Apple Announces Stunning Cylindrical Mac Pro for Late 2013 [UPDATE]

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Originally posted at 2:20 PM, Updated at 6:10 PM

Apple announced the long awaited and highly anticipated new Mac Pro on Monday. This is a stunning device in a cylindrical form factor with 1/8 the volume of the company's long-running aluminum tower models.

[UPDATE: This article has been updated with more images and details from Apple's press release, as well as a little analysis just because we can - Editor]

New Mac ProTim Cook and the (real) new Mac Pro

In other words, it looks nothing like the image sent to several Mac sites (including TMO) on Sunday. It does, however, have dual GPUs and Thunderbolt 2, as that image said.

Fluff Quote

“With the latest Xeon processors, dual FirePro GPUs, ECC memory, PCIe-based flash and Thunderbolt 2, all built around a revolutionary thermal core, the next generation Mac Pro is the most radical Mac yet,” Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said in a statement. “All this performance and expandability is packed into a dramatic new design that’s one-eighth the volume, and best of all, it will be assembled here in the USA.”

Revolutionary Unified Thermal Whatsis

Apple said that the new Mac Pro was designed around a "revolutionary unified thermal core." Our best guess on what that actually means is that the device is cooled by a single hole in the middle that serves to cool all of the components (that's John Martellaro's educated guess, so props to him).

It's powered by, "next generation Intel Xeon E5 processors with up to 12 core configurations deliver double the floating point performance." This is coupled with two AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs. It delivers up to 7.5 teraflops of processing power, which is roughly more than you can shake a stick at.

The New Mac Pro

The New Mac Pro


The device is 9.9 inches tall, a fraction of the height of the current Mac Pro aluminum tower. Apple does this in part because all expansion will be external through USB and Thunderbolt 2 ports, which you can see in the image below the fold.

According to Apple, this delivers up to 20Gbps of bandwidth to each external device, making it the anti-TARDIS. It's bigger on the outside than it is on the inside. Each of the six Thunderbolt 2 ports supports up six devices, too.

This should be more than enough to match the needs of current in-Mac expansion cards, but it will require the industry to deliver compatibility. If Apple sells enough of these Mac Pros, that shouldn't be an issue. If not...

The New Mac Pro from the Back

The New Mac Pro's Ports

Picture This

The dual workstation-class GPUs will support the emerging 4K technology for incredibly high resolution displays. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing, said the device will support three 4K displays out of the box. That is awesome, for those keeping score at home.

Storage will be a new form of SSD working off an internal PCIe bus. Apple said this is ten times faster than conventional hard drives, and faster even than the SSDs that ship in Apple's current Mac models.

Scarily, Apple didn't announce a price for the device. The company said it would be coming "later this year," and did not specify a date. Today's demonstration was billed as a sneak preview.

Apple has posted an amazing interactive website for the new device. Check it out.

Check out John Martellaro's analysis on the new Mac Pro (sneak preview: he loves it). We also have a in-person photograph taken at WWDC. Later, we'll be posting a full spec sheet that we are putting together even now.

Scarily, Apple hasn't announced pricing. We're hoping that's to keep competitors guessing, rather than because it's going to cost an arm and a leg. We'll see.

Apple didn't specify availability, either, but said to look for it later this year.

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Lee Dronick

Well, that is an interesting design and I can’t wait for a good look at the new MacPro.


WTF Apple ?

Dropping internal expansion is dumb!
I’m sorry, and maybe I’m a fossil/showing my age, but the “Pro” range was about the ability to add stuff, as new capabilities were realised by third party hardware creators. (presuming there was ‘software/driver’ support.

And so much for swapping out a failing HD, or just wanting to replace an existing HD with a bigger one, without having yet another external device on the desk.

And Shiny Black just means it’s going to be a smudge & obvious dust magnet.

Not to mention that you’d not want to put it under a desk for fear of giving it a hard bump with an errant foot and it doing a passable impersonation of the Leaning Tower Of Pisa when gravity finally gets it’s way.


I was mostly shocked at the size comparison between it and the old MacPro. It looks to be a bit shorter than a 2-liter bottle.


Wow. As they described this my excitement was rising as fast as my disappointment. This thing looks to be a MONSTER, but it also sounds like it will be utterly out of my price range. GPU expansion is also a major issue; my major GPU-based app is currently incompatible with AMD OpenCL. I might just have top wait for the next gen of Haswell iMac.

