After being quiet about the future of the Mac Pro for a couple of years now despite facing a lot of criticism from its pro users, Apple today finally went ahead and confirmed that it is working on a completely redesigned Mac Pro for next year. And to tide its pro users until then, Apple gave its existing Mac Pro a small speed bump — the first since its release in 2013.
While Apple did not reveal much information about its completely rethought Mac Pro, executives Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi were surprisingly very honest about it while talking to reporters. They hinted at what the company’s prime focus is for the next Mac Pro and what pro users should expect from it. For a secretive company like Apple, this was an unprecented thing to do, and it shows that the company really does care about its pro users and their feedback.
Here’s the takeaway from the whole interview about the next generation Mac Pro from Apple.
It was long believed that Apple did not care about its Mac users since they did not make much of an impact on the company’s revenue. This was widely believed to be the reason behind the company’s reluctance in updating its Mac Pro and iMac lineup on a timely basis with powerful internals.
However, the numbers revealed by Apple paint a different picture and show that the Mac market is important for Apple. As per the company, there are 100 million active Mac users around the world, with the Mac business accounting for $25 billion of Apple’s yearly revenues. While the numbers are pretty small compared to the iPhone, they are still nothing to scoff at.
Talking specifically about the popularity of Mac Pro, Apple says that its sales account for “a single-digit percent,” with the MacBook Pro and iMac being more popular among consumers. This should be a given due to the Mac Pro’s high price, its relatively poor bang for the buck, and that it is meant specifically for pro users.
The advent of powerful GPUs and CPUs mean that a certain group of Pro users will be able to get most of their work done on a powerful iMac instead of a Mac Pro. Thus, to satiate their hunger, Apple will be releasing a refreshed iMac with more powerful internals later this year. More specifically, Schiller said that some “configurations of iMac specifically with the pro customer in mind” will be made available to acknowledge “that our most popular desktop with pros is an iMac”
One of the key aspects of the 2013 Mac Pro’s design was its dual GPU setup. Back then, Apple made a bet that dual GPUs will become more popular in the future and designed the whole chassis around it. That sadly did not happen as single GPUs continued to become more popular while dual GPUs setup are now being used by a very limited set of pro users.
The dual-GPU design of the Mac Pro left Apple with very little thermal room and internal space to fit a single large GPU. This is not a mistake that Apple is going to make again. Now that the company is redesigning the Mac Pro’s chassis, it is all but clear that we should see the next Mac Pro make use of a single GPU setup. Considering how powerful some of Nvidia’s latest GPUs are and how pro apps are still only able to take advantage of one GPU, this approach makes a lot of sense.
Federighi made it clear that the next Mac Pro will be targeted at pro users like VR developers and high end cinema production. The apps used in such cases have been written to take advantage of a single GPU and not scale across multiple GPUs for better performance. This is why Apple will be switching to a single GPU approach with its next gen Mac Pro.
Apple did not provide any look at the design of its next-generation Mac Pro, but Schiller did make it clear through his statements that it will be a modular system. This means that all the key components of the system should be easily removable and upgradeable — something which is the very essence of a pro system. This also means that the new Mac Pro will sport a design that is not even close to the trash can design of the existing model.
The modular design of the new Mac Pro will make it upgradeable in nature. While it is unclear if Apple will make it user upgradeable, the design will be such that it will easily allow Apple to continue updating it for years to come, unlike the existing Mac Pro. This indirectly also means that the new Mac Pro will feature a bigger chassis which will allow it to have a bigger thermal headroom.
“To do something that can be supported for a long time with customers with updates and upgrades throughout the years. We'll take the time it takes to do that. The current Mac Pro, as we've said a few times, was constrained thermally and it restricted our ability to upgrade it.” – Phil Schiller
So, as a pro user, are you excited about Apple finally getting around to releasing a new Mac Pro next year? Do you see yourself buying one if it has a modular design and is easily upgradeable?