Larry Jordan Blog

Thoughts on the New Mac Pro

Posted by on June 15, 2013

[ This article generated a lot of technical comments. Be sure to view the comments in this blog to learn more. ]

Updated: June 15, to reflect a variety of technical comments from readers.

On Monday, Apple gladdened the hearts of power users everywhere by providing a “sneak peek” at the new Mac Pro. Stylish, diminutive, and blindingly fast – at least according to the specs provided by Apple. Since that time, I’ve been thinking a lot about a system that is directly targeted to meet the performance needs of video editors, and other power users.

First, keep in mind that this was a “Sneak Peek” — a tantalizing glimpse of what is coming in the future, not a formal product launch. (This is similar to what Apple did a couple years ago when they provided an “advanced look” at Final Cut Pro X at the 2011 NAB SuperMeet.) Consequently, while this “peek” provided an overview, it was intentionally sparse in providing details. Partly, I suspect, because Apple wants to gather feedback from potential users before nailing down the final specs.


One of the key things I realized was that this system is envisioned to be highly configurable. Just as the current Mac Pro has a wide variety of options for RAM, GPU, storage, and connectivity, this unit is envisioned to be highly customizable as well.

If you think about it, the current Mac Pro is the most customizable system that Apple makes. Configuration is at the heart of the new Mac Pro as well. While I expect that there will be one physical unit, we will have a lot of choices about what goes into that unit.

This also means that we will see a variety of price points as well, depending upon how each system is configured. In this regard, the new Mac Pro is identical to the current Mac Pro.


Also keep in mind that Apple views Thunderbolt as more than a fast way to move data to and from a hard disk. Apple considers Thunderbolt as a direct connection to the PCI bus of the computer, able to deliver up to 20 Gb/second of data. Think of Thunderbolt as a direct line connecting the PCI bus to the expansion chassis of your choice.

NOTE: According to a reader, Intel is claiming a throughput of Thunderbolt 2 of about 1.6 GB/second, which is still very fast.

For most people, a fast computer coupled with lots of RAM and a really fast storage system will be all they need. In fact, Philip Hodgetts has written that more than 80% of Mac Pro users don’t have any PCI cards in their system; aside from the graphics card. For those users, the new Mac Pro fits their needs for raw power, without adding tons of unneeded expansion slots.

NOTE: We used to think of PCIe card performance in terms of the number of “lanes” they used to connect to the motherboard. There were four, eight, and sixteen lane cards. The more lanes, the faster the potential communication speed between card and bus. With Thunderbolt, Apple is moving away from the concept of lanes, to straight data transfer speeds.

Thunderbolt 2 is fully-backward compatible with the original Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt devices can be connected by either copper or optical cables. Copper cables can be up to 3 meters in length (about 10 feet). Optical cables can extend up to 100 meters, for users that want to store their computers or RAIDs in a machine room for security, noise, or air conditioning reasons. Currently, optical cable lengths of 10, 20, and 30 meters are available on the market.

For users that need to expand the capabilities of their computer, for example DSP audio cards, video ingest and capture cards, mini-SAS or eSATA cards, more graphics cards, a very real question becomes “how many card slots should the computer hold?” Apple felt that picking any number of internal card slots would be limiting to some number of users. By moving all expansion cards outside the box, then connecting with the very high-speed Thunderbolt 2 data bus, Apple essentially provided a virtually unlimited number of card slots for users that need the maximum in expandability.

NOTE: As a sidelight, one Thunderbolt 2 connection provides sufficient data bandwidth to ingest uncompressed 4K images, or output video to a 4K video monitor, or support VGA, DVI, and DisplayPort computer monitors. Plus Apple put an HDMI port on the back of the Mac Pro just for good measure.

Already, ATTO and Sonnet, along with others are offering Thunderbolt to “X” converter boxes: mini-SAS, FibreChannel, eSATA, Ultra-SCSI. And vendors such as AJA, Blackmagic Design, and Matrox offer ingest and monitoring options connected via Thunderbolt.

