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WWDC: Apple Intros New Mac Pro – Groundbreaking New Design

Apple has introduced brand new Mac Pros at WWDC just as expected and discussed here at Architosh and elsewhere on the Net

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As widely hoped for and anticipated, today Apple introduced a dramatic new Mac Pro computer at WWDC. The new design will not be available until later this year and Apple identified that it is the Mac Pro that will be manufactured in the United States.

The company’s introduction today could not have been more important. As Jonny Evans over at Computerworld wrote at the recent NAB 2013, Apple has been pushing its pro users to the brink of loyalty. This sentiment started with not just delays to the Mac Pro but also Apple’s huge misstep with Final Cut Pro X, which the company has been making big strides on repairing that damage.

A Radically New Structure

Apple’s next Mac Pro is radically different than any workstation on the market, including anything Apple has ever done before in this space. For starters, it looks like the company has finally taken to heart one of the longest-running complaints about its Mac Pros–the issue of workstation graphics. The new 2013 Mac Pro looks to be built literally around workstation graphics in the form of dual GPUs. This, no doubt, is the the year-long graphics project we spoke about from yesterday and it looks to be that AMD is the provider of this major graphics effort.

01 - New Mac Pro 2013 by Apple. Will be manufactured in the United States. The first Mac Pro built around true workstation class graphics..and in dual-GPU mode as well.

01 – New Mac Pro 2013 by Apple. Will be manufactured in the United States. The first Mac Pro built around true workstation class graphics..and in dual-GPU mode as well.

Within the next Mac Pro will contain not one but two AMD FirePro workstation class GPUs with up to 6 GB of dedicated VRAM for a total of 12 GB of video memory. These super powerful workstation class AMD FirePro GPU’s will provide up to 7 teraflops of computing power, compared to the 2.7 teraflops in the current model. Additionally, they will be able to drive up to three 4K displays simultaneously.

PCI-Express Superhighway

Just as we noted and had hoped for Apple has done something about its PCI-Express implementation and in this case the company is touting up to 40 GB/sec of PCI-Express bandwidth built around PCI-Express 3.0 technology. Architosh will have to dig deeper to find out what AMD FirePro technology is inside this new machine but we’ll get to that.

A Unified Thermal Core

The new Mac Pro will share some heritage with Apple’s famous failed Cube computer. That computer too also gained from a natural convention and chimney effect for venting hot air. The new Mac Pro uses a unified thermal core that shares aluminum and a new special single fan. The fan features backward-curved large blades which don’t need to run so quickly as traditional fan blades and also gain more efficiency as they spin faster. The result will be a very quite machine given its ultra-high power.

Other Features

The new Mac Pro is built for the future. It features a massive array of leading edge IO. Chief among these is Thunderbolt 2 with data transfer speeds of up to 20 GB/sec. That is 25 x faster than Firewire 800. The unit will feature 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports, each with the capacity to hold 6 devices.  HDMI 1.4, USB 3 and Gigabit ethernet round out the IO for the new Mac Pro.

Other innovations include three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity. This supplements Bluetooth 4.0.

Perhaps the most innovative feature is the industrial design itself. The whole Mac Pro is just 9.9 inches tall by 6.6 inches wide (diameter). Apple says the enclosure is refined aluminum extrusion with an incredible polished black finish. The new unit will be assembled in the United States in a new plant in Texas, many believe.

[Editor’s note: We have published additional comments on the Xeons headed into these machines below in our comments.]

To learn more visit the new Mac Pro page. 

Reader Comments

  1. I believe I am incorrect. 12 core max

  2. Posted by:
    m68k
    June 11, 2013 05:07 am EDT

    Hello from Germany,

    I think the Mac Pro is an another transition step.
    It seems to be a candy for developers to be persuaded to make more use of LLVM and OpenCL, as it marks a first step away from “CPU-only” Workstations towards “multi-unit-computing” like in CPU+FPU-times.
    It seems that GPUs are way more powerful for what Apple has in mind for the future of computing and softwardevelopment.
    If so, we might one day see computer with many different kinds of computing-units or several devices might be plugged together to one computer without any specific software.
    I think this development is deeply founded in Steve. P. Jobs vision of Softwaredevelopment.
    So from this point of view they are going in the right direction.

