Mac Pro: another modular Mac for professionals

ByParis Ba 2019-06-04 238

After six years, Apple has renovated the Mac Pro. The modular system features the latest Intel Xeon processors and a wide range of options.

At the start of its developer conference WWDC, Apple presented the modular Mac Pro to the public, which had already been announced two years ago. As expected by some rumour chefs, the new professional desktop computer consists of a case (with handles) that can be individually equipped with various PCIe modules via 64 PCIe lanes. The lack of expandability was the biggest criticism of the current Mac Pro generation in the round case.

"This is the most powerful Mac we've ever brought to market," said Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday evening in San Jose.

Similar to the first Mac Pro, the front is made of perforated metal and looks like a very coarse cheese grater. The sides are made of closed sheet metal, while wheels can be mounted at the bottom instead of the feet so that the Mac Pro can be moved to another workstation, such as a music studio. The case can be easily pulled up and provides a clear view of the components supported by a steel frame.

Xeon CPU with up to 28 cores

Inside, current Xeon processors from Intel work with up to 28 cores. The waste heat is disposed of by a massive cooler, which should be able to handle up to 300 watts. The CPU accesses ECC memory via six channels, which is clocked at 2933 MHz. Up to 1.5 terabytes of RAM fit into the 12 DIMM slots.

In addition, there are eight slots for (optional) PCIe cards, including one with 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 2 x USB and audio or one with 2 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The SSDs range from a capacity of 256 GByte to 4 TByte. They are accompanied by a T2 chip as controller, and according to Apple's photos consist of two plug-in modules.

The graphics cards range from standard cards such as a Radeon Pro 580X to one or two "MPX modules" with a maximum of two Radeon Pro Vega II and Thunderbolt outputs. They are connected with a maximum of 16 PCIe lanes (x16). Up to 32 GByte high-bandwidth memory are supported. Apple calls the whole thing "the most powerful graphics card in the world". For video professionals the optional "Afterburner" should be interesting: a programmable accelerator (FPGA), with which you can process three 8K video streams simultaneously - or twelve times 4K.

The power supply delivers up to 1400 watts. Three huge fans shovel the warm air out of the aluminium case. Nevertheless, the Mac Pro under the table should subjectively not be louder than an iMac Pro on the table. The base price for the Mac Pro is 6000 US dollars. It should be available from autumn.

Update: In the variant with 8-core Xeon, the Mac Pro achieves a nominal clock of 3.5 GHz and 4.0 GHz with Turbo Boost. The 12-core can handle 3.3 and 4.4 GHz. The variant with 16 cores runs with 3.2 and 4.4 GHz. With 24 or 28 cores, the base clock drops to 2.7 or 2.5 GHz, respectively, while the turbo clock here remains at 4.4 GHz.

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