You Will Want a New Mac Pro, but Here’s Why You’ll NEED it

| Editorial

When Apple announced its new Mac Pro at WWDC, the first thought of many customers was that they wanted it. Badly. Then reality sunk in; this is a Mac Pro for professionals. It'll be too expensive for the Rest of Us. However, here's why you'll need it anyway. And will love doing it.

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Whenever a new Mac comes out that breaks new ground, the first reaction by many is: "Oh sure. It's cool. It's fast. But I don't need it." In time, however, we'll all come to realize that we really do need it. Here are couple of reasons.

1. Developers. Apple's developers spend a little money to make bigger money, so the investment in a Mac Pro or two will be recovered in several ways. First, current compiles will go faster, so better, more complex products can get to market faster. Plus, new products can be developed faster. But more importantly, the availability of a very, very fast Mac invites the developer to explore richer, more capable apps.

For example, if rendering in a game is almost realistic, the new Mac Pro will tempt the developer to shoot for photo-realistic. If a computation was too long to tackle and would make the developer look bad, this Mac will invite new computations that delight the user.

Of course, knowing that a Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro from 2009 wouldn't be able to run this fabulous new app does give a developer pause, but one has to move on. The computational masterpiece runs nicely, and a Mac Pro may be specified as the optimal Mac. But the developer is unlikely to shy away from pushing the limits on Apple's fastest Mac just because a lot of slower Macs can't handle the app. Pushing frontiers has always been the norm.

The future's not back there.  It's over here.

2. Ripple Effects. Once a Mac like this gets into the field by the hundreds of thousands, it will send ripple effects throughout the customer base that we might not appreciate today. It's speed, by its design, sets the bar. Soon, fewer and fewer customers are happy with what they have.

New peripherals that augment the speed will become available. Those peripherals, unknown to us right now, will flesh out the Mac Pro, enhancing its capabilities and making it look more attractive than the sterile view we have of it now.

Eventually, customers who felt like they didn't need a faster Mac will become exposed to new possibilities with the Mac Pro by friends, businesses, tech websites and Apple stores. They'll come to realize that their plan to fall a little behind in Apple technologies just isn't a good plan.

The near future is all about IPv6, 802.11ac, USB3 and Thunderbolt. One can only hold out so long before coming to the realization that this is a bold new beginning for Apple and desktops. In short order, it gets to be unnerving when one goes into an Apple retail store, and there's nothing for sale there anymore that works with an aging Mac. Soon the notion isn't "I want a new Mac Pro," but rather, "I need one to get on with my Mac life."

Finally, new faster Macs lead us down the path of doing new things in new ways. To be sure, a faster Mac isn't required for email and browsing, but new apps invite new adventures and new ways of doing things that couldn't be done before. In 1996 with 56K modems, it was inconceivable that one could, one day, download a feature-length movie in minutes, not weeks, and watch it in 1080p. Now we think nothing of it. The computational power of the new Mac Pro will invite similar adventures.

The question is, how long will you wait to get back to the future?

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Image Credits. 1) Mac Pro: Apple 2) Future Computer Display: Shutterstock.

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Comments

Lancashire-Witch

You may think nothing of downloading a HD movie, John. But those of us with expensive data plans and caps have to think carefully.

Mike Weasner

And some of us are stuck at 1.3 Mbps DSL because nothing faster on land is available.  Yes, there is expensive satellite with higher speeds but they have restrictive data plans.  I don’t see downloading HD movies anytime in my future.

John Martellaro

Mr. Weasner: Of course.  I merely provided that as an example of how advancing technology can enable us in new ways

Mike Weasner

Only some of us will be able to take advantage of that advancing technology.

geoduck

The question is, how long will you wait to get back to the future?

The new Mac Pro is cool but there isn’t one in my future.  I dropped my last desktop PC about four years ago. Since then it’s been all about portability. Going back to a desktop PC in the corner, no matter how fast and cool, with a fixed screen, no matter how large, would be a step backwards.  Currently I’m on a MacBook Pro for mail, surfing, games, iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes archiving, writing, graphics, photo editing, accessing the iTunesStore for videos and such. Eventually I expect an iPad (circa 2017 or so) will fill the bill.

Different futures for different people.

Frank Lowney 1

1) I wonder if those six Thunderbold ports can be bonded to act as one really big and fast pipe. 

2) Any processor can emulate any other processor.  A really fast machine could do this well enough to obviate the need for a lab full of the machines you deign to support.

Lee Dronick

Mike, where are you? I don’t mean to ask your address, just the general area.

A few months ago I upgraded my AT&T DSL for their Uverse service. I have been quite happy with the decision, it has been reliable and fast with speeds over 16 Mb/s. of course it may not be available in your location.

mlvezie

What’s puzzled me about the new MacPro is they don’t say anywhere (that I could see) how much RAM it can have. Just the speed.

