with anything to hold it up) sure seems to point where they are aiming sales at.

    Yes they are. I read about this 31 inch, 4k professional monitor that doesn’t come close to the XDR specs that sells with a stand at Adorama for 32,392.95, down 10% from its original price of $35,995.00.

    It also doesn’t look like it pivots at all. A big % people who work in graphic oriented fields need to pivot their screens from portrait to landscape frequently, and this is important to a significant % of people working in graphics oriented fields. And changing position on a large screen sometimes takes a short but annoying time lag to adjust.

    I checked out stands that fit 32" monitors at Amazon. They have quite a few of them and they were all extremely cheaper, but practically all of them had a clamp that needed to be screwed into the lip of a desk. Though I didn’t look that closely at all of them, the few I looked at did not feature pivoting, which is usually a big, clutzy, aggravating and somewhat time consuming task in which frequent pivoters or angle adjusters quiver in their shoes that the screen will fall over, especially if it’s anchored to the end of a desk. Or get POed the cords will disconnect. The demo link Tommy provided showed the XDR stand, positioned toward the middle of the screen, makes pivoting, tilting and changing angles a worry free breeze that literally takes a second or two. And the image or the brightness and color of the screen didn’t look like it needed to adjust at all.

    Yes, this monitor stand is slim, sleek, beautiful and sexy, just like Apple products. But changing angles and pivoting is critical to a subgroup that would be willing to shell out, or work for companies that would be willing to shell out for what is for them an important feature. Like the new Mac Pro, it’s not for casual or non-pro users, unless they are willing to shell out mega bucks for stuff they don’t really need.

    And I’ll bet there are plenty of manufacturers already working on cheaper versions of the new monitor stand.

  17. Interesting. Any ideas what those ports are for? I haven’t heard about any disk bays so far.

  18. The irony with this whole stand business is that the so called professionals that supposedly have no reservations whatsoever paying $1k on top of $5k for said stand because of their demanding positioning requirements… Well until quite recently Apple was telling those very professionals they don’t really need to adjust their monitors at all apart from maybe some minor tilting. Height adjustment? Nope. Instead, put your stylish design Apple monitor on a stack of faded phone books from the 90s. Swivel? Nope. You don’t want that. Pivot? Heck no. You certainly don’t want that! Do you even know what you’re doing? Dammit, move over, let Apple show you what you’re really supposed to want.

    The very same users that were recently being told “you’re holding it wrong” are now being used as an argument why $1k is supposedly chump change. Talk about reality distortion! :smiley:

  19. I haven’t heard about any disk bays so far.

    I think it was Jason Snell who wrote that 3rd parties will provide those via expansion slot, but not Apple.

  20. Expansion slot? I don’t suppose PCIe slots are required for an internal disk bay, are they? And even if so, why internal SATA and USB if you’re connected through PCIe already?

  21. I have little issue with the monitor per se… if it can perform even close to those 30-40k reference monitors,they’ll have huge hit…and even if it doesn’t, it’s not an unusual buy. But a grand for a stand that is not much more than a machined piece of metal is more of a slap in the face… I’m SURE they know that the grand is a huge tax write off for whomever is buying it WHILE putting more cash in their hands, win-win while us average folks lose big time.

    Far as I know there no SATA anything in the machine, seems like a lot of wishful thinking. BUT my issue is that unless I hear otherwise, the machine is strictly limited to the non-standard NVMe slots that only uber expensive boards can go in… to the tune of 1200-1400 per 2T (top of the line STANDARD sticks run about half that) that may ONLY come from Cupertino. Now MANY folks are acquiring speedy storage via NVMe sticks on little adapter cards in standard PCI slots… and while Cupertino doesn’t say so, they say the machine has up to 4T, so they have essentially locked out users from taking advantage of adding storage via all those PCI slots.

    I know a LOT of “professionals” in the photography market… I doubt ANY of them will but this machine. I have come across MANY professionals in the video field, most of them don;t work for big production houses that can spend 40k for a monitor. I know a lot of prosumers and folks who have been using Macs for eons, the enthusiasts. This machine does NOT say ANYTHING to all these people. We have been saying for YEARS we wanted a mid-sized tower where we can take industry standard stuff and set it up how WE want. It ain’t this machine by any stretch…it all screams proprietary. Dare I say that if they made a machine for US, the damn may very well have pulled MORE overall profit from it. They STILL DO NOT make a machine for me and I dare say hundreds of thousands “mes.” And the irony is that supposedly their fiscal future riches are in “services.” Can only speak for myself, but I ain’t buy ANY streaming anything that says apple on it. Clearly, they have ZERO interest in me as a customer…

  22. Just watched Macbreak Weekly…

    As Leo said, many professionals already have stand setups in place (eg. VESA) so every time they swap a display over they just unhook old one, and hook on the new one, throwing the stand away.

