updated 03:30 pm EDT, Fri June 14, 2013
Computer locked in steel cabinet during hardware testing
Software developer The Foundry had test access to the new Mac Pro well prior to the computer's reveal at WWDC, the company tells AppleInsider. An eight-week-old Mac port of The Foundry's MARI 3D rendering tool was demonstrated at WWDC earlier this week. The developer says, though, that Apple earlier allowed it to work with the new Mac Pro in Apple's Cupertino headquarters, in a room known as the "Evil Lab."
While there, the Mac Pro was hidden in a large steel cabinet, meant to keep its cylindrical appearance a secret. "We were essentially doing a blind tasting of the machine," says MARI product manager Jack Greasley. "All we could see was the monitor, and the Mac Pro was encased in a giant metal filing cabinet on wheels. Experiencing the machine in this way was actually really cool, because I can tell you that the speed and power of this machine really stands up. MARI running on this machine out of the box is the fastest I have ever seen it run."
Greasley and Pixar texturing/shading artist Jonathan Hoffman reportedly spent several weeks at the Evil Lab. The early access came after Greasley visited Apple two months ago, looking into bringing MARI to the Mac. A talk with Apple's Developer Relations team resulted in Greasley making a pitch to feature MARI at WWDC. Apple's worldwide product marketing head, Phil Schiller, then agreed to devote an hour-long session to the software, and also mentioned The Foundry and Pixar -- whose movie Monsters University was used as a MARI showcase -- during the WWDC keynote.
While The Foundry began porting MARI to the Mac, it fed weekly updates to Apple on progress. It took a week to get a functioning port running. Regarding the Pro, Greasley says he was impressed by the PCIe SSDs, dual graphics processors, and six Thunderbolt 2 ports.