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What's Coming in the Next Mac Pro? Predicting Apple's 'Pro' Future

It’s no secret that Apple has neglected to update the Mac Pro line in any significant way since 2010. In fact, both the iMac and the Macbook Pro have gotten a few major revisions just in that time span, and many have turned to building Hackintoshes to satisfy the growing need for professional equipment (and to save a few bucks). We’re getting word from CEO Tim Cook that one should be coming in 2013, but the details have been vague. A Facebook page was started by Lou Borella, a freelance editor/animator, to bring together professionals looking for Apple to address this growing issue. Now that the new Apple philosophy is becoming more clear, Lou has addressed the state of Apple and the Mac Pro line, and what he thinks will be coming in the next version.

This is a guest post from Lou Borella.

We have no idea what 2013 holds for Mac Pro users. But I think I can make a few intelligent predictions.


1. There will be no optical drive. Face it, if you are still holding out for Blu Ray then you haven’t been paying attention.

2. There will be no Firewire 800. Its been slowly disappearing from every piece of hardware Apple has released over the last 2 years. Live with the dongle.

3. I’ll bet it doesn’t have more than 2 PCI ports and that might be a stretch. All of Apple’s hardware have gotten smaller and thinner recently. The only way to accomplish this in the Mac Pro is to lose the 4 perpendicular PCI ports and keep 1 or 2 slots that are parallel to the mother board.

4. Flash memory will be all the rage by WWDC 2013. Don’t be surprised if the storage is flash based – and proprietary.

5. More pro users will be more disappointed then impressed. Just like FCPX our expectations will continue to skyrocket as we wait and wait and wait … and wait. Many of us are imagining an update to the machine we have stared at for the last 10 years. We have to realize that Apple believes that the computer landscape has changed over that time. The new Mac Pro will be reflected in that landscape change. It will be a computer that Apple believes we will need and not not the computer we are hoping they will provide. Just like FCPX was vastly different than FCP7 the new Mac Pro will be vastly different then what we are used to. And just like FCPX it will be impossible for any new Mac Pro to live up to the expectations.

6. If I am correct about #5 then #6 has to be that many pro users will believe that Apple has no clue what we need as a user base. A lot of pros already feel this way for multiple reasons. First, the merging of OSX and iOS has rankled a lot of users (me included). The perceived continued focus on consumer consumption rather than professional creation is another. I say perceived because I don’t think that is a conscious decision by Apple. I think its just a byproduct of having the most successful consumer electronics in history. Many people are still creating content on Apple products. And there are companies like AutoDesk that have just recently jumped into the video production space on OSX. That shows a commitment to the platform in spite of the shortage of what we consider to be pro level hardware.

7. We might be wrong in our thinking. The new Mac Pro will not live up to our expectations but that doesn’t mean it will not be able to fulfill its role in our business. It will just do it differently and it will force us to think differently about how we work. And we will not be happy about it. Apple believes that the the power of computing lies in the efficient coding of software and the intuitive nature of the user experience. Unlike a company like Adobe or Avid who, for the most part, keep their old code and rely on faster processors to see speed gains. Apple has always pushed the hardware and software to areas that weren’t popular. See the death of the floppy, the birth and then killing of the CD and embrace of Thunderbolt and now Lightning and the FCPX launch debacle as examples.

Mac Pro - Insignificant Update from Apple During WWDC 2012

If I were to embrace the “think different” mentality, objectively speaking I could probably buy the top of the line iMac with a fat external Thunderbolt array and all the other peripherals needed for my workflow, for the same cost as what I would have spent on a new Mac Pro had it been released this year. Editing video on the iMac with external storage is a perfectly acceptable combination. Autodesk seems to think so. Video codecs have gotten so efficient that the drain on the hardware has been negated. You will probably be fine doing light compositing and motion graphics on an iMac as well especially now with the CUDA support. I’m not so sure about heavy 3d work and heavy compositing with 4k footage. I don’t do more than 1080p and my 3d skills are weak so I can’t speak from experience. But I bet it would probably be equal to or better than working on a 2006 or 2008 Mac Pro.

I know the resistance to the iMac comes from the resistance to the change in thinking. I’m guilty of it also. I hate the cables and power supplies that would be needed in an iMac config. But at the risk of being Kodak or Polaroid, or even worse, the digital photographer that says he doesn’t use Photoshop because he’s an “in camera” kind of guy (which translates as he doesn’t have a clue how to use PS), I think we need to really start thinking differently about our computing situations. Apple is not going to stop evolving and if we don’t change our adaptation skills we risk being the cranky old guy who longs for DOS.