    Hence, supplying this high end market means a separate add-on at least best as an option rather then a given in the box.

    The only thing they should have said was “starts at $5999, or 4999 for pro’s that don’t need a stand”. Weird way the chose to drop a bomb on the ‘stand as extra’ price.

  23. One reason for internal USB are pro apps that still use a USB dongle for license checking. Those things are always USB-A. Now you can stow the dongle inside the computer rather than have it stick out of the back of the case.

  24. Interesting. I didn’t know those were still in use.

  25. From 1984 when a Mac was $2400 and the S&P at 166 the new Mac should be $36k today with the S&P above 2400 (25X). Using that standard the new Mac is a bargain.

  26. For anyone who insists on putting spinning rust inside their computer instead of using one of multiple fast ports and an external enclosure, the Mac Pro specs page lists Promise Pegasus R4i and J2i kits which will hold 4 or 2 full size hard drives inside the Mac Pro. Apple hasn’t made a Mac with a DVD drive since 2012, I think. USB DVD drives are readily available for those who need them.

    Sure, there have always been people who want a PC that runs the macOS. Apple never has, and likely never will, provide that.

    When they say up to 4TB storage, that’s in reference to the two storage-specific connectors on the same side of the motherboard as the RAM. Pegasus has already demonstrated that the PCIe slots are normal and can be used for storage. OWC sells 2TB SSDs for the trash can Mac Pro for $620, not $1,200. I don’t know what connector that one uses, on the new Mac Pro, the specs page doesn’t say but the silhouette of 2 drives look like a wider form factor and the pin configuration doesn’t look like M.2 or U.2.

  27. IMHO that’s not an unreasonable request. You buy this expensive sexy Mac only to then dangle some cheap looking enclosure off of it over a connection that can be accidentally yanked out? I can understand why somebody would prefer to have an internal disk. Considering Apple has put great effort into designing the case to allow for easy access preferring that over clutter does not strike me as a misguided request.

  28. Beg to differ… my cMP is a perfect example… assuming by saying “PC” you mean a tower where we can mix and match industry standard components that is still a Mac. THAT is exactly what an awful lot of Mac professionals/enthusiasts have been asking for over the past 5 years. NOT a 30k workstation whose market is restricted to the LucasFilms of Hollywood.

    AND how can any company claim their cards work fine in a box that NOBODY outside the mothership has been allowed to even touch? IF those slots CAN take a PCI-NVMe card, then why do they say the machine can have 4T of storage?

    NOW, I’m still not sure I completely grok that MPX stuff (someone has said those lower 4 slots are NOT real standard PCI but meant to plug this extra cost item into) BUT it seems there is one of those MPX things that deals with RAID, so more internal storage may be had that way.

    I can’t imagine I am the ONLY one, but essentially I am trying to coodle my cMP as long as I can. With their juvenile attitude towards nVidia, I am stuck pre Mojave. There has been speculation cMP’s may have ability for 10.15, but somehow I doubt it (been looking for some compatibility chart, can’t find any). They COULD have done what so many of their supporters were asking for, an updated “old” cheese grater. So they sat in their hands and built a $20-30k plus workstation. No question a “PC” is in my future should my motherboard melt. AND take a guess at who will never, ever give them ANY money for their supposed future, “services.”

  29. Amazon sells 2TB SSD drives for ~$200 each and I could care less about performance as they would be for backup. However that is 3 times as expensive as some reliable low performance hard drives of the same size. There is plenty of documentation out on the web on how to setup MacOS on Virtual Box. As far as licensing as an individual I don’t care. Besides I already have 3 Mac’s in my home. As for support, most problems that Apple can solve I can already solve for myself. For others Apple support is of little use. As a professional tool, having the capability to add a DVD would be a nice feature as some professionals still use them and personally I detest having chunks of hardware scattered all over the place outside of the main machine. Cables also have external connectors which are not as reliable as internal ones. As far as I am concerned the cheese graters are still the ultimate design profile for the Mac. FYI: while not as elegant looking you can get a desktop VERSA stand that has similar functionality to the 1k Mac display stand for around $100. If you use the Mac VERSA adapter, that drops the cost of a flexible stand by around ⅔’ss. Frankly I have little interest in how the stand looks as I am buying a tool, not a piece of artwork.