Lee Dronick

Furbies, we don’t yet know that it isn’t user serviceable. Maybe you will be able to lift off the cylindrical liner and access the internals.  But then …


About expansion:
1. Phil mentioned that you can put your hand inside and rotate around to get at all the components, implying that they are user serviceable and user swappable. That should include the RAM, hard drive, and GPUs.
2. Past MacPros have supported both AMD and Nvidia GPUs. So I imagine this one will as well. The only catch is that the card has to have a physical footprint that will fit, since I know lots of workstation-class GPU cards are rather large physically. But I’m sure Nvidia can make a differently shaped card if they want to.
3. Everyone knew it would be external expansion. Who seriously thought they’d do internal? Thunderbolt makes it super obvious because it’s just as fast and powerful. The downside is that now all that hardware sits on or around your desk. The upside is that there’s no trying to figure out where to put it inside a case, and potentially a larger number of expansions since they can daisy chain.

I think it looks great and it meets my expectations. I won’t miss trying to pick up one of those heavy, old machines.

The new thermal core, to cool all that hardware in such a small space, probably explains why this has been delayed so much longer than Tim Cook’s 2012 statement about “Spring 2013”.  They knew they had to show us something because of the delay on that promise as well as the very long delay since the last real update.

Mr. EMan

“Internal” and “external” expansion seems to be getting people all hot and bothered. I look at this as a Good Thing. We use external expansion chassis at work a lot. The advantage is depending on the chassis, you can pack quite a lot of stuff in it. There’s also no difference to the OS where the cards are located. Thunderbolt is essentially a PCIe bus.

The other advantage is that people who don’t need all the expansion can buy the base unit more “cheaply,” or as cheaply as Apple sells its products.

The current Mac Pro has slots for 4 hard drives. With external hard drives running on Thunderbolt, you should actually have more capacity with no loss in performance.

I’m pretty sure I can’t afford this, but that doesn’t prevent me from lusting after it, all while buying more used Mac Pros (for fun).



Also regarding internal vs. external expansion: The unified thermal core might not be able to handle too much other than what Apple gives as options for this machine. After all, don’t some GPU cards come with fans of their own?



Expansion regardless, its obvious Apple poured a heck of a lot of resources into creating the new Mac Pro. That bodes well for the entire Mac lineup.

Laurie Fleming

It’s conceptually very similar to my Dear Old Cube(tm). And apparently similar dimensions. This is where I came in, 13 years ago…

I won’t be getting one, because I genuinely have no need, but there’s a small* part of me that is quite tempted.

*not so small


Most of those who want internal card expansion do so for upgrading the GPU capabilities. The built-in GPUs will drive THREE 4k displays. How soon is that going to be anything less than plenty for anybody’s needs? Besides, if you look at the internal architecture, it actually consists of three large, interconnected boards. I know that it hasn’t been in Apple’s characters to offer stand-alone upgrade options for critical/built-in system components, but if one of those three boards is essentially the ‘graphics card’, maybe Apple will offer upgrade options for that, in the future.


Another plus for external drive expansion is that the drives can be accessed without having to shut the system down and crack it open. The internal storage probably won’t top more than 1 or 2TB (lest the cost be ridiculous), so it will primarily be for the OS, apps, and files that are accessed very frequently. Serious storage will all be external, and having the ability to access that storage, have it in a RAID array, and or move it from one computer to another, rather than locked into the Mac’s internal drive bays, just makes sense. At least, to me it does.


It’s conceptually very similar to my Dear Old Cube(tm). And apparently similar dimensions. This is where I came in, 13 years ago…

Hehe! It’s the Mac Tube!

You’re absolutely right of course. Much more refined, but very similar in execution. If I could get this with an nVidea prosumer chip like the Titan for under $3000, I’d be thrilled.


Looks like a pro machine in a consumer case.

John Martellaro

I guess I nailed it when I predicted an Ivy-Bridge EP back in January.


Yay 4k. Boo external storage & clutter.This is the 21st century after all. The price will be sick high compared to PCs with faster architecture but that’s OK, at least now maybe I can afford a used Intel Mac Pro!!


This needs to be available with Apple’s clear display case.

