The current and first generation of this ilk of Mac Pro was announced almost four years ago in the spring of 2013. By December of that year Apple was beginning to take orders but it was only until about February of 2014 that they could take orders in any meaningful way.
People were very excited by the design and supposed capability of the new Mac Pro. Eventually dubbed the trash can due to it’s cylindrical shape, the Mac Pro began to be released with reasonable time frames for getting the device.
A Stunning Design yet Oh So Different
Till this computer was released, the Mac Pro was built, like many other computers of its kind, in a tower. This was the beginning of a sudden shift wherein the components of a computer were internal to the externalization of those components. One of the first thoughts people had was the messy look this new design was about to bring to a desktop and in actuality this is exactly what happened. Everything that was an add-on was externalized and a lot had to be added on to give it a reasonable level of capability and performance. This was in stark contrast to the iMac, one of the sleekest computers in the industry, that was an all-in-one.
Of course, one of the very first things people did with their new beast was benchmark against the iMac. The Mac Pro was a Xeon based multii-core system (4-12 cores) that was built to handle a heavy workload. Due to it’s unusual design though there were problems in the beginning.
One was immediately identified with the internal hard drive which was only 256 gigs of flash storage. For a machine of this price and nature and considering Mac Pro’s that had come before it, the necessity to add hard drive space became immediately apparent. Some added larger flash drives up to a terabyte but for the market that the machine catered to (design, media, graphics etc) this was still woefully lacking.
The days of external hard drives powered by firewire and using sym links to tie the drives together to provide lots of storage could be done but at a cost of the look of your desk. One problem became apparent very quickly on though which was not an issue of aesthetics. Backups for this type of pro worker were as essential and maybe even more so than that of others. The sym links presented an interesting problem but once uncovered a solvable problem. Backup strategies could not follow the logic of sym links and a lot of data was not getting backed up. The solution was simple in that you just had to back up these external drives independently. Not that it could not be done, but this machine which was built to save time and all this fussing around was beginning to chew up a lot of time.
Yet, those that had their Mac Pro’s, though somewhat annoyed were basically a happy lot. It’s just the machine took a different form of thinking to ensure it ran well and was well backed up. Other workstations were built on the Intel architecture and although they had more traditional designs it was hard to beat the power of the Xeon processors in the Mac Pro.
Thus, regardless of these annoyances, the Mac Pro was essential to the work of professionals who required brute power that could be sustained something that just could not happen using the Intel architecture.
Requirements continue to Evolve
The requirement for a Pro capable machine is as great as ever. However, the Mac Pro is beginning to show its age. Pro people need more horsepower than ever to continue to evolve their design work. The Mac Pro is keeping up nicely but it’s time for a new machine with more powerful chips if they exist. Regardless, the Mac Pro could use a refresh and learn from the past so that they don’t make any more mistakes.
Some Talk of Discontinuing the Mac Pro
Some people have speculated that Apple may drop the Mac Pro altogether and just rely on the iMac. This would likely be a mistake in terms of the way the iMac is configured. Mac Pro users need power and although the iMac is a very powerful machine, it is not designed for massive build out that the Mac Pro is capable of.
Theoretically of course, you could take an iMac, make it extremely powerful and for lack of space inside the machine externalize an iMac. However, if there was anything wrong in the design it would tarnish the whole iMac line which is highly regarded for its capabilities.
Considering that a workstation class machine needs both high performance and capacity a design intended for this function makes sense.
The Rumour Mill
Although rumours abound around the iPhone, there are rumours around the Mac Pro that sees an upgraded, more powerful system rolled out in the near future. Whether this will happen or not is anyone’s guess but it doesn’t take away from the fact of the need.
One thing that concerns Apple observers these days is whether Apple might be loosing sight of the significance of the desktop. At times, it appears like Apple thinks the iPad can replace the computer. It can’t. It has its place and its a fantastic device designed to do what it does best. For those though, that need the power of a Mac Pro, there is simply no willing away this need.
It’s best, in this situation to go with the rumour mill and hope that their speculation of a new, more powerful Mac Pro is on the horizon. Four years is long enough to wait. Some swear by the current machine today. One can only imagine what an upgraded and updated unit would bring to the table.