A New Mac Pro Design Could be Very Cool

| Particle Debris

What do we want in a new Mac Pro? A new design, after nine years, could be the biggest talk of the town next week. That is, if Apple thinks the developers would be excited and customers would take a fresh look.

The basic design of the Mac Pro was conceived, likely, a decade ago and introduced in 2003 in the form of the Power Mac G5. It was based on the idea that power users were differentiated from home users and the iMac. It was also based on the idea that internal storage transfer rates were substantially faster than external interfaces. The original product had just two FireWire 400 ports and one FireWire 800 port.

Ten years later, a lot has changed in both the technology and the customer needs. For example, the iPad is steering some customers away from notebooks, and there may well be a resurgence in desktops. However, not a 40+ pound monster that cuts the fingers.

It’s fun to think about what a new Mac Pro would be like, and this is a perfect opportunity for Apple to update the design, based on changing technology and customer needs. That’s because not much exciting in terms of physical design in happening in the world of Apple. The new MacBooks are expected to look just about the same, and except for a (rumored) 7-inch iPad, nothing much is happening with that product’s physical design. A new Mac Pro would have people talking.

Plus, I know that a lot of customers find the 27-inch iMac awkward to tote into the Apple retail store for repair, that internal drives and expansion slots are not so important with Thunderbolt, and that optical drives are history. That fact provides a lots of design latitude for a desktop that has a boot SSD, no moving parts, and is a dramatic step up from the Mac mini.

I’ve never cared for the sharp edges of the current Mac Pro that can scratch hardwood or cut the fingers. Smaller, lighter, faster and beautiful are always nice. It’ll be interesting to see if Jonathan Ive and Bob Mansfield are thinking along those lines.

Below is an old concept at Six Revisions for a netbook connected to a display.  But it strikes me, in 2012, as something that would be incredibly beautiful as a Mac Pro. It would have to be a little bigger, though.  Those Xeon chips crank out some heat.  Even so, how about something low, black and sleek?

New Mac Pro conceptA concept derived from a concept Image Credit: Six Revisions

 

Tech News Debris

UNIX nut cases are almost always interested in languages, and so I was interested to see this essay that updates us on the most popular languages. Klint Finley uses five different methodologies and then comprares them. A man after my heart: “5 Ways to Tell Which Programming Languages are Most Popular.” Of course, popularity is driven by the market, and everything depends on which market you want to be in. For beginners and people who want to get into mobile app development, C and Objective C are good starts. But for business work, in the enterprise, it’s Java. All Java.

The job listings section (#3) suggests what’s a marketable skill these days, something students and faculty should pay attention to. When asked, I tell students to learn Java and Perl (or Python, to taste). That covers the high end object oriented stuff combined with fast, low level, elegant scripting. And once you know Perl, the C family is a no-brainer.

Recently, I’ve talked about Dish Network’s Auto Hop feature. It seems that Dish was just begging to get sued and/or cut off. Last week they were sued. This week, the breaks in service started. And Dish thinks an offensive is the right way to go on this. “Dish Goes Offensive Against Hoak Media Over Ad-Skipping, Pricing.” What’s more amazing than Dish’s “kick me” approach is the opportunity waiting for Apple.

Do you have an old Apple ][ in the attic or garage that you’ve been meaning to clean up and get working? If so, you might want to check out these videos by Todd Harrison that might help you get started. “See an Apple II get torn down, cleaned up, and put back in working order.

I’m not planning a review of this next app, but I did want to bring it to your attention. The scale of the universe, in powers of 10, is amazing. I think not many people who haven’t taken an astronomy class or done some studying appreciate the scale of our universe, both upwards and downwards. For example, if our sun, which is about 100 times larger than the earth, were a basketball, the nearest star would be over 5,000 miles away. And that’s just our backyard, tiny by galactic and cosmic scale.

This app, Cosmic Eye, will take you down to the smallest distances known to man and up to distances on the scale of the universe, each step by a factor of ten. The best thing? It’s free. The developer told me that he just wanted to put it out there for general education.”

A lot of scientists offered their images for free, and our idea was to show them to the world for free. Our goal is outreach and education, not business. However, we are running adds (at least for some time) and offer to remove adds for US$0.99. The little income is used to cover some admin costs, apple developer fees, and expenses for publicity.”

If you just want a preview, here’s the YouTube demo.

NMG 1300

NGC 1300. A hundred thousand years to cross at the speed of light.

Finally, we all know about Apple’s Siri and how it has brought a science fiction dream to reality. But what’s next? The popularity of Siri, kickstarting the technology on a massive scale, with excellent funding, could bring even more rapid advances. Check: “Where Speech Recognition Is Going.”

Comments

Ross Bale

There is a fine line to be drawn here.

I agree that the design could do with an overhaul to keep up with the gorgeous Apple hardware line, but this machine is primarily a power workhorse for hardcore processing such as High End Design, Video production etc and if they can get the expandability and pure power into a smaller sexier design, then I will be very happy, but the design should complement the function and requirement of the end user, not compromise it.

geoduck

?5 Ways to Tell Which Programming Languages are Most Popular.?

Back in college I decided to learn a language in order to meet girls.
Unfortunately I chose Fortran

It?s fun to think about what a new Mac Pro would be like

I still like a modular approach. With TB this becomes even more intriguing. Imagine a Mac Cube with a series of Aluminum MacMini-like enclosures on top. The “cube” holds the processor and RAM and the core componants, The “mini” cases would hold drives, slots for PCIx cards, etc., etc. The user can add processing power, storage, video cards, and so fourth as needed. Put the TB plug on the top and the TB socket on the bottom and you could simply stack up whatever parts you need for your purpose.