It’d eliminate any dust or smudge problem. smile


That’s exactly what the thermal core is. Apple has an excellent presentation up at and I highly recommend you check it out.

Larry Towers

““Thunderbolt makes it super obvious because it’s just as fast and powerful..”“
NO! NO! NO!!

Thunderbolt 2 is not any where near as fast as internal PCIe 3.0 exapansion!
Thunderbolt has the equivalent bandwidth and speed of a single PCIe 2.0 x4 slot. THAT"s it! thunderbolt 2.0 is twice that! That’s not even a quarter of the capabilities of an internal PCIe 3.0 16x slot.

This is just a stupid stupid design.


It’s nice to see a balanced discussion in the comments section.  Just a few weeks ago, the MacObserver was a place only for extreme Apple fan boys.  If you voiced any discontent/disagreement you were mocked!


Have they forgotten about the Cube?


“3. Everyone knew it would be external expansion. Who seriously thought they’d do internal?”

@webjprgm: I seriously thought they should have internal expansion. The most important thing to me about owning a tower (aside from having the fastest machine available to justify its price) is expansion; namely hard drives and RAM.

It remains to be seen in what capacity we’ll be seeing either, but given that this is supposed to be Apple’s top of the fleet, I think a fair guess would be that it’ll have more RAM expansion than any other Mac available.

It looks like hard drives will be the sticking point though… are we going to be left with having stacks of random peripherals, and their collective I/O / power chords scattered haphazard on the desk, just so Apple can build a beautiful box?? The whole point of doing that internally on a tower was so that we could forgo most of that crap.

Lee Dronick

  This needs to be available with Apple’s clear display case. It’d eliminate any dust or smudge problem.

Oleophobic coating such as what is on the iPhone and iPad?


Lee Dronick

  It looks like hard drives will be the sticking point though… are we going to be left with having stacks of random peripherals, and their collective I/O / power chords scattered haphazard on the desk, just so Apple can build a beautiful box?? The whole point of doing that internally on a tower was so that we could forgo most of that crap.

I suppose that the drive enclosure manufacturers are already working on products that will match the look of the new MacPro. But yeah, I hate cable spaghetti.


Daniel Kinoy

Looks like a trash can. Which is where they should have tossed the concept. Personally, I don’t think the cube needed to be resurrected. By the time you’ve bought and paid for all the expansion boxes needed to give you the functionality that the old case had built in, you won’t be able to afford the drives and cards needed to fill them. Truly this deserves the name of Mac Pro X. Perfect companion piece to FCPX.


“But yeah, I hate cable spaghetti.”

That’s only half of it. I’m cringing at the future-thought of those jumbles of power bricks… and the thought that my external drives, needfully housed in oversized enclosures, whereas the new Mac Pro, needlessly housed in the absolutely smallest enclosure they could possibly make, can’t escape me.

So far, I’m pretty unenthused about the PCI-SSD-whatever storage solution. So what if it’s x-faster than stock SSD’s? I would have far, FAR preferred that Apple make the damn box 1/4, or even 1/2 the size of the current Mac Pro so we pro users could have more internal options. It’s an elegant design aesthetic that, when put in the real world with the bigger cable spaghetti problem that it will create, is ultimately, aesthetically, self-defeating.

Lee Dronick

Power bricks! There are never enough widely spaced outlets on the power strip. So you buy those short pigtails and plug bricks into them. That tangle becomes a dusty bunny trap. What we need is power over WiFi.


I haven’t kept up with Thunderbolt.  Are/will the external drives be bus powered?  Especially if Apple is anticipating Mac Pro users exclusively using SSDs.  Because for me, the big draw of internal expansion is the lack of cabling.  No power cables is good, but it would still require TBolt cables.  It’s not a huge deal I guess, but…

...I also don’t like the fact that all of the ports are in the back.  For example, I don’t use headphones all the time, so I prefer having the port in the front.  Rotating the Mac Pro to access the ports becomes more and more problematic as more things are plugged into it.  At the very least, they should have left a small portion of the chassis at the bottom non-rotating for the PSU.

I also feel it should allow for more internal memory/storage expansion.  And on a shallow note, I still prefer silver to black.

Even the lack of an optical drive is a concern.  In the end, I find a lot to admire with the new Mac Pro, but it’s so radical that I am not sure it will fit my needs.

