It’s easy to look at the Mac Pro as it currently sits and think that it is as good as dead.
I’ve thought that too.
However, I’ve done some digging and I think I’ve come to the actual culprit for the seemingly stagnant workstation: Intel.
While, yes, we’ve seen a lot of movement on the Core i-series of processors, and those processors have been moved into the other Mac lines, we have yet to see much-if-any movement on the multi-processor Xeon line.
I’m not talking about single-processor/multi-core Xeons, but the multi-processor/multi-core Xeon line, and that is something to keep in mind.
The current Mac Pro tops out at two 6-core Xeon processors at 2.93 Ghz a piece. As far as I can find (using Newegg and Wikipedia), there are only small, incremental steps Apple could release right now if they wanted to keep things the same. Could Apple have done this? Sure. Should they have? Probably, but it would have required them to commit to purchasing quantities of chip they sell very few of.
Currently it looks like the highest-end Mac Pro uses the Intel Xeon X5670 (two of them) with a TDP of 95W. They could use the X5675, which is just a little speed bump, but if they would use anything faster than that they would bump the TDP up to 130W. That’s almost 40% greater, and would probably require some internal changes to the Mac Pro that would differentiate it from the lower-specced models.
So the poor Mac Pro is stuck with old CPUs while we wait for the next version of the multi-processor Xeons to come out. This is what I am imagining as the headline features for the next Mac Pro (if there is one):
- Newest generation of Xeons (probably bumping the number of total cores higher)
- USB 3.0 because it is finally brought with the Intel chipset
- Thunderbolt ports … probably two
- Newer AMD Radeon graphics … even if the 5770 is still a really good card
- Same chassis
That’s about it. Most of this is being held up by Intel and I think we will see it when Apple can get its hands on newer Xeons. The Mac Pro is really a single model with multiple configurations and if they need to have special models, I just don’t think they are going to go through with it.
For now, I put a moratorium on Mac hardware purchases for myself until the next refreshes not because of anything Apple has done, but because Intel has been holding some things up.