Apple is planning to redesign the Mac Pro
The Trash Can is getting trashed.
In a recent press interview, Phil Schiller (Apple’s Senior Vice President of worldwide marketing) said that the Cupertino giant is “completely rethinking the Mac Pro.” The current Mac Pro, dubbed by some as the “Trash Can Mac,” was unveiled in 2013 but hasn't seen any updates since its release. While it’s touted as a desktop geared toward professionals, the now 4-year-old machine is definitely showing its age.
It looks like Apple is admitting that the lack of updates left a bad taste in many users’ mouths. “We designed ourselves into a bit of a corner,” said Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of software engineering. “We wanted to do something bold and different. What we didn’t appreciate completely at the time was how we had so tailored that design to a specific vision that in the future we would find ourselves a bit boxed in - into a circular shape.”
John Ternus, Vice President of hardware engineering, echoed that sentiment. “It served its purpose well,” he said of the 2013 Mac Pro. “It just doesn’t have the flexibility we now know we need to have.”
The Mac Pro was a stunning machine when it was unveiled four years ago, but the proprietary design has proven very restrictive and difficult to upgrade. While some internals, like the RAM and storage, can be readily swapped out, others require quite a bit more work and patience. Some components, namely the AMD FirePro graphics cards, are proprietary; there is no other GPU solution that can fit into the Mac Pro motherboard.
This announcement could be a response to growing criticism of the Mac Pro's antiquated specs. Despite the outdated and now-underpowered components, Apple still sells the Mac Pro at its launch price (which starts at $2,999). Some techies have gone to great lengths to build an updated Mac Pro. Quinn Nelson of Snazzy Labs (a YouTube channel that focuses on PC builds and Apple gadgets) recently posted a video showing upgrades he made to his Mac Pro. He installed a new CPU, upgrade the RAM, and attached an AMD RX 480 via a Thunderbolt 2 external GPU. To give an idea of how outdated the internals of the current Mac Pro are, the RX 480 outpaced the Mac Pro’s dual FirePro GPUs by about 30% in Unigine Heaven. Note that the RX 480 hit this performance while connected via Thunderbolt 2, which choked the GPU to about 60% of its bandwidth.
It’s good to hear that Apple is putting a lot of time and effort into rethinking their highest-end products, but these redesigns will take time; we won’t see any hint of a new Mac Pro until next year at the earliest. In the meantime, the current model will get a marginal spec bump. Apple will list a $2,999 model with a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, 16 GB of ECC memory, and dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics cards. For $1,000 more, buyers can upgrade the machine to an 8-core Xeon and dual FirePro D700 GPUs. (Note that at the time of publication, these models were not listed on Apple’s site.)