Face it, at some point there will be no Finder in OSX. If you have been paying attention then you will be prepared. If not then you will be angry but you can’t say you were surprised.

Right now I’m not prepared but I think i’m realizing that I need to fix that. I’m not sure how yet but my thinking definitely needs to be addressed.

This post originally appeared on Lou Borella’s Facebook page, We Want a New Mac Pro.

What would you guys like to see in this new Mac Pro? Based on Apple’s recent announcements, what do you think is plausible? Have you already built your own Hackintosh and plan on keeping it, or have you jumped ship from Apple altogether?

Links:


From the We Want a New Mac Pro page: Hello Apple. We are the Creative Community and we are looking for a little clarity on one of our favorite products. The Mac Pro Tower. Is that too much to ask? Sincerely, Lou Borella (www.vg3tv.com)

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  • I would really hate to see the disk drive and finder disappear…also the ethernet cable. I know alot of us use wifi nowadays but I would still like the option to plug into ethernet…its faster and if you have your laptop on your desk in your study at home its better. Also wifi can drop out. I would hate to be doing something important on the internet and have it ruined by the wifi dropping out. Also what about ripping cd’s into itunes and burning cd’s for your cars. I know cars have aux and usb ports now for music (hell i use aux with my ipod) but there are still cd’s being made and sold all over the wold at music stores. We are not in the world of digital music just yet. Also games. And dont give me the “if you want to play games get a pc” shit. I have a pc aswell. I dont play games on it…i have very few games…spore and sims3 being a couple of them and i would not want to just give up playing them on my laptop because the new one comes out with no disk drive. Also DVD’s…what about watching them on your computer…again we are still not in the world of digital movies just yet as dvd’s and blueray are sold all over the world at nearly every supermarket and department store. Yes we can download movies but theres a sense of satisfaction when you own a boxset of a certain tv series or movie trilogy. So how about bring out a blueray player and burner instead? Also the days of needing a burner are still not over….I think computers will end up getting rid of disk drives but we are just not ready for it yet. So all in all the macbooks are good the way they are..just make them faster with more space and better graphics and with a blueray player and more usb ports and we shall be happy.

  • Cookie Jarvis on 01.25.13 @ 12:09AM

    Optical Drive… burning CDs into iTunes. I can’t remember the last time I purchased a physical audio CD. What do you mean I can only put ~ 20 songs on a disc? Loading Software? I can’t remember the last time I loaded software from a CD….whenever I did…I’m sure it was immediately followed by a full “current version” update via the web. Backing up important documents? To a puny DVD? It would take dozens of disks to make a dent. That said…I have produced video DVD’s designed for non-computer (Home DVD player) use… but that’s slowly being replaced with Airplay. Ethernet? Agreed. Unless Apple wants to explain to corporate America how all those CAT5 runs and Cisco routers are worthless, I’d keep the Ethernet port for now. How about Dual 10Gb? I have two separate subnets I need to connect to concurrently. You want to eliminate something? Make it the Mouse. Apple brought the mouse into popular use…Apple should take it out. After a day of using my Macbook Pro…when I go back to my Desktop…a mouse just seems antiquated. Magic mouse feels terrible. Standard mouse scroll wheel get’s gummed up. Wireless mouse feels “heavy”. Wired mice have….well…. wires. Embrace the trackpad. More gestures. Better software integration. Why does a FULL Apple keyboard only come in Wired format. What does Apple have against the numeric keypad and a full array of function keys? Ever work in low light? Do you like the gentle glow of a Macbook pro keyboard? Why doesn’t the desktop keyboard offer subtle backlighting? Logitech can do it. A nice clean case interior? You mean to add a disk-drive I have OPEN the case? Why aren’t high speed Hot-swappable RAID array drives the norm? Drobo can do this on the cheap. Promise doesn’t make you open the case on their thunderbolt arrays. I’d love to by a new Mac Pro – and I’ve got the funds to do it. But if I can buy a New iMac this year…and then a newer iMac next year that’s faster than this years Mac Pro for the same money. Sure MORE CORES is great, but I just don’t use enough multithreaded apps to keep 8+ buzzing at capacity.

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