Apple’s gone and announced some new hardware at this year’s WWDC. Folks were expecting to hear a l’il something about a new Mac Pro and that’s… actually what we got. It’s about bloody time, too. And yes, it’s modular.
But it’s not the garbage can form factor. Instead, we’re looking at something a little older — a metal-framed Mac Pro, of the sort folks were fond of building Hackintosh machines in pre-2007. You know the type — metal frame, metal caged Mac with all of the hardware in it. Seriously, all of the hardware… and that unmistakable resemblance a particular kitchen gadget that helps turn cheese into smaller pieces of cheese.
Apple’s outfitting its new Mac Pro with the very best of the best, though you’re going to need the price of a very expensive car for a top-flight version of the machine. The processor can be specced up to an Intel Xeon 28-core processor. One with 300W of dedicated power, and a gigantic heat sink. Apple’s offering 12 6-channel DIMM slots, supporting up to 1.5TB of system memory. If case you want to recreate The Matrix in your home office, we suppose.
The company’s playing up the versatility of the computer, by bringing PCI expansion boards back. There are eight PCI slots — four double, three single and one I/O card with two Thunderbolt 3 slots (USB-C), as well as two USB-A slots. There are two gigabit ethernet ports built into the machine, too, for good measure. That should take care of most connectivity options.
So you want to make your own Pixar film, do you? Apple’s creating its own graphics unit, something they call an MPX Module. The module could use a Radeon Pro 580X, or a Radeon Pro Vega II. Or two of them, connected in SLI or Infinity Fabric Link, in Apple speak. Oh, yes, and you can have two MPX Modules. Apple’s claiming the most powerful graphics card on the planet — that’s something that we have to see.
There’s an additional add-on, also custom-created by Apple. Know as the Afterburner card, this hardware accelerator card allows for up to three streams of RAW 8K footage, or twelve streams of 4K RAW footage. That’s one hell of a lot of pixels being pushed around.
But all of this stuff doesn’t come cheap. It needs to be powered and to do that Apple’s dropped in a 1.4kW PSU. As well as three massive fans to cool the whole setup, while the case keeps all the bits safe. The grate and cage design looks like a throwback, but you could probably use the whole thing as a weapon (and still have your components stay relatively safe). That’s what we like from our computers — versatility.
Vulgar Display of Power
Apple’s got a new display headed our way, designed to make the most of the new Mac Pro. Dubbed the Pro Display XDR. The display matches the Mac Pro’s case design, but it could also stand in as a screen for a PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X — except those consoles can’t make full use of the screen’s specs. The 32in size and 6,016 x 3,384 resolution make this Apple’s first 6K Retina display.
The chassis design isn’t just about matching the main machine. The design allows the display to remain cool, allowing for 1,000 nit brightness pretty much all the time. Without, you know, melting or cooking itself. The display has a peak brightness of 1,600 nits. As for the XDR part of the name? Apple’s cranked HDR support, up to something it’s calling Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR)
Oh, yeah, and there is Thunderbolt 3/USB-C connectivity, and users can string up to six monitors together. If you’ve won the Lotto and don’t know what to do with all that cash, Apple’s willing to take at least some off your hands. Okay, a fair chunk of it. You might need to win the Lotto twice, in fact.
What price for power?
The Mac Pro starts at $6,000 (around R87,000) for the base spec model in the States — don’t expect to buy the high-end machines for close to this price. The Pro Display XDR will cost $5,000 (about R73,000), with the stand costing $1,000 (R15,000). Local pricing? We’re anxiously awaiting that but we suspect it’s not going to be cheap. It’s totally conceivable you’ll need to drop R200k if you want both the new Mac Pro in mid-range specification and the new Pro Display XDR to go with it.