Apple’s MacPro successor: Must ‘something really great’ be hardware?

MacPro fans are waiting for Apple to announce an update to their favourite computer. Many hope that Monday’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote speech will end their long wait.

This time last year an email purported to be from Tim Cook was posted to the MacRumors forums:

Thanks for your email. Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year.

Those few words have been pored over since then. Some pointed out that Tim’s email didn’t say that there would be a new MacPro ‘later next’ year, just that Pro customers would get ‘something really great.’

More recently Drew Baird posted the following to the forums:

For what it’s worth – a couple of months ago I received a call from Douglas Brooks, Apples project manager for the new Mac Pro to address my concerns about the new machine. Obviously he didn’t tell me anything about the new MP, but asked me what I wanted to see. I told him expandability for extra graphics cards support, and memory expansion were at the top of my list amongst other things. His reply was simple:

“You are going to be really glad that you waited [to buy a new tower]. We are doing something really different here and I think you’re going to be very excited when you see what we’ve been up to. I can’t wait to show this off”.

That conversation gave me enough confidence to wait for the new machine. I’m looking forward to the announcement. Hopefully the wait will be worth it.

If this is true, the MacPro replacement is unlikely to look like the current model in any way.

More recent MacPro rumours suggest that the new hardware may have more GPU power, but will not have FireWire, optical drives or internal expansion. Some suggest that the new pro computer will be the hardware that Apple is manufacturing in the U.S. as high-end customers are less likely to complain about the extra costs of home manufacturing.

No new hardware from Apple

Another possibility is that Apple could use other manufacturers to keep high-end Mac OS X customers happy.

Apple could define a 21st century hardware reference platform that defines a computer that can run the next version of Mac OS X. Third parties could then build their own Mac OS X compatible workstation, tower or server.

Apple would make sure the minimum hardware specifications mean that the new OS X compatible computers are expensive enough to not cannibalise iMacs and MacBook Pro sales – one specification could be that the minimum CPU allowed is a Intel Haswell Xeon costing more than $500.

To go with the hardware design, the next version of MacOS X that will run on compatible machines – as long as they follow Apple’s technical specs. I’m not saying that Apple should approve all Mac clones, it will be up to third parties to work to Apple’s hardware rules, Apple could provide a test application that would demonstrate that Mac OS X will work on these new computers.

Apple would benefit from OS X and professional software sales without having to invest millions on keeping tens of thousands of professionals happy. Pros would then be able to get whatever kind of MacOS X computer they want by going to manufacturers tailoring their ranges to specific markets.

The tagline for next week’s WWDC is ‘Where a whole new world is developing” – if Apple did start a high-end hardware licensing programme, there would be a whole new world for developers and manufacturers.

1 comment
  1. rd. said:

    Haswell is out now which gives iMac like performance with a single proc.

    Ivy Bridge-E Processor comes out in Fall.

    Thunderbolt 1.0 requires Ivy Bridge proc.
    Thunderbolt 2.0 needed for 5K comes out in Dec or next year.

    32 inch 4K IGZO screen cost around $4000.

    Hybrid Memory Cube samples in the Fall. and completely
    different from DDR3.

    All Apple can do is separate MacPro into two boxes one with proc, ssd and mem
    and the rest in the thunderbolt box with slots and drive bays.

    Wishing and hoping for miracle is not gong to happen.

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