The 2019 Mac Pro redesign was the biggest overhaul of the Apple product – ever since. From the exterior design to the internal components, nothing remains untouched. Nothing done yet Mac enthusiasts saluted more than Apple’s promise of widespread modularity.
Two years later, how well has that promise been realized? Looking at the selection of what Apple offers today, you won’t get much out of the components and modules launched in 2019. On the surface, it calls into question how serious Apple is with its promises.
I spoke with several Mac Pro creatives, who employ a $ 50,000 machine in their everyday professional work. Has it met their very high demands, or is it more limited than its expansion capacity?
Even before the Mac Pro saw the light of day, Apple execs Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller, and John Teranus gave an interview with several reporters where he avoided the modular nature of the upcoming machine. Of course, this was unlikely to mean Apple, “modularity” a fully customizable system like a traditional PC. Nevertheless, it signaled a notable departure from the company’s viselike grip on its products and what you were allowed to do with them.
That, like John Traunwieser, a recording and mixing engineer John Powell Studio engineer, set some expectations among future Mac Pro users. In many ways, he is the intended audience for the Mac Pro.
The need for Traunwieser was very specific in the launch of the Mac Pro.
“The three biggest concerns for us were PCIe expansion, a rack mount option and a dual CPU option,” he explained. “Based on the 2013 design, I was thinking that PCIe is not a concern for some users, so I figured there would be many pieces of Vinay. A CPU chassis (single or dual) with I / O options, then a separate attachment chassis for the hot-swappable storage option, and a separate chassis for the PCIe expandability option. That way, you can buy the moment you need it or upgrade later. “
Apparently, his grandiose expectations for that amount of modularity were never fully successful. Traunwieser still seemed content with what was eventually announced.
“In terms of modularity and detail, the Mac Pro is exactly what we expected.”
“When the final design was released,” he continued, “it did not turn out to be the ultimate modular machine I imagined, although it satisfied most of what we wanted in a chassis.”
Prior to the 2019 redesign, Truniverser and his colleagues were still struggling on the 2012 Mac Pro machines, revising them to “squeeze every last performance we needed from them,” as they put it. They managed to avoid what Apple’s Craig Federghi called the 2013 “Thermal Corner” “Mac Can” Pro.
When it comes to the 2019 model, however, the truncizer seemed more satisfied. For musicians and audio engineers, however, many of the Mac Pro’s innovations around graphics remain untapped. This is why someone involved in the film industry brings a different view on the usefulness of the Mac Pro.
Steve Freeborn is a digital imaging technician and co-owner of Freehill Productions, who has worked on films in the Marvel franchise. For Freebairn, the finished product was close to what he had always imagined to be in the Mac Pro.
“In terms of modularity and detail, the Mac Pro is what we expected,” he explained. “We’ve been solving systems, testing equipment, and new challenges for years with all computer systems, so we’re familiar with what was announced and how we’ll use it.”
Freebairn was sure that the Mac Pro could provide no computer whatsoever.
“We especially love that each additional MPX module can not only add two GPUs for rendering files, it also adds two additional Thunderbolt 3 controllers for a total of four more ports,” he said. “Even the I / O card on the Mac Pro is replaced when fast connections are issued. It has been so amazing that other systems are brought to a standstill to be able to throw jobs at the machine while the Mac Pro has the bandwidth to spare. “
It is clear: The creative community was quite happy with what Apple launched in 2019. But has the follow-up fulfilled the latent potential of a more expandable and modular Mac Pro?
What about the future?
The Mac Pro has several configuration options at checkout, while post-purchase expansion options are available at Apple’s online store and third-party retailers. But compared to what was presented at the 2019 launch, the number of available modular parts has not increased drastically. Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, John Ternus, spoke of “quick, regular updates” to the machine, but has it really come true?
This concern in part prompted the creation of this article. But I wanted to know if it was a misconception from my side. Did real Mac Pro users feel the same way? Two years, are there enough modular options? And what is the future?
Freeborn gave us a detailed list of expansion options, which he would like to see in the future.
“An MPX module from a certain Team Green would be amazing.”
