Apple's Mac Pro Discontinued in Europe, Here's a Modular Design That Could (But Won't) Replace It
It's no secret that the 'new' Mac Pro isn't here yet, but if it's not coming anytime soon, you're going to be Mac Pro-less in Europe for the foreseeable future. That's because the Mac Pro does not comply with a new European regulation set to go into effect March 1st. No one really knows what's coming in the next version, though we had a terrific guest post talking a bit about what the new Mac Pro could be like. But what if Apple went even more radical (but still functional) with their new design? Peter Zigich, a designer, has taken a stab at what he thinks would be a perfect replacement to the current model: a modular Mac Pro that isn't one-size-fits-all, but accommodates a wide range of professional and consumer applications.
First, here's the word from Apple about the decision, sent to its European resellers. This is from 9to5 Mac:
As of March 1, 2013, Apple will no longer sell Mac Pro in EU, EU candidate and EFTA countries because these systems are not compliant with Amendment 1 of regulation IEC 60950-1, Second Edition which becomes effective on this date. Apple resellers can continue to sell any remaining inventory of Mac Pro after March 1. Apple will take final orders for Mac Pro from resellers up until February 18th for shipment before March 1 2013. Countries outside of the EU are not impacted and Mac Pro will continue to be available in those areas.
We've been told by CEO Tim Cook that a new design is on the way for 2013, but it's unclear if that's still Apple's plan, or how much a new design would deviate from the current one. That doesn't mean we can't dream, right? Peter Zigich has put together some renders of his dream Mac Pro, and how he thinks Apple could stay relevant and produce a model that will satisfy a vast group of users for years to come.
Is Such a Thing Even Possible?
I actually wanted to include a semi-sad face emoticon ( :/ ) in the title -- and still, my heart aches a bit to know how unlikely it is for Apple to take this route, or even one like it. I say 'unlikely' because, well, Apple just don't do Fi'Wi no more, for one thing. And beyond that, saying a totally air-tight flat screen PC is 'for the pro in all of us' doesn't speak very loudly about trusting the 'pro' to his or her own devices (literally). Which is fine, because if it's really sexy, and it works very well, that may be enough for the pro in many of us, at least. For those who dream of more, though, dream on -- at least for now. Specifically, you're invited to share Canadian 3D designer (and long-time Apple workstation-user) Peter Zigich's dream for the truly-ultimate professional Mac machine.
The Greatest Imaginary Mac Pro You'll Never See?
The basic idea is simple and elegant, but very powerful in its expansibility -- like anything modular, the power is in the patchwork. 'Some assembly required' means a bit more build work, of course, but in theory this also means you could build, and build, and build. Here are the details Peter himself told fcp.co:
I have come up with a new design for the MacPro. It is a radical departure from current workstations, it could be the Mac Pro for the next 10 years. I'm very happy with the results, and would like to share with you.
Key Design features:
- Modular Design -- Like Lego Blocks. Computer built from different interlocking sections, highly customizable. Sections seamlessly connect, and share power & data (Thunderbolt). Different sections: CPU, Optical, Power Supply, PCI, HDD etc. All dimensions are 100% accurate.
One user needs are very different from others, so should be a MacPro.
- Pro & Consumer CPU Options:
Pro: Server class dual CPUs (Xenon E5), 8 DIMM ECC memory slots.
Consumer CPU i3, i5, i7, 4 DIMM slots.
- Entering new markets -- Various configurations:
Small home/ iTunes Server | Competes with NAS makers (QNAP, Synology) | Pro Servers (again) | Consumers Workstations (Headless iMac) | Base Consumer (little better than Mac Mini) | Pro Workstations
There's also a follow-up post at fcp.co in which Peter elaborates on the possibility that Apple will, in the future, be switching to the more energy-efficient ARM CPUs. He speculates-in-specs to produce more renders, this time visualizing how much smaller an equally (or even more) powerful machine could be compared to the contemporary Mac Pro (pictured left, again courtesy fcp.co and Peter Zigich).
So, What's It Gonna Be?
The elephant in this here room, of course, is what and when the future of Mac Pro dawns. One thing is guaranteed: whatever Apple does unveil is going be a mind-blower. It'll have to be. The smartphone turn-around time -- and along those lines, the dispensable difference between the iPhones 4s and 5 -- just can't apply here. We've simply been waiting for too much for too long. Tiny shifts (kind of) work to launch a 'fresh' model product, but only on that short-attention-span time scale.
In any case, it would certainly be exciting for anything like this to find its way into the Mac Pro line -- especially since you'll no longer be able to get the current model in Europe after March 1st. Of course, you could always order some boards, chips, and prefab parts to try your hand at building something like it yourself! Alternatively, you could ask Peter if he'd like to build one for you (though unless you're offering a lot of cha-ching, I'd settle for thanking him for his work). If I knew what kudos were, I'd give a ton of them to Peter, and to fcp.co for the 'digg.'
What do you guys think of the discontinuation announcement? For those of you in the EU, is this going to affect you until Apple introduces a new Mac Pro model? What do you think of Peter's design work? Is this your dream Mac Pro, or a bit too heavy on options for your needs? Is this something you think Apple may actually produce in its pro line of machines?
- Modular Mac Pro Design Concept -- Peter Zigich -- iPack3D
- What could the new MacPro look like? How about a flexible modular design? -- fcp.co
- Smaller and faster - What the future MacPro might look like part two -- fcp.co
- Apple to discontinue Mac Pro in Europe March 1st over new regulatory standard -- 9to5 Mac