The one missing piece is the lack of high-speed Thunderbolt-native RAID 5 storage systems, with the notable exception of Promise. There are plenty of two-drive RAID 0 and RAID 1 systems, but very, very few 5 to 10 drive RAID 5 systems, which we editors need the most. I’ve heard lots of rumors of what’s causing the problem. Without pointing fingers, I hope this bottleneck gets resolved quickly.


We also need to consider that this is a system and not focus on one single element. The new CPU is twice as fast as the current Mac Pro in floating point operations. Memory bandwidth has doubled and now supports four channels of communication between RAM and the CPU.

The big news, though, was the addition of multiple GPUs. Although the ATI FirePros were featured, I suspect other options will also be available as part of the customization options Apple offers at launch.

Now, things get interesting.

On Monday, Apple made a point to say that Final Cut Pro X would release a new version that supports the Mac Pro. That instantly made me think that all applications would need to be rewritten in order to run on the Mac Pro, which would make this new system a non-starter.

This is not the case.

Instead, think of the dual-GPUs in the Mac Pro as similar to when Apple released multi-processor CPUs. All applications would run on a multi-processor system, but until they were re-written to support multi-threading (which is the technical ability software uses to take advantage of more than one processor) the application would be limited to using only one processor. This was one of the big limitations of Final Cut Pro 7.

NOTE: In terms of Final Cut Pro X, multiple GPUs offer significant performance benefits for real-time effects playback, rendering, optical flow retiming, and exporting.

So, the Mac Pro will run all current Mac software. However, if the software wants to take advantage of the dual GPUs, it may need to be reconfigured to do so. This is not a small task for developers, but it isn’t impossible. This is what Apple was referring to when they said a new version of Final Cut Pro X would be released to support the Mac Pro.

NOTE: Once developers know they can count of dual GPUs, they can design new software from scratch to take advantage of it, the way that everyone writes software today to take advantage of multiple processors and multiple cores.

UPDATE: A reader points out: “When using OpenCL, no code modification is required (problem only for Dev’s which don’t use OpenCL). Some use CUDA-API (Nvidia) – and this requires re-coding.

UPDATE: Another reader points out that the next version of Adobe Premiere and After Effects already support Open CL.

And the performance results of optimizing for dual GPUs can be astounding. Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design, tweeted earlier this week that they have been testing Resolve 10 on the new Mac Pro and it “screams.”


Apple designed the Mac Pro as its most powerful and flexible desktop computer. They architected it to reflect where they see computers going for the next ten years. They provided a wealth of Thunderbolt ports – and converters – so that all legacy monitors, storage, and cards can be supported.

This has the potential to be an amazing piece of gear and I can’t wait to learn more at the launch.

As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.



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  1. Tim Jun 15, 2013 14:00


    I think the new MacPro is a pretty impressive machine. Seems to be inline with just what I need and how I’ve used my MacPro/PowerMacs in the past. They trimmed the fat that most Pro users don’t need.

    You wrote “CPUs,” but Apple only mentioned 1 CPU in the keynote. Are you suggesting that this will be one of the customizable options? I thought the inside was a triangle with 1 CPU, and 2 GPUs on each side.

    Is Thunderbolt fast enough for external video/graphic cards? I thought 20Gb/second was too slow for these applications.

    With Apple’s recent trend to make their computers less customizable, I suspected that we wouldn’t have much an option at all aside from (perhaps) HD size. I could very well see Apple saying “This is the graphics card our Pro computer uses, code your software to it or use something else.” This way they can ensure that their OS and FCP X run optimally on it. Agree or have any thoughts?

  2. Larry Jun 15, 2013 14:09


    When I wrote CPUs, I was thinking multiple cores. I don’t know whether Apple will have more than one CPU chip inside.

