Simply over 4 years in the past, Apple unveiled a brand new Mac Professional that it swore would reinvent the idea of a workstation. The brand new system was positively daring — it ditched inner enlargement for six Thunderbolt 2 ports and advised customers with inner laborious drives to purchase new exterior chassis and use these as a substitute. It shipped with twin graphics playing cards as a typical, regardless of how Apple has by no means demonstrated aptitude or curiosity in pushing GPU-centric computing (the corporate’s working programs have been caught supporting historical variations of OpenGL for years now).
Immediately, the corporate lastly took a small step in the direction of upgrading the present Mac Professional design, nevertheless it additionally acknowledged what we’ve all recognized for years — the trash can aesthetic of the 2013 Mac Professional makes it a critical ache to work with. As of right this moment, Apple has tweaked the Mac Professional to incorporate a six-core CPU (up from 4) within the $2,999 mannequin and an eight-core CPU (up from six) within the $three,999 mannequin. The GPUs have additionally been barely up to date; the $2,999 system now ships with twin D500s, whereas the $three,999 rig ships with twin D700s. On condition that these are GCN 1.zero GPUs with the D700 equal to AMD’s outdated HD 7970, we are able to’t actually suggest them.
In accordance with Daring Fireball, Apple is planning a serious overhaul to its Mac Professional lineup subsequent 12 months, with a extra modular design and a product that’s simpler to replace. As for why the Mac Professional hasn’t been up to date for 4 years, right here’s DF’s rationalization:
Let’s say you’re Apple. You’re confronted with the next downside. Three years in the past you launched a radical new lineup of Mac Execs. For a number of causes, you haven’t shipped an replace to these machines since. Sooner or later you got here to the conclusion that the 2013 Mac Professional idea was basically flawed… [T]hat tight integration made it laborious to replace commonly. The concept that enlargement could possibly be dealt with nearly completely by exterior Thunderbolt peripherals sounded good on paper, however hasn’t panned out in observe. And the GPU design was a nasty prediction. Apple wager on a dual-GPU design (a number of smaller GPUs, with “professional”-level efficiency coming from parallel processing) however the trade has gone largely within the different route (machines with one massive GPU).
It’s somewhat irritating to see firms declare, years after the very fact, that issues finish customers instantly referred to as out as issues are literally, , problems. Heck, Apple’s workstation opponents have been mocking its design with salient factors concerning the limitations of the trash can for the reason that platform shipped 4 years in the past, as captured within the advert beneath by Boxx:
I respect Apple for attempting to construct one thing new and strange, I actually do. However the Mac Professional went too far within the fallacious route in its quest to determine itself as distinctive and totally different. A whisper-quiet workstation with high-end peripherals is a noble objective, however not if it basically handicaps each the end-user and the company that designed it from upgrading the underlying platform.
Whereas Apple has upgraded the Xeons contained in the Mac Professional, we suggest towards making a purchase order till extra data is offered on what these chips can do. Whereas clock speeds on trendy chips have scarcely budged since 2013, sure capabilities, like AVX2, nonetheless might not be accessible. It is dependent upon whether or not Apple caught with Ivy Bridge-era Xeons (as I’m guessing they did) or truly up to date to a more moderen iteration of Intel’s Core structure.
Apple’s new, “fully rethought” Mac Professional can be accessible subsequent 12 months, as will a brand new “Professional” show. Possibly by then, the (presumably) next-gen Oculus Rift will support it?