"The Mac Pro Lives"


#21

I had previously (before this announcement) wondered if they would partner with a hardware provider that builds workstation class hardware (perhaps IBM given how in bed they are these days)… but now I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing Apple’s own Mac Pro hardware.

I really loved Ben Thompson’s (Stratechery.com Daily Email) take on it:

The Mac Pro is irrelevant to a lot of you, which I suppose was part of the problem; in short, Apple’s highest-end computer, designed for the most-demanding users, received a massive re-design in 2013 and then hasn’t been updated since, causing much consternation in the Apple world.

It seemed clear to me that Apple had erred in the re-design, leaving the company stuck: hundred of millions of dollars in both R&D and investment in a U.S. factory with extensive automation were wasted if the company felt the design was unusable, while a re-design would mean spending the same money on a tiny market. I suspected the company would instead build higher-end iMacs, and indeed those are coming.

Clearly, though, the company has changed its mind, perhaps after frustration from Mac users following last fall’s MacBook Pro release that Phil Schiller admitted was a surprise. Just look at the timeline: this new Mac Pro isn’t coming until 2018 at best, which suggests a relatively recent change in direction. In fact, I think the timeline is the most interesting part of this story.

First, the general design of a pro computer that can handle high thermal requirements and regular updates is a solved problem: there’s a reason the entire industry, including Apple until 2013, used the tower design for desktops. I’m pretty positive that Mac Pro users would be thrilled with exactly that.

To that end, that Apple says it needs until next year at best is a reminder of the power — and curse — of culture. Mac Pros are differentiated by the fact they run OS X, not by the cleverness of their physical design, but Apple simply can’t help themselves. Obsessing over details and reinventing everything is so core to what makes Apple Apple that, even after its first attempt at said reinvention cost the company an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars and priceless amounts of goodwill, the company can’t bring itself to simply ship a damn tower. It’s almost endearing.

Second, 2018 is nine months from now. That may not seem like much, but Apple can move fast: back in February, 2001, Jon Rubinstein was visiting Toshiba, who had just invented a 1.8" hard drive that they didn’t know what to do with. Steve Jobs, meanwhile, had just shifted the company’s entire strategy from a focus on video to a hub-and-spoke strategy with music as its focus, and Rubinstein realized that Toshiba’s hard drive could be the key technology in a portable music player.

Just under nine months later, on October 23, 2001, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod. Apple had conceived of, designed, manufactured, and shipped the device that would transform the entire company in less time than today’s Apple can deign to put its own spin on a solved problem. Being big and successful is harder than it looks.

The emphasis above is mine. :slight_smile: I hope somebody at Apple has printed that out on 10 foot paper and stuck it on the wall of the Mac Pro design lab!!


#22

I wish you could legally hacintosh. I used to love MacBook hardware, but the current range is way too limited and to me has lost everything that made a MacBook a MacBook. MagSafe, the battery light indicator, IR sensor, the keyboard and even the trackpad were all fantastic but are gone. Sure they still feel like high end machines, but they’ve lost their unique features. I’d rather buy another brand and run macOS on it. Desktop hardware, beyond aesthetics I can see no reason to purchase Apple hardware if you could legally hacintosh. I’ve always believed that Apple hardware is of higher quality, however i’m sure purchasing the right components would deliver the same reliability and quality.


#23

A good rundown from ArsTechnica.

Whilst Apple could massively mess this up again, that would be unlikely. I’m hopeful that we’ll get a Mac Pro worth buying again. I’d certainly love another one, though I’m not sure my 2008 will last until the next one comes out. Let’s hope they update the Mini with something that’s actually an improvement in the meantime.


#24

I picked up a 2009 Mac Pro 4,1 (flashed to 5,1 now) to tide me over. :slight_smile:


#25

The trash can is iconic, but sadly it’s always sat alone in the corner of my local Apple Store, plugged into a display, humming along with no one using it.

I’d love a pro iMac in that polished gunmetal grey aluminium finish, though :sweat_drops::sweat_drops:


#26

Does Apple actually consult “industry” in their development phase?

Final Cut Pro X - dismal failure, even if it may have been “better” than the existing editing options.

Mac Pro - I’ve no real experience with this, but have read people saying it just didn’t fit the purpose…


#27

Historically, I don’t know but I suspect they do consult with a few key users. I’m sure they did consult with some people before launching the new FCP, and likewise the current Mac Pro. There was probably quite an intersect on those users probably, as both FCPX and the Mac Pro were designed around multiple GPUs, etc. and is sweet if you have a fibre SAN, etc. like a lot of FCP edit houses do.

(There are actually many people who love the new FCP - just not small indies or people with workflows that relied on the old one. But there are plenty of people using and loving it. It’s just a pity they didn’t manage the migration from old to new better.)

But I think Apple got caught out by how many people hung on to the old 2012 cheesgraters. I think they massively underestimated how many people still want to have mass storage locally, and one big hot GPU etc.

So as far as the new Mac Pro goes, Apple have said they will consult with users. Here’s hoping they cast that net wide!


#28

They seem to be a bit more open to such things these days, but they also subscribe to the “don’t build a faster horse” view of the world, which I think is really important. If all you do is ask users what they want, you will never do anything groundbreaking. Things like the iPhone, or the Mac for that matter, would never exist if Apple only acted on what people wanted.