    Thunderbolt, especially Thunderbolt 2, is more than fast enough for even 4K video. For standard HD, it has speed to burn. The gating factor will not be Thunderbolt itself, but how the individual vendors implement it.

    I disagree on customization. I suspect Apple will support a number of customization options, in terms of CPU speed, GPUs, ethernet connectivity, RAM, storage, and so on.


  3. Seth Chambers Jun 15, 2013 15:26

    Worth noting, too, is that Adobe Premiere Pro & After Effects CC already have OpenCL and Multi-threading support out of the box (er, out of the cloud?) when they release next week!

  4. Jun 15, 2013 16:17

    OpenCL already takes into account multiple processors.
    OpenCL uses Just-in-time compiling the kernels for given
    system. It adapts to added processors.

    FCPX will be recompiled for newer processor and 5K displays.

    Developers should be using already supported multi-threaded
    app written to API. nothing Developers need to do for newer system.

    All the people who are going to complain about slots.
    should know that new Mac Pro already uses all of PCIe
    slots for all the bandwidth. Only way more can come if Intel
    adds it to the chip sets.

    All the Dual CPU crowd should know that days of software
    relying on CPU for performance are over.

    All the 4 DRAM crowd will also need to know that Mac OS X
    only supports 128MB. so no need to cry about RAM either.

  5. Larry Jun 15, 2013 16:42

    Dr. No:

    Thanks for your comments. The only thing I’m confused about is your statement that “All the 4 DRAM crowd will also need to know that Mac OS X only supports 128MB.” I’m not sure that statement is correct as written, or it doesn’t make sense, because I have far more RAM than that in all my systems.

    Also, while you are correct that multi-threading is currently supported by recompiling, I am not sure that you are correct when it comes to supporting dual-GPU displays. (I’m not arguing, just trying to understand.)


  6. bicycleCommuter Jun 15, 2013 17:46

    How do I get CUDA support (as opposed to OpenCL) without adding a PCIe3 card cage via Thunderbolt 2?

    What is the data transfer speed cost of using a 16-lane PCIe3 card in the Thunderbolt 2 card cage(1) as compared to plugging the card directly into the motherboard?
    (1) you also have to consider the cost of the card cage in addition to the PCIe3 card itself.

    Modular computing via Thunderbolt 2 is great for some things:
    -FireWire 800
    -1000BaseT Ethernet (not need for this machine)
    -disk storage arrays (SSD or fast hard drives)
    -USB3 (could be needed)
    -video (Blackmagic) compression/manipulation
    But, I think it falls short for:
    -high data through put things like 16-lane PCIe3 video cards

    One of the interesting things you could do with the 2013 Mac Pro:
    -use Thunderbolt 2 to daisy chain two or more 2013 Mac Pros together and create an on the fly computing cluster with 24, 36, or more CPU cores (and 4, 6, or more GPUs)

    Mac Pro 2013: a super car with its engine compartment welded shut. (no support for 3 to 5 PCIe3 full-sized cards)

    take care,

  7. Evan Krueger Jun 15, 2013 18:03

    Larry, I believe ‘’ is referring to the 128 gigabyte memory/ram limit of the OSX operating system. I assume MB was a typo, however I am not sure of what exactly his point might be.

  8. Larry Jun 15, 2013 18:22


    I figured it was a typo, but I couldn’t figure out the references. Thanks.


  9. Larry Jun 15, 2013 18:30


    These are all good comments and many will need to be addressed by Apple when they finally launch the product.

    Keep in mind that, except for graphics cards, very few PCIe cards use all 16 lanes. Most use four. Thunderbolt 2 is the speed equivalent of an 8-lane PCIe card – and you have 12 channels of Thunderbolt 2 coming out the back of the system. Also, popular video formats such as AVCHD, H.264, and XDCAM can be easily imported using USB3 or a FireWire adapter attached to a Thunderbolt port.

