This is what it feels like when a company takes Pro users seriously
Apple has launched a new Mac Pro. We didn't think it was going to happen. We heard rumors, and we sang from the rooftops, and we kept asking, and honestly, for the first time ever, something is "back" in a Mac.
Generally when Apple drops something, it's gone. But Apple dropped PCI expansion with the 2013 Mac Pro, and as they announced on stage at WWDC today, they just put it back in. "PCI is back."
Apple course corrected.
This is huge. Maybe not "we'll have SD card slots and MagSafe back in MacBook pro's" huge or "an iPhone with a headphone jack is coming again" huge, but really, legitimately huge.
Of course, since it's Apple, they had to do it their own way. Their slots will accept normal old x16 PCIe connectors, but they will also have an additional connector that is set up for Displayport and Power, giving the full function of Thunderbolt to the slot.
And, frankly, this is the kind of thing we love Apple for. Take a wide standard and include it on your system so I could just stick an NVIDIA Quadro card in there, but then also give me some extension on top of it (the MPX slot) that will allow for even more power.
Right now they are making their own special cards that go in those slots, but we can imagine that aftermarket (NVIDIA!!!) will likely find a way to build for that slot as well.
There are 8 PCI slots. 8!!!!
You could put in 2x "double" graphics cards and have 4 powerful graphics cards inside this thing and still have 4 slots left, one for an SDI card, one for fiber channel, and one for decoration.
I repeat !!!
This is a big, honking machine, with 1400 watts of power in the supply and a massive fan structure, that is designed to stay cool while working hard. Interesting one of the slots is devoted to an I/O board with USB and T3, and then there are some other ports on top of the machine, and that's about it for ports.
The only real "permanent" ports are the dual 10-gig ethernet ports, which are going to be amazingly useful for things like a Jellyfish. A bunch of the other ports are removable on that I/O board. It seems likely that Apple thinks the future of this powerhouse will largely be internal power (fill it with the cards you need), and then external 10gig storage, and maybe daisy-chaining a few T3 items together.
In addition to all that cooling power, the body is also designed to open on all sides.
This is also amazing.
If you work hard with your machine, sometimes you need to swap things out. You burn through graphics cards. It's a part of life. Opening the original cheese grater was already so easy, but this is promising to be even easier. In addition, you can swap out those bottom legs for wheels if you want to.
Video is so clearly one of the big markets of this machine they spent quite a while talking about it and even presented that they are working with RED and AVID already on workflows involving their new Afterburner, a dedicated video processing card. We can be confident that Blackmagic and Adobe will take full advantage of the processing power as well. And the best part of it?
It's field replaceable. Process so many RED dailies you burn out your Afterburner?
This is practically the full wishlist, with quite a few Apple twists and tricks to keep things interesting and give us more than we were asking for. Yes, it's missing NVIDIA, but honestly, I'll be surprised if NVIDIA doesn't make something custom and aftermarket to dial into the chassis in a reasonable amount of time. Now we just need to keep asking for a return to a real "pro" laptop (SD card slot and the 2013 keyboard, and a mix of ports and MagSafe), and Apple will be literally firing on all filmmaker cylinders.
Is it expensive?
Hell yeah, it's expensive. It starts at $5999.
But it's a professional device. It's designed to save you money. If you are a colorist billing $150/hr or an editor paying your assistant $400/night to stay and oversee renders, speed and stability literally save you money.
The power this offers will make your interactions with clients faster and easier as they watch previews of what you do in realtime even when working with piles of effects. It'll save you money when you no longer need to pay an assistant to babysit renders overnight. It'll save you money when you render out and catch a QC issue in the output before you leave and can fix it in the room. It's expensive for the same reason a professional drill is 20x the price of a consumer drill... cause when it stops working you lose money.
Consumers should look at an iMac, but if you are a working pro, this thing is going to be amazing. Head to Apple for More.
- 8-28 cores
- Intel Xeon W processor
- 32GB-1.5TB memory
- AMD Radeon Pro 580X, Pro Vega II, or Pro Vega II Duo
- Two HDMI 2.0 ports on card
- Support for up to eight 4K displays, four 5K displays, or four Pro Display XDRs
- Afterburner ProRes and ProRes Raw accelerator card
- 256GB-4TB SSD
- Support for: USB 3, Thunderbolt 4, Ethernet, USB-C, DisplayPort, 3.5mm headphone jack