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Some notes regarding the new Mac Pro
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-04-06 00:02:51

As we learned this week, the 2013 trash can Mac Pro is going to... Well... The trash can. Apple has promised a new "modular" Mac Pro for sometime after 2017.

In the light of this news, I thought it would be interesting to look back a model, to the "cheese grater" Mac Pros Apple sold from 2006 until 2013.

The cheesegrater is a truly iconic Mac. I love it.

On a related note, here's some interesting tidbits and nuggets I've picked up regarding the new Mac Pro from people and sources who know their stuff. The Mac Pro was in limbo inside Apple. The decision to go ahead and develop a modular Mac Pro replacement seems to have been made only in recent months, with development starting only a few weeks ago, which makes it clear why Apple said it won't ship this year. I have no idea how long it takes to develop a new computer like a Mac Pro, but I think we can expect the new Mac Pro late 2018 at the earliest, but most likely it won't be until early 2019 before it ships.

What made Apple do a 180? Well, after the announcement of the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, orders for refurbished "old" MacBook Pros supposedly went through the roof, and after the initial batch of reviews came out, they shot up even higher. This response to the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar took Apple completely by surprise. Combined with the problems surrounding the LG UltraFine 5K display and the constant negativity from professional Apple users, the company decided to double down on professional users.

As Apple announced, we'll be getting a new Mac Pro and an iMac Pro as a result. In addition, Apple is said to be exploring additional Retina MacBook Pro models without the Touch Bar, and other pro-oriented features, such as hooking an iPad Pro up to a Mac to use it as a Cintiq-like device.

All in all, there is definitely excitement in the air regarding professional Mac use, and to be honest - that's been a while. Personally, I'm still very cautious, because in the end, all we got yesterday was a more official version of Tim Cook's endless "we've got great stuff in the pipeline, trust us!" meme that's been going on for a few years now.

Until we get it - and that may still be 2 years away - the new Mac Pro is vapourware.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-38
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Old MBP?
By sklofur on 2017-04-06 01:18:51
By "old" MacBook Pros, are you referring to the last ones to have optical drives? Or the model immediately preceding the touch bar?
Permalink - Score: 1
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Innovative
By cjcox on 2017-04-06 04:55:18
The next generation in portable computing. Let us introduce J.

With J you will get the ultimate in mobilized assistance. Unlike competitors which are bogged down with heavy, power hungry needless accessories. We've taken out the waste to deliver the ultimate experience. And no, we are not reintroducing Mag Lock, but rather a newer, even better connector. Introducing J-Plug. J-plug will work with all of your J devices including the upcoming jPhone and jAblet. One letter, one vision: J.

The days of an outdated high resolution computer screen are over. J doesn't need one. GPU, gone. By removing this non-green technology, J becomes the first friendly environmental computer. It's thin design means our heavy duty aluminum encasement can easily stack anywhere, including a landfill. But you won't be throwing the J away, it's got our exclusive 2 year technology guarantee. If at anytime the J doesn't perform as we designed it, send it back to us, and we'll make it right so that you can keep on using J for 2 years or even more.

Next, we removed the keyboard. What!?? Yes, the keyboard. This is a piece of antiquity that came from the typewriter era simply because nobody wanted to innovate.

No screen. No keyboard. Extra thin. Superior warranty.

Time to "think different"? We've now set the bar so high, that we can't even use the word "think".

J

Different

Edited 2017-04-06 04:56 UTC
Permalink - Score: 10
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I wouldn't say 180
By agami on 2017-04-06 05:03:07
There's no reason to think that Apple will do a 180 degree turn on the direction of a Mac Pro. Modular can mean many things other than PCIe slots. So maybe more of a 90 degree where they have some new type of system whereby 1 or more GPUs or Storage Bays are added via a hard-dock (sans cables) Thunderbolt 3 connection. The core module has consumer friendly RAM, NVMe, and Xeon E5 v4 upgrades. Basically an Apple-ified Razer Project Christine.
Permalink - Score: 1
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Sometimes less is more
By weckart on 2017-04-06 07:22:03
" In addition, Apple is said to be exploring additional Retina MacBook Pro models without the Touch Bar"

Models without the TB have replaceable hard drives unlike their more expensive brethren where everything is soldered in. It is a small concession to upgradability but one that is appreciated, especially where logic boards fail. At least you are not entrusting your data to a repairer should that happen.
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Pro ?
By agentj on 2017-04-06 09:47:36
What's "pro" about the trashcan mac ? They still try to sell this worthless piece of crap for 4600 euro with 8 core CPU, mediocre GPU and pathetic RAM and SSD capacity.
Permalink - Score: 4
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the future "modular"
By osvil on 2017-04-06 11:32:02
I do think that the idea behind the trashcan was not that bad, but the technology is not there yet and maybe the actual form factor wasn't that good either.