    No video capture card needs more than 8-lanes of connectivity, most use four. HD requires the equivalent of about 2 lanes. Keep in mind that most manufacturers of PCI3 cards are creating either expansion chassis for the card or repackaging the card with a Thunderbolt connection.

    Again, Apple will share more specs closer to the ship date. However, for most video editors, Thunderbolt 2 provides most of the speeds and connectivity we will need.


  10. Dave Heinzel Jun 15, 2013 19:36

    Thanks for the great write-up, Larry. I’ve been checking your blog daily since the announcement, knowing you would be writing something like this. I appreciate the time you take to stay on top of things.

    All specs aside, I am just happy that Apple is coming through on this and isn’t dropping the Mac Pro altogether. I’ve been concerned about Apple’s commitment to pros ever since the bungled release of FCPX. I can’t help but wish they could have made the new Mac Pro look less like a garbage can, but that feeling will pass.

  11. Guido Gautsch Jun 15, 2013 19:41

    Hi Larry,

    I think the Areca Arc-8050 fits the bill perfectly with regards to fast hardware RAID5/6/10/50/60 via Thunderbolt. 8 x SATA tower for $1,500 – add your favourite HDDs for ~1GB/s of screaming I/O.

    While it doesn’t match the Mac Pro in design prowess, it should do the trick for 99% of home editors. Can’t think of anyone who needs more speed than that, really, but I guess if you did, you could fit the thing with SSDs or daisy-chain two units together?

    The distinct advantage over something like the Pegasus is that it comes empty and users can add whatever drives they want. The advantage of something like a Drobo 5D is the ability to throw in random drives with unmatched sizes.

    If I had the money and need (I have Samsung 840 Pro/1TB HDD MBP with 16GB of RAM does the job just fine for my limited needs), I’d got the Mac Pro and the Areca – plenty of power for the next 4-5 years IMO.

  12. Bruce Payan Jun 15, 2013 19:46

    A single-lane PCIe (v3.0) card is capable of 985 MB/s (bytes) in each direction. That’s 7.88Gb/s (bits).

    An 8-lane PCIe card is capable of 7.88*8=63Gb/s — more than 3 times faster than TB2.

    Put another way, TB2 is akin to a 2.5 lane PCIe card (if there was such a thing), NOT an 8-lane card.

    There are 6 channels @ 20gbps on a new Mac Pro… combined throughput akin to a SINGLE 16-lane v3.0 PCIe card (126gb/s).

  13. bicycleCommuter Jun 15, 2013 21:34

    You actually have six bidirectional 20 Gbit/s channels (not 12, see below).

    Each Thunderbolt2 port is _one_* 20 Gbits/s bidirectional channel (2.5 GBytes/s)
    (original Thunderbolt is two 10GBits/s bidirectional channels)
    *look at’s TB2 article (Intel slide image)

    PCIe2 1-lane = 500 MBytes/s
    (so, TB2 = 5-lanes of PCIe2; probably figure 4 in actual use, due to overhead)

    PCIe3 1-lane = 985 MBytes/s
    (so, TB2 = 2-lanes of PCIe3)

  14. Larry Jun 15, 2013 21:40


    Think, instead, that the Mac Pro looks more like the ingest engine for the Delorean in “Back to the Future.”


  15. Larry Jun 15, 2013 21:40


    Thanks for the background on Areca – this is a company I had not heard of before today.


  16. Larry Jun 15, 2013 21:41


    Thanks for the math – much appreciated.


  17. Larry Jun 15, 2013 21:42

    Thanks, also, for the clarification. I’m always happy to get more accurate information.


  18. Guido Gautsch Jun 15, 2013 22:37


    That math checks out as far as I can tell.

    Don’t forget though that the Mac Pro is using those lanes for its dual GPUs – while it isn’t mentioned anywhere, the FirePros would have to sit on 2 x 16 PCIe lanes, or perhaps 2 x 8

    Then there’s the PCIe SSD storage – at least two of them, right?

    And then there are three more for TB. Lots of PCIe grunt!


