What makes the Mac Pro the Mac Pro? Some say expandability. Some say the raw speed. Which can you cut? Get ready, you’re about to get really angry.
If my experiences with thunderbolt are to be used as a guide, it’s time to stop dreaming of an “expandable” xMac because we’re more likely to get a Xeon cluster node. A single thunderbolt port can give you gigabit ethernet, USB 3, FireWire 800, 5mbit SATA, eSATA, and a 4K display, all without a single driver. But no amount of ports can turn a Core i7 into a Xeon, so here’s what I imagine for the next “Mac Pro”
- One or two Xeons, as new as possible
- 4 fully buffered ECC RAM slots per CPU
- 2 PCI slots, at least one double height
- One 2.5″ drive bay for SSD
- One 3.5″ drive bay for HDD for fusion drive
- maybe, just maybe, another SDD/HDD pair
- 2 Ethernet, 1 FireWire 800, 6 USB 3 (2 front), TOSLINK and Standard audio
- more than 2 Thunderbolt ports*
- No ODD or even room for it
- still starts at $1999
Apple would sooner change all the ports on the back of a Mac Mini to 6 Thunderbolt ports before making an i7 “prosumer” mid 90s PC tower xMac.
* I don’t think we know yet if Thunderbolt on the Motherboard can use a PCI GPU. If that’s the case, I wonder if Apple would do non-video Thunderbolt on the on the chassis (fallback to integrated GPU) just in case you wish to use a video card that doesn’t have Thunderbolt on it. I imagine at least one GPU choice will have 4 on it, so maybe 2 more on the case.
It’s hard to predict what shape this will have but I do have some vague ideas.
It will retain the Mac Pro’s “feet” or something like them that keeps the chassis off the ground.
It will not be an easy-to-tip slim-tower nor a fat mini tower. Apple’s more creative than that.
It will be “unibody” in the sense that the Mini is: all aluminum is one piece plus one more piece that’s the access door.
You’re really going to hate me for this, but you know it to be true. The only thing Thunderbolt can’t fix in a Mac are CPU speed and RAM, so that’s all we’re going to get in a new Mac Pro, and they are going to be top-of-the-line priced.