Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro preview

If you visit Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro page, you’ll see a sneak peek of the Mac Pro being released later this year.

One feature of the page are videos showing internal elements of the computer. In order to have a close look at how it’s put together, here are the videos as a single movie:

If you want to get the source video, visit its Vimeo page and click the Download button. This is is helpful if you’d like to step through the video frame by frame.

Room for improvement?

As regards how upgradeable the computer will be, it might be almost as easy as the old Mac Pro to modify. Apple have already stated that memory and flash storage will be user-configurable, however based on stepping through the Apple video, it seems as if the central chassis is put together with hex screws, and the three main boards are attached with a few screws:


The base board is then attached to the three card sockets:


Perhaps Apple will offer a configuration of the Mac Pro with only one GPU card, and publish the specs for third parties to supply CPUs.

Configuring Mac Pros with alternate GPU cards will have to be done by confident engineers, but probably won’t require a visit to an Apple Store.

According to a ‘friend of a friend’ report from the Worldwide Developer’s conference posted to the CGSociety forum:

OK – I have a friend the WWDC and he has asked a lot of questions to the right guy. The Graphics cards in this new macpro are swappable. But they are bespoke and a new form factor it seems. Ram / GPU and the Main drive is all updatable – it does seem that there is the possibility of installing 2 or more of these PCIe drives…

Future versions of the Mac Pro may have more space for GPU cards. With a slightly larger enclosure, there could be four instead of two:


Professionals welcome

With the announcement of this computer, there’s no doubt that Apple is still interested in professional markets. Despite the relatively limited opportunities for making billions in profits, they must see value in serving those who want the fastest personal computers in their offices.

The most distinctive feature of the sneak peek is the fact that Apple felt under enough pressure to pre-annouce the computer at all. The Apple of 10 years would have created an Autumn 2013 event in Los Angeles featuring professionals from the film, TV and music industries extolling the virtues of Apple’s professional hardware and software solutions.

What else can we get them to do?

  1. The raw power of the new machine is impressive, to say the least. However, as a colorist, I am very disappointed that Apple chose to use ATI GPUs instead of CUDA based GPUs, as are preferred by so many of the leading industry applications, such as DaVinci Resolve. ATI cards in the old Mac Pros weren’t a problem because we could simply remove them and replace them with Nvidia units, but this is not the case with the new machines. And, as far as I know, there are no external GPU solutions that are compatible with Thunderbolt expansion chassis.

    • Alex said:

      It turns out that BlackMagic design are very happy with this direction. Here’s a post by Grant Petty in their forums:

      We have been testing with DaVinci Resolve 10 builds and this screams. Its amazing and those GPUs are incredible powerful. I am not sure what I can say as I am only going off what Apple has talked about publicly here in the keynote for what I can say right now, however there is a whole new OpenCL and DaVinci Resolve 10 has had a lot of performance work done to integrate it and its really really fast. Those GPUs are very powerful and have lots of GPU memory so this is the Mac we have been waiting for! We have lots of Thunderbolt products too so video in and out is taken care of.

  2. rd. said:

    AMD FirePro S10000 list price is $3600.
    It has TDP of 375W higher than 225W typical GPUS for Server class.

    Here is quote from anandtech review of FirePro S10000.
    “In a nutshell, the S10000 is a dual-GPU Tahiti card, packing a pair of slightly underclocked (825MHz) Tahiti GPUs on a single board, with each GPU wired up to 3GB of GDDR5 operating at 5GHz. This puts AMD’s theoretical performance at around 5.91 TFLOPS SP performance and 1.48 TFLOPS DP performance, with an aggregate memory bandwidth of 480GB/sec.”

    S9000 is listed for $2500.
    It seems AMD created the S10000 just for Apple and put it in two separate cards.

    Four GPU of this caliber would require even bigger PSU.
    Too much space on the sides of the 4 GPU would not be
    good for thermodynamic reasons.

    Next DRAM will be serial and be stacked in 3D chip.
    Flash is also going the same direction.

    PCIe connectors seems proprietary unless
    Intel created it for Apple.
    even SSD PCIe might be proprietary so
    replacement would depend on parts being allowed
    to be sold thru Apple License.

  3. Terry S. said:

    This is the MacPro we need today and for the future! The status quo is no longer and we really need to move on. I really am glad Apple took the time to create a better Pro Desktop computer and perfect the overall design and efficiency it has. It was well worth the wait. One conclusion I’ve come to is that Thunderbolt was always intended to be used on the MacPro, but there was no Eco System for it. By releasing it in advance of the MacPro it forced the industry to adapt for it – thus creating the necessary Storage and Acquisition support it has today. Very smart move on Apple & Intel’s part. It is also clear this was no quick project – I can see literally years, 5+ that have been spent on developing this new generation MacPro. I am really looking forward to next year’s NAB Show and what possibilities are bound now that we will have the Super Computer we need to accomplish our massive content creation tasks.

  4. Frankly, I’m tired of my “desktop” being on the floor. The idea of a desktop computer that REALLY IS a desktop computer rocks my boat. And the specs are just awesome.

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