Apple's updated Mac Pro is another win for AMD

Apple's updated Mac Pro is another win for AMD

Summary: Apple has finally announced an update to the aging Mac Pro desktop workstation, and it is another win for AMD.

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TOPICS: Apple, Processors
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Over the past few months, underdog chip maker AMD has had a series of big wins. It has negotiated its silicon into all the major games consoles, including the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. It has also announced plans to support Android and Chrome OS in addition to Windows, hoping to break free of the stagnant PC market.

And today AMD has scored yet another prominent win; Apple's updated Mac Pro, demoed at the WWDC 2013 keynote and expected to be available later this year.

(Source: Apple)

While the CPU has gone Intel's way – the updated Mac Pro run new-generation Xeon CPUs – but the GPUs are supplied by AMD. And the Mac Pro doesn't have just one GPU, it has two.

(Source: Apple)

The new – and as yet unspecified GPUs – will offer 4,096 stream processors, 384-bit memory buses and 528 GBps total bandwidth. That's a lot of power packed into a workstation.

(Source: Apple)

Apple has also done with the Mac Pro what many OEMs are doing with PCs, and tinkered with the form factor. Rather than a being a big, rectangular aluminum box, the new Mac Pro is smaller, black, cylindrical, and built aroud what Apple calls a "thermal core." In fact, the new workstation is positively petite compared to the Mac Pro's that people are currently used to.

(Source: Apple)

This is an interesting shift in workstation design, and it will be interesting to see whether others -- and by others I mean PC OEMs -- borrow ideas from this new look Mac Pro.

The new Mac Pro is also kitted out with flash storage, the newly announced Thunderbolt 2, and 4K video support.

On paper at least, the new Mac Pro seems like a beast of a system, and ideal for anyine that has a video or other dense data to churn through.

Topics: Apple, Processors

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30 comments
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  • Not impressed

    My guess is despite all the new non-upgradable features the price will remain the same. This has failboat written on it Apple is slowly creeping back into the first post Jobs days.
    ammohunt
    • Non-upgradable?

      Did you even watch the keynote?
      Michael Alan Goff
  • Not impressed

    My guess is despite all the new non-upgradable features the price will remain the same. This has failboat written on it Apple is slowly creeping back into the first post Jobs days.
    ammohunt
    • Oh geez!

      Well, I guess its a good thing that you posses the yardstick by which all success and failure is measured. [rolls eyes]
      I12BPhil
  • Meh...

    I'm actually surprised that Apple put so much work into making the Mac Pro a professional device.

    The dual FirePros are a nice touch, though Quadros would have been much more useful (esp. CUDA), they best FirePros at almost all industry applications other than CAD/CAE. E5s and ECC RAM were expected, no point in releasing a product with outdated hardware from launch. Thunderbolt 2.0 isn't even close to a replacement for the lack of PCIe 3.0 expansion, but sufficient for storage and display purposes.

    The PCIe SSD could have had better specs, I pull more sequential bandwidth from my RAID 0 SSDs. Hopefully it's at least eMLC NAND, that'd make up for the low performance (relative to PCIe SSD solutions).

    Personally, I just don't care for this release. The cooling solution is what worries me the most. I have no clue whether temps will be low enough for this system to behave reliably under heavy load, or whether the single fan that cools everything in the entire chassis will break down. Even good fans have a MTBF of 50,000 hrs, it's a single point of failure. Moreover, they emphasize the low volume of the fan over it's reliability or airflow. I would much rather have loud fans with excellent cooling than quiet fans with modest cooling.

    The other thing that scares me is the cost. DDR3 ECC 1866MT/s RAM isn't cheap, and we've seen how badly Apple priced RAM was when it was cheap. The FirePros won't be too expensive depending on the model, but with dual GPUs, that could change. The E5s will likely be priced the same as all new Xeons are, so that's of no concern. The PCIe SSD could be astronomically expensive with eMLC. I honestly don't see this being an affordable solution for many customers.

    The worst part of all this is that Apple still seems to focus on the ergonomics more than functionality and expandability. Professional users want a reliable, powerful desktop that they can upgrade. Apple emphasizes compactness and offloads expansions to Thunderbolt, a standard which just doesn't serve its originally intended purpose (i.e. PCIe extension).
    xfoppdnh
    • Meh yourself

      "The dual FirePros are a nice touch, though Quadros would have been much more useful (esp. CUDA)"
      More useful for whom? If you have to have CUDA, sure, but that is a truism, not a logical proof. If software is written to take advantage of the Mac architecture (and shouldn't all pro level software be written to take optimal advantage of the hardware it will run on, then it will compile to OpenGL, and run jet fine without CUDA.

