MacPro Update from WWDC

Posted on by Larry

Since I wrote my blog on the MacPro (read it here), Apple presented its keynote at this year’s WorldWide Developer Conference. Shortly after that, when the Apple Store reopened, not only were the new Mac portables listed, but the MacPro also had a small “New” tag over it.

However, the MacPro update was somewhat underwhelming, as my email and blog comments will attest. No Thunderbolt and no USB 3, to name two deficiencies when compared to the rest of the Mac line. Apple increased the minimum RAM to 6 MB, but is still using a 2-year-old processor.

I sent a note off to Apple asking for clarification, however, while waiting, I came across this write-up of WWDC from David Pogue – Technology Editor for the New York Times:

Many Apple observers also wonder if Apple thinks that desktop computers are dead, since not a word was said about the iMac and Mac Pro. An executive did assure me, however, that new models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013. [ Read his entire post here. ]

David is extraordinarily well-connected and if he says he talked with an Apple executive, then I’m sure it was a senior-level person.

Here’s my guess on what’s going on. I think that Apple decided a couple of years ago not to update the MacPro – that was the word I was hearing on the street. Then, less than a year ago, they changed their minds and decided to update the machine. However, hardware update cycles are lengthy and it takes time to create all the parts, which is why the system won’t be available, according to Pogue, until next year.

For now, it is good to know that the MacPro is not dead. Whether that is sufficient news for you, well, only you can decide that.

I’ll let you know if I learn anything more. And please let me know what you think.


UPDATE – June 12, 2012

Apple removed the “New” flag next to the MacPro in the Store listing.

UPDATE – June 13, 2012

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, issued an email today saying that the MacPro would have a significant upgrade in 2013.  No features or more specific date was mentioned. You can read his comments on a variety of websites. Here’s one:

20 Responses to MacPro Update from WWDC

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  1. This machine is the bread and butter, day in and out workhorse of most of the entertainment industry, and it had gone for two years without an update. People were vocal and bombastic, a thousand blog and forum posts were written about the languishing Mac Pro, petitions were signed, Facebook pages were employed, Apple employees were stalked on show floors: and Apple was listening.

    Unfortunately their answer ran along the lines of “What is the least amount, and I mean absolutely least amount of work we could do to the Mac Pro and still call it an update?”

    Then they did that.

    The Mac Pro is not dead, but it’s in a coma.

  2. Craig Seeman says:

    Just a theory to toss on to the fire.

    It could mean MacPro and iMac are going to be consolidated into a new product line.

    Some see this with MacBookAir and the new MacBookPro but they’re continuing to make the old MacBookPro. That’s probably due to pricing though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the old MBP go away next years (some rumors have predicted this).

    What surprised me was the lack of speed bump to iMac and MacPro. iMac to Ivy Bridge and MacPro to Sandy Bridge. Neither would have been major design changes. Why avoid that interim implementation?

    My guess is that Apple is accelerating the move away from old technology and they don’t want users hanging on to another generation of iMacs and MacPros they have to support (parts, OS tie ins).

    I suspect FCPX will continue to tie more closely with the OS and hardware and they want to drop backward compatibility as quickly as possible. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly 10.6.8 support falls, which by this summer, will be two OSs back. You can already see some differences which range from the way App Store downloads are handled as will as FCPX SAN support.

    In other words, the gap in hardware updates is deliberate. In this case Tim Cook, the channel master, wants to us to clear out our channels by ceasing interim updates on desktops.

  3. Brooks Moore says:

    In my research, currently intel does not have a controller chip that supports thunderbolt on Xeon chipsets. Perhaps that’s why the Mac Pro isn’t ready yet. All the current motherboards and chipsets from intel and others only support the i5 &i7.

  4. Frank says:


    First Shake, then FCP, now this…it’s over, time to move on and away from apple.

  5. jon says:

    here’s what i believe will happen and it all centers around thunderbolt 2.0. i foresee a slimed down and standardized mac pro unit with a much smaller footprint. no more optical drives, one or possibly no expansion slots, and fewer hd drives. any and all expansion will be handled via thunderbolt. you want more graphic capabilities that what’s on board, just slap a thunderbolt graphic card or 2 on the chain. Hard drives or optical drives? no problem. external ram? maybe. seems like the advantages to a setup like this would far out weigh the disadvantages. smaller basic form factor, cheaper base unit, and a simpler system to maintain/update on apple’s part. Plus, you would have to assume such a device would have a greater appeal to a much wider market.

  6. Tom Munnecke says:

    I have an old Mac Pro (late 2006, quad core Xeon 2.66 ghz) that apparently is being dropped from the Mountain Lion distribution… I’m a little reluctant to go with a new Desk Pro, given the uncertainty of the family, and hesitant to try to cram everything into the limited IO capabilities of the iMac family.

    And, I’m concerned that MacOS is heading to the “walled garden” architecture of the IOS world.

  7. Rich Gehron says:

    It appears that many professional Mac users are suffering from processor envy. What I find interesting is that hardware has NEVER been the Mac’s advantage. It’s always been the operating system. Yes you can jump over to PC land and get the latest up-to-the-minute processor, graphics cards, et al. but the price you pay is working in (cue hellish music) WINDOWS! There are some users out there that are truly platform agnostic (or have custom built Linux machines), but on my personal balance sheet the negative experiences on Windows FAR OUT NUMBER the negative ones on the MAC platform, and I have been using both platforms for 15 years plus.

    I have to agree with Craig Seeman, that Apple products are going through a period of convergence. We’ve seen it with the mobile platforms and now its starting with Mountain Lion as OSX gains features from iOS. It is very possible that in the next 4 years or so all Apple devices will run on a single operating system. And that likely means a radical redesign on the tower system. What APPLE needs to do (and I hope will do) is blow our minds again with a new desktop product that combines the best design and functionality features of the MACPRO and the iMAC. Call it MACFUSION if you like (hopefully they come up with a better name), but it needs to take a quantum leap forward in computing and not just incremental upgrades. A product for the future with the next generation OS leading the way.

  8. K Mitchell says:

    From what I understand people are already loading the Lion Platform on the ASUS motherboards. There is more that windows on the pc platform.

  9. Marcus says:

    I gave up on MacPro last year and ended up building my own rig, 32 GB DDR3 1866 RAM, 2700K processor that I overclock to more than 4.4 GHZ, SSD drives, all the USB 2 and USB 3 ports I want, 6 SATA ports, 2 @ 6GN/sec and RAID ready, plus QuadroFX 400 card. All for way less than a comparable performance MacPro. That’s Apple’s problem. They can’t keep up with HP or Asus or anyone else on a regular basis and when they do it is short-lived and over-priced.

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