#29

I’ve been following the Mac Pro story closely the last couple of days and have to say, I find it funny that people want Apple to innovate and complain when they don’t and the vast majority (and I’m talking about the people over at mac rumours) are demanding a return to the old tower. So they don’t really want innovation? Just new stuff in the old box.

That said, I find it odd that Apple designed the current Mac Pro with no thought for an upgrade path. That would be my first thought, future proofing.

I honestly hope we don’t see a return to a full tower Mac Pro. I don’t think it’s needed. I wouldn’t mind some form of new mini tower like the G3 / G4. Good set up and practical.


#30

I think they need to offer both. Many Pros don’t need innovation, just something that is cost effective, updated and powerful.

Innovation for the sake of innovation is never positive, and many Pros know how they’d like to work and setup their workstation. Leave the innovation for the more consumer facing product.

It doesn’t have to be the old tower, but many Pros want something easily upgradable and flexible which the 2013 Pro was not. I think the call for the old tower is that it could be an easy fix for a problem. Many can’t wait much longer, they need hardware that will work for them and Apple is saying its possibly two years away.


#31

I don’t believe the 2013 Mac Pro was innovation for the sake of innovation - but without an upgrade plan it makes it look like that. I guess Apple were hoping technology would go the way they predicted and it didn’t.

Whatever Apple do next with the Mac Pro - it won’t make everyone happy. Either they’ll try and do something along the lines of the 2013 Mac Pro, but with a more realistic upgrade plan or they’ll return to a tower based design and people will proclaim “Apple have run out of ideas and have lost direction.”


#32

I do think the 2013 pro was change the sake of change - Some good ideas, but overall not suitable for most of the market it was intended for and for Apple to respond like this, it must have completely missed the mark

Or they could offer both. Offer a tower for those who want it, offer something more akin to the current Pro but cheaper and with an upgrade path - the headless iMac that people have asked for, for years.

If they return to the tower, the majority of professionals are not going to care, most seem to want that. We’re talking a desktop aimed at the upper end of the market, not a mass market item like the iPhone.


#33

I saw one of these sitting lonely in a corner of a shop today. They do look fantastic and it was connected to a thunderbolt display.

It seems to me that Apple built a FCP X or Logic X “appliance”, that does that job, very, very well. They had the luxury of designing the software for the hardware, using OpenCL where the rest of the industry seems to have leant toward CUDA (and people whine about Apple doing the proprietary thing).

I know some audio people that love them, they are powerful, but quiet enough to sit on a mixing desk, where the cheese graters had to be housed in purpose built, noise proof enclosures.


#34

hi,

do you have the link to the firmware update? i googled one but it looked “dodgy” so not sure which is the genuine tool do it with…

Marcin


#35

Sure @PO15KA. :slight_smile:

These are the links I was working off…

Upgrading Firmware to 5,1 and swapping the CPU

Compatible CPUs


#36

I’ve never said that I want Apple to innovate and I doubt that many MacPro users have said so either.

From my experience pro users want reliability, expandability, upgradability and the Apple OS ecosystem in a non-windows box and that I suspect is why so many people stuck with the cheese grater pros. If you can innovate within the constraints of the criteria I’ve just listed then great but NOT at the cost of them.

The Mac Pro peaked with the cheese grater and the MacBook Pro peaked with the 2012 version (excepting for the retina screen which could have been added to the 2012 but Apple chose not to do so because LOTS of people wouldn’t have bought the new thinner MacBook Pros).

Apple have gone down the style before function path for too long and it needs to change back to function AND style.


#37

This times 100.

Perhaps the 2013 Pro works for some, and thats great. I can’t see why Apple can’t offer both.

I agree with this as well. The Non Retina Pro sold and sold and sold even into 2016, despite being hopelessly outdated. I’ll get flamed for this, but there are plenty of times this happens, people would buy the old stuff in droves as they prefer it, but Apple won’t offer both because it would take away revenue from their new shiny product. This is why they won’t update the MacBook Air, as it would become even more popular and would eat into the MacBook (Retina) sales. I can’t tell you how many people recently have told me they have no idea what Mac to buy as the Air is getting long in the tooth yet they don’t like either the 12 inch MacBook or the non touch bar MacBook Pro.

I just think they’re balancing it wrong. Apple post Jobs II has always gone for form over function, but the extent to which it happens now seems to be increasing.


#38

I just don’t have the room for the older Mac Pro sadly but i do hope that Apple does actually show to it’s market that it’s listening and does what we ask of them, the trash can has really shaken the user base and for many it’s too late.

I’d be disappointed if they force us into using say MXM based GPUs for example.


#39

the mac pro envisaged a world of external GPUs etc, but Apple did not follow through. It should have produced that external chassis itself.


#40

I’m not convinced of this. I think Apple bet on the ‘two slower rather than one honking’ GPU future, and the opposite came true. A bit like one fast CPU instead of two slower ones for more compute.

At a bare minimum, if what you propose is right, there would be eGPU support in the OS. The enclosures exist just fine (especially for windows). It’s OS X / macOS that lacks the support for it.