      "… they best FirePros at almost all industry applications other than CAD/CAE." Not on a cost per GFLOP basis they don't.

      "Thunderbolt 2.0 isn't even close to a replacement for the lack of PCIe 3.0 expansion, but sufficient for storage and display purposes."
      Nonsense. TB 2 is more than fast enough for most applications, to the point that very few such applications will even come close to saturating a TB1 bus, let alone TB2. About the only reason for PCI 3.0 is for graphics cards with low latency, and that is not going to be running on TB anyway. So you can't run your CUDA quite as fast on an external card. Boo hoo.

      "The PCIe SSD could have had better specs, I pull more sequential bandwidth from my RAID 0 SSDs. Hopefully it's at least eMLC NAND, that'd make up for the low performance (relative to PCIe SSD solutions)."
      Apple has not released enough information about the machine for you to be reaching any of those conclusions.

      "Personally, I just don't care for this release. The cooling solution is what worries me the most. I have no clue whether temps will be low enough for this system to behave reliably under heavy load, or whether the single fan that cools everything in the entire chassis will break down."
      Then why on earth are you posting?!?

      "The other thing that scares me is the cost." (And more admissions that you have no information upon which to base a conclusion and then reaching a conclusion anyway.)

      "The worst part of all this is that Apple still seems to focus on the ergonomics more than functionality and expandability."

      Really? Based on what? What functionality did Apple compromise, and what expandability is it missing? Again, you don't know enough to form ANY informed conclusions.

      "Professional users want a reliable, powerful desktop that they can upgrade."
      And you have no reason to suppose that you can't upgrade the new MacPro, other than your admittedly baseless conjecture.

      "Apple emphasizes compactness and offloads expansions to Thunderbolt, a standard which just doesn't serve its originally intended purpose (i.e. PCIe extension)."
      First, again, you can't conclude that. Second, WTH are you taking about doesn't serve its originally intended purpose?!? TB addressed the needs for PCI expansion just fine, with bidirectional data feeds PCIe 2 couldn't match, and while it is true that PCIe 3 is theoretically faster, the proof is in the pudding, and few real world tests verify this in reality. This leave alone the fact that few real world uses will even tax PCIe 2 throughput, making it all a wash.
      .DeusExMachina.
    • Having actually worked with graphics professionals ....

      I can reliably state that with the dozens of graphics and publishing people I worked with in the Manhattan area, not ONE of them had the skills, nor the inclination to mess around with the insides of their machine. And for the most part they ran it as stock hardware from the day they got it until the day it died. Not that this is really any different from the vast majority of Windows desktop users either, whose usual "upgrade" was the entire replacement of their cpu units with a newer model.

      I can also state with a fair degree of reliability that many of them would prefer a quiet machine if they don't have to sacrifice power to have it, and the bulk of them will gladly switch to the black cylinder to reclaim all that desk space. They want to concentrate on their graphics and design work, not the drone coming from the machine fans.

      They're not looking to spend time tinkering with the insides of their machine... THEY JUST WANT TO GET THEIR WORK DONE. Preferably with as little fuss as possible.
      lazarx
  • Impressed ...

    its pretty nice to see another success of AMD as there products are really impressive and i just say that AMD FirePro graphics are amazing ........
    TariqA6
    • Yes, now if they could only write decent drivers for them...

      ATi [because that's who we're really talking about] has never been able to write a decent, non-system crashing driver for their products - this goes back to the Mach 8 graphics chips and continues today.

      nVIdia has their moments, but by and large, their drivers work without too many complications, even on heavily configured systems.
      chrome_slinky@...
      • since Apple tightly writes drivers for their own computers,

        why are people so worried about AMD's drivers?


        unless the Mac users that told me Apple makes their own tightly-written and integrated drivers are wrong?
        HypnoToad72
      • I don't remember Apple...

        ever having driver issue problems. Too many Windows pc users gnawing at theses articles, and too many bring up issues which have hurt PC over the years. Funny, how they never fail to expose problem after problem they have encountered expecting sympathetic company from an Apple user who has never experienced such issues.
        partman1969@...
      • Really?

        AMD hasnt had bad drivers for a long time.... They have beter Linux/BSD support aswell. Which is why Mac's are coming with AMD graphics... I have always had AMD/ATI Graphics and I really haven't had many driver issues over the years, and I havent had any in the past couple years.
        Jimster480
  • ATi Cards and Mac Crashes

    I agree with the person who commented on driver issues with ATi cards in the past, especially on Macs. Could be scary if they are installed in all the new towers if driver issues develop. On the other hand, if it completely resolved before production and the cards are lightning fast it could be great. Have to wait and see...
    Michael L. Casey
  • Not really impressed.