    I also I would advise waiting for at least a couple of months after release before buying one as bugs are most certainly going to surface with this machine and some of them could be motherboard related which can’t be fixed on the machines initially released. After all, in the current technology paradigm, all users are volunteer beta testers who pay manufacturers for the privilege of doing proper QA on their products.

  30. Apple has a history of being an “if you build it, they will come” kinda company. Among all the people I know, Mac and PC users alike, nobody has mentioned any interest in personally buying a computer that’s got extra space for anything other than RAM in at least a decade, though they might opt for a bigger hard drive at point of purchase. And I know and have worked with a lot of very high end production, design, scientific and editorial people, as well as prosumers. But I’ll bet the highest end retouchers, video editors, designers and animators are probably already making the case that they need a new Mac Pro this very moment to the powers that be at their jobs.

    And I’ll bet Apple developed the XDR display because they, as yet, were unable to convince at least one manufacturer to build one at the level of specs they need to move the Mac Pro off the shelves. Apple only developed LaserWriters because the couldn’t convince any printer manufacturer to build one that would support the level of typography of the Mac. Same-o with monitors. They suspend development the moment other companies enter the market with comparable products at lower prices. I checked Adorama and B&H, though quickly, and I couldn’t find a monitor with the same or very close specs. And there were many monitors costing a lot more money for a lot less in specs, most costing thousands and thousands more. So I’ll bet that in the not very distant future we’ll be seeing monitors like the new XDR at lower prices.

  31. Thanks for the link!

    I’m still not quite sure why you’d want to shoehorn a disk bay onto a PCIe slot rather than just provide a, well, disk bay for disks. Like every other manufacturer. I guess once again Apple just wants to be different. We’ll see if it’s worth it. Chances are people who can spend north of $6k on a system like this won’t care if adding internal storage is more costly than necessary. More impractical too, but maybe those folks just don’t care. Or maybe Apple is just plain wrong, wouldn’t be the first time. Time will tell.

  32. I think you’re onto something. This system might cater to movie makers or high-end creatives, but in science from all I can tell Apple is done in terms of workstations. You’ll still see loads of MBPs and some people use a mini or an iMac for desktop work. But in terms of number crunching and real scientific computing, it’s usually all Linux on generic iron these days. Apple’s last stronghold there was scientific visualization and that’s dying too now that Apple has determined that GPUs are solely geared towards FCP. Many years ago Apple gave up the Xserve (of which we had several dozen here in our department alone), then they screwed up the MP with the trash can’s poor design followed by years of neglect, and now together with the continued refusal to provide for CUDA on macOS they’re making sure they will be left out while science moves on to embrace big data & ML. Eventually they’ll probably kill X11 support (uncool and too technical) or an ARM transition (hey, it works for iPad) will kill off simple porting of Linux x86 binaries and then they’ll really be kicked out.

    It’s a shame that Macs in science are being relegated to basically (shiny) netbook status. They’re still popular as heck notebooks, but their use is essentially for office work and manuscript writing. Actual scientific computing happens on other boxes people connect remotely too. Code can be developed and debugged on such systems too, no need to do that on a Mac. Kind of a local small scale netbook/cloud implementation relegating the Mac to a dumb terminal conduit to where the real action happens. Lab equipment control and scientific computing on Mac used to be really strong but are becoming increasingly rare (and often it’s just legacy). A shame really. Apple had a great run in edu and science. But I guess these days that’s no longer cool. It’s been a while since top Apple execs had actual academic experience and understood what really counts in the lab.

    And all of this I observe at UC Berkeley, where we’ve traditionally always been very Apple friendly.

  33. Simon, storage is way, way different these days. Spinning platters and pokey SATA worked great… 20 years ago. It’s all in solid state memory, like we used to talk about sticks of RAM, we now talk about sticks of storage. I have 1T of 2 SSDs on a PCI card that currently can be 300-350 bucks or so that is literally 7 times faster than any of my platter drives. AND TODAY for under $200, I can get something that is 2-3 times faster than those SSDs!

    I was curious about the scientific community… I used to have points of contact back when I worked for a sci-tech publisher, but am long retired. I had a vague memory that CUDA was a pretty big deal there, so your mentioning it is significant.

