Apple gave another inside look at the company’s Mac Pro operations to a journalist, giving us several key pieces of news. The major takeaways include a 2019 release date and a move to organize Mac pro around a Pro Workflow Team.
No New Mac Pro For You (Until 2019)!
The most important piece of information from Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch is that the new in-development Mac Pro won’t be released until 2019. When first revealed by Apple in 2017, the company was vague about when it would ship, with many hoping it would be 2018. Mr. Panzarino’s story puts that to rest, with an unspecified time in 2019 being the new hard year of release.
This is disappointing to many Mac fans, especially pro users, who marvel that Apple could have let its Mac Pro line get so out of whack for so many years with the Trash Can Mac Pro. First released in 2013, and kinda-sorta updated last year, the so-called Mac Pro is anything but.
Apple has promised pro users that it got the message, and it would appear part of today’s message is to give those users a clearer road map of what to expect. That is a delightful change on Apple’s part considering the circumstances, and it also lets users who were on the fence about the iMac Pro decide whether or not to keep waiting for the modular Mac Pro.
“We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community, so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product, it’s not something for this year,” Tom Boger, senior director of Mac Hardware Product Marketing, told TechCrunch. “We know that there’s a lot of customers today that are making purchase decisions on the iMac Pro and whether or not they should wait for the Mac Pro.”
Pro Workflow Team
Honestly, it sucks we have to wait another year for the Mac Pro, but there was some great news in this TechCrunch piece. Apple has brought creative pros inside Apple to see how they work. These folks are working on real projects, but they’re doing so inside Apple as part of a Pro Workflow Team.
These creative pros are working near Mac Pro engineers whose job it is to identify workflow bottlenecks and then solve those bottlenecks. Some of that is software, some is driver-related, and some hardware. That’s significant to me because it represents a big change in how Apple is truly paying attention to creative pro needs. It’s also a great piece of information to let get out of Apple as the company works hard to convince those creative pros that yes, Apple really does value their business.
“We’ve gone from just, you know, engineering Macs and software to actually engineering a workflow and really understanding from soup to nuts, every single stage of the process, where those bottlenecks are, where we can optimize that,” Mr. Boger said. “And to [another Apple executive’s] point, because we build the hardware, the firmware, the operating system, the software, and have these close relationships with third parties, we can attack the entire stack and we can really ferret out where we are—we can optimize for performance.”
Left Hands and Right Hands
The Pro Workflow Team is being led by John Ternus, vice president of Hardware Engineering, and as noted above, it works closely with engineering. This kind of left-hand-talking-to-the-right-hand thing is key to making great products, and it gives me lots of hope and excitement about what we’re going to see coming out of Apple for creative pros.
Mr. Ternus said:
These aren’t necessarily always fundamental performance issues. These aren’t things that you’d find in a benchmark or an automated test flow. You know we have examples where we find something… like it’s a window that a 3D animator uses frequently to make some fine tweaks.
The windows are not super graphically intensive in terms of processing and stewing but we have found an issue where that window was taking like 6 to 10 seconds to open and they’re doing that 100 times a day, right? Like ‘I can’t work on a machine like this, it’s too slow,’ so we dig in and we figure out what it was.
In that case we found something in the graphics driver was not right, and once you know where to look and you fix it, it completely changes the kind of live-on-ability for that system — the productivity for that user completely changed.
That’s the kind of stuff that can help make Macs the best of the best again, especially for the creative pro market.
Other tidbits from TechCrunch‘s piece include the fact that Apple’s Pro Workflow Team is working with third party software, in addition to Apple’s own apps. The company is then working with those third party companies to solve their bottlenecks, too. Apple is even working with Adobe, and that’s huge, in my opinion.
Apple also made a point of reaffirming its commitment to (re)designing a quality standalone display that would work with whatever modular Mac Pro eventually ships. Mr. Panzarino wasn’t able to figure out what the Mac Pro will look like, but said his impression was that “modular” was still the focus. He said he was shown stress tests involving external GPUs (eGPUs), and believed that eGPU support would be part of Apple’s strategy.
Lastly, while Apple was coy about when it would ship its Mac Pro when it invited journalists inside in 2017, it appears as if 2019 was always the internal target for release. The significance centers around whether this new, more specific date represents a slip or the original plan. I think everyone on this of the Apple Park Visitor Center would prefer it to be the original plan, rather than a slip, even though we also wish Apple’s hundreds of billions of dollars could help the company ship it NOW.