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New Mac Pro sneak-previewed at WWDC, coming later this year [U]

updated 03:22 pm EDT, Mon June 10, 2013

Black cannister shape, 12-core configuration, Thunderbolt 2, more

[Updated with real-world photo of the Mac Pro] Apple on Monday gave developers and the public a "sneak preview" of the next Mac Pro coming later this year -- a radical new "cannister" form factor in black that is 1/8th (by volume) the size of the previous model. It features a 12-core configuration based on all-new (E5) Intel Xeon processors, dual AMD-provided FirePro workstation graphics, new PCIe flash storage, new faster RAM, PCI Express gen 3 support, the ability to use up to three 4K-quality displays, and external outputs dominated by Thunderbolt 2.

One of the bigger surprises on the unit -- besides its overall form factor, which is pint-sized by comparison to the current models, and was kept secret until today -- is that it is the mystery Mac that will be assembled in the United States, as well as being designed in California (the latter being a major theme of Apple's presentation). The unit's IO ports include four USB 3.0 ports, six Thunderbolt 2, and two Ethernet ports at an unknown speed. There are also separate audio in and out ports and an HDMI (v1.4) port.

The small form factor does include PCIe third-gen technology, but there was no clear illustration of how that was implemented and may only refer to the built-in flash-based storage, which is some 2.5 times faster than current SATA flash storage and more than 10x conventional hard drive storage. As rumored, the innards will be more closed off and reliant on Thunderbolt 2 to handle most expansion duties. The RAM modules appeared to be upgradable, but no clear way into the machine was shown.

During the sneak preview, Apple VP Phil Schiller mentioned that a future update of Final Cut Pro X will be available that fully supports the new graphics system, allowing editors to work on multiple (up to three) 4K displays if needed. In a move that will remind some of the legendary (and equally innovative, though commercially unsuccessful) G4 Cube workstation, the entire top rim of the machine is a handle for easy transport, and relies on a single extruded aluminum "thermal core" that uses augmented convention cooling, but which also employs a single, larger fan that pulls air upwards -- maintaining Apple's penchant for nearly-silent operation.

No weight was mentioned, but the device is so dramatically smaller than the current model that its weight is likely to be comparable to a notebook. The device stands 9.9 inches tall and is 6.6 inches wide, and as expected uses 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0. Both the outside and inside are made of machined aluminum.

The company has now completely revamped its Mac Pro pages on its website to showcase the device in greater detail, revealing that it can handle up to 60GB of 1866MHz DDR3 four-channel RAM, twice the bandwidth and capacity of the existing model. A photo of the actual unit (in a glass display case at WWDC) was taken by MacObserver using an open hand as a size reference. The picture is seen below.

Schiller, who mistakenly referred to the Thunderbolt 2 ports as "Firewire 2" during the presentation, added a note of triumph as he unveiled the new machine, directly addressing critics: "'Can't innovate', my ass!"

by MacNN Staff



  1. bdmarsh

    Junior Member

    Joined: 02-17-06

    and they prove they don't understand the Pro market. LIke the failed Cube before, this is a good Pro-Sumer design (if they had single GPU and maybe Core i7 CPU). Although even the Cube had upgradable GPU, which this new "Mac Pro" does not. Fairly disappointed based on what it is intended to replace. (I was looking to replace my 2007 Mac Pro which has had 4 ram upgrades, 9 hard drive upgrades, 3 video card upgrades and 2 add-on PCIe cards - now I'm not sure, for me the Xeons aren't critical)

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    With respect, I think you may be the pro-sumer here. While there will be some bitching from pros about the lack of internal expandability (though these are the exact same people who were screaming for a mini-tower), you get all the expandability you want externally, and you know the peripheral designers are on overtime making new models look compatible. The only complaint I have at present is whether I can ever get in there to change out RAM, and the cost of TB accessories presently (though that will come down soon I suspect).

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Apple's new strategy:

    Final Cut Pro becomes iMovie Pro
    Mac Pro becomes Mac Mini Pro

    I think Apple is pretty consistent lately.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Agreed. And FWIW, "iMovie Pro" has still (after a shaky start) become the top-used video editor, at least among the LA firms I work with. Here's to the "Mac Mini Pro" giving designers and other creative pros a well-earned new machine. Can't wait to see the accessory companies rise to the challenge.