    On the otherhand the success of this direction relies a lot on softwaredevelopers to follow that direction. Which means they need to do smarter programming, I guess.
    I am not sure if this is the direction the CAD-Software is going.
    I am even don’t know if there CAD-cores are able to go that direction. Hopefully they are able or a new player will appear.

    For the moment it is strange to see a workstation with just one CPU, even if it is a Xeon with 12 cores (maybe just 6 physical) and just 4 RAM slots, for DIMMs that seem to have a max. capacity of 8GB per DIMM.
    The fact that everything else, that needs to be customized has to be external might be acceptable if third party vendors will come up with anything suitable, which might be hard with a cylindric shape.

    Excuse me for my orthography, but I hope you got the point.

  3. m68K,

    These are very good observations. Apple is very interested in advancing OpenCL. In the recent past generations it seemed Nvidia was ahead of AMD in GPU compute while AMD was ahead in gaming technologies, but AMD with its nex-gen Tahiti architecture has made great advances and Apple is keen on taking advantage of these. It’s important to note that Adobe too has embraced OpenCL in its new Mercury Engine in CS6 despite the popularity of plugins that are CUDA based.

    I had an interesting phone chat this AM with my graphics engineering contacts about the new box and will share more very soon. There is a lot to talk about and most of the press since the introduction is focusing on the wrong things.

  4. Posted by:
    m68k
    June 11, 2013 10:25 am EDT

    I think I’ve seen one picture of the Mac Pro which seems to show an empty place for another PCIe 3.0 socket for a second SSD in front of the other GPU-board.

    But I am still wondering, if 4 slots for RAM are enough if the max. size of the DIMMs is limited by 8GB. This would mean only 32 GB RAM. 64bit could handle way more. And compared to the graphicspower 32GB RAM seems to be not very much, eventough the speed to transfer data from RAM to SSD has been increased. Or am I just wrong about the max RAM size ?

  5. Louis B Smith Jr liked this on Facebook.

  6. I do not think the max DIMM size is 8 GB. They are physically large enough to hold a lot more than that. Think of memory for laptops…you can pack a heck of a lot of memory even in the MacBooks

  7. Posted by:
    m68k
    June 12, 2013 05:48 am EDT

    You might also have read the article at arstechnica about the Mac Pro. It is very intersting as the editor seems to be a CAD/3D-Pro.
    He comes up with the same question: will software-developer like AutoDesk etc. follow this turn towards stronger GPU-computing, and if so, will they do that by OpenCL or by CUDA ?
    The last would mean to Mac Pro buyers have to buy an external nVidia-solution, if I got it right.

    The new Mac Pro seems to be an amazing Masterpiece in archiving the most computingpower out of the smallest and smartest machine. The price seems to be a limitation to a narrow user-scenario, which could only be extented by expensive Thunderbold-hardware, which might also be part of the strategy.

    I am just wondering if Apple uses these Mac Pros themselves in their serverfarms and if so how the put them together in a rack ?

  8. These are great comments. I think you are correct. I think Apple does envision a multi-unit compute future and I also believe part of that is iCloud as a “compute unit” in this picture. Some CAD/BIM/3D programs are aggressively pursuing GPU and multi-core processing techniques to accelerate computation.

  9. New details: What Apple has shown us is the top-of the line Mac Pro. Based on the Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors these are due in Q3 2013, along with little sister E5-1600 v2 series which will support up to 6 cores. Both are reported Ivy Bridge based.

    We also think that AMD will provide multiple levels of dual FirePro graphics, not just the highest end model (W9000). This will explain the way Apple hopes to scale down prices so there will not be such a tremendous gap between iMac and Mac Pro.

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