At the WWDC 2017 keynote, Apple gave us a sneak peak of the new iMac Pro, but now what does this all mean for the design of the next Mac Pro?
It’s likely that the drop-dead gorgeous new iMac Pro that Apple revealed in the WWDC keynote was originally intended to replace the 2013 Mac Pro. That fits with Apple’s recent decision to get out of the display business and focus on the iMac Pro as its flagship for professionals.
But the professional community of Apple customers begged to differ. They wanted a clearer commitment in terms of expandability, more RAM, more horsepower than an Intel Core i7, higher end graphics, and the ability to add their own displays. That’s been a heated subject from October 2016, when a new Mac Pro wasn’t announced until this year’s WWDC.
Now that we’ve had a sneak peek at the glorious new iMac Pro, what are the implications for the future Mac Pro that Apple has committed to? What will it cost? Will it go beyond the limits of the iMac Pro? Or will it be an equivalent system, but simply headless? How does Apple see the new Mac Pro fitting into the lineup and into the professionals thinking?
To get a handle on this, I asked several noted corporate professionals to tell me what they thought of the iMac Pro. Implicit in that is the notion of how that iMac Pro will inform the design of the future Mac Pro. Most of the feedback below also addresses that. At the end, I sum it all up.
The Professional Responses
Neal Pann, an architect with Dahlin Group Architects Planners wrote me:
It’s about time that Apple focuses again on the pro market and that includes the market for BIM (Building Information Modeling) modeling and VR. The new iMac Pro begins to address the needs of that user and keeps macOS in the conversation as at least an option. It’s going to force the application developers of CAD/BIM programs to push their own software to take advantage of the new hardware in ways that they haven’t been able to do before on the Mac platform.
[One] concern I have is the lack of support for Nvidia graphics with the new iMac Pro. There are a number of high end graphics applications for rendering and modeling that require Nvidia’s CUDA architecture and not having the option to support that in the upcoming iMac Pro is a deal killer for some.
Rick Allen with Globeflex Capital, L.P. said:
I am very intrigued and want to try first hand. My first thought was “This was the new Mac Pro.” The mea culpa meeting with the five journalists was a damage control move.
I have a couple of issues with the machine. First is no user replaceable parts. Even though the RAM is in sockets, ATP podcast confirmed there is no door to get at it and so makes it very hard to get 3rd party ram upgrades…. Another question is the issue of Heat dissipation. 8 to 18 core Xeon processors are big and have greater TDP than [Core] i7 processors. I hope the cooling solution in that very slim case is up to the task. I hope that it’s not another “thermal corner” as was mentioned with the current Mac Pro.
On the GPU front, Radeon Vega architecture is looking very promising. Yet a lot of professionals want CUDA support from nVidia. The now allowed external Thunderbolt 3 enclosures would help with this. nVidia recently released CUDA drivers for Pascal series cards so you could put a GTX 1080TI or Titan Xp in an external enclosure, yet I am puzzled why Apple and nVidia are seeming at odds these days. They used to work together.
Anthony Frausto-Robledo, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Architosh wrote:
I am very impressed with what I see thus far. This shows real commitment to Apple’s pro Mac customers and this machine is a beast for an all-in-one. I’m almost scared of what Apple has plans for in the new modular Mac Pro they said they are committed to bringing to the market sometime in 2018 or later. Clearly, the VR news is also extremely exciting and will make Mac based architects elated!
Next page: More expert feedback. The different kinds of pro users.