Sleek 4K-ready Design Earns Kudos from Users, But Also Some Skepticism

Apple finally quit with the teasing, revealing its big idea for a startlingly smaller Mac Pro at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this morning. The new Mac Pro — the first serious overhaul of Apple's most powerful desktop systems in five years — is a black cylinder, just 9.9 inches tall and 6.6 inches wide, that takes up one-eighth the total space of the existing cheese-grater models. The best introduction to the new machine is available at Apple's own website, which shows the machine inside and out, and from every angle, but be aware that the page is a little glitchy in certain browsers.
Due "later this year," the new Mac Pro will use Xeon E5 processors in up to a 12-core configuration, along with 1866GHz DDR3 ECC RAM and a PCIe flash drive. Floating-point processing performance will be up to double that of the current generation of Mac Pros, Apple said. Graphics horsepower comes in the form of dual AMD (yes, AMD) FirePro GPUs with up to 6 GB of VRAM that will drive up to three 4K displays at one time while editing full-resolution 4K video. The system will have up to 60 GB/sec of PCIe bandwidth, compared to 30 GB/sec in the current Mac Pro.
The industrial design is nothing if not innovative. A "unified thermal core" takes the place of multiple heat sinks and fans — a single piece of aluminum conducts heat away from the processors. A single low-noise fan inside the case pulls air upward, through the center of the system, and out the top. 
Since there's not much room under the hood, expandibility will take place via four USB 3 and six Thunderbolt 2 ports on the back of the system. (A motion sensor lights up the ports when you spin the machine around so that you can see what you're doing.) With that many Thunderbolt ports and some careful planning, you should be able to daisy-chain up to 36 devices. Functionality is rounded out with three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Also announced today, without much detail, is a new version of Final Cut Pro X that Apple says will be optimized for the new Mac Pro, specifically including "support for dual GPUs and 4K broadcast monitoring." Speaking of which, a nice 4K Cinema Display would be a great accessory for the new Mac Pro.
Incidentally, the Mac Pro is going to be entirely assembled and partly machined in the U.S.
Immediate reaction to the Mac Pro's new design seems mostly positive, though some pro users seemed skeptical about the system's usability, with many waiting to hear more about pricing before turning thumbs up or down. Some lamented the move away from Nvidia cards and their Cuda architecture, as well as the loss of any internal expansion options. Others bemoaned the back-of-the-desk tangle of cables that rely on multiple Thunderbolt connections for external expansion. Here's a round-up of some responses that came in on our Twitter feed during the minutes and hours following the announcement.

Update 5:25 p.m. ET: Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty says the company's tests show that DaVinci Resolve 10 "screams" on the new Mac Pro hardware.