Written by: Adam Christianson
Download today’s show here! MC20170721.mp3 [45.2 01:05:29 64kbps]
A podcast about all things Macintosh. For Mac geeks, by Mac geeks. Episode 621. More iPhone 8 launch concerns. Mac sales flat in Q2. Apple launches Machine Learning ‘blog’. Dreamworks founder pitches Apple new TV concept. Apple partners with electric vehicle battery manufacture. ARKit could be Apple’s biggest tech advance in years. Guy upgrades a new iMac. A ‘modular’ Mac Pro. Understanding and managing kext files.
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I don’t think the Mac Pro was in the plans until a number of events/issues built up to a point where Apple suddenly reversed its mindset. I think the last two ones that finally together kicked Apple into action were the Surface (desktop) and the “Windows – Creators Edition”. Up until then I think Apple was fine serving the needs of “the majority” of the “creatives” now using iMacs and leaving a small vocal minority out in the cold.
As such taking a cue from the iMac Pro (the Mac Pro will probably be even higher end), I think Apple will take a rather conservative approach to the “modular” Mac Pro. The conservative approach would be to meet the needs without trying to be too cute. Meet the needs so that the design will not again paint them into another thermal corner in the future (so that they can regularly update it without major design work). As such I think the base box could end up being a lot like the “cheese grater” (with the exception of maybe not including 4 x 3.5 hard drive bays; maybe n 2.5 U.2 drive slots instead which would take up less space. I think there will likely be enough room for 2 full sized high wattage video cards, and 2 useable slots (the 2008 Mac Pro had 4 slots but only 3 were useable once 2 video cards were slotted…. which only left 1 substandard slow PCIe slot for everything else. So there will be enough for another 2 cards… which could be many things like a TPU card in addition to graphics and/or a SAS controller for old spinning rust using affordable normal external SAS drive cases. I could even see Apple returning to a 2 x XEON option – which would give more expansion bandwidth etc.
I also foresee the option that the case would be an inch shorter – with the option of being able to be turned on it’s side and rack mounted. The modularity keyword could be both external expansion and the option of having a short Apple case mount that you would be able to mount extra stuff like an array of hard drives etc. Basically delivering a case that would give no one pause to complain that it is not enough. The only issue is that the Mac Pro might slot higher when it comes to retail price than the current or historic Mac Pros.
I think the Mac mini — will also get a redesign of sorts — and up until WWDC I was thinking they would probably come back with a quad-core option for the Mac mini…. but I don’t think it necessarily serves enough of an audience for Apple to do that… I think the new Mac mini will only come with the same options as the 13″ MacBook Pro.
What I foresee though is an option to fill the headless gap that will only widen once the new Mac Pro is released… the middle area… The area that might be used for developers, for build machines etc…. that the Mac Pro might be over spec’d for. Maybe they will repurpose the trashcan Mac Pro for it…. maybe it will come with another design. The primary focus of the machine will be a headless machine that can be used for VR design etc. (which is why not the Mac mini). An i7 quad or six core CPU – with a minimum AMD Radeon 580 card. It might come with a slot for a GPU or it could be custom… don’t know. I think your caller is right last week that it might just be called the “Mac” (I don’t think Apple would go with Mac – Developer Edition :p.