Lancashire-Witch

@ geoduck. I used to impress girls with my shape, ravel and roll in APL.  Most of them only spoke Algol.

John Martellaro

I have coded in APL! On a teletype terminal. Just like this.

http://www.mommybytes.com/2008/05/my-favorite-teachers.html

zewazir

With consumer level desktops, function can (somewhat) follow form because the average consumer isn’t going to need the full-blown capabilities of the average quad-core, 8-thread processor. Performance and capability can be (somewhat) compromised in favor of “coolness”. Professionals, however, need function to precede form, not follow it. If function is not first, it’s not a professional desktop.

I, too, would like to see a design change in the Mac Pro. With SSD’s up and coming, maybe they can shrink the box a bit, but still retain, or even increase the number of drive bays. But whether they keep to a large case, or shrink it a bit, the new Mac Pro (assuming rumors are correct that there IS a new one) needs to keep the capabilities and functionality expected in a professional level desk top computer.  These functions include expandability in it’s several areas, from memory to storage (including optical drives) to video, etc. Compromise the ability to easily expand a pro desktop, and the user may as well save a bunch by purchasing a not-so-pro desktop. Or, (worse for Apple) go somewhere else that still understands what a pro desktop requires: a nice, BIG box capable of holding a whole bunch of expansion components.

Scott B in DC

I have coded in APL

John: I cannot belive you admitted to coding in APL. It would be like me admitting to programming in RPGII using 96-column punch cards. Wait… did I just say that?? NOOOOOOOOOOO! Dont’ listen! Stop! Delete!! DRAT!!!

grin

Lancashire-Witch

APL - some people said the acronym stood for A Pig of a Language. It certainly required you to ‘think different’.

TaliesinSoft

APL - some people said the acronym stood for A Pig of a Language. It certainly required you to ?think different?.

I’m a long time fan of APL and was the project leader for the Burrough’s implementation. I strongly remember giving a demonstration of APL to computing students at what was then Glassboro State, now Rowan, in New Jersey. For their final exam in beginning programming students were allowed to pick one from ten problems and submit a solution in Fortran. In the hour long demonstration I was able to demonstrate a solution in APL for all ten problems. That was back in the early 1970s. APL does indeed exist today in a version for the IBM PC, a version from Dyalog, and a version I use on my Mac running it under Parallels.

Gareth Harris

geoduck:
Back in college I decided to learn a language in order to meet girls.
Unfortunately I chose FORTRAN.

Best comment in a long long time !!! Many thanks.

I believe the Mac Pro followup is all about packaging. I hate a collection of little boxes chained together with cables. The Mac Pro redeeming feature was its size and easy access to memory and disks. A more modern follow on might support an internal rack of CPUs, SSDs and TB devices. Obviously multiple TB monitors might be supported but I believe the GPU in the TB monitor is still a ways off.

life?{?1 ??.?3 4=+/,?1 0 1?.??1 0 1?.???}  PERL = child of APL?

geoduck

I believe the GPU in the TB monitor is still a ways off.

OK this is slightly OT but it looks like we have a bunch of programmers here so I’ll ask.

Where I work I’m good friends with our programmer. He came to us from a company that makes games and has been coding for like 15 years or so. One thing he is adament about is his disdain for Macs. (Other than that he’s a pretty cool guy.) One of the major reasons is that OpenGL is way behind on the Mac. I showed him an Apple Developer page listing the OpenGL versions supported on the Mac. He said that proved his point because on other platforms OpenGL is up to 4.x where on the Mac it’s only at 2.1 at best.

I’m a hardware guy not a programmer. Could somebody tell me what the deal is with OpenGL? Why isn’t it as current as on Windows or *nix? Why isn’t this driven by the graphics card rather than OS-X? What’s the deal? This seems strange if the Mac Pro is intended for high level animators, graphics professionals, and such. (See how I tied it back to the Mac Pro in the end :grin: )

Ion_Quest

New Mac PRO should be much smaller and start with a dual-core AMD for $800 including GPU.

Dave b

If apple can’t get serious about the enterprise, can’t make money in the area, thinks it is a distraction, then it needs to either create an independent group who will, spin off a company or license the Os. Independent effort here can draft off of the leading consumer arm and would be limited to desktops and severs. I’ve hundreds of thousands of lines deep in enterprise work, and a bulging lab deep in Xserves. Apple making this move today would have very minor negative impact to bottom line and could be the boost it needs to make headway in the enterprise. Such success could only help consumer sales. Do it now! The state of apple and Mac Os is very different that 1997.  Little risk to apples core business. As an enterprise user I have little desire to purchase minis, and no desire to purchase iMacs. I need desktops and servers, and the laptop line works for everybody.

gnasher729

Where I work I?m good friends with our programmer. He came to us from a company that makes games and has been coding for like 15 years or so. One thing he is adament about is his disdain for Macs. (Other than that he?s a pretty cool guy.) One of the major reasons is that OpenGL is way behind on the Mac. I showed him an Apple Developer page listing the OpenGL versions supported on the Mac. He said that proved his point because on other platforms OpenGL is up to 4.x where on the Mac it?s only at 2.1 at best.

Your friend is a bit careless. When you go to the developer page, it first shows information for “OpenGL legacy support”, which contains support for all the old cruft that you shouldn’t be using anymore - that is limited to OpenGL 2.1. If you click on “Core” you find that OpenGL 3.2 is fully supported.

John Martellaro
geoduck

On the subject of OpenGL, here?s some good background:

That’s very helpful. Thanks.

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