The “Mac Pro 2019” is strong, but is going in the right direction?
One more WWDC 2019 article, focusing on a pair of issues many missed: the environmental question. And a price that cuts off the “low tier” creative professionals.
The WWDC 2019 took place on June 3rd and Apple presented what much “of the creative industry” expected: a new generation of Mac Pro finally modular, internally expandable, and therefore more upgradeable.
During the event, other minor news related to iPad OS, iOS, which gets night mode, updated Memoji and a Siri with a less robotic voice, WatchOS 6 and… the death of iTunes, which will be replaced by 3 apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV.
This time, however, the main dish of Apple is a Mac. And what a Mac!
The mac pro 7.1 “Grattuggia II”
Tim Cook moves on to present the new computer for the professional (high) range of Apple: the Mac Pro ‘late 2019’ or Mac Pro 7.1.
There is enthusiasm in the air, and security. The Apple CEO knows the product is solid.
As already seen in many other articles it is a tower architecture, not miniaturized, with maximum specs: Xeon processors up to 28 cores, 1 TB of RAM, 4 double slots for video cards and 3 more for other expansion cards guy.
As for the old Macs, it “grates”, which means that in future it will be possible to add video cards at will, while in single slots PCIE cards for NVME discs can be placed.
Today’s computers are much more GPU-based than in the past. Here then are the new AMD Radeon Pro Vega II graphics cards, single, double and in pairs, for a total of 56 teraflops!
And there is also the “Afterburner”, a thinner graphics card designed for video editing.
Everything is there. Everything a rendering farm and production companies have asked Apple from 2014 onwards.
And there is also the monitor…
The Pro XDR Display
Together with the Mac Pro a new display is also presented, the Pro Display XDR, a monitor with disruptive features: 32-inch / 6K (6016x3384) / HDR support.
Along with the free monitor there is also a Pro stand… Or not: 999 $: — /
In some respects, the XDR Pro Display is the element where Apple distances the competition further — here represented by a high-end SONY monitor that costs $ 43,000.
The monitor, however, with its new 6K format, is the starting point from which I will move in finding the pain points of the direction that the PC industry is taking (again).
Adding the Watts mentioned during the presentation (the processor referred to as 300W) and the consumption of the various GPUs installed, the total rises rapidly, in fact at some point, after the video cards, almost on the sidelines and to introduce the ventilation system, we talk of consumption.
The power supply of the Mac Pro 7.1 will be 1.400W!
What a power! It seems to have returned to the uncompromising power of the Power Mac G5 dual, which had a 600W power supply, in the early 2000s!
The old days when processors doubled the MHZs from year to year seem to be back, after…
little more than a quiet decade (roughly from 2007 to 2018) in which the PC industry became very focused on the number of cores in the processors and on the efficiency of the machines.
The pixel war
After years in which the 4K format has slowly made its way into the PC and TV market, now there is already talk of 6K and 8K formats.
They are definition formats, not formats — in inches — of monitors. These are data to be processed.
More dense information formats require cascaded technologies: ultra-high-definition display monitors, fast GPU computers capable of playing videos and games, but also exponentially more powerful GPUs to “encode” videos in new formats. Shooting tools need to be changed, but energy efficiency is better there.
Video at 8K ← You need a: 8K Display ← You need an playing capable 8K GPU
(if you are a creator, add)← You need a much more capable 8K GPU, ←You need an 8K video camera to capture
Are the new post 4K formats really necessary?
Certainly information technology also proceeds through optimization — especially in the maturity phase of a new standard — but the question is whether the race towards formats beyond 4K is really necessary.
We have arrived at such a level of detail and a density of pixels that hardly justify further iterative improvements, especially if they cascade higher consumption, hardware parks to be renewed, and so on.
More than the 2020 future, it seems to go back to the 90s IT marketing.
Is it the right direction?
In the meantime, many things have changed: we can see the effects on the climate of human activities, and electricity consumption in constant growth.
There has also been a recent awareness.
At one point, just a few years ago it seemed that information technology should become smaller and “lighter”. With smaller computers that served as access to shared (and efficient) computing powers.
Even the Mac Pro was smaller and more ecological…
The new Mac Pro, is a 1.4 KW workstation that follows the recent trend of more GPU computing power on site. Maximum performance, without worrying about consumption.
The reasonable doubt
As a Mac lover and environmentalist my doubt is:
“…if it was the Mac Pro 2013, to be in the right direction, instead?”
Perhaps we didn’t understand the futuristic and miniaturized design, the extreme energy and thermal efficiency, the expansion potential provided by the 6 Thunderbolt ports (which are on 3 different buses, following BareFeats.com), and so Apple ended up retracing its steps , creating a traditional 1.4KW metal tower?
Maybe an updated and improved version of the “Trash can”, with Thunderbolt 3 and full compatibility with external eGPU would not have been a more futuristic design?
Apple could update the GPU. Too heat? Just add a second, bottom fan. :-)
(I tried it in a experimental hackintosh which mimics the Late 2013, see later).
The Mac Pro just presented at WWDC2019 is the result of feedback and complaints from a part of the professional market, which Apple has carefully listened to.
That part of professionals, working in 3D studios, animation, video editing, asked for an internally expandable tower computer, without having to dedicate a desk to external GPUs and thunderbolt cables.
In the above environmentalist tirade, Apple is the last company to bring into play: in this case it represents the category, with that 1.400W power supply which however represents the maximum consumption of the Pro 7.1 architecture.
Moreover, typically its products are recyclable as much as possible, and the Apple Store always withdraw old macs for disposal!
What is the problem then?
With a base price increased to $5000, the new Mac Pro is dedicated to the high end of the market: large post-production studies, video editing and 3D animation.
Freelance professionals, small businesses, graphic designers and (new) YT creators are cut off from the Mac Pro 7.1 world for at least a few years. At least as long as the first Mac Pro 2019 “baseline & used” will appear in the used market.
For them there would be the iMac Pros, machines with some amateurish taste for the professional, with the limit of all-in-one solutions, and difficult to update.
An updated version of the Mac Pro Trash Can — or the new Mac Pro 7.1— available from a € 2900 baseline price would also have included this range of professionals.
This low tier of professionals, have always been loyal adopters of Macintosh computers, from the times when Computer Graphics was all about Design.
And this budget range under $ 5000, above 2000 $, may have to go to the Hackintosh device (which is not legal or reliable for a business anyway), or move to the dark side.
Good Medium reads.
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