After skipping its usual March hardware refresh event, Apple made some unexpected headlines Tuesday morning to the surprise of many.
In addition to the first spec bump for the current model in more than three years, Apple confirmed that a “completely rethought” Mac Pro as well as Apple-branded pro displays are in the works for a release sometime beyond 2017.
Here is the entire quote (emphasis is ours) from Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller via Daring Fireball:
“With regards to the Mac Pro, we are in the process of what we call ‘completely rethinking the Mac Pro’. We’re working on it. We have a team working hard on it right now, and we want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.
As part of doing a new Mac Pro — it is, by definition, a modular system — we will be doing a pro display as well. Now you won’t see any of those products this year; we’re in the process of that. We think it’s really important to create something great for our pro customers who want a Mac Pro modular system, and that’ll take longer than this year to do.
In the interim, we know there are a number of customers who continue to buy our [current Mac Pros]. To be clear, our current Mac Pro has met the needs of some of our customers, and we know clearly not all of our customers. None of this is black and white, it’s a wide variety of customers. Some… it’s the kind of system they wanted; others, it was not.
In the meantime, we’re going to update the configs to make it faster and better for their dollar. This is not a new model, not a new design, we’re just going to update the configs. We’re doing that this week. We can give you the specifics on that.
The CPUs, we’re moving them down the line. The GPUs, down the line, to get more performance per dollar for customers who DO need to continue to buy them on the interim until we get to a newly architected system.”
Apple’s Unexpected News
This news could be considered surprising on many levels. Aside from breaking from its tradition of deafening silence when it comes to its future product roadmap, many Mac Pro users will be pleased (and perhaps shocked) to hear Apple acknowledge that their needs haven’t been met by the current cylindrical Mac Pro.
But perhaps most surprising of all, is Apple’s decision to revert its Mac Pro to a modular system, reversing its trend of creating consistently thinner systems with built-in and locked components. We’re particularly excited by this development and the possibilities it could bring back to the Mac Pro.
Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi elaborates, via TechCrunch:
“I think we designed ourselves into a bit of a thermal corner, if you will. We designed a system that we thought with the kind of GPUs that at the time we thought we needed, and that we thought we could well serve with a two GPU architecture… that that was the thermal limit we needed, or the thermal capacity we needed. But workloads didn’t materialize to fit that as broadly as we hoped.
Being able to put larger single GPUs required a different system architecture and more thermal capacity than that system was designed to accommodate. And so it became fairly difficult to adjust. At the same time, so many of our customers were moving to iMac that we saw a path to address many, many more of those that were finding themselves limited by Mac Pro through a next generation iMac.. And really put a lot of our energy behind that. [But,] while that [upgraded iMac] system is going to be fantastic for a huge number of customers — we want to do more.
Time will tell what Apple’s “modular” Mac Pro will look like, but there is now hope for frustrated Mac Pro users who have felt limited by Apple’s current offering.
Mac Pro 2013 Specs Bump
As for the spec bump that will soon come to the 2013 mac Pro, the $2999 model will now feature 6 Xeon cores and dual G500 GPUs. The $3999 model will feature 8 CPU cores and dual D700 GPUs. All ports and other specs remain the same.
Further Reading: iMac vs. Mac Pro Shootout: See How Beneficial More Memory Can Be