    I hadn’t heard of them either until I started researching TB RAID storage. Apparently, they’re very well respected for their RAID cards and server storage. This is their first TB storage unit and it looks like a winner. Found this comparison earlier today:

    The GB ethernet is very handy too – you can make all the data available on a LAN, which would be handy for backup and sharing.

  19. Bruce Payan Jun 15, 2013 22:37

    Concerning the Areca… for the price, consider a pair of FirmTek U3/Miniswap enclosures with RAID-0 configured SSD’s. For the money, it’s certainly a contender at about 600-700 MB/s.

  20. Jun 15, 2013 22:41


    Think of GPUs as specialized Float Point Unit or DSP of previous generation.
    They are no longer for displays.

    In order to use GPU, Nvidia created a C and C++ API called CUDA.
    Apple in the mean time created OpenCL which is a generic version of
    distributed computing, it can use CPU and GPU at the same time.
    In order to do that Apple used LLVM’s JIT technology and compiler to create OpenCL.
    In the previous generation only OpenGL API could be used to create scene for Games and 3D visualization.

    In fact Nvidia was forced to use LLVM in order to compete with OpenCL JIT advantage.
    All the Supercomputers are using GPGPU programming to build there newer machines.

    The 128 GB quote is from a white paper that Apple released
    on Mavericks called OSX_Mavericks_Core_Technology_Overview.pdf

    “With its 64-bit kernel, OS X is able to address large amounts of physical RAM. OS X
    Mavericks has been tested to support up to 128GB of physical RAM on qualified Mac computers. “

  21. Larry Jun 15, 2013 22:56


    For speed, you are correct and there are a LOT of RAID 0 devices. However, I like the redundancy of RAID 5 when editing a major project. And those are a LOT harder to find.


  22. Larry Jun 15, 2013 22:57

    Dr. No:

    Thanks for the clarification. In your first post, you accidentally wrote 128 MB, which just confused the heck out of me.


  23. Jun 15, 2013 23:41


    Ok I went and checked the numbers.
    AMD W9000 FirePro comes with 6 mini display port
    so one GPU can handle a 6 – 30 inch displays at 16.4 million pixels.
    even W7000 can handle 4 display ports.

    3 4K is 24.88 million pixels.

    All this is job of display driver anyway. not individual programmer
    or software. That is what I am saying about FCPX having to change
    for newer GPUs.

  24. Larry Jun 16, 2013 00:49

    Cool. Thanks.


  25. David Maier Jun 16, 2013 04:23

    This statement shows up again and again on the net and it is so untrue. FCP7 was never limited to only one processor. It’s a multithreaded 32bit app and uses all cores and cpus just fine.

  26. Marcus Moore Jun 16, 2013 09:50

    The number crunching over how much bandwidth the TB2 ports gives us is interesting- but I think people who’ll dismiss this machine because the external ports can’t support 16x cards are sort of missing the point: that the primary use for that bandwidth is Graphics cards which are already taken care of in the housing. The only question will be if the OpenCL oriented FirePros can be switched out for more CUDA oriented cards. If you can, then I fail to see the downside.

    We can’t say for sure until we get more detailed specs- but it’s entirely possible that the GPUs could be user replaceable.

    The market for external chassis has been limited- but as they become more popular obviously the configurations will increase and the price will go down.

    For FCPX users specifically this is going to be a wonderful machine. And I’m thinking that its release this fall might be timed to coincide with some great updates not just for X, but Motion, Compressor, and Logic too.

  27. Larry Jun 16, 2013 10:36

    Actually, David, it is true. Portions of FCP 7 – for example, Log & Transfer – which are the newer elements of the application, are multithreaded. However, the bulk of the program is not, which can be demonstrated by watching CPU usage in the Activity Monitor while performing routine FCP 7 functions.


