The recent, um, ‘upgrade’ to the Mac Pro followed by the unconfirmed leak (which was later confirmed) about real upgrades possibly coming to the Mac Pro next year got me thinking again about what a totally redesigned Mac Pro could look like.
My theory is that the next gen Mac Pros could resemble the Mac Mini but larger to accommodate multiple hard drives, more RAM, dual CPUs and allow for proper air flow so the machine doesn’t cook itself (kinda like the old ‘pizza box’ form factor but not quite as big). It will have Ethernet, Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, HDMI, an optional optical drive and maybe eSATA (possibly FW800). The big shift will be the lack of PCIe slots and the addition of an integrated GPU.
The Thunderbolt ports (4-6 of them) will provide for expansion, everything from external GPUs to fibre, since the machine won’t have PCIe slots anymore. The big problem with my theory right now though is that Thunderbolt is only 1/4 as fast as PCIe. This is just the first iteration of Thunderbolt and it will get significantly faster in the future but that timetable isn’t public info. It’s fast enough for a lot of things but it will certainly bottle neck an external GPU.
If Thunderbolt was faster right now I think my new Apple pizza box could arrive next year, but with Thunderbolt being so much slower than PCIe (and so many apps including FCPX leveraging the power of the GPU) I don’t see Apple introducing a revamped Mac Pro line with this kind of bottle neck. Maybe they’ll kill all the PCIe slots except one for the GPU. Who knows? I’m sure over the next 12-18 months there will be plenty of rumors keeping people speculating and guessing.