Wow, what a beauty. There's only one thing wrong with Apple's new Mac Pro: we can't buy it yet. Announced Monday at the company's World Wide Developer Conference keynote, the Mac Pro completely re-imagines workstation-grade computing power. The thing looks great, but we know you're just dying to see the specs.
The problem is that we don't know all of the specs, but we have laboriously pieced together what we do know and present it below for your edification in table form. That's right, we have your back.
|Apple's New Mac Pro - The Specs So Far
|What It Has
|Intel Xeon E5
|"Configurations up to 12 cores"
|We don't know the processor speed, but the E5 is a highly regarded processor line from Intel. We also don't know which E5 model will be used, but Intel is releasing a new version later in 2013, the same time the Mac Pro is supposed to ship. Odds are this is the processor Apple will use. Another unknown is precisely which configurations Apple will offer. A single-processor/6-core option for the entry level would still represent substantial power.
Height: 9.9 inches
Width: 6.6 inches
|This is tiny, taller than Apple's old G4 Cube. It's 1/8 the total volume of Apple's current Power Mac aluminum towers, but the tradeoff is that all expansion is external. The top is designed to serve as a handle. The front is devoid of adornment, while Apple's logo is on the back above the ports. We'd love to see an Apple logo on the front.
|PCIe SSD (x1 Slot)
|No hard drives, and judging by the information provided and the image accompanying the information on storage (see the second image below the table), the new Mac Pro has precisely one (1) SSD slot. It's fast—up to 2.5x faster than SATA-based SSDs and up to 10x faster than a 7200 RPM SATA hard drive—but one slot means that having even 1TB of internal storage will be expensive. At least it's not soldered to the board, but with such a fast architecture, it's a shame it's not expandable.
|PCI Express gen. 3
|"Up to 40GB/s" of bandwidth
|This is the internal bus open only to memory, storage, and processor. All expansion is external.
|Four-channel DDR3 memory controller running at 1866MHz
|We don't know the maximum capacity on memory for this beast, but we do know it has four slots that offer 60GB/s bandwidth, as shown in the image below the table. That's twice the bandwidth as the current aluminum Mac Pro towers.
|AMD FirePro workstation-class GPU
We don't have specifics on these video cards, but it looks like there will be options for how much VRAM they can have. Apple said "up to 6GB" for each card. They will power a veritable boat load of displays (1X HDMI and a bunch more via Thunderbolt 2), or you could go the route of using up to three "4K" ultra-high resolution displays. Which is crazy SciFi stuff at this stage of the game.
Apple also intimated that developers will be able to tap these cards for added oomph in their software. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable on the coding side can add to this in the comments.
|Pretty sweet, but we're already seeing some complaints about PCIe gen. 3 being faster, and that this means Apple's Mac Pro will not be as fast as it could be.
|HDMI v. 1.4
|We'd like to see two of these ports for compatibility with existing displays, but one is still welcome. It will make the transition to newer displays easier.
|Seriously? A single fan? That's so...wait for it...fantastic that it defies description. One fan means it should be quiet. One fan means that much less power being consumed. One fan is part of how this device can be so small. One fan to cool a workstation-class device appears to be a first, and it's insanely...wait for it...cool.
|This is a new version of Wi-Fi, and it is promising.
|Gigabit Ethernet (x2)
|Meh. For the vast majority of users, this will be enough, if not more than enough. Some users will find it wanting.
If you haven't checked out Apple's interactive webpage for the Mac Pro, do so. It's gorgeous and informative.
Apple's New Mac Pro - 4 Slots, Lots of Bandwidth
Storage - One (1) Slot