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Depending when you read this, and also when you start counting back, it's been around 17 billion industry years (two human years) since Apple updated the Mac Pro. Give or take. In comparison, the iMac has been a revolving door lately of updates, and in comparison to the Mac Pro, the iPhone is like one of those revolving doors Superman changes costume in when phone booths died. You look at the profile of the Mac Pro longingly, and you have to wonder whether it's been forgotten.
Of course, we thought that back in the beginning of 2013 when this new, cylindrical, tiny Mac Pro was announced. People had given up on ever seeing an update for the aluminum slab-side Mac Pro, they'd given up on Apple, and they felt that Apple had given up on its creative professional users, who were the company's core audience for many years previously.
We keep saying "they" there but there's a fair bit of "we," too. If you'd asked us back then, we might have argued that there's a case that the previous Mac Pro was only pushed out the door in June 2012, but come on, that was like a new paint job. The last serious Mac Pro update before then was 2010.
So being generous about it, we've had two Mac Pro revisions in five years -- and we could be excused for calling it almost six. Before then, it was a roughly annual update, even if not every release was hugely significant. Compare that to the iMac, which has few chassis updates since the 2012 coming of the razor-slim-with-hidden-bulge version, but has been transformed with increasingly better specs and especially displays pretty routinely. The Mac Pro, at least, got a "radical redesign" of its hardware form factor in its at-last 2013 revision.
It is the screen that stands out on an iMac, in every sense, and the Mac Pro even doesn't ship with one -- nor is it designed to. Yet, if you want visual appeal, think back to the reveal of the cylindrical Mac Pro. It's startling that it was almost three years ago now, but you clearly remember Phil Schiller's nod to then-current criticisms by saying "can't innovate anymore, my ass." You probably clearly remember the Apple video with those gorgeous lines, that sleek reflective black. You definitely remember the hey-what-now moment as the new Mac Pro was revealed to be about the size of a Super Big Gulp.
That was it, we were away: Apple was knocking socks off left and right, it was bringing power to its power users, it was leaving all other computer manufacturers looking like they were owned by Fisher Price. It was the dawn of a new age for professional Mac users.
You could claim that it still is. Certainly, you can't easily invoke memories of a PC that's as startling as the 2013 Mac Pro. Perhaps, if you're in the market for this kind of power, then you can think of computers that now exceed its specification -- some only just now. That's where there is a divisor: there's a difference between the Mac Pro as a marker for Apple's intentions, versus the Mac Pro as a tool for you to buy.
As a tool, it's tricky to recommend the Mac Pro now, as it's been so long since an update that you feel Apple will release a new one the second your credit card clears. It probably won't: we've had an awful lot of updates from Apple this year, and while it did slip out the new iMacs with comparatively little fanfare, it feels unlikely that they'd do an "oh yeah, also there's a new Mac Pro" press release now.
As a test of Apple's intentions for the future, it's harder to read. It's easy to ascribe human reactions, even knee-jerk reactions to events when nothing any computer manufacturer does can be all that quick, but you did feel that the 2013 release was Apple saying "See?" to its critics. If that were the case and if it's possible for them to do it again then we are now back at the stage where critics are saying Apple's abandoned the Mac Pro.
Only, the idea that Apple is abandoning the power user doesn't fit with its record on the opposite of the power users, mobile and Mac mini buyers. The Mac mini was last updated in October 2014, but the one before was 2012. Other than grousing about the low end model, it doesn't compare to the mostly positive attention the iMac has been given. Still a better track record than the Mac Pro, though.
One scenario is that there is just so much stuff coming out of Apple that certain things are falling by the wayside. It's more likely that the iMac has got this attention both because it's a popular model and because there were things that could be added to it. The Retina screen could be added so it was added. It's hard to see what will change next with the iMac beyond speed bumps and storage capacities so maybe that's it for now.
Maybe the Mac mini and the Mac Pro will roar back into life in 2015. Maybe not. The Mac mini does what it does, and does it pretty well. Even the low-end mini can handle 4K playback. Even though it uses laptop-class processors, there's no compelling reason for it to shift to newer Intel chips -- at least not right now.