    I could still build a machine myself that will outperform that little can for less than the apple price.
    I prefer to be able to upgrade components as the technology and my budget improves, just my $.02.
    I would be surprised if this thing does not have Apples proprietary pentalobe screws just to prevent getting the case open.
    JustWow2000
    • Ignorance

      First, you have no idea whether you could build a system with similar specs for less, since NO PRICE WAS ANNOUNCED! So you're talking out your ass. As most people who brag about building computers as if it was some special skill, and not something you could train a chimpanzee with a phillips head screw driver to do.
      Second, why are you implying that you can't upgrade components? NOTHING in the released specs implies that.
      Oh wait, I forgot, you are fine just making stuff up out of thin air.
      .DeusExMachina.
      • Naive to call that ignorant

        Spec-for-spec, Apple is almost always more expensive than any other option. It's naive to even consider the notion of otherwise, so yes, he does have an idea whether he could build a similar system with similar specs for less, because traditionally it is almost always possible.

        BUT...how often are Windows users, home-built or not, suffering from crashes and component failures? Much more frequently. I typically use both Mac and PC at the same time, and even when I forget to do any maintenance on the Mac, no matter how much maintenance I do on the PC, I am always reformatting the PC and replacing components at least a couple times before even getting the slightest hint of something going bad with the Mac. On average, I run my Macs 20 hours a day while casually running the PC on average 6 hours a day...and by "run my mac", I mean heavy multimedia work and exporting and rendering, etc., so not it just being in "stand by" or "sleeping".

        It's not just paying more for a brand, it's paying more for reliability. Like buying German versus Chinese...it costs more at first, but you pay much less in the long run.
        samyouwellell
    • Have you ever used a Mac?

      That makes no sense at all. I am still using some nearly 10 year old G4 Macs here to run older equipment and software and has no modern replacement. I've upgraded the graphics cards, changed the hard drives from pata to sata, added e-sata, firewire800, usb ports, faster RAM, etc.. LOL, these nearly 10 year old dual processor Macs run Mac X, Mac Classic, and Windows XP at the same time with drag and drop between all three operating systems -why can't you Windows machine do this?

      I doubled the amount of RAM in my MacBook Pro above Apple specs with a simply software update. You do know that Apple specs can be changed do you not? I can interact freely between my older Macs and my MacBook Pro and Mac Pro even though the newer machines are Intel based and the older Macs are PowerPc units.

      Interesting bit of trivia for you. Did you know that your Windows OS has used licensed Apple technology in it since the late 1990s. Research the so called Apple & Microsoft technology sharing agreement. Don't you think you should stop using your Windows machine since it has a little bit of Apple inside? Or do you do the opposite of what you say to do? Don't that make you a hypocrite?
      WindowsSucks
      • Interesting Troll here

        10 year old macs running windows? There was no windows for POWER Mac's becuase POWER is not an arch that can run windows. Older Mac's were alot more upgradable than new Macs. And do you know that your precious MAC OS is really just a ripped off version of FreeBSD? Just letting you know. And You didnt double the amount of ram that it had you retard, if anything you just started using 64 bit... How hilariously dumb people are is just incredible!
        Jimster480
        • No, your troll was not interesting

          Or accurate:
          First, I ran windows on MY 10 year old QS Mac. Dual core 800MHz PPC. You just have no clue what you're talking about. Windows emulators for MacOS have been around for ages. Period.
          Second, how were the PPC Macs (there is no plural formed with an apostrophe) more upgradable than the current Mac Pro? They weren't.
          Third, MacOS is NOT freeBSD. Learn to understand your internet myths before you repost them for God's sake. MacOS is based on XNU, which is MACH, with freeBSD extension for POSIX. It is NOT freeBSD. And as Apple is the SINGLE LARGEST contributor to the freeBSD code base, even if it were, it would be a huge stretch of the definition to call it "ripped off".
          As to your last bit, how the do you know what he did?!? As a mater of fact, I know what he did is possible, but I'll let him set you straight about his particular machine.
          .DeusExMachina.
      • Nice story save for the fiction.

        You're either making stuff up or you don't have a clue as to what you actually have.
        The G4 Macs can't run Windows... period. And I really doubted that you actually added firewire 800 as there really weren't that many expansion cards made for the G4.
        lazarx