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Posts tagged with "mac pro"

Has Apple Overshot the Market with the New Mac Pro?

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Monica Chin, writing for The Verge, interviewed more than 20 professionals to try to figure out who the Mac Pro is for and gauge interest in Apple’s most powerful desktop computer:

I wanted to know whether Apple’s purported target demographic — people who spend their days animating, making visual effects, and doing various other tasks generally associated with big, powerful computers — were actually interested in purchasing this machine. So I asked a bunch of them, and the answer, basically across the board, was no. Not because the Mac Pro is bad but because Apple’s other computers, namely its laptops, have just gotten too good.

For everyone Chin interviewed, one of Apple’s other portable or desktop options was already meeting their needs. Another potential issue for the Mac Pro is its lack of eGPU support:

The lack of support for external GPUs makes the feature particularly confounding for graphic professionals. “GPU support, that’s what we mostly use PCIe for,” said Tom Lindén, who runs a 3D animation agency. Other than a capture card, he says, “there are not that many expansion cards that would be useful.”

Between the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio, it seems that the professional market is satisfied:

“The offering across the board from Apple has gotten so powerful that, frankly, the Mac Pro feels a little unnecessary,” echoes Nathan, who has owned a number of Mac Pros throughout his career but is now very happy with his 14-inch MacBook. “I think we all appreciate it for what it is and what it demonstrates, but at no point has anyone said to me, ‘So when are we getting an office load of these?’”

The Mac Pro has always been a niche product. However, ever since it was announced, there has been a sense among many who write about the Mac that the new Pro is more niche than any of its predecessors, which is borne out by Chin’s reporting. That doesn’t make it a bad computer, but it’s also one that 99.9% of users don’t need, especially at a substantial premium compared to Apple’s other pro Macs. Absent new uses for the Mac Pro emerging, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mac Pro doesn’t remain a product in Apple’s lineup for long.

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Mac Pro Accessory Roundup: Stand, Mount, Webcam, Lock Adapter, and More

After having been pre-announced by nearly 1,000 days, the new Mac Pro finally went up for sale yesterday on Apple.com, alongside the Pro Display XDR. Complementing these two devices, a variety of new accessories have also just launched, some from Apple and others from third-party companies.

The $4,999 Pro Display XDR doesn’t include a stand or mount of any sort out of the box, so buyers will want to either pick up the $999 Pro Stand or the $199 VESA Mount Adapter. The display also does not include a built-in webcam. However, Logitech is offering a new 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam for $199 that attaches magnetically to the top of the display as an add-on for professionals who need that functionality.

Another Apple-designed ‘accessory’ is the $2,000 Afterburner Card, a PCI Express card designed exclusively for the new Mac Pro to accelerate ProRes and ProRes RAW video codecs. Along the same lines of Mac Pro-exclusive hardware, Apple has added a variety of options for DDR4 ECC memory to its store, including 16GB for $400, 32GB for $800, 64GB for $1,200, 128GB for $2,800, and 256GB for $6,000.

After spending a small fortune on your Mac Pro, you might reasonably be concerned about the device being stolen. To the rescue is Belkin with a $49 Lock Adapter that enables you to secure your Mac Pro with a third-party lock. Also from Belkin is a $69 AUX Power Cable Kit which provides an assortment of common AUX cables for graphics cards.

Rounding out the accessory options are AMD’s $2,800 Radeon Pro Vega II MPX Module and $5,600 Vega II Duo, along with an MPX module, the Promise Pegasus R4i 32TB RAID ($2,299), and the Promise Pegasus J2i 8TB Internal Storage Enclosure ($399). The optional $400 wheels for the Mac Pro are not available for separate purchase at this time, and instead must be ordered as part of your configured model.

Two things are immediately obvious upon surveying these accessories: first, they’re clearly for users with very specific high-end needs, and second, Apple has poured significant investment into creating the new Mac Pro, Pro Display XDR, and fostering this new ecosystem of accessories. The target user base may be small, but Apple has nonetheless gone all-out with its most powerful computer.


Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Unboxings and Impressions

Earlier today, Apple began accepting orders for the all-new Mac Pro, which will start shipping to customers in 1-2 weeks. Reminiscent of what Apple did when it released the iMac Pro, the new Mac Pro was provided to a very limited set of reviewers with video production experience in advance of pre-orders.

