Promised, but not yet delivered, what do we think we know about the enigmatic Mac Pro?
But that’s for another day…
Any time you write about the Mac Pro these days, it seems as if you are forced to preface it with the above quote from John Ternus. It was made at this spring’s Peek Performance event, when teasing us as to when the Mac Pro may finally see the light of day.
Since then, though, any official mention of it from Apple seems to have dried up like the rain in the UK this summer. One thing we do know, much like UK rainfall, is that it’s coming! And from all we know, it is still due this year. That, of course, would fit succinctly in to Apple’s two year, transition plan over to their own, Apple silicon.
Yesterday I wrote how Apple’s event plans this year, have been forced in to change. This fall, due to the delay of iPadOS, it looks ever more likely that iPad & Mac will be given their own event. With Mac due to run Stage Manager, the latest attempt at multitasking for the tablet, having an event centred on these two products makes sense.
It will also give Apple that little bit longer to tweak, and finally develop the Mac’s they want to launch at the event. We expect those to include M2 14-inch & 16-inch MacBook Pro’s, M2 Mac minis and also…the Mac Pro.
Given that we are, potentially, only a few months from release, what do we think we know about the flagship machine?
Let’s talk chips
Currently, the most advanced M1 chip you can buy, is the M1 Ultra, found in the Mac Studio. That is available featuring a 20-core CPU and up to 64-core GPU, alongside a 32-core Neural Engine.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, it appears that Apple had a Mac Pro ready to ship with a variant of the M1 chip, this summer, before deciding to pull it. The decision was made to wait for M2 – and what we expect to be named the M2 Extreme. This would become the top-tier chip, offering premium performance, and a perfect bed-fellow for the Mac Pro.
Given the more advanced architecture of M2, it is more than likely that a doubling of performance over the M1 Ultra could come to Mac Pro. 40 CPU cores with 32 high-performance cores and up to 128 GPU cores could be coming to Mac Pro. And the improvements may not end there, with better clock speeds, efficiencies, and technologies all part & parcel of the new M2 Extreme.
Much conjecture has been made over the appearance of the new Mac Pro. Early this year, we expected a vastly scaled down cube style to be coming our way. The render at the top of this blog from the talented Ian Zelbo shows the concepts of ideas being bandied about, at that time.
Since then, it’s clear that those cube notions, resulted in the Mac Studio. The smart money now is on Mac Pro very much, continuing along its own design lineage, but simply being a little ’squatter’ in appearance.
Externally, don’t expect a radical departure from the current stainless steel frame and aluminium housing that we are familiar with. The focus really will just be on getting a Mac Pro with Apple silicon inside.
The dual-sided logic board will remain, as will easy access to the internals. No firm word has been leaked as to how Apple intend to confront the modularity of Mac Pro, but rest assured, they are aware how important that is to Pro users. Heat removal, whilst clearly an issue, is not as big of a concern as it was in the Intel days.
These keep being changed, almost on a weekly basis. The strangest thing of all, as mentioned earlier, is the lack of any word from Cupertino. Initially, we’d thought we’d get a glimpse of it at June’s WWDC.
Now though, as I covered earlier, it would seem October is a reasonable guess for our first glimpse. BUT now, it seems likely, that will purely be a sneak of the form factor and a quick run through the internals, not a full release. That may not be until January 2023.
Where the delays have stemmed from is anyone’s guess; chip delays from China, COVID supply issues, or merely Apple wanting to have M2 inside Mac Pro. I’d have thought, in a perfect world, that Apple would have wished for the switch to Apple silicon to now be complete….but events caught up with them. Even the great are not impervious to world events it seems!
Is it important?
Apple, historically, have kept their cards close to their chest when it comes to the breakdown of sales for Mac by kind.
Even through these tough times, the Company posted a June quarter revenue record of $83.0 billion, up 2 percent year over year. Mac Pro will make up only a tiny percentage of the 6.8 million units sold, but this Mac sits at the very heart of what Apple stands for, and what the Mac represents.
With the price tag expected to remain, starting at around $5500, this Mac Pro will only ever be destined for a few top flight agencies & studios. But, that makes it no less important to them. Almost the contrary is true – getting the Mac Pro right and nailing it straight off will be keeping the Apple technicians super busy right now.
I’ll never need, or own one, but its a bit like looking at a Zonda supercar, the wonder of what it can do is the allure.
Let’s convene in October and look at what Apple have created with the new Mac Pro. Is that a date?
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