  1. svencito

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-12-99

    This is the time to upgrade from my 2006 MacPro, despite the nagging from the previous comments. Can't innovate - my ass!

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    ...for what it is worth & from what I can tell I love it... 3 @ 4k displays ? yessa !

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: 07-16-04

    Are you guys complaining really professionals or just prosumers trying to make yourself better about your past purchases?

    Thunderbolt 2 is faster than the PCI-e slots on your old machine. Get over it already. It will support about to 60GB of ram and the video cards will support up to 6GB of video ram and drive 3 4K resolution displays. What more do you want?

    It's not like people went around upgrading their SGI workstations. If you need more Storage, get a storage array and hook it up via Thunderbolt 1 or 2.

  1. Medazinol

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-03-99

    Ever try lugging around a 50lb Mac Pro? No thanks, this new one is perfect! Thanks to Thunderbolt the days of needing expansion card slots (which most don't use anyhow) and internal drive bays are gone. Let's just hope Apple keeps the pricing a bit more reasonable than the Mac Pro was (not holding my breath though).

  1. mwprewitt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-10-13

    In the next to the last paragraph you state: "The company has now completely revamped its Mac Pro pages on its website to showcase the device in greater detail, revealing that it can handle up to 60GB of 1866MHz DDR3 four-channel RAM, twice the bandwidth and capacity of the existing model."

    Actually they have only stated that the memory bandwidth is 60 GB/s, and shown that there are 4 slots. No capacity has actually been announced.

    Read more:

  1. jreades

    Junior Member

    Joined: 02-02-99

    Looks to me like they're making a wager that most pros are already using massive external storage (Drobos, etc.) and would be more keen on something that doesn't require its own cart. There are shades of the Cube here, but I think that the peripheral market has changed a lot (Thunderbolt, cheap RAID, etc.) since then and their gamble might pay off a bit better this time.

  1. Grendelmon

    Senior User

    Joined: 12-26-07

    FirePro "workstation-class" cards?

  1. Athens

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 01-15-03

    There is a lot I dont like about the machine and a lot has been said exactly as to why. I put most of my feelings about it in my blog which is to blog to copy and paste here.

    But in essence the only selling feature of the pro was its expansion ability. If you have to turn to external hard drives and external PCIe boxes for everything then I see no reason to get this over a iMac and Mac Mini.

  1. Elderloc

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 02-18-00

    Perhaps Apple has not revealed everything around this. With TB2 I'm not sure what the bandwidth is for the external PCIe break out boxes but I had a feeling it would be a modular computer. As for the video cards it kind of sucks but there might be an area for either Apple or Third party cards as it looks like they use a socket.

    Considering they didn't announce the maximum RAM for this unit and the fact you can get 32 GIG DIMMs I wouldn't worry. At this time I believe OSX is still limited to 96 gig. Sure when you compare this to a HP Z820 that can handle 512 GIG of ram it's a little disappointing. And considering the iMac has two internal storage options it would have been nice to have at least two SSD slots, considering costs. Perhaps they feel people will rely on external arrays.

    And then there is the CPU issue, are these soldered in? If that is the case then yes this really sucks. But keep in mind Haswell will be the last CPU that has a socket at least that's what I have read. Also I believe there is at least one Haswell chip that is only available soldered on.

    There are some things I do not 100% agree with, I always like the tower design. A simple upgrade to the internals would have made me happy but the times they are ah changing....

  1. OS2Guy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-26-06

    OMG! I have waited so long. I've pushed my 2008 3.2GHz Mac Pro to the limits - 24TB of internal/external HD, 32G RAM, two 30" Cinema Displays. Can't Wait!

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    mwprewitt: the article has now been corrected to say it can handle 64GB RAM, though there is no word from Apple on what it will sell in terms of configurations yet. The max single stick of 1866 DDR3 is 16GB I believe, ergo four slots x 16GB.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 04-05-11

    Well I rest my case.

    Apple has finally confirmed it abandoned the professionals.
    This very beautiful miniature black monolith (Cube/Lisa.?...) will serve very well as a proper tombstone.

    Many thanks to Mr. Brian Boisvert, for putting many of my ideas into words, plus quite a few details new to non-Mac users.

    I take the liberty to reproduce the last couple paragraphs of his blog, (one to keep visiting for sure):

    "The new Mac Pro will only sell to very rich Apple enthusiasts that have to have the greatest and latest of products. It won't sell to gamers, not that many bought Mac pros for gaming, it won't sell to professionals and it wont sell to companies.