John Dingler, artist

I know that I will be able to warm my hands on top of it during Winter in my unheated studio.

Scott B in DC

Internal expansion is as dead as the floppy disk and a CD-only drive. Time to get your heads into today and understand that external expansion with changeable drives is the wave of the future. Time to move forward.

I wonder how much this thing is going to cost. It is so beautiful and the power is going to be so wonderful that I might have to get one!!


“revolutionary unified thermal core.”

Um, can you say, ‘chimney,’ because that is precisely what it is.


Lee D: I totally agree; I run into the same problem with power strips. Heck, I’d settle for hard drive enclosures with the power supply built-in. Phil Schiller did very briefly mention something about “chassis” expansion options (or something like that); so I’m a little encouraged there.

mrhooks: I agree about the ports. I mean, seriously… many of us have been around plenty long enough to remember what a big deal it was when Apple FINALLY added I/O ports to the front, when they introduced the G5. Two steps forward, one step back?

Scott B: Maybe it’s time for you to get your head in the thread, and contemplate what some of our legitimate gripes are. Time to drop the tech snobbery and realize that at the Mac Pro’s price point, we deserve better than a one-size-fits-all solution.

Paul Goodwin

I’m pretty excited about this design. I too thought of the Cube when I first saw it, but the Cube wasn’t a high end Mac, it was an attractive repackaged PowerMac G4 with less stuff in it. The new MacPro, while in a stunning new package, is loaded with high end hardware. Loaded to the point that upgrades wouldn’t be needed for quite a while, giving plenty of time for companies to design the upgrades. Hard to tell looking at the pictures where the option slots are for PCIe. It looks like there’s 4 slots for RAM??? Slide 7 on Apple’s site shows what looks to be only one PCIe card (Flash drive), not sure where another one would be. I’ve read where there’s a trend toward rack mount type Flash SSD equipment. Loading up a desktop with a lot of SSDs would likely have caused horrible thermal challenges, and having a bunch of HDD slots just doesn’t fit the technology direction with SSD’s inherent benefits (albeit with some thermal tradeoffs). So I can understand the external approach to storage part of this design. The whole things looks fairly easy to disassemble. It’s unbelievably small. Heck you could build your own computer farm on one desk. Pretty remarkable achievement.

TJ Thompson

I believe there will be an expansion ‘add on’ that mounts on the bottom that is the same shape but can house drives or cards. The machine just sits on top, so its a bit taller and has a direct connection to the housing below it.
my 2bits.

Lee Dronick

It is more than a chimney Jack, there is a fan to help move the air. Otherwise the flue would be too short to get a good draft and users would be installing MacHats. Do you old timers remember MacHats?

Paul Goodwin

Hahaha Lee. Good one. There’d probably be enough heat coming from that short little furnace furnace without a fan to blow out a match. I remember in our old house with a 1950 12,000 BTU input gas boiler, the gas company inspector tested my draft one day with his little butane lighter tool. The was a 1/2” x 1” hole between the exhaust duct and the hole where the duct went through the side of the chimney. There was so much draft it almost sucked the butane light tool out. We did have a very tall chimney though. Maybe someone will design a stylish smaller cylindrical coffee and bun warmer to place over the top of this MacPro. Then you wouldn’t need to microwave-soften your 1/2 stale donut.


All you guys are ignoring one thing. Phil (gotta love that name!) kept saying one word over and over, “standard”. You can bet there will be lots of build-to-order options in the online Apple Store.

Lee Dronick

Good point Philly.

Larry Towers

“Internal expansion is as dead as the floppy disk and a CD-only drive. “
A clueless remark. Please pont out the external connection that is as fast as a PCI 3.0 x 16 slot.

No it isn’t there. Thunderbolt 2.0 is based on PCIe 2.0 x4

This design is a sick joke. Difference without functional purpose. This is a computer designed to be upgraded/replaced every couple of years.

Larry Towers

“You can bet there will be lots of build-to-order options in the online Apple Store.”

You are seriously deluded. The form factor limits customization options.
Just 4 ram slots.

The only upgrades will be CPU speed. ram chips and # of ssd drives.
Video cards are totally non standard and will have very narrow thermal constraints so even if a card would be electrically/physically compatible it won’t be thermally compatible.

