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So … Will We See That New Mac Pro Next Week, or What?

It’s been almost a year since Apple stealth-announced a barely-there update to its line-up of Mac Pro workstations at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), frustrating users who still rely on tower-style desktop workstations — with lots of room for graphics horsepower and other expansion cards under the hood ­­— for performance computing tasks. But the buzz in Mac circles is that there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel. NAB came and went, but the WWDC begins again next week, and rumor has it that we may finally hear about the new Mac Pro — or whatever’s going to replace it. Mum is, of course, the word from Mac HQ. But with Apple news and gossip sites working overtime, we can still speculate. Here are the questions being asked, with a look at the best answers that can be gleaned at this point.

Will the Mac Pro be announced next week?
Maybe! Apple CEO Tim Cook promised "something really great" in this category would be released in 2013 and, as recently as NAB, Apple was reaffirming that promise, albeit with no further comment about when or what we were going to get. MacTrast reports that leading Apple retailers are reporting low or no stock levels on entry-level Mac Pros. Given that Apple tends to keep retail well-stocked, this is usually taken as a sign that a product is about to be refreshed (or discontinued). Meanwhile, the current Mac Pros can no longer be sold in Europe because of new safety regulations related to electrical ports and fan guards. WWDC is a software event, of course, but software developers need development machines, so this would be an excellent time for Apple to update its pro workstations.

Will the new Mac Pro look like the old Mac Pro?
Doubtful. If you’ve ever tried to lug your Mac Pro up a flight of stairs, you know it’s a pretty heavy machine. Facilities and other pro users tend not to mind that so much, since the machine will spend its life chained to a desk. But Apple is emphasizing portability across all of its lines — remember, this is the company that unceremoniously killed the 17-inch MacBook Pro, beloved by video editors, as if it were just another popular character on Game of Thrones — so it seems likely that the Mac Pro will be slimmed down. It’s possible we’ll see a much smaller desktop unit that relies on a separate (Apple-branded?) Thunderbolt expansion chassis for connecting bulkier PCIe-based hardware.

What else might be different?
Who knows? Speculation across the net is that the machine will support dual-GPU processing out of the box, and MacNN.com reported that OS X 10.8.4 includes drivers for Nvidia's Geforce GTX Titan card, which ZDNet notes could suggest interesting multi-GPU options for a Mac Pro. Apple would be nuts to release a new machine without USB 3.0 as well as Thunderbolt, but FireWire 800 and CD-ROM may leave the picture. (You'd be able to connect your existing devices using a Thunderbolt adapter, though.) And there’s some talk that the machine may incorporate some flavor of fast solid-state memory rather than a spinning disk, which would certainly improve boot speed. The We Want a New Macpro Facebook page has a good round-up of what seems to be on the table.

If the Mac Pro 2013 is announced at WWDC, when can I get one?
We’d be surprised to hear that new Mac Pros are ready to ship next week, and the preponderance of rumors are saying that the new machines will ship this fall — possibly in order to sync their release with the availability of new Intel Ivy Bridge E processors, which are thought to be due in September. That means Apple could decide not to talk about them at all next week. But the more dramatic the changes, the farther out Apple might be willing to make a “coming-soon” announcement.

What are you hoping for from the new Mac Pro? And how do you feel about the rumors coming out of Cupertino? Let us know in the comments.

15 Comments

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  • cassius_king

    If they turn this into a super mini or imac, we’re gone. The software isn’t as superior as it was 20 years ago.

  • burbankTJ

    I’ve been waiting and waiting while wasting money here and there on upgrading this dinosaur. If there is a god, this mac will be released very soon. Save your Hackintosh responses, as I take the way I present myself to clients very seriously.

  • Larry Towers

    Thunderbolt Essentially is PCIe 2.0 x4, even forthcoming Thunderbolt 2, isn’t fast enough to supplant PCIe 3. Can it support multiple PCIe x 16 cards? NO!!!

  • Zan Shin

    It needs to be twice as good and half the price… that’s their ONLY chance to regain market share. They can’t pretend they’re Almighty Apple anymore and don’t need to be competitive just because they’re cool. Old and slow is not cool. I know… I’m old and slow myself.

  • Bill

    >Thunderbolt Essentially is PCIe 2.0 x4.

    Yes, but it’s at the PCIe version 1 speed.

  • ksay

    Despite the release of FCPX, you’ll have to pry FCP7 from my cold dead hands – me and most of my seasoned, free-lance producer/shooter cohorts. It’s become our bread and butter for non-profits, corporate and training. Write/produce/shoot/edit.

    • mason

      If I was your competition, it would be easy to put you out of business. All it would take is to just watch you struggle with outdated software and miss deadlines. Then come in to steal the work using modern hardware and software.

      Good luck sitting in the dust.

  • mercury

    Would it surprise anyone that Apple decides to market its operating system instead of a machine?

  • Ron Tyler

    I still say the Apple has plenty of worms in it ever since FCPX. That should tell you
    something. They simply don’t give a damn about us professionals that depend on Mac Pro to make a living. All they care is about getting our money out of our pocket and giving us practically nothing.

    • Wally

      The fact that you’re depending on a single company to make a living is just poor planning on your part. Diversifying your tools is what will keep you making a living.

      I prefer OS X, but I also have a Windows box right next to it. Apple has a history of radical direction change and has come close to closing it’s doors. That alone should make you want to diversify.

      You should know by now that NO company has to care about you. It’s not their problem if you are inconvenienced by their decisions. Just look at Adobe and their new pricing scheme.

  • Todd Van Slyck

    “this is the company that unceremoniously killed the 17-inch MacBook Pro, beloved by video editors, as if it were just another popular character on Game of Thrones”

    LMAO, nice comparison

  • Adm

    Us “Facility” people care about the form factor and things like power usage & heat dissipation vastly more than the average person who has had to lug their machine up and down the stairs a few times. The thing takes up WAY too much space in a rack, and yes you can put them side by side on a shelf which works fine, but you can’t really put more than 6 in any standard rack, wheras a 2 or 3 RU server can be so much more densely installed and usually has things like redundant power supplies.

  • http://www.esrati.com David Esrati

    We are now using Premier. To run it on a PC can be done at half the price. I may not like it- but, face it- for $2500 I can buy a rocking PC and MacBook Pro. The half the price and twice as good is the bar, anything else is a #FAIL like FCPX

  • Anonymous

    I want to see mucho expansion capabilities! 5x PCI slots, 2x TB ports, 4x FW800, 4x USB3 ports up to 128Gig RAM

  • priced out anyway

    It seems that as the number of “pro” facilities seem to be dwindling or at least stagnating, and the number of independent content creators increases, that it would make sense for Apple to continue to produce these types of machines, but maybe smaller and at a lower cost.

    $4,000 just for the computer is way out of most peoples price range, especially if they are making little money off of it.

    For most users at home who may be making some living off of their work, they don’t necessarily need all the PCI slots or multiple Disc burners. What is necessary is a ton of RAM and disk space.

    And I agree that these Mac Pros are really too heavy. I remember when I was using G4 towers and even those would be inconvenient to move around. As a freelancer, you end up having to move your equipment around quit a lot.

    Whatever. Unless the next gen of Mac Pro’s are priced starting under $2,000, then I am simply priced out at this point. I’ll just keep using iMacs or Macbooks and deal with their limitations.