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Apple’s Promised Mac Pro Powerhouse

Update: see Mac Users Want NVIDIA GPUs, Apple Keeps Doing AMD—a Disconnect a Future Mac Pro Might Resolve.

From the sounds of it, the concerns expressed in Will the next Apple Mac Pro (if any) be the Final Straw that Puts the Nail in the 'Pro' Coffin? may well evaporate by 2019, or 2018 if we’re lucky. What’s a year or so to a working professional anyway?

I give Apple kudos for finally acknowledging that the 2013 Mac Pro was in some ways a failure, albeit with first class 'spin': taking 3+ years to figure out that a waffle cone with chocolate ice cream isn’t the only flavor people like is simply not a credible cover story. Hence the groomed and prepped executive staff and carefully picked cheerleader attendees and no demo of any kind. Still, a willingness to discuss future plans at any level is a welcome advance that was a jaw-dropping first.

Thought problem: is it a sign of weakness or strength to ignore outspoken critics?

Here’s the way the game works: cheerleaders ask no tough questions that might make executives sweat a little, and cheerleaders don’t actually need or use pro machines and so feel no pain, which keeps things convivial for the next event. Not very daring, and smoke-free.

I burst out laughing at the bromides in the BuzzFeed article. After 3+ years? Scott Adams could have a field day. Consider this jewel: “Since the Mac Pro is a modular system, we are also doing a pro display”. Imagine that—a computer with an external display! Can’t innovate, my ass.

Specs of the new 2018 or 2019 Mac Pro

It’s the end result I care about, so giving Apple the benefit of the doubt is only fair. And I do.

But I would feel a lot more comfortable were I reading past tense instead of present participle (“rethinking”, team “told to take its time”). Should not the thinking part should be just about all done by now, the staff having been hard at work for the past two years or so? Late 2018 or seems to be the time frame, though Apple is quite vague there. The adjustments to the current model imply at least a year from now, and that seems highly optimistic. I just get the feeling that a decision was made only last week to make a new Mac Pro.

Still, better late than never and there may be a big benefit to the delay: just enough time for more recent technology including Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Intel Optane drives, 8K display support, perhaps a new type of memory (8 slots please), and next-generation of GPU support. All good stuff if the pros who need such things now can hold on.

I do think that Apple will deliver something impressive, if only because a revised iMac (iMac 8K?) with dual Thunderbolt 3 busses all but demands an industrial grade Mac Pro, or what would be the point?

Software

Ominously absent from the dicussion of a new Mac Pro was the fact that a robust machine needs a robust operating system. With macOS becoming increasingly troubled by more and more bugs that hit pro users, the casual nature of software changes in macOS driven on a calendar release system needs adult supervision. This bug already has cost me 8 hours to fix one machine, and probably another 8 to fix my other two because the only fix involves a total erase-reinstall-reconfigure. And never before has networking become effectively unusable.

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