  34. Yes, research computing has continued to move more and more into datacenters and/or cloud providers. That includes access to GPUs, including those that support CUDA, for using that hardware to perform computations. The desktop or laptop is largely a dumb terminal There is no computer Apple or any other manufacturer can provide that would reduce that trend. You’re right that scientific visualization is a particular category where there’s still some value in having some “oomph” in the computer in front of you.

    Given all that, the threat to Macs is Windows in this sector. Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) keeps getting better and is probably a better choice than macOS for people who want tools like they find on their servers; macOS tends to have dated and/or different versions (BSD vs. GNU) of open source software while WSL lets one use software from standard Linux package management systems. Obviously, lots of people still prefer macOS to Windows for everything outside the terminal window.

    I know Nvidia blames Apple for the poor (and since Mojave, non-existent) support for their cards on Macs but Nvidia is responsible for making the drivers for their hardware. I think they decided there was enough value in putting in the work to write drivers for Apple’s APIs, particular the “Metal” API. I saw a mention of on an Nvidia forum that maybe the upcoming DriverKit could make a difference but Apple says the framework is “to create drivers for USB, Serial, NIC, and HID devices,” video cards aren’t on that list.

  35. cwilcox
    Curtis Wilcox

        June 6

    Kind of a local small scale netbook/cloud implementation relegating the Mac to a dumb terminal conduit to where the real action happens.

    Yes, research computing has continued to move more and more into datacenters and/or cloud providers. That includes access to GPUs, including those that support CUDA, for using that hardware to perform computations. The desktop or laptop is largely a dumb terminal There is no computer Apple or any other manufacturer can provide that would reduce that trend. You’re right that scientific visualization is a particular category where there’s still some value in having some “oomph” in the computer in front of you.

    I think that this a very big reason is why Apple has been moving so aggressively into services, and why they pioneered, and continue full speed ahead, with mobile devices.

    Given all that, the threat to Macs is Windows in this sector. Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) keeps getting better and is probably a better choice than macOS for people who want tools like they find on their servers; macOS tends to have dated and/or different versions (BSD vs. GNU) of open source software while WSL lets one use software from standard Linux package management systems. Obviously, lots of people still prefer macOS to Windows for everything outside the terminal window.

    And I think this is a big reason why they developed a super duper, fully tricked out, rocket engine new MacBook Pro. A very big majority of high end creative and production pros might know everything about, and can do any kind of incendiary effect, using VFX software like Smoke, Flame and Maya (which they used for the dragon and destruction scenes in Game Of Thrones), which only runs on Macs or Linux, but will turn into quivering masses of jelly if someone accidentally kicked out the plug their computer is connected to.

    BTW, a year’s subscription for one seat of Flame runs $4,205, Smoke $1,545, Maya $1545. And that’s just for the fire. You need lots of different software to build and animate the dragons, though Maya is probably used for both. And there’s a lot of other software necessary for burning people (especially if actors in live action are involved), constructing and collapsing virtual buildings (and bridges and boats are different ), etc. And different stuff is necessary to create ice and explosions. It’s probably why HBO only kept the number of dragons to three.

    The new Mac Pro doesn’t look so expensive at all when you consider what it costs to run editing and VFX software. And if the new Mac Pro will enable the production company to save $$$$$ because it will get things done faster and easier, and as it is upgradable, it will be an investment that’s well worth it, and one that will pay out over years.

  36. I think we are in adamant agreement. For those, like the original poster, who think $5,000+ is “high”, that figure pales in comparison to what it cost early adopters to own computers in the past.

  37. Well, this kid bought a fully tricked out Amiga back in 1988 instead of the 20% downpayment on a house.

    Just spent about 5k on an iMac. It’s a lot for us to spend, but it’s vital for my work and the investment will play out for years on my desk.

  38. As many of you have, been devouring everything I can read about this new machine. ONE piece seemed to me to stand way out ahead of everything else… I learned more stuff about what is going on in this article than anywhere else:

  39. I have reflected on my feelings… I, and most likely almost every damn Mac fan who has asked for an expandable machine they will buy, now feel hugely let down. NOW we are hearing that we aren’t “professional” enough because we simply can’t afford (or justify) a $40K workstation. WE are the folks who kept buying their hardware through all the turmoil… we were the loyal cadres. NOT the big film production houses. I DO know someone who spent a few years at ILM… their workers loved Macs but they worked on very different hardware.

