Perched on a cylindrical metal pole inside a glass cylinder as shown here is the new cylindrical Mac Pro. You can see the expansion ports—USB and Apple’s own Thunderbolt ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI, power port, etc.
How Is Mac Pro Different?
In terms of design, this is something that nobody has ever attempted. As Apple is pretty savvy in the design of its products, this Mac Pro also has a unique, industry-leading design. The entire PC is within a cylindrical column of 9.9 inches by 6.6 inches, which means, it is slightly taller than your iPad 4 and not even as wide. Quite a tiny form factor for an extremely powerful desktop computer, isn’t it?
The most important aspects of the new Mac Pro, the technical specifications, are not yet available as the computer will not be hitting the market until the later part of this year. However, we have quite a bit of information to make informed guesses about this product. Let’s go upon them.
Mac Pro has dual graphics cards and Intel Xeon E5 processor with 12 physical cores. As there is no E5 processor with 12 physical cores, we suppose there will be two six-core processors. While we do not know the exact model number of the processor, we know most of them are hyper-threaded, which means Mac Pro will probably have the multi-tasking capabilities of a 24-core processor.
The previous Mac Pro had 12 GB of RAM, but it is not known how much RAM this new one has. The graphics cards used will be AMD’s FirePro W9000, with up to 6 GB of graphics memory. FirePro is a specific AMD brand catering to workstation computers that are used for Computer Aided Design (CAD) and multimedia authoring. In the new Mac Pro, you will get two of these graphics cards having 6 GB of VRAM each, providing maximum amount of power.
The new Mac Pro has its storage based on the PCI Express standard, which is the fastest available standard for flash storage drives. The expansion slots available in Mac Pro include six Thunderbolt 2 ports and four USB 3.0 ports.
Beyond all these, what powers the Mac Pro? Well, it is the latest edition of Mac OS X, codenamed ‘Mavericks’. This is the next big release of Mac OS X after Lion. With the new redesign of Apple OSes, including the iOS, we can quite a bit see a flat design all over Apple.
The Power Distribution
A computer derives its power through three important means, and a cutback on any of these aspects can create a performance bottleneck. These aspects are the processing power, physical memory (known as RAM), and the data transfer rate between various components in the PC.
For instance, you get a PC with an insanely fast processor, but if the RAM is not high enough or fast enough, then your PC will not perform any better than one with the same RAM and an ordinary processor. The same is the case with the bus speed, which is the data rate between various components in the PC—between RAM and processor, processor and hard disk, RAM and hard disk, etc.
How does Mac Pro improve on the power distribution? Well, Apple has upgraded all of these three aspects. Here is the information that the company shares with us:
Cores: 12; gives two times better floating point performance than the previous Mac Pro (speed of the processor).
RAM: Bandwidth is twice as much as the current Mac Pro at 60 GB/s.
Graphics: While the current Mac Pro gives 2.7 teraflops of power, the new one promises 7 teraflops (7x10^12 operations per second).
Storage: PCI express flash storage giving 1.25 GB/s
Expansion interface: Thunderbolt 2 ports giving up to 20 Gb/s (2.5 GB/s) and USB 3.0 ports giving up to 5 Gb/s (600 MB/s) speed.
The Expansion Slots
One of the major features of the Mac Pro is its expansion slots. These slots include six Thunderbolt 2 ports, which is an Apple-Intel technology for data transfer with external devices, such as storage devices, displays, cameras, etc. Thunderbolt 2 ports as mentioned earlier can help transfer data at a rate of 20 Gbps, which is the maximum among all interface technologies today. They can support up to four 4K displays too. If you read our article on 4K TVs, you would know these displays really need extreme bandwidth.
One disadvantage is that there are not many devices supporting Thunderbolt yet, and you have to get an adaptor to get it to work with other devices using USB or FireWire technologies. Those adaptors are expensive too. However, USB 3.0 ports are there on the Mac Pro that you can use. There are four USB 3.0 ports that give up to 5 Gbps bandwidth.
One of the uniqueness of this Mac Pro is its design, which unlike the previous ones, is cylindrical.
This is the first time that any PC maker has created a unique design for the chassis. Mac Pro’s internal structure is also quite efficient. It has a central unified thermal core that cools down the motherboard and both of the graphics cards. The heat generated in the central column is efficiently radiated upwards through the appropriately designed fan blades.
The motherboard and each of the graphics cards are immovably screwed on the frame around the heat sink. Due to this reason, it becomes quite difficult for customers to replace the graphics cards on this Mac Pro. It should not however be impossible.
All in All
Mac Pro has several other important features as well, such as the 802.11 ac Wireless, Gigabit Ethernet port, etc. Since we don’t know the exact specifications, we cannot make many assumptions. However, since Mac Pro and other Apple products are the only ones that come with such technologies as Thunderbolt, it should be one of the fastest OEM PCs to come to the market. Two major disadvantages that one could point out are the difficulty in upgrading and high prices of Thunderbolt adaptors.
One important thing remains to be seen as well. As soon as Apple comes up with its own unique device designs (thanks to Jony Ive), others follow suit. iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac Mini, MacBook, etc., all gave birth to similar-looking designs from competitors, and so we won’t have to wait long to see cylindrical PCs hitting the market from other companies as well. For the time being, check out these innovative PC case designs: