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2013 Apple Mac Pro: CPU Choices Predictions

2013 Apple Mac Pro

Yesterday’s thoughts got me thinking about the CPU in the new Mac Pro—

We know this:

  • Apple states “up to 12 cores”, yet current Xeon E5 chips have many models with 8-cores, and 2 X 8 = 16.
  • 12-core Xeon 2600 E5 V2 CPUs are apparently in the pipelinefor late 2013, so a dual 6-core arrangement. Makes perfect sense for Apple, and for this design: one CPU greatly simplifies the design and cooling.
  • 1866 MHz memory, which is not listed on the current Xeon E5 specs (1600 MHz max).
  • The sneak preview images of the internals show a single CPU with four memory slots, with no apparent room for more memory.
  • It looks difficult to squeeze in a second CPU into the design, and it would also generate a lot more heat, yet the two GPUs each get their own “panel” (each on its own “face” of the internal triangular exterior (cover removed).

So I’m going to go out on a limb a bit and make some predictions:

  • The new Tubular/Trashcan Mac Pro (TMP) will have a single CPU, only, in all models. A dual-CPU option will not be offered.
  • The TMP will not have 16 or 24 CPU core options (appears to be room for only one CPU with its 4 memory slots).
  • There will NOT be a provision for more than four memory slots.
  • Thus, the max memory will be 64GB for all models until such time as ultra-expensive high-density modules might arrive.

Bottom line is that the TMP really is a supersized MacMini, pushing Mac professionals back into the “we are not entirely serious” camp, and making it hard to socialize with Windows and Linux users, who will snicker constantly. :;

It is not a true pro model for memory reasons alone: a 64GB memory limit is a problem for some of my work, and it is a problem for scientific computation and even some video effects processing work.

Memory compression in OS X Mavericks along with high speed SSDs will help with virtual memory paging, but big jobs with big memory requirements will be rougher going.

And this all assumes that Apple fixes the OS X memory addressing bug which precludes more than 48GB memory even when 64GB is installed (current Mac Pro): in a current model, installing 64GB or 128GB and booting Windows (!) allows use of all the memory. On OS X, that same 64/128GB is truncated to 48/96GB usable, due to OS X bugs.

Update: OS X Mavericks due out this fall is stated to support 128GB memory.

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