Paul Goodwin

Larry. I’d say you’re coming down a little hard there. A sick joke? Needs upgrading and replacing every couple of years? There are still lots of MacPros out there that are long past 2-3 years that still don’t need upgrading except maybe in some very special cases of business. I don’t see where they skimped much in putting a high performance machine together. And what so people normally upgrade….RAM and a drive, which you can do in this one. They put a heck of a lot of design emphasis on the graphics cards in this so it won’t be obsolete for a good long time. In my experience on the TMO forums, there are very few deluded people, so your remarks are in an offensive tone, and mostly wrong.

Ammar Alani

I love this “Boldness” when Apple decide to innovate, but in a pro market, there is another factor called TCO = total cost of ownership.
Example: we invested $8000 in a fiber channel storage, $5000 in Red rocket card and $3000 in Quadro Cuda GPU not to mention the Black Magic Design Multibridge pro card
Now comes the time to upgrade our aging machine with a new CPU and thunderbolt… But no!! Apple wants to impress, so they take out PCIe and there goes our $20000 investment.
When they decided to “innovate” with FCPX, the TCO toll on us came to tenths of thousands, including what we invested in our staff of editors to learn a new software, redesign the pipeline, solving the issue of years of archive in a now obsolete format….
if Apple needs to do their thing, fine.. No, it’s actually great, but we are paying big money in the Eco-system, so they have to consider continuity and investment return.. In the end of the day, this is the pro market.. An industry.. Not the fan base of Philip Stark.

Bryan Chaffin

Ammar, I feel your pain. Seriously, in case that came off as a smartass comment. Your points about TCO are also quite salient—it’s a real issue in pro houses.

But, there are Thunderbolt PCIe breakout boxes, meaning your investment is still intact (plus the cost of the breakout box, to be sure, but that’s relatively small compared to the original cost of the cards). Would such a solution work for the specific kit you listed?

Paul Goodwin

Big capital investment in computer hardware is tough regardless of the system. You’re lucky if what you buy isn’t obsolete in 5 years to the point that it’s senseless to not buy new. I went on eBay once looking for some used high end stuff. There’s an absolute mountain of old hardware for sale…just a sounding. Unfortunately, the hardware costs are usually dwarfed by the cost of re-training, development and rollout of any new system.

Ammar…you might consider selling some of your stuff on eBay. You might be surprised at what it will bring. I was also shocked at what some of the used stuff was actually selling for. But it was really still pretty high enterprise end stuff compared to the low cost consumer hardware we’re used to pricing.

Jimmy Parker

Well as far as heat a Galaxy S4 with a Quad Core doesn’t get hot I have one. As far as wires they already have a pad that you put your cell phone on to charge it. They could come up with one to power a external ssd too. Then connect bluetooth. The tech is just around the corner for wireless connection of external drives. Also hard drive are going to be gone soon with ssd replacing them. Down the road your desktop will be an extension of your phone. Phones are already almost as powerful as my Q9550 I’m using now. You want to see the future of computing? Check your pocket.

Jimmy Parker

Just think the top of computer desk powers your stuff. I’m not nuts it is going to happen. Soon you just plug you desk in and places on the top power you computer and charge your phone then your phone connects to your computer by bluetooth then your on your way. Maybe a whaile down the road but computers as we know it are fixing to change. CEOs of Apple and every other company are thinking outside the “box”. Everyone’s comments about this reminds me of when computers first come out and everyone called them glorified TVs. LOL

Mike Banach

I think the real “cool” aspect of the new design is being able to levitate a beach ball due to the upward cooling air flow.  Who can do THAT now ?

Paul Goodwin

Jimmy. The power requirements of mobile devices are orders of magnitude lower than a computer like this. They are all made with slower processors, memory, drives etc. they are also orders of magnitude slower devices than this Mac Pro. Mobile devices are designed to be this way so that they get good battery life. They keep making faster low power processors, but when you jump to this level of computing, the physics going on in a MacPro is vastly different than what’s going on in a battery powered mobile device. This MacPro (or any computer this fast) would drain down a car battery in under an hour. And a car battery is equivalent to probably 150+ mobile device batteries. Comparing a quad core Galaxy S4 to a MacPro is like comparing a Toyota Yaris to a Saturn V rocket.

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