“There are a lot of options for configuring the Mac Pro right now,” he said, “but there’s always room for more. We’re expecting a high-end single and dual GPU option coming.”
Since the launch of the Mac Pro, processors and GPUs have continued to be faster and more capable. Being modular means allowing people to keep up with the latest and greatest silicon, but Apple should be the arbiter of those upgrades.
“As new processors, GPUs, and other add-in cards are released, we expect Apple to make these options available as upgrades to existing systems,” Freeborn said. “We are not looking for a new chassis design, but will always be interested in getting a very bleeding edge for objects inside the system.”
Freebairn expected Apple to provide the upgrade it was looking for. But there are some places where Apple won’t go, such as supporting Nvidia graphics.
“Freebair told me,” it could also be shot to suggest, but an MPX module from a certain Team Green would be amazing. “” Thunderbolt 4 will be a clear addition to future MPX cards and an updated I / O card. If we really want to get mad, then even a dream to pay for a new mainboard for PCIe 4/5 support. Option. “
As Freeborn previously reported, the current Mac Pro is more than enough to meet their needs, and they emphasize that “even if none of these upgrades happen, the current Mac Pro will be in my arsenal for many years to come Will remain. ” But his ideas aptly demonstrate the continued need for upgrades in the pro world – and the need for a Mac Pro to maintain and grow for its various users.
There is something that Trunivers has also touched on.
“It is impossible to make a machine that is one size fits all creative industry. All have their own niche and custom setups for their specific workflows. “
However, Traunwieser also knew that it would be impossible for Apple to install a device that every Creative Pro needed. “It just so happens that film scoring and mixing require an incredibly complex and sophisticated setup, so we always want more. The thing is that it’s not always practical for everyone to use, so it makes sense that the R&D process needs to be cut … With audio, we’re not concerned with graphics performance, so we’re High performance cards are not taking up too much space. However, I can see video editors running out of space really quickly. “
For this not to happen, Apple should continue to offer various expansion options. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the commanding heights of the creative economy, and without ongoing support, the Mac Pro may fall behind the needs of the industry.
The ball is in apple’s court
Apple has insisted that they listened to creative professionals when they redesigned the Mac Pro. Traunwieser asked Doug Brooks, Apple’s product manager for Mac hardware, to meet him before the 2019 launch, to hear what he wanted from a top-spec Mac system. That approach has borne fruit in the form of the Mac Pro redesign, which since 2013 is a much more expandable, flexible machine than the “Pro Trash” Mac Pro.
But eventually, when it comes to ensuring the continued success of the Mac Pro, the buck stops at Apple. For Freeborn, this means support and a guarantee of future upgrades along the way. This is important when you spend $ 50,000 on your computer.
Traunwieser felt the same way about Apple’s continued support for the future and shared some clear thoughts on the limitations of Thunderbolt, the mainstay of Apple’s modern Mac.
“With such a price point, modularity was intended to be a flexible expansion option with at least 10 years of operation. With technology constantly evolving, it is a constant struggle to keep track of compatibility and new connectivity.
Apple cannot afford to let another year or two go without supplying the necessary upgrades.
This was one of the important reasons to bring back the PCI slot. They have much higher bandwidth than Thunderbolt ports, and new cards can be developed as technology advances. This enables 3rd party companies to have a stable backbone to develop new products, without worrying that the I / O structure will change completely from one year to the next. This improves system stability across the board. “
According to these Mac Pro users, whom we talked to, Apple has done an excellent job at outfitting a system that not only stands on its feet from the get-go, but allows a lot of customization in the form of needs and workflows gives.
But two years is a long time in the tech world – and even at its top end. Apple has gotten along with what it currently has to offer, but it cannot afford to let another year or two go without supplying the necessary upgrades.
The time is quickly approaching when Apple will seriously need to revisit the Mac Pro to ensure that it is still running in 2019. The Apple Silicon Chip is coming at some point in the Mac Pro (with the 32-core version) likely leading the way for the Mac Pro), but will need more than that to keep it relevant for the next decade. Let’s hope Apple is on the case.