    The real question is what effect this will have on the pro line software from Apple like Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Logic Pro. If a music studio that uses PCIe hardware to interface with music hardware cant upgrade to the new Mac Pros and end up going PC, will they stop using Apple software that only works on Mac as well? Time will tell. "

  1. jwdsail

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-05-00

    I'm cautiously optimistic...

    I'm hoping that:

    1. The entry level New Mac Pro is affordable for Pro-sumers (4-core version? 6?), otherwise this will be a machine that doesn't appeal to many pro users that want a certain amount of upgradeability, nor pro-sumers that want more power than the iMac but lack $3000+. If the new Mac Pro craters... will Apple finally have the excuse to kill it all together?

    2. That what appear to be distinct daughter cards for each circuit board are designed in such a way that 3rd parties may be able to sell upgrades in the future. If nothing else, if different GPU options are available in the Apple Store BTO/CTO options, I'm sure a few of them will find there way into 3rd party suppliers for use as upgrades to lower-spec machines.

    3. That if #2 isn't possible that Apple caters to pros wishing some type of future-proof-ability and offers in-store GPU upgrades of these daughter cards in the future, perhaps if a Applecare+Pro is purchased at time of Mac Pro purchase?

    4. That what appears to be automotive black chrome on the sneak peek Mac Pro becomes an option for other Apple products. The decorative finnish doesn't really seem at home on the Pro, and may not be part of the finished product, but it's interesting to see Apple trying something different with the metal finishing for its products.

  1. billmboy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-09-07

    You apparently have no knowledge of what is needed by real professional video editors why they need supper speed in a remote situation. You can plug this thing in at the studio or take it on the road with 20 pounds of gear in one case with a small generator. I can't wait. No more "laptops" this and a couple Red cameras and I'm off, just what I need. A need for speed. All my PCI card's work in Sonnet's Echo's expansion chassis. Time is money in this business. I can leave my client with a finished product, what more could I ask.

    "The real question is what effect this will have on the pro line software from Apple like Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Logic Pro. If a music studio that uses PCIe hardware to interface with music hardware cant upgrade to the new Mac Pros and end up going PC, will they stop using Apple software that only works on Mac as well? Time will tell. "

  1. Zanziboy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-27-08

    Billmboy raises a good issue that I overlooked. The portability of this solution allows a pro's to be mobile. This is a game changer.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-21-99

    @Athens and Arne: Lack of PCI expansion is moot; TB2 implements the PCI protocol, and has more bandwidth than PCIe x16. You can get an external enclosure if you need PCI slots.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-21-99

    Actually, TB2 doesn't have more bandwidth than PCIe 3.0 x16, which is what motherboards ship with nowadays; the latter supports up to 16 GB/sec, while TB 2 is at 20 Gb/s, or 2.5GB/s per channel.

  1. panjandrum

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 12-01-04

    WOW! What a wonderful looking yet completely useless piece of hardware. It's the new Cube! Apple clearly and completely does not understand the professional market. It's sad. I'm not sure now what we will do to replace our old (and wrongfully abandoned - it will run Mountain Lion Server, search for it, Apple just wants to sell new units and the hell with doing what's right for their customers) 2006 XServe. Was hoping that a new MacPro could at least be installed sideways in our server rack. What we need is something that fits industry-standard racks, and has INTERNAL expansion capabilities for BIG CHEAP storage. Overall speed of the drives is simply not an issue in many server configurations because the data is being fed across a network anyway. We have 191 users across a gigabit network and am running just two 7200rpm drives in striped mode (with plenty of redundant backups), and not a single person has every complained that they are reading and writing data too slowly - we never come close to maxing out the drive potential. What we do need is the ability to plug in cheap SATA drives without buying expensive external enclosures and have power-cords and data-cords snaked all the heck over the place. I expect this new Mac Mini Pro to be a flop, and that we will see late-model real MacPro towers hold their resale value incredibly well. If they think they will be getting Kudos from the design firms, I bet they are wrong there also. Easy cheap big storage is simply too darn important to these markets. Or maybe Apple simply doesn't mind driving people into the "Hackintosh" market, or worse yet to competing operating systems. Apple really needs to hire someone who understands the Professional market. I guess time will tell, but I'm really not impressed with anything about this system at this point.

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