At the Primate Labs blog, founder John Poole, commented on the Geekbench results for a new Mac Pro 2013 running a 2.7-GHz Intel Xeon E5, 12 cores and 24 threads. Poole said he was surprised by its underwhelming performance, perhaps only 10 percent faster than the top of the line current model. He offered an array of reasons for the performance from preproduction hardware snafus to less-than-optimized software.
It's too early to say that the new Mac Pro is a disappointment. Even if performance doesn't improve, Apple's managed to get better performance out of a system that's an eighth the size of the current system.
Of course, concerns over the performance story are both premature and understandable given the differences between the older Mac Pro architecture and options and the new design.
Developer Marco Armeni observed on his blog that the forthcoming Mac Pro only has one processor socket and thus will show poorly against the dual-socketed, previous generation machines.
This is going to be a common response: the new Mac Pro can’t blow us away in Geekbench relative to the old ones because there aren’t any dual-socket models. It’s one of the biggest compromises in the new design: easily-parallelized tasks won’t be much better, and may be worse, than on the old $5,000+ dual-socket Mac Pros.
As Armeni points out, many platform apps don't do well with so many cores, including Adobe Photoshop. Nor what the sales were of the dual-socket models. He suggests that with its high-powered, dual AMD FirePro GPUs as standard configuration, professional apps will need to "shift more of the heavy lifting to OpenCL."
If they succeed, the new Mac Pro will probably crush everything else in its price range (and the rest of the Mac lineup). In the meantime, or for people who won’t use OpenCL-accelerated apps, it will probably be an incremental Mac Pro update: similar CPU increases as every other Mac Pro update, minus most of the internal expansion. So if you have a 2010 Mac Pro, there may not be much reason to upgrade.
The timing of the launch of the new Mac Pros is likely dependent on Intel's ramp up of production for the Thunderbolt 2 controllers that were code-named "Falcon Ridge." An engineering source attending WWDC, who declined attribution, told me that the new Mac Pro's set of 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports will use three Falcon Ridge controllers. These won't be available until Q4 2013. Intel showed its preliminary silicon at NAB in April working a Windows development system as well as at Computex 2013 in Taiwan this month.
The recent criticism of the compact, high-style enclosure of the forthcoming Mac Pro is interesting. Its compact, mobile (for a desktop) design is causing some concern from conservative Mac admins who want everything in their systems under one enclosure.
However, I bet many of their clients in the content-creation field will be pleased with a cool, desktop machine with their noisy Thunderbolt storage devices stored in an away in an air-conditioned closet. Sumitomo already is selling Thunderbolt 1 cables with a reach of 30 meters, and yes, while they are currently only available in Japan and cost a mint, they are for real.