John Martellaro

mlvezie: That was discussed in the interview I did with OWC’s Larry O’Connor.  I linked to it in the comment about peripherals.  With 4 slots, the min RAM will likely be 16 GB and the max will be 128 GB.

kimhill

I love fast hardware, but I think this article is too optimistic about the market for the new Mac Pro. No doubt it will be embraced by niches that derive tangible, revenue-generating value from speed, but even at the lowest end of its projected price range ($3k or a bit below), it’s way, way out of the current mainstream. As a general market benchmark, it will function (at best) as a preview of where iMacs will be in a year or two. No rational developer will target the Mac Pro itself for anything but vertical market apps or technology demos.

The outlook for Steve Jobs’ “trucks” is declining anyway, and the market for exotic trucks is declining even faster.

graxspoo

As others have pointed out, mobile is really the driving force behind development these days, and mobile devices have a fraction of the processing power of a super-computer like the new Mac Pro. So, while I don’t think it’s really going to change much in terms of the market equation, I’m really glad that Apple has bothered to produce the new machine. I hope the price is in line with the fact that users will now have to shell out additional money to purchase expansion bays and the like, but, however you look at it, this is a great thing for the creative professionals that need this type of horsepower.

CudaBoy

So, we’re supposed to render our current Macs obsolete because why? Developers need for $$$ ?? What???  Speed???  Let me know when Hollywood’s render farms use Apple products - but don’t hold your breath. I know my Pro friends in the biz are going to upgrade - 4p, 4k is the new standard but for we mortals we simply can’t use the so called advantages of the new Mac. So far there are only theoretical reasons why we should “need ” one.
I’m happy with my PPC G5 with 6MBs earthlink download for $39 a month - no “data cap” whatever that is….  Since I get the studio’s hand-me-downs I will finally get an Intel Mac Pro which will render my $1000 ppc Adobe Suite useless???

Lancashire-Witch

A data cap is a limit on the volume of data that can be downloaded (and uploaded) during the billing cycle.  My ISP (on the affordable plan I’ve chosen) limits me to 30GB per month. If I exceed that limit then the data rate is reduced to dial-up speeds (truly!). Typically my broadband (ADSL2+) speed is 13 Mbps down and 0.80 Mbps up. I’m still renting DVDs from my local store.

CudaBoy

Very interesting. Is that a “mobile” plan? They give you wicked fast d-load speed and then limit the advantages of having it w/ a cap??? Nice.  How much per month for that capped speed & what location?  Does streaming count as using up monthly bandwidth or is it 30 gigs (a lot of movies imo) of actual downloaded data??

adamC

Totally agreed with you John about the kinds of wickedly fast future apps the MacPro will be used to develop.

I am looking forward to the near future that the Apple’s A chips can rival today’s Intel’s chip in computing power.

John Martellaro

Question for the readers: For those who have commented here and have checked the box “Notify me of follow-up comments,” did you fail to receive any emails corresponding to each comment after yours?

barryotoole

To me, the ‘Ripple Effect’ will be the trickle-down of the technology downstream.

Just like Anti-Lock brakes were available only in luxury cars in 1989, we will have iMacs and MBAs get the benefit of Mac Pro’s R&D.

For me, an iMac or MM is a truck. Since I’ve been using the iPad, my use of a desktop is nil, and that of my laptop scare.

I’d love to see an iPad Pro, with RD, 256GB RAM, and a 8"X11” size. Certainly, this would be less mobile than the regular iPad, so I’d wish for a RD iPad mini with a 128GB RAM.

geoduck

John:
It’s hit and miss. I get some notices, like yours, but not others, like barryotoole’s. I made my first comment and then this morning got a notice. When I came back here there were 17 comments.

jonricmd

I dunno, but to me the new Mac Pro is going to be like the Cube:  Lustworthy, but limited.  I thought Apple had learned its lesson about pro machines:  always give an option for expandability.  In a year or so, AMD or Nvidia will have graphics cards that perform twice as much (by any parameter that’s important) and you won’t be able to upgrade the MacPro.  Higher capacity SSD drives will be available and wouldn’t it be nice to have four of them in a Raid 0 configuration inside the MacPro?  This is one of Apple’s near fatal flaws:  it thinks it knows better than the rest of us what is needed.

David Di Franco

I’m really excited about the new Mac Pro. Given that I am still using the 2006 model, I am well overdue for an upgrade. My only concern? Price. Hopefully we’ll hear something soon.

http://macpro2013accessories.com

CudaBoy

John, I got notified re: responses up until your query after which they atopped.

Tony Kamau

With the top of the line version being ball-parked at $ 12,000 +, based on the collective price of the peripherals and the bottom range no less than half that, I do not see myself affording it for at least five years.

The Xeon processor alone is estimated to cost around $ 2,000 and the dual GPUs at $ 1,000 add the rest and get quite a premium piece of hardware.

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