Marques Brownlee shares his impressions after using the Mac Pro and two Pro Display XDRs to edit all of his YouTube videos for the past two weeks. His main takeaways? “One, it’s really quiet, Two, it’s really fast.” So fast, in fact, that he was able to render 8K video more quickly than the time it would take to watch.

For two unboxings and a look at the setup process, be sure to watch these videos by Justine Ezarik and Jonathan Morrison.

To learn more about what it’s like to edit video on using Final Cut Pro X, a new Mac Pro, and Pro Display XDR, don’t miss Episode 514 of Mac Power Users on Relay FM, on which David Sparks and Stephen Hackett interview Thomas Grove Carter.

Finally, director and photographer Vincent Laforet shares his impressions of Apple’s newest hardware on his blog along with the first project he created with it.

More than anything else, the thing that struck me about each of the impressions shared by this small group is their sense of wonder and amazement at the speed and power of the new Mac Pro. This isn’t a computer for most people, but if you need it, the Mac Pro clearly opens up new possibilities.


Apple Begins Accepting Pre-Orders for the New Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR with Shipping Beginning in 1-2 Weeks

First revealed at WWDC this past June, Apple has begun taking pre-orders for its next-generation Mac Pro and 32-inch Pro Display XDR with in-store availability and shipping beginning in 1-2 weeks.

The new Mac Pro’s specs are a huge step up from the previous cylindrical model. As we reported from WWDC in June:

The system’s processor is an Intel Xeon W available in 8, 12, 16, 24, and 28-core configurations powered by a 1.4 kilowatt power supply. The processors also feature large L2 and shared L3 caches and 64 PCI Express lanes. The 8, 12, and 16-core models support 32, 48, 96, 192, 384, and 758GB memory configurations, with the 24 and 28-core models also supporting 1.5TB of memory using a six-channel architecture and 12 easily accessible DIMM slots. There are also a total of eight PCI expansion slots, four of which are double-wide, three of which are single-wide, and one of which is a half-wide slot preconfigured with Apple’s I/O card. The Mac Pro also supports up to 4TB of SSD storage and features Apple’s T2 chip.

Mac Pro

Mac Pro

The graphics options are similarly impressive:

The system supports two MPX Modules with a total of up to 4 GPUs. Configurations include a single AMD Radeon Pro 580X, single AMD Radeon Pro Vega II, or AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo, which features two GPUs. Two MPX Modules with AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duos provide 56 teraflops of compute power and 128GB of high-bandwidth memory, for handling the most demanding video compositing and 3D rendering tasks, for example. The new Mac Pro also introduces Apple Afterburner, a hardware accelerator card that can process up to 6.3 billion pixels per second, which allows up to 3 streams of 8K ProRes RAW, 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW, or 16 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video all at 30 frames per second.

A look inside the new Mac Pro.

A look inside the new Mac Pro.

The new Mac Pro, which starts at $5,999 and can be configured well into five figures, is available for immediate pre-order on apple.com with in-store availability and shipping beginning in 1.2 weeks. In total, there are two base configurations – tower and rack mounted versions – each of which can be further customized on Apple’s website. Apple’s website also revealed that the optional Mac Pro wheels will cost $400.

As you would expect from a pro-level desktop Mac, there are numerous options for processors, system memory, storage, graphics, and more. Equipped with the most expensive of every hardware option, you can spend over $50,000 on a Mac Pro, which is a very large sum, but one that professionals in industries like film and music will likely be willing to pay to eliminate bottlenecks in their production workflows.


The Pro Display XDR.

The Pro Display XDR.

Apple has also announced availability of the Pro Display XDR, which was shown off alongside the Mac Pro at WWDC.

The new display is 32 inches diagonally with over 20 million pixels, P3 wide color gamut, and 10-bit color, which Apple says results in over 1 billion colors. The display can sustain 1,000 nits of brightness with 1,600 nit peaks and features a 1 million to 1 contrast ratio. The company also offers an optional matte finish that etches the screen’s glass at a nanometer scale, which adds $1,000 to the price.

The Pro Display XDR is available for pre-order now starting at $4,999. A model with a nano-etched anti-glare finish model begins at $5,999. The display’s stand is sold separately for $999, as is the VESA adaptor, which is is $199.


Apple Shows Off New Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Coming in the Fall

During the keynote presentation at WWDC today, Apple previewed the long-awaited Mac Pro alongside a new 32-inch pro display. Both hardware announcements are aimed at professionals in fields like video compositing, 3D rendering, photography, and audio engineering.

