Early benchmark results sighted of preproduction Mac Pro 2013

Early benchmark results sighted of preproduction Mac Pro 2013

Summary: Results of tests with early, preproduction models of the forthcoming Mac Pro were sighted at the crowd-sourced Geekbench performance tool site. Preproduction analysis of the model is continuing.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple, Storage
10

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.

Topics: Apple, Storage

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

10 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Prosumer ... but not a pro

    I'm inclined to think the new Pro design packaging is a mistake. The iPod, iPhone, iPad and AIR are all world-leading combinations because their size and style fits genuine cunsumer needs. In the professional workstation market the need is for flexibility, peripheral consolidation and raw power. The new design compromises the professional needs with consumer packaging. (This is the same mistake as Windows 8 - instead of a tablet OS and a workstation OS MSFT produced a chimera of an OS.)

    30m cables to a separate closet?
    ..., professional apps will need to "shift more of the heavy lifting to OpenCL."
    Presumably these are sold under the marketing propaganda of 'design features' :-(

    Benchmarking: do we really need to do it? Splendid IO because of the new disk type, limited single socket action, limited memory, no upgradeability.

    Cute but disappointing. Looks like a device for a prosumer ... but not a pro.
    jacksonjohn
    • Missrepresentation

      What is your basis for stating no upgradeability.

      Are you asserting that the Processor is soldered in?

      Are you asserting that the PCIe systems are soldered in?

      Are you asserting that the Graphics cards are soldered in?

      Are you asserting that the Memory modules are soldered in? Even though it is clear that they are not.

      It is clear that Apple have taken a mainly external, rather than internal expandability route. But with 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports, I would say that this machine is far more expandable than it's predecessor ever was.
      Henry 3 Dogg
      • Re: Misrepresentation

        > Are you asserting that the Processor is soldered in?
        Unless Intel Xeon CPUs started using BGA (which they haven't yet), Intel Xeons won't be soldered into any board, regardless of manufacturer.

        > Are you asserting that the PCIe systems are soldered in?
        Given that there are no PCIe slots (internal or external) on this device, I'm not sure what you're referring to here. I would venture to guess GPU if it weren't for you bringing it up in the next question.

        > Are you asserting that the Graphics cards are soldered in?
        The GPUs are soldered into their boards, while the boards look to be upgradable (yet proprietary to Apple).

        > Are you asserting that the Memory modules are soldered in? Even though it is clear that they are not.
        AFAIK I can't think of a single workstation with soldered RAM. The only markets I've seen for it are small-scale desktops and ultra-thins.

        The Mac Pro is certainly upgradeable. The problem is that these upgrades are very limited.

        Given most workstation motherboards have two to four CPU sockets, a single socket for Mac Pros is disappointing.

        There are TB PCIe chassis, but with TB 2.0 limited to x4 PCIe 2.0 speeds (x2 PCIe 3.0), it presents a rather glaring bottleneck for any external (GP)GPUs (e.g. Nvidia Quadro, Nvidia Tesla, Intel Xeon Phi). Let's also not forget the cost factor of a PCIe chassis.

        It's a wonder why Apple opted for AMD GPUs over Nvidia, given CUDA's dominance in industry applications (AMD FirePros only really best Nvidia Quadros at CAD/CAE). With TB 2.0 bandwidth as bad as it is, anyone who wants to use a non-AMD GPU has to look elsewhere.

        The maximum total RAM is 64 GB in this machine, which is rather small compared to the maximum total RAM of other workstation offerings.

        > But with 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports, I would say that this machine is far more expandable than it's predecessor ever was.

        In terms of native storage and display capability, I'd say certainly. However, for applications with high I/O (storage or (GP)GPU), TB 2.0 doesn't cut it. It's a tradeoff that some people will be happy with, and some won't.
        jccajtne
        • No you can use any GPU you want and a few of them

          The PCI bus is extended out on Thunderbolt - this is the whole point.

          You can stick heaps of slots for graphics cards on these boxes - what's inside is just the starting point.

          240TB (at least) of RAID

          Many Many GPUs

          etc. etc.

          Not upgradeable??? You are joking aren't you?
          richardw66
  • Missrepresentation

    "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."

    Wrong. He commented on what had been CLAIMED to be Geekbench results for a new Mac Pro 2013. But as with all Mac rumour based material, they are at least as likely to be fake as real.

    Now why is it that I am certain that if these results had been astoundingly fast, David Morgenstern would have remembered to mention their lack of credibility.
    Henry 3 Dogg
  • seriously?

    Well David, I don't care how long you have been writing about macs but this statement to pros has lost you all credibility: "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" Really, I mean really? Seriously? Who are you talking to beyond the keyboard David? Mac Pros are for pros, not easily-swayed amateurs. We do smoke and mirrors every day, it's our job, we don't get sucked in by form over function. We don't care what it looks like or what size it is, it is our dirty,industrial, grunt-filled tool kit, ALL about function. Stick to talking to consumers and prosumers, there is never a time pros would consider the size or looks of a machine more important than its performance, not ever.
    chrisozman
    • Yes generally true - but…

      Form factor can matter in some applications.

      Looks actually can matter in pro markets also.

      Speed genreally is the point - yes. Expandability can be the overriding factor though.

      GeekBench results on pre-production machines that are dubious in origin is not meaningful really. Why the article? That's the question!
      richardw66
  • Let's wait and see

    I understand everyone's concerns about the lack of upgradability, but I also think it's best that we wait and see before passing judgment. But then again, I typically try to be optimistic. I mean, look at Final Cut Pro X. In my opinion, it's amazing software. I see the Mac Pro being no different.

    http://macpro2013accessories.com
    daviddifranco
    • Proccesor swaps not likely

      OK so you most likely won't swap out the processor.

      You'll only be able to fill the RAM slots with the largest RAM modules it supports.

      So what's new there?

      No shortage of drive opportunities really. A MacBook Pro can do 240TB - and the MacPro will do at least that but faster.

      Slots are addable as needed. GPUs can go in those slots.

      Can anyone really name some genuine lack of expandability compared to other similar machines?

      I can only see more expandability than a PC and more than a current MacPro.
      richardw66
  • Marco ArmenT

    Is Armeni a cross between Arment and Armani?

    It's Marco Arment.
    rufwork