  28. Headscratcher Jun 16, 2013 11:34

    It seems to me that posts pointing out, “you can easily hook up this or that,” are aimed more at justifying the configuration than at explaining why you would force the use of externals in the first place.

    The point of the big chassis with slots and drive bays was always a nod to the fact that the engineers can’t possibly foresee all the needs of the user, and that those needs evolve over time.

    Even if TB2 were adequate to current needs (and looking at the arithmetic it looks like there are some issues) it can’t accommodate everyone. And then there’s the problem of the rat’s nest of cables and power supplies that will need to be attached to the back. I don’t think too many people are going to be rotating those cases for long.

    I don’t doubt that many users will find a way to manage – but it’s puzzling at this point why it has to be like that. Perhaps this will only become clear when they ship. The only thing I can think of that would make the design choices palatable would be a surprisingly low price for the base machine. That might allow for higher volume sales and would encourage clustering for high end users.

    People have suggested a variety of thinks it resembles – looks like a sub-woofer to me.

  29. David Maier Jun 16, 2013 11:59

    Hi Larry,

    actually, watching activity monitor will show you it’s multi threaded. General RT playback isn’t all that great compared to more modern NLEs but that’s because of the architecture. Rendering, effects in the timeline, all show virtually equal usage of CPU cores. One can argue how well it’s multithreaded, same goes for QT apps in general because QT just isn’t doing so well, CPU usage hardly ever goes above 50-60 per cent, but you’ll never see just one core peak in FCP7 while others are idle, never.

  30. Larry Jun 16, 2013 11:59


    These are also good points. The key, it seems to me, is how many people ACTUALLY put cards in their systems, aside from graphics cards. If the number is as low as others have indicated, then this becomes a small issue. If not, well, this would be a good time to invest in a company that makes cables.


  31. Larry Jun 16, 2013 12:02


    Hmm… interesting. I am a, um, devoted watcher of Activity Monitor and my experience is different from yours. For me, in most operations, FCP 7 peaks one processor 50-70%, raises the second 20% or so, and the rest show no movement at all.

    I’m willing to be wrong, but what you describe has not been my experience.


  32. David Maier Jun 16, 2013 14:31

    Hi Larry,

    that’s interesting indeed. I have never seen such behaviour with FCP7 on any machine.
    Here is a screenshot of activity monitor and a very simple timeline with some pip and color tinting applied.

  33. Ted T. Jun 16, 2013 14:56

    As someone who use a 2009 MacPro *at home* for many purposes from professional software development and photography to hobby home theater I’m with Headscratcher in regards to disk drives rather than cards: I don’t want external enclosures. I have 14TB of internal disk space right now (out of a 16TB current max) plus two optical drives. Moving this to external cases will be a messy, ugly, loud business.

    Unless Apple were to offer a matching disk enclosure for users who care about noise, cable warrens and esthetics people like me will be in a quandary, and certainly will miss the old style Mac Pros.

  34. Rick Barrett Jun 16, 2013 15:30

    RE: Marcus Moore I suspect that the GPU will be not be easily replaced. The cooling is the issue. The GPU’s have to connect to the heat sink. It might be possible but you’d be better of getting the GPU you want rather than thinking you could upgrade.

  35. Marcus Moore Jun 16, 2013 18:08

    @Rick. No question you want to get the GPU you want with the machine. It would be a hilarious waste of money otherwise. Apple may have other GPU options available at purchase for those looking for better CUDA support. Perhaps not. We just don’t know yet what the BTO options are yet.

    I’m only suggesting that some part the GPU assembly may be replaceable later when there’s a substantial upgrade available on the graphics side.

    The walk thru on Apple’s site does suggest a certain level of user level accessibility.

  36. Verinet Jun 17, 2013 05:14

    “With Thunderbolt, Apple is moving away from the concept of lanes, to straight data transfer speeds”

    why is data transfer via TB straight data transfer and over PCie lanes not?
    beginning a PCIe 4 lanes Connection offer much higher bandwith than TB2 and i