    As an enthusiast (my Pro days are over) I am way curious what they have come up with… I DO want to know what is going on under it’s hood. I have no issue with them building such a machine, BUT I take very serious issue with the fact they COULD have very easily given what I dare say many thousands os Mac users have wanted 2 years ago… and release this one when they will. This “MacTaxWrite-Off for Huge Studios so We Can Pay 25 bucks to See their Work Product!” is kind of like a slap in our collective face. They did NOT make this for me… or any of hundreds of thousands of others. Making a machine for us would cost them almost nothing, it’s actually all very straight forward stuff. Their choice was to ignore us.

    AND if any marketing types may read this… guess what? NONE of the purchasers of this machine are in any way candidates for any of your “services.” Think any big time film production house if going to buy 100 subs to Music or News+ along with their order of 100 machines? Think you’re going to sell that sub stuff to the folks you turned your backs on? Not this guy I can tell you that.

  40. Are you a fan of the show “Arrested Development?” Like Gob’s suits, every time you mention the new Mac Pro, the price goes up. Please don’t exaggerate, reality is bad enough. The reality is the entry-level price of the new Mac Pro will not be in the five figures, it will be $6,000. The entry-level price of the “trash can” Mac Pro in 2013 was $3,000.

    I assume there are good arguments for why the entry-level model is “worth it,” it may have comparatively higher specs than the entry-level trash can did and a longer expected lifespan (because of better internal expandability), that doesn’t change that fact that it will cost more to “ante up.” I work with a group in the market for Mac Pros; they got 4 trash cans 5 years ago in more of a mid-range configuration. This year, 4 entry-level Mac Pros will require, at minimum, $5,000 more than those did, probably more than to get better than entry-level video cards. Most likely, one of the four staff won’t get a new Mac Pro and the group will spend more time shuffling work assignments so the one just does the “easy” jobs.

    Plenty of people want an expandable Mac. Fortunately, every Mac with a Thunderbolt port is expandable. For those who, quite reasonably, should get one without a built-in display, the current Mac mini is a good, performant computer. Out of all Macs right now, there is a Mac mini config that is in the top 5 for single-core performance and top 10 for multi-core, beating all the trash cans except the 12-core model. In a few years, if Apple again neglects the Mac mini product line, it won’t look like a good choice and people will, rightly, complain again.

  41. Thanks for the AppleInsider link, I was wondering if the longevity of the new Mac Pro would be hampered by a soldered processor. Thankfully, it’s a slotted processor. The article touches on another risk to longevity, it having PCIe 3.0 slots. They probably would have had to delay the Mac Pro release even longer to have used PCIe 4.0, hopefully there won’t be a spate of cards in the future that won’t work or will have their performance hampered by the slot’s bandwidth.

    The ultimate risk to longevity is duration of macOS support and support of applications on less-than-current OSes. MacOS Catalina will not support the 2010 Mac Pro but it will have had 9+ years of official macOS support (possibly requiring a video card upgrade), not bad. We’ll see what 3rd party software vendors do.

  42. Apple’s pro computers were always a halo product, which trailed recommendations for the rest of the product line. Tim Cook just figure this out last year it appears, hence the new Mac Pros finally. After neglecting our business for eight years he’s scrambling now: with a computer which costs more than a small car.

  43. Apple’s pro computers were always a halo product, which trailed recommendations for the rest of the product line. Tim Cook just figure this out last year it appears, hence the new Mac Pros finally. After neglecting our business for eight years he’s scrambling now: with a computer which costs more than a small car.

    What Cook did was wait until high end pro software had evolved enough so that a totally reconfigured, highly and easily customizable box that could would make a difference to the production schedules for architects, video and film editors, animators, VFX pros, retouchers, game designers, etc. I don’t know much about audio production or sound design, I’ll bet the new Mac Pro could be a valuable addition here, as well as for scientific teams.

    As I mentioned before, this new box is clearly not aimed at the average TidBITS Talker. Take a look at what competitive boxes as well as stands cost at Adorama or B&H; the majority cost a lot more for a lot less.

  44. Well, you shouldn’t be betting then because I do know much about scientific teams and know that for us this new box brings nothing to the table. It does not deliver on what science wanted, similar to the last MP. For science to large extent, the trash can was a failure and this new box does little to fix that screwup.

