Apple Mac Pro desktop computer

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Apple is ‘sorry’ for the Mac Pro, promises improved model in 2018

Rumors of the Apple desktop’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

 

Phillip Tracy

Tech

Apple is sorry for making its Mac Pro so difficult to upgrade and will attempt to rectify its mistakes next year by releasing a completely “re-envisioned” model, according to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing.

The original Mac Pro was released in 2013, marking a push to bring manufacturing back to the United States. Its trash can-like design was lauded (and made fun of) by critics for being compact and efficient, but its tightly integrated internals made it a pain to upgrade. Instead of providing internal expansion slots, Apple opted for a bunch of Thunderbolt ports. The company is now realizing the design it’s been using for the past four years won’t cut it anymore.

“The current Mac Pro, as we’ve said a few times, was constrained thermally and it restricted our ability to upgrade it,” Schiller said at a roundtable earlier this week. “And for that, we’re sorry to disappoint customers who wanted that, and we’ve asked the team to go and re-architect and design something great for the future that those Mac Pro customers who want more expandability, more upgradability in the future.”

No matter how gorgeous, a desktop that can’t be properly expanded is a tough sell, especially at around $3,000. Apple will attempt to sweeten the deal in the short term by upgrading the configurations to offer greater performance-per-dollar. The changes are subtle, but offer better speeds at similar prices to older models.

The $3,000 Mac Pro will include six Xeon CPU cores instead of four, while the GPUs get a boost to AMD G500 from G300. The $4,000 model will have eight cores and dual D800 CPUs. Everything else remains the same.

“As we’ve said, we made something bold that we thought would be great for the majority of our Mac Pro users,” said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, according to TechCrunch. “And what we discovered was that it was great for some and not others. Enough so that we need to take another path.”

In the long term, Apple says it will release the new modular Mac Pro version alongside a Pro display. Apple discontinued its only external monitor, the Thunderbolt Display, earlier this year, and the company had some problems with a close replacement in the LG UltraFine 4K. The new models won’t arrive in 2017.

“As part of doing a new Mac Pro—it is, by definition, a modular system—we will be doing a pro display as well,” Schiller said. “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.”

There was speculation before today that Apple might get rid of its Mac Pro line and focus more on its phones and laptops. The ratio between notebook and desktop sales at Apple is roughly 80 to 20, and the Mac Pro isn’t even the company’s bestselling desktop. That title goes to its iMac all-in-one, which Apple says will receive updated specs later this year.

While we don’t know a lot about the redesigned Mac Pro, Apple did acknowledge mistakes it made using dual GPUs, a setup it will most likely abandon next time around.

“I think we designed ourselves into a bit of a thermal corner, if you will,” Federighi said. “We designed a system 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.”

This should all come as great news for Mac Pro fans who feared the popularity of the iPhone and MacBook would mark the death of Apple’s storied desktop computers.

H/T TechCrunch

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