Lately, it’s seemed like Apple was beginning to become a little disinterested in the workstation market, with its lack of substantial updates to its Mac Pro line and of course the major shift of target audience with its Final Cut software. Well, with today’s announcement of a drastically redesigned and updated Mac Pro model, we can now see that Apple hasn’t become disinterested at all – far from it.
Just look at this:
Alright, so it looks like a wastebin. But its design has been carefully thought out. Inside, dual GPUs are default, and CPU options can range up to a 12-core Intel Xeon (unannounced thus far by Intel) capable of churning through 256-bit floating-point operations. Not surprisingly, Thunderbolt 2.0 is also standard, as is 4K video. This computer in all regards is a beast, through and through.
Memory used in the new Mac Pro will come in DDR3-1866 ECC flavors only. It seems likely that options would go up to 64GB, but 16GB modules are not available for consumer consumption yet, and only four individual modules are shown. We’ll see how that plays out.
For GPUs, Apple has tapped AMD, with its FirePro cards with “up to 6GB of dedicated VRAM”. As mentioned before, each Mac Pro will include two FirePros by default – an interesting decision, to say the least. With them, you’ll be able to drive three 4K displays without issue.
The most interesting aspect of the new Mac Pro might be its design (well, to me, it’s the unannounced Intel Ivy Bridge-E CPU, but I digress). With its cylindrical shape, it’s hardly an ordinary-looking rig.
To help boast such powerful hardware in a small space (it measures 9.9″ high and 6.6″ wide), Apple has introduced what it calls its “Thermal Core”. Its design replaces traditional heatsinks – instead, we’re dealing with one large piece of extruded aluminum that makes contact with both GPUs and the CPU at the same time. Heat gets drawn in from all three components and is evenly distributed across the core. This, to me, is an ingenious design… I’m impressed.
Still, such a design doesn’t negate the need for a fan, so for those duties, Apple implements a single large fan (appears to be about 140mm-ish in size) at the bottom of the Mac Pro which sucks air in and blows it upwards (a common sense design). Because of its large size, the Mac Pro should be extremely quiet – especially given the fact we’re dealing with just one fan.
At the back, the Mac Pro sports a staggering six Thunderbolt ports (seems a bit overkill given there are only 4 USB 3.0 ports), dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, an HDMI and audio ports. For those who keep their PCs under their desks, each one of these ports is lit up to help you out.
While the announcement for this new Mac Pro is being made today, its availability won’t be made until “later this year”. This is to be expected given the Ivy Bridge-E Xeon CPU found inside hasn’t even been announced yet, but is expected to be also later this year. Of course, pricing will come at that time as well. If the stock pricing comes anywhere near the current $2,499 Mac Pro pricing, I’d be very surprised.