Mac Pro

The Mac Pro is designed with performance and customization in mind. The computer’s design echoes the classic ‘cheese grater’ Mac’s shape, vent system, and handles. The frame of the Mac Pro is built from stainless steel, and the casing is aluminum. With a twist of a latch on the top of the computer, users can lift the case off using the two stainless steel handles to access internal components from all sides and install expansion cards.

The case also incorporates a lattice pattern to maximize airflow through the case. According to Apple, the three-dimensional interlocking hemisphere pattern simultaneously assists with airflow by maximizing surface area and makes the case rigid but lightweight. Optional wheels can be added to the case to make it easier to transport in a workspace.

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What Happened to 5K Displays?

Adam Engst, writing for TidBITS:

Although the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display and iMac Pro both have 5K displays built in, Apple doesn’t currently make a standalone 5K display, or, in fact, an external display of any sort. When Apple dropped its 27-inch Thunderbolt Display (see “Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display with No Replacement in Sight,” 27 June 2016), the company worked with LG on a replacement: the $1299 LG UltraFine 5K Display.

So you could buy an LG UltraFine 5K Display, but you might not want to. That’s because the availability of that monitor seems to be in decline, with AppleInsider reporting that Apple Stores say it hasn’t been restocked in a while and that it’s not available for in-store pickup when ordered online. With luck, its availability is dropping because LG is replacing it with a new model, but LG could just be running down stock before discontinuing it.

The Wikipedia page for 5K resolution lists a small number of other 5K displays, including screens from Dell, Philips, and HP, but as far as I can tell, none are currently for sale, apart from a handful of ultra-wide monitors with unusual aspect ratios like 64:27 and 32:9. Also on that list is the Iiyama ProLite XB2779QQS, but its page on Amazon says it ships directly from Japan and has absolutely no ratings or reviews, which is suspicious.

Good overview of the current state of 5K displays for Macs, which seemingly haven’t taken off because the industry has settled on 4K for now and 8K for the next generation.

Toward the end of his post, Engst assumes that the Apple-branded display coming next year with the Mac Pro will likely rely on Thunderbolt 3. My hope, however, is that Apple can figure out a way to offer a 4K or 5K display that works via Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C with support for ProMotion refresh rates at 120Hz. The 2018 iPad Pros can only connect to USB-C displays (not Thunderbolt 3), which is why I ended up buying a 4K UltraFine display that works with both macOS and iOS via a single USB-C cable. I want to believe that Apple’s external display comeback will support both pro Macs and pro iPads; as the owner of a new Mac mini and iPad Pro used with the same LG display, an integrated Apple solution would be the dream setup.

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The Mac Pro Is Coming in 2019, Shaped by Apple’s New Pro Workflow Team

In a follow up of sorts to last year’s Mac roundtable, Matthew Panazarino of TechCrunch was invited back to Apple HQ for an update on the long-awaited Mac Pro, which Apple shared will not launch until 2019:

“We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product. It’s not something for this year.”

Other than the 2019 date, the lone detail about the new Mac Pro was confirmation that it will be a modular system. Though what exactly that means, we still don’t know.

The other main interesting note from Panzarino’s report is that Apple has assembled a new internal Pro Workflow Team (not to be confused with the iOS app Workflow) which aims to guide and improve Apple’s pro-targeted products. The team is under the oversight of John Ternus, Apple’s VP of Hardware Engineering, and a great deal of its focus is learning the workflows of real pro users so it can optimize its hardware and software to make those workflows better. Panzarino writes:

To do that, Ternus says, they want their architects sitting with real customers to understand their actual flow and to see what they’re doing in real time. The challenge with that, unfortunately, is that though customers are typically very responsive when Apple comes calling, it’s not always easy to get what they want because they may be using proprietary content. John Powell, for instance, is a long-time logic user and he’s doing the new Star Wars Han Solo standalone flick. As you can imagine, taking those unreleased and highly secret compositions to Apple to play with them on their machines can be a sticking point.

So Apple decided to go a step further and just begin hiring these creatives directly into Apple. Some of them on a contract basis but many full time as well. These are award-winning artists and technicians that are brought in to shoot real projects (I saw a bunch of them walking by in Apple park toting kit for an outdoor shoot on premises while walking). They then put the hardware and software through their paces and point out sticking points that could cause frustration and friction among pro users.

