"Can't innovate anymore, my ass," said Apple ex-president Phil Schiller when he introduced the updated Mac Pro in 2013. It was meant to be "the future of the pro-desktop," but it certainly wasn't. Four years later, Apple had to admit that the Mac Pro was a mess after some of Apple's most loyal customers claimed that the company had lost contact with its pro users and really lost its way. If Apple is ready to unveil its new Mac Pro on WWDC on Monday, there can be no courage about & # 39; courage & # 39; or innovation, it must be a time to prove that the company has listened to people who have felt too little or too late.
Apple doesn't have to surprise us with another innovative design, it has to go back to basics. Apple now has a chance to show that it can make a really impressive PC.
Although Apple & # 39; s troubled MacBook keyboard was recently a source of frustration, the Mac Pro debacle is a lasting impact on Apple's professional misery. A community of developers and creatives has long trusted Apple to create high-quality, powerful hardware that meets their needs, but the waste-like Mac Pro debuting for the first time in 2013 didn't cut the mustard. "I think we've designed ourselves in a bit of a thermal angle, if you want," Apple manager Craig Federighi admitted two years ago.
Apple & # 39; s Mac Pro looked nice, but it was a classic case of form over function. It was small and powerful, but that also meant that it was difficult to upgrade the components. Apple has even encountered problems with upgrading the Mac Pro. "The ability to install larger single GPUs required a different system architecture and more thermal capacity than what the system was designed for," Federighi revealed. Apple had limited the Mac Pro at a time when users wanted extensibility and extensibility. These same customers previously saw the handles of their "cheese grater" Mac Pro to slide them into racks and spend hours of rendering tasks on these machines. Now they had to wait years for upgrades that had never come, or make a choice to go to a Windows PC or an all-in-one iMac.
Fortunately, it seems that Apple has received the message loud and clear and has dropped hints about what we can expect from the Mac Pro. Apple has promised a new Mac Pro for 2019, and one that is "inherently a modular system". That should be music for the ears of pro users and a sign that Apple could partially return to the tower design. Apple has spent years developing this new Mac Pro, probably with a unique Apple twist to upgrade it over time.
If Apple really listened, we should see the basics as support for 18-core Xeon processors, large amounts of RAM and healthy amounts of storage. But the key will be how Mac Pro owners can upgrade it over time, in particular the ability to freely add stacks of SSD storage for video devices and increase RAM to even the 256 GB maximum is available on the iMac Pro.
GPU support is also the key. Apple has long preferred AMD & R 39's Radeon graphics cards, and any switch to superior Nvidia graphics will be messy. MacOS Mojave needs a graphics card that supports Metal, Apple & # 39; s API for hardware-accelerated images. Apple has phased out support for OpenGL in macOS and the company is fully in charge of the & # 39; s drivers for Macs. This has led to problems with Nvidia cards and macOSand a pro-community response that they are demanding that Apple supports the Nvidia GPU & # 39; s correctly. Red Digital Cinema president Jarred Land even tried to reason at the end of last year with a random Apple employee in a very public plea for help.
"We need support from Nvidia," Land told an existing Apple employee while talking about editing 8K movies. "It's really important … it's not good for the community to just be on one platform, so please just think about it, please."
However, this GPU support is not only necessary for video work. Anyone working with 3D objects & programs & # 39; s is well aware of how Nvidia has developed a market for 3D rendering apps that only work with its CUDA-compatible cards for GPU acceleration. That means that apps such as Redshift, Octane, Thea Render and more only work on Nvidia cards.
A lack of genuine Nvidia support would mean that cards like the RTX 2080 or Nvidia & # 39; s latest Quadro line just won't work on the new Mac Pro, and that would undoubtedly force more pro workflows to Windows. At the very least, Apple & # 39; s new Mac Pro must fully support larger graphics cards and provide clear access to PCI Express slots to upgrade the GPU and add additional I / O capabilities in the future. External GPU support is a good start, but it is not the same as stacking multiple GPUs in your own machine.
Apple will also have to carefully balance the prices of this Mac Pro. The iMac Pro is already suitable for many professional workflows, but offers few upgrade options for the basic price of $ 4,999. Potential Mac Pro owners won't bother paying $ 4,999 for a similar machine that will be out of date in a few years. The previous Mac Pro debuted for $ 2,999, but professional users will quickly calculate the upgrade costs this time.
Although Apple is rumored to be on Mac Pro on Monday, it is quite possible that the company could wait for a special Mac event. The only promise we have made so far is that it will arrive in 2019, and Apple cannot afford to change that promise to another AirPower moment.
Anyway, Apple's reputation is based on the Mac Pro and the choices that Cupertino makes. The community of professionals has made clear what he wants to see and it is now up to Apple to realize that or face a difficult future without the most loyal champions.