But going for external expandability is the way to go in my opinion. As external connections improve (and Apple has been an early adopter in many high performance external connectors) is going to be the way to go. Modular without the need to "open" a main module to fit the others in.

But then, you need a very capable external connector. This *must* include a way to have GPUs external without compromising any performance. Each module would be able to approach in its own way power consumption (and heat).

Just imagine stacking something like a mac mini that provides basic processor + memory and boot drive with your choice of GPU and maybe a set of disks/external storage. all that without having to open a box. It would also be great for servicing. A failure on the GPU will allow you to take it off and take it to servicing. Same with the CPU main/module. You could even use the functional parts of the computer if you fancy.

There is quite a bit of difference between this and just the usual "modular PC" like the cheese grater mac pro was. No need to open, no screws and connectors that are thought for users, no system assemblers. Very easy to add/remove hardware, and a very incremental path to upgrade.

But then, we're not quite there IMO as those external interfaces are still evolving. But we may be there soon.
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: Pro ?
By avgalen on 2017-04-06 11:35:18
Xeon CPU, ECC RAM, Dual FirePro GPU's, many Thunderbolt connectors, dual gigabit ethernet....It absolutely had Pro components in it.

The problem was that these Pro components never got updated, the price never got dropped, and many other things about this machine (internal expandability, thermals) were absolutely NOT Pro.

The trashcan was the absolute "form over function" device and was not made for their customers but for their developers to show off ("Can't innovate my behind")

The moment the 5K iMac came out the trashcan got even more ridiculous.

The MacBook Pro is another "form over function" device that isn't what their customers want or need.

I am happy to hear that Apple is (planning to) make Pro products again and that they are admitting that they consumerised the Pro products and lost sight of those customers. Lets see what they come up with in the future, but lets also buy non-Apple Pro Products for now to satisfy Pro needs and to give Apple something to copy ;)
Permalink - Score: 6
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RE: the future "modular"
By avgalen on 2017-04-06 11:42:45
External expandability is great, and has been available on all pro-devices for a long time. The problem with the Mac Pro is that it ONLY had external expandability and no internal.
What I don't understand is that Apple now "updated" the Mac Pro with faster CPU/GPU but they haven't upgraded the Thunderbolt2 to Thunderbolt3. Basically they haven't made any updates at all, they just sell the old "high-end" model for the old "low-end" price

> Just imagine stacking something like a mac mini that provides basic processor + memory and boot drive with your choice of GPU and maybe a set of disks/external storage
You don't have to imagine that, this already exists and you can buy it today....just not from Apple (hint, razor core)
You also don't have to imagine it only for high-end-pro machines. "turn your phone into the compute engine of a lapdock/deskdock" devices are starting to become available as well

Edited 2017-04-06 11:45 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE: the future "modular"
By Sidux on 2017-04-06 11:50:42
Modular design can also mean moving the iPhone as the main processing device for casual applications and the "Pro" dock just for enhancing its abilities once the iPhone is being docked.
What form or shape it will come in remains to be seen.

Edited 2017-04-06 11:51 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE: Old MBP?
By chrish on 2017-04-06 12:12:56
At my office, the ones preceding the TouchBar(TM). We got one of the new ones in and started ordering Dell hardware instead.

Specific things we don't like:

* price, but configuring a 15" Dell with similar specs gives a similar price (OTOH, the Dell can take 32GB of RAM and has room for an SATA drive)
* the keyboard is like typing on a sheet of paper
* the TouchBar(TM) is counter-productive for developers
* the TouchID is also the power button, but it's not labeled (having TouchID is an awesome security feature though)
Permalink - Score: 3

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