    The new MP might be the greatest thing that has ever reached TV studios for all I know, but nobody needs to come here and conjecture about its potential in science. We moved on when Apple told us to **** off because they preferred doing hip hop radio and gold plated wrist bands.

  45. I know nothing of what science wants, so this isn’t a challenge to your evaluation at all, you’ve just got me curious. What is it that science wants?

  46. @SteveJ1, this just from the view of our department.

    There’s a lot they could do to improve things on the software side and it’s simple to mention many things they could do to improve the MBP for us. But let me just summarize for the desktop. On the low-end something like the mini is nice, but what we need is real desktop-class CPUs with a case that does not require downthrottling or mobile low-wattage CPUs, one slot for a GPU (not necessarily for graphics), and support for Nvidia/CUDA. 4-8 RAM slots and easily swappable disks make sense. TB3 and external expandability is great, but it should be in addition to not in replacement of external expansion. On the higher end it’s essentially similar, but more of it all. You’d want support for Xeons, some people I work with used to demand two CPU slots, personally I don’t care as long as it supports the best CPU core/mem bus combo Intel has to offer. Several full slots for at least two, ideally more GPUs, again CUDA is most important. As many RAM slots as the MCH will support. Internal disk bays and slots for SSDs. Sure, that sounds like a boring tower (Apple would make it non-boring, eg. the PowerMac, early MP), but that’s exactly what a lot of my colleagues need. It’s awesome if it looks nice and is quiet and fancy and yada (and we’ll pay for that no question), but all of that is for naught if it doesn’t have the required oomph. The last cheese grater MP came quite close, as did usually all MPs before that. With nothing left from Apple those folks will now just get some generic Dell or HP iron, put on Linux (CentOS or Scientific Linux usually) and log on remotely from their MBPs. Every one of those boxes is a sale lost for Apple because those people generally use portable Macs and they like their Macs too. They know they’re less hassle, usually need little to no dedicated support, offer good longevity and good warranty (AC) service. None of those people would get the generic PC stuff to save $1k (of course with this new MP, it’s more like $3k for what they want), but they will get it the moment Apple tells them ‘no more Macs for you’. That has been the case almost since the demise of the cheese grater. The mini is too limited, the iMac not adequate, and the MP somewhere between out of balance and expansion challenged.

  47. What scientific field are you in, Simon, and if you’re talking about other fields here too, what are they? Just curious…

  48. Physics (and chemistry).

  49. While I have absolutely no doubt you’ve worked successfully in high level scientific teams, I do know that there are an infinite number of types of scientific and engineering teams. I do know some people who work in some of them. My cousin who has worked with NASA for decades and is also an astrophysics professor has fallen in love from afar with the new Mac Pro, he says other people he works with feel the same. A quick search verified something I remember he told me about years ago; the Mars Rover was not only made on Macs, it had the same processor as a G3 Mac:

    Some of my friends and family members involved in medical and pharmaceutical fields also prefer Macs, especially those involved in imaging and research. I called a radiologist who told me about this application that runs on the current Mac Pro, and that it’s much more cost effective and user friendly than dedicated hardware that costs tens of thousands of $ more:

    While the creative market is an easy target that’s most likely to immediately shell out mega wads of cash when the new Mac Pro is released, I will still take big odds that Apple isn’t thinking about just selling Watches when it comes to healthcare. $15-25,000 bucks for the highest workstation and display is a lot more cost effective than $50-80k range, especially when tricking out specialized work groups. In fields like research, radiology and microsurgery where imaging and visualization are critical, calibration and 3d are equally critical. And in addition to power, flexibility and ease of use, Apple has privacy and security advantages. Apple Watches and iPhones are already collecting data that helps facilitates the development of apps that hospitals, doctors and researchers are already using to monitor health and fitness, ResearchKit and CareKit:

    Though I never heard of CUDA before it was mentioned in recent threads, I have worked in advertising and strategy with clients and ad agencies in consumer and trade electronics, imaging, pharma and healthcare accounts for decades. I have an excellent eye for marketing opportunities. There are a wealth of scientific communities that Apple can, and will, bring to the table with the new Mac Pro, monitor and stand.

  50. Hi Paul and everyone else,
    not to be condescending, but take a look and some of the software companies statements on this. Many of the producers of 3D and video editing software including Adobe, have announced they are going to be adding Metal support to their applications. Let’s not think the creatives need CUDA until the new software is available that supports Metal. Hopefully it will be available before the 2019 Mac Pro is, and people can try it on existing Macs with AMD graphics cards.

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