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Reader Question: Revamped Mac Pro Due?

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See the MPG review of the 2013 Mac Pro.

Mike M writes:

It's been exactly 676 days since the Mac Pro was updated.

Given that there have been quite a number of Xeon updates in that period of time, for instance, why does Apple continue to delay any updates on the 2013 Mac Pro?

MPG: I’d count the days from when it really became available. Still, it is approaching two years. It is indeed lame that the Mac Pro SSD is now about half the speed of the MacBook Pro and iMac SSD options, and that Apple still does not offer 128GB memory, and that the dual GPUs in the Mac Pro hardly keep up with an iMac and that faster CPUs are not offered.

But if a product is responsible for 0.1% of profit (a guess), why would Apple bother? Heck, upon release it could have been a 3.3 GHz 8 core CPU instead of 3.0 GHz and/or other faster CPUs.

But speaking to the technical/marketing side, MPG’s guess is that Apple wants to roll out the converged Thunderbolt 3 + USB-C standard, which would get us to one common cable, external 5K displays, and even higher peripheral performance.

Evidence for this strategy is found in the late 2015 iMac 5K: it has Thunderbolt 2 and plain old USB3, yet as far as can be told, Thunderbolt 3 is ready to rock. MPG expects Apple to defer the Mac Pro update until Thunderbolt 3 is ready to roll across the product line. Presumably this is by mid 2016.

Don H writes:

I have also been longing for ‘One Interconnect To Rule Them All’, and TB-3 appears to be just the candidate. However, as currently designed it has one minor deficiency that will hopefully be corrected in the next revision. According to this article and the accompanying slide deck from Intel, the DisplayPort version is only 1.2 upon release, whereas version 1.3 should hopefully provide all the headroom necessary for any monitor we are likely to see this decade:

https://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2015/06/thunderbolt-3-embraces-usb-type-c-connector-doubles-bandwidth-to-40gbps/

(See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DisplayPort#1.3 )

Perhaps Apple is waiting or pushing for that to happen.

Other than that, TB-3 certainly nails all the other specs one might wish from an interface, including, for once, a connector small enough that they won’t need to shrink it after a few years like every other goddamn cable/connector/adapter that clutters up my storage bins.

My only complaint is that the USB-C spec didn’t also include the *option* of some sort of locking mechanism for applications where you don’t want it to pull out (like the venerable RJ-45 connector used for Ethernet, or even the spring detents used in the Lightning connector). Now it’s too late to add that unless the USB consortium somehow agrees upon an industry-accepted specification extension, which is something they have been terrible in managing in the past.

Otherwise, I am holding off on new (non-critical) purchases until I see if TB-3 gains any traction, most likely from Apple initially. If they include it in the next hardware updates then I will do my best to prioritize peripherals that adopt it as well. I would love to cull all my older Firewire and USB-whatever parts that can be replaced by big hard disks and a single interface.

MPG: this dovetails with the idea that Apple is holding off for the right tech to be available.

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