This work has started in the specific areas of visual effects, video editing, 3D animation, and music production, and Apple plans to expand it out from there.

The efforts of the Pro Workflow Team serve to benefit all of Apple’s pro-related hardware and software, and even popular third-party software as well. It’s one way Apple is showing its commitment to serving professional users.

In the last year, Apple’s output for pro users seems to have made a complete turnaround. Back then we were wondering if the company had become content focusing on the average consumer and letting pros leave for other platforms. That’s certainly not the story anymore. With the iMac Pro, continued updates to Apple’s pro software, and now the forthcoming Mac Pro and the ongoing investment of the Pro Workflow Team, Apple is positioning itself again as a company committed to serving the pro market.

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Why Pro Matters

Great take by Sebastiaan de With on why Apple needs to cater to the pro community and care about the Mac Pro again:

The same kind of huge leaps are happening in gaming and game development; a powerful modern GPU is a requirement for working on and using VR and AR, one area Apple is said to be working on. Demand and interest in 3D work, for design, game and software development, and video is bigger than ever and growing exponentially.

Without a truly top-tier workstation, Apple will miss out on a huge segment of digital creatives that can craft the future of human-machine interaction — something way beyond tapping a piece of glass. It would lack a Mac workstation with the raw computing power to prototype VR and AR interactions, build game worlds, simulate complex models and render the effects of tomorrow’s great feature films all the while offering those same creatives a platform to create for its own mobile devices.

The Mac Pro user base may be a single-digit percentage of all Macs sold, but it’s a group of users with an important indirect effect on the Apple ecosystem. Very often, they are the same users who make the movies, videogames, TV shows, music, and apps we put on our devices every day. They are few people who create highly influential content millions of others use, enjoy, and rely upon. And Apple has realized they don’t want to let that community go.

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Apple Reveals its Mac Pro, Display Plans and More

I recall staring at the then-new Mac Pro at WWDC, which was displayed in a clear tube, not unlike the original iPhone. The design was unlike anything on the market then or since. That was 2013. The Mac Pro shipped just before Christmas 2013, but it hasn’t been updated since.

As the years wore on, pro users fell out of love with the Mac Pro. It was less upgradeable than other pro PC systems, and its internals quickly began to show their age. Disillusionment with the Mac Pro evolved into open speculation about whether Apple cared about the pro user market anymore.

Apple answered that question today. A new modular, more upgradeable Mac Pro is in the works. As John Gruber describes it on Daring Fireball Apple is working on:

a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis.

To go along with the new Mac Pro, Apple is developing a new pro-level display. Unfortunately, the new Mac Pros and display won’t ship in 2017, and no firm launch date has been announced. In the meantime, Apple has bumped the speeds of existing Mac Pros:

The $2999 model goes from 4 Xeon CPU cores to 6, and from dual AMD G300 GPUs to dual G500 GPUs. The $3999 model goes from 6 CPU cores to 8, and from dual D500 GPUs to dual D800 GPUs.

In addition to the Mac Pro, Apple told Daring Fireball and a group of four other writers that it has a new iMac that will ship this year that is designed with pro users in mind.

So what went wrong? Why hasn’t the Mac Pro seen an update for so long? Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi told Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch and the other writers in the room:

I think it’s fair to say, part of why we’re talking today, is that the Mac Pro — the current vintage that we introduced — we wanted to do something bold and different,” says Federighi. “In retrospect, it didn’t well suit some of the people we were trying to reach. It’s good for some; it’s an amazingly quiet machine, it’s a beautiful machine. But it does not address the full range of customers we wanna reach with Mac Pro.

Apple’s discussion with five writers covered a lot of ground. In addition to the new Macs discussed, Federighi said Apple is committed to the Mac mini and that scripting and automation on macOS remain ‘super important’ to Apple. It was also revealed that notebooks make up 80% of the Mac market and the pro market makes up roughly 30% of the Mac user base.

With the increasing drumbeat of discontent from pro Mac users over the past months, it is refreshing to see Apple address the pro market head-on and explain what happened with the Mac Pro. It’s disappointing that new Mac Pros are still many months off, but the breadth and depth of Apple’s candor with the writers it spoke to should provide comfort to pro users who can hold off on buying new hardware for a while longer. The key now will be whether Apple can execute its plans for the pro market.