The Mac Pro is probably not quite dead, but it is on serious life support, awaiting the order to pull the plug. This is a shame. A year ago, the lack of upgrade was presumably the lack of a better chip to put in it -- but that wait is over, and has been so for some time. The promise of Intel chips over PowerPC from IBM and Motorola in 2006 was more frequent upgrades with less work for Apple, and so far, this doesn't seem to be the case with the cylindrical Mac Pro, or for that matter, any Mac other than the 5K Retina iMac, which has seen three updates this year. Why not? The Retina iMac may fill the spot that Apple wants to fill -- after all, for most users, its nearly as fast. Third-party solutions for Beowulf clusters are dropping like flies for OS X, with only a few remaining after Apple mercilessly slaughtered Xgrid.
Only Cupertino knows the true fate of the Mac Pro, but it may be a victim to the increasing mobile-ification of Apple.
-William Gallagher (@WGallagher) with contributions from Mike Wuerthele
Last edited by NewsPoster; Oct 14, 2015 at 04:10 PM.
When I bought my late 2012 Mac Mini, it was really just to hold me over until the Mac Pro had a decent update. I work in print (ID, PS, Illy, Acrobat) all day, every day and this thing is an amazing little workhorse. It absolutely SMOKES my old Mac Pro. It starts up in seconds, supports dual monitors without issue, easily runs every Adobe version I need back as far as CS3, and I can't remember the last time I saw a progress bar that wasn't due to network slowness.
To my knowledge, the Mac Pro uses commercially available processors, memory and storage. The only thing to possibly justify the "can't innovate anymore, my ass" statement is the cylindrical form factor. But what professional who uses computers as tools for their job or business really cares about how the thing looks or wouldn't prefer a slim aluminum box that opened easily for convenient exchange/upgrade of components?
I'd say it's more the consumer-ification of Apple than anything. They are just tossing a bone to the pro users now and then, in their spare time. Or, priorities and spreadsheets.
The other issue - for as cool as the new Mac Pro was - is that it wasn't really what most of the pro market wanted (or needed in some cases). Pro users stuff the computer under their desks and don't care a lot about how it looks. Aside from quietness, there is little advantage to the new Mac Pro for the pro over the old one. And, there are some serious downsides, like lack of expansion/upgrade capability.
I'm possibly a potential market, as I don't need those things... so, if it were in the budget, I'd buy one over an iMac... but many pros do need more. (especially GPU swaps or multiple GPUs)
That said, considering the latest OS X, I'm not sure Apple is catering to the pro crowd much at all any more. You don't just break a bunch of core functionality and go, 'oh well,' if you do. I know you guys joke about the rose-colored-glasses about Snow Leopard and such, but I was having this conversation with a friend the other day.
He said that, yes, there were screw-ups in the past (MobileMe as a good case in point), but pre Snow Leopard, there were many true Unix gurus working on crucial core aspects of OS X who are now mostly gone (Avie Tevanian, Bertrand Serlet, etc.). The front-end & GUI guys are now in control, it seems, but they aren't the old-school GUI guys, and are just making radical changes, some good, some bad. Meanwhile, the 'guts' of OS X are languishing. (especially the 'core' stuff.. Core Audio, Core Images, what happened to XFS? etc.)
Yes, they got rid of skeuomorphic, but many of the apps just got rewritten with near 1.0 replacements with new 'flat' designs which sometimes have even worse UIs. And worse, it's like the company got so big suddenly, that the teams making these apps don't even talk to one another, nor do much of any testing. They are missing crucial features and don't match between OS X and iOS well or other apps. (Yes, some of that in the past... as Apple 'moved on' and dropped features... but I don't recall it being quite to this level.)
This was OK when OS X was light-years ahead of Windows. But, believe it or not, Windows has been making some big advances over the last several years. OS X has been stagnant or backwards. Hopefully there are some folks in the basement, cranking away on this stuff, but it doesn't seem like it anymore.
And, as he said, a big problem is that as long as sales are going well, Eddie and Craig probably won't get the swift kick they need to fix stuff. They are too focused on the front-end (and IMO, doing a poor job of it).
The mini may be great to some but us power users have been really left in limbo. I do 3D renderings where every ounce of processing power counts. I was ecstatic when they released the new MacPro two years ago only to learn that it wasn't much faster in processing then my 2010 12core but yet double the price. So I was forced to pass
I've been waiting and waiting and waiting ever since. As a die hard mac evangelist since 1984, my companies have always been all Macs. But now, I am on the verge of dumping all Apple products. The reasoning to go all mac is the money saved on easily integrating everything on the same platform. The heart of everything are the MacPro's, if they go, everything else will also be slowly transitioned too (laptops, desktops, iPhones, iPads). Waiting five years to get some machines with greater processing power has really hurt and stalled our companies progress. I'll wait until the end of the year but after that, I am reluntantly forced to move on. Hey, its been an awesome 31 year run of fanboy loyalty but Apple is not going to take care of me if my business fails. With all the people they have, I just can't understand why they can't assign a couple of engineers to update the basics in it every year. Just ridiculous Tim.
mac_in_tosh: not sure if you've had a chance to work with a current Mac Pro, but it is very, VERY easily openable, and apart from the custom graphics cards every component is upgradeable. The design looks cool, yes, but it is not about looks as much as it is about super-efficient heat dispersal and taking advantage of the vastly smaller space requirements of modern components.
Apple's view is that big honking boxes are not needed since TB2 is as fast as any internal bus, and provides even greater/easier expansion. I tend to agree with this view, having spent many hours inside Mac Pros and Power Macs in the past trying to squeeze in components.
I was an idiot- bought it with a 256GB PCI drive. Regretted it ever since.
Total pain to offload stuff onto my drobo.
Total pain to deal with app bloat.
They call that a "Pro"-
I call it an unupgradeable waste of my money- with grossly overpriced storage and memory- but, oh, wait- that's the Apple way.
I do not want to go PC for my video/graphics/photo business, I am working on a 2009 Mac Pro upgraded with the firmware hack/CPU swapout to run as a 5,1. I will need to migrate to a Mac Pro trashcan sometime in the near future. If there's no update coming in the next year or two, the writing is on the wall and I will - sadly, very sadly - have to migrate to a freaking PC. Ugh ugh UGH.
The Next Wave: there are PCI storage drives you can swap out to increase the internal capacity for the Mac Pro. Give OWC a call, for starters.
I'm really not sure what you're talking about with "app bloat" -- no apps I'm aware of are substantively larger today than they were in 2013, and in fact now that App Slimming is working, most are about to get substantially *smaller.*
Denem... This would be true if they upgraded the MacPro in 2014. Here we are 2 years later at the same pricing for something that is completely outdated. Of course they won't sell but Apple will take it as there is no market rather then placing blame on themselves. They should be refreshing these things yearly so that they have a few month buffer to wait for things like Thunderbolt 3. Especially after they botched up the last release. They put themselves behind the eight ball where us users that need processing power were still left out not buying because our old systems are faster due to having a second processor. To not improve on this a year later when E5v3 became available adds insult to injury. So here we are waiting to give Apple our money 5 years later.
The pro market is still here and very active. Its just Apple not giving us what we need. I can appreciate the new design but these are work machines, so looks take a back seat to needs. I would take an ugly bulky 2 processor system that can beat my 2010 mac over the current design every time. That is why I may be forced to switch to ugly windows machines (Ughhhh noooooooo). I just wish they would come clean if they are interested in the Pro market or not. If they are, they are doing a very poor job at it. If not, instead of stringing us along, tell us so we can move on. Its costing us money...
ThunderBolt 3? Native 5K support? No, the chipsets have not been released yet for features that prospective buyers would be looking for in a new Mac Pro.
So, what will Apple wait for after wide penetration of TB3 and 5K to hold up an update then? TB4 and 10K? For Apple, as with consumers, there will always be something faster and better. TB2 and 4K six months ago is fine. Six months from now TB3 and 5K will be "native."
The point is, the upgrade has been a long time in coming, and yet, its still not here. Way, way overdue.
I have the new Mac Pro (paid by company) and happy with it. I can easily carry it in a bag and move it between work and home with minimum effort. The old Mac Pro was just too heavy to bring home. I have a slow Mac Mini (my own purchase) at home but the new lightweight MacPro really makes life easier in bringing it home. I am not a laptop person because it's expensive and underpowered. I do lots of 3D rendering, video compositing and prints.
I am in no way inferring that the Mac Pro update isn't overdue, but I have to wonder -- if the machine had been upgraded in 2014, wouldn't it be much the same model with a slightly-faster processor and slightly-better graphics -- and wouldn't the guys who are wanting 5K native and TB 3 and such still be here saying that?
The Mac Pro, at its best, was probably selling less than the iPad nano is now. This is not to say there's not a Pro market that wouldn't appreciate yearly updates, but a very low percentage of that low percentage of possible Mac buyers would actually buy, particularly if the updates were not compelling. So we have a kind of catch-22 there. I feel reasonably confident that Apple has a plan to release an updated one, but of course they won't say, and might be waiting on a new (something) that's been delayed or about to come down the pike.
Either way, the bottom line is that Mac Pros are niche products now, not Apple's top priority, but even the team that works on them can't justify firing up the production lines every time we get a processor that's 100GHz faster. It's in the iPod class in terms of sales, and thus updates are going to be fewer and farther between, but hopefully will pack a punch when they finally arrive -- far later than we'd all like.
You mention yourself that the 2013 version was not any faster than your 2010 12-core (though I'm not sure if that's empirically true, but I wouldn't be surprised .... Intel hasn't had meaningful "increase" in CPU speed for nearly a decade) .... yet you forget that Apple is ENTIRELY dependant on Intel's schedule for the Mac Pro. The biggest motivator for a new Mac Pro would be a NEW INTEL CHIP, which is substantially FASTER than what's in the 2013 version. Well guess what? Intel's new Xeon chips are NOT faster, but they run cooler !!! That's not a selling point for a $10,000 computer, which doesn't have a cooling problem anyway. Therefore, all of the criticism on this forum should be directed at Intel .... Apple has already done a new enclosure, and they have a great new architecture with external expandability (much more flexible), with very advanced interconnect technology (USB 3, Thunderbolt 2, Gigabit, etc). Once Intel releases a "meaningful" upgrade to the Xeon, then we'll see a new Mac Pro.
Here's what it comes down to: Apple, internally, is not going to have developers building Apple's core apps, OSX, and iOS themselves on Windows or Linux hardware. XCode doesn't run on either of those, it would be fundamentally pretty weird, and it's not Apple's style, either.
So Apple will make SOMETHING, whatever it is, that's sufficient for its own internal developer use, and almost by definition they're going to at least provide something sufficient for the literally tens of thousands of iOS (and Mac) developers to work on.
Whether that device is an i7 iMac or a Mac Pro, or both, will probably depend on just how far Apple can push the iMac over the next 5 years. But Apple's by definition going to provide something pro grade, because *they* need it.
What kind of update do you think the Pro Mac needs? It's already using high-powered processors, and up to, like, 12 cores. There is dual GPU support, ECC memory... other than something like an Xserve rack, what more do you need in the Pro Mac?
The increased strength of other computers in general shrunk the Mac Pro market space.
In my personal case I stopped buying Mac Pros when the top Macbook Pro became a full-on desktop-replacement box in 2011: Geekbench score of 10k, SSD, 16 GB RAM via third party, and Thunderbolt for i/o. Even today that 2011 box drives an external display plus Aperture, Photoshop and batches of large image files just fine. Also Aperture's failure to play nicely with a 2-computer workflow drove me to the MBP.
The architecture of the 2011 MBP has become limiting, so I will upgrade once Skylake chips are in use across the board. My 17" 2011 MBP has been retrofitted to SSD + HDD and that is not possible with any modern Mac laptop . So perhaps back to a 2-computer workflow (MBP + MP or iMac) if Apple ever makes Photos enterprise-competent across the cloud (which it currently is _not_).
I'd love to see a Core i7, single GPU version of the MacPro at $2,000 or less.
for Apple to update it required new CPUs in the right class (Broadwell was majorly delayed), updated GPU in the right class (Firepro), and Thunderbolt 3 chipsets.
As of last month all 3 of the new chips or chipsets are out that show finally allow the MacPro to be updated.
(I thought thunderbolt 3 chipsets from Intel weren't shipping yet, but I found an article saying they started shipping - Alpine Ridge is the codename for the chipset) - no shipping products using them that I've seen - all the prototypes that were shown were expecting to be shipping in time for this upcoming holiday season)
Maybe we'll finally see an update to the MacPro the end of this year... can hope.
I bought a MacPro 8-core in 2014 to replace my 2009 MacPro 8-core. I have been happy with its performance. If there is a significant upgrade in the near future, I will give the old one to my son, who now has the 2009 model, and get a new one. I do some intensive PS and AI stuff as well as video processing, but not for professional purposes. When the last Mini came out I was underwhelmed, and I use the Mini for my home theater system. I didn't buy the last mini, but instead bought a stripped quad core MacPro with 20GB ram, and it works well with my 4k display at 30MHz for home theater. My 2014 MacPro runs 4K at 60MHz on an LG monitor.
IMO maintaining a strong, current MP and top MBP are important for Apple even if the market sizes are cost-ineffective small.
Apple's brand is all about being the "best," and to maintain that perception they _must_ maintain great product at the very top end of all product lines. Even the slightest degradation in brand perception costs Apple $billions.
There seems to be some mis-informations going on here.
First off the reason I say the current MacPro isn't much faster than a 2010 MacPro is because the old MacPro's had Two 6 core processors in it. To make the design smaller, Apple decided to remove one of the processors. Although Intel improved the v2 processor to have 12 cores, the net result after waiting 3 years was that both systems maxed out at 12 cores.
I say that solely from a processor stand point. If the software you use is heavily GPU based or benefits form increased memory bandwidth then the new MacPro was a decent update. For a significant portion of Pro users this is the case but for those of us that rely on processor, this machine was a bust. So in other words Apple has not released something compelling to the ENTIRETY of the Mac Pro market for over 5 years.
Apple had an opportunity to correct this last year by releasing the v3 processor which uses the same pin slot. So not much work on Apple's part. This chip has 18 cores instead of 12, which is roughly a 25% boost in processor. For those that say this is not a significant increase, I say this, If your day consists of rendering 8 hrs a day, and you can shave 2hrs off of that, would you not consider that significant,
At this point. Of course they should be waiting for the v4 chip which should be out shortly but the current MacPro should have a v3 in it right now. in its current state the MacPro is out dated and over priced because Apple doesn't adjust pricing for age. PC's are available with Intel's V3 chip , newer GPU's, memory architecture..etc yet Apple's pricing their 2 year old gear as if its still cutting edge. If Apple wants to keep a pro market, this lackadaisical 2 year update plan is not going to cut it. They have to keep up with competitors or they are done.
Tim might think that losing the pro market is not a big deal but its people like me that helped build Apple, I myself am responsible for thousands of sales of Apple Products and like I said, at the heart of it is the Pro line. The Fall of apple could happen even faster then the rise of Apple and when you think that your company is too good to cater to the people that made you, that is the beginning of the end . For the very little resources they require maintaining a Pro line, I don't understand why they are taking this risk.
Are you seriously going to tell me that mac pro is two years old? It might have been released in 2013 but did anyone actually get there hands on one till the middle of 2014? I think it would be nice to have a new release, yes, but come on.
Very well said! I think they are just all goo-goo over iPhone sales, and everything else takes a back-seat. They've become a consumer and spreadsheet driven company vs a pro and user experience driven one.
re: "Of course they won't sell but Apple will take it as there is no market rather then placing blame on themselves."
Yep, same story with other stuff like more phone-sized iPhones. Blinded by success.
As a fellow 30+ year Mac fan, I think it might be over folks. Yes, it's a long good run, but still sad to see.
TB2 isn't even close to being as fast as an internal bus. It's fast enough to make external *storage* seem like it's internal. It isn't any good for stuff like high-end GPUs.
re: "but a very low percentage of that low percentage of possible Mac buyers would actually buy, particularly if the updates were not compelling. So we have a kind of catch-22 there."
No, it's the realization that the pro market is Apple's roots and has a fairly good impact on their overall success. If the pro users go... and then the Mac users... they'll eventually leave the iPhone too. Yes, what Apple is doing is business 101, but business 101 is often quite stupid.
Current GPUs, most likely. That's the main driver for markets like 3D, CAD, etc. and for which card slots are important. Next, more CPU cores. Maybe (I hope) what is happening here is Apple waiting for the power consumption to drop low enough to get back to a dual CPU design in this new case.
@Steve: Very nicely put! I would have said something similar myself, but you've gone and done it better than I would have anyway. And I'm with you; I think those of us willing to be critical are actually the ones NOT wearing rose-colored-glasses. As for the current MacPro, I'm in the camp that sees it as joke. Sure, the "pro" market is a niche market, but it's an important market in many ways. For one thing, IT costs always increase as the number of supported platforms increase. If nothing else, Apple needs a true MacPro for server applications. When the new MacProMini was announced, my only three clients already using Mac-Pros freaked out and ran out to buy the best of the old models they could. Why? One is a graphics-designer with huge storage needs, one is a college TV-Station with huge storage needs, and one is a school (you got it; with huge storage needs). That's what they need; gobs and gobs of cheap storage. I took the optical drive out of one of them, and built a massive-capacity server utilizing all 6 internal bays for a fraction of what that storage would have cost added externally to the new model. Add to that the fact that the real MacPros were the single easiest case to get into and upgrade that I've ever seen. Talk about a brilliant design! Here is my complaint in a nutshell: I demand both form AND function. I won't pretend Apple has always done this correctly (I've never been able to tolerate any Apple-designed mouse for more than a few-hours), but I don't want form to continually trump function, as seems to be the case with the new MacPro. (For those of you with older MacPros that are being outperformed by Minis; you probably just need to upgrade your video-card. Recent versions of the MacOS really hammer the GPU and even some of the officially-supported video-chipsets really chug along, making the entire UI slow-to respond. But even the venerable MacPro 1,1 runs VERY quickly with an SSD and an upgraded video card. That's what my personal system is designed around, and it's still so fast today that I don't see any reason to replace it, or even install an 8-core upgrade.)
Apple has hosed the pro's. There is no excuse for no 4K or 5K monitor. If you can put it in an iMac, you can damn well put it in it's own case... unless of course the new Mac Pro has issues driving it? Is that it Apple? El Capitan has seriously hobbled the already asthmatic new Mac Pro. The graphics performance is worse than under the older OS it shipped with. Where's the fix Apple? Don't tell me you didn't know that before you released El Capitan. At this point my advice to anyone considering a new Mac Pro... don't do it! The new iMacs are out performing the current Mac Pro. There's a genius marketing concept: provide a disincentive to buy the high margin products and push people to buy the low margin products. I guess that's what happens when we have a supply logistics guy running the company? If Apple EVER does update the current Mac Pro, want to bet that there is no way to upgrade my existing $8K Mac Pro?
test post comparing reply counts between news page and forum page
edit: @mike, if you compare the front page story comments with the forum page, the forum thread shows all comments. But the front page only shows the first 22, with this post being the last one visible.
If I add a reply from the news side, it is visible momentarily on the news page comments. However, the next time the page is loaded, it goes back to showing the first 22 comments. So the new reply appears to have been censored, er deleted. And the user might get cranky.
Last edited by chimaera; Oct 17, 2015 at 03:56 AM.
Hopefully this is not the end of the mac pro line. Although the new tower is impressive, I do miss internal expand-ability and prefer the last iteration of towers from a practical perspective.
Intel's pro/server chips are a completely different class than iX consumer chips. They draw more power, they are more reliable, and it generally takes 3 years for software to catch up to the architecture's capability. As a result, computers with these types of processors have a longer usable life span.
Most places use cloud services and outsourced clusters for computationally intensive tasks. Mobile processors are more than enough power for consumer devices, even occasional rendering or other "pro" work. The high-end market wants rack mountable computers and free software, not fancy desk pieces and the market for pro computing in the home is not growing as fast. Apple needs to take this line back to the drawing board, not abandon it because they chased after a fantasy consumer for pro hardware.
I have been clinging on to my 2007 Mac Pro in hopes that a new less expensive Mac Pro was just around the corner. After using a Mac for the past 31 years the thought of buying a Windows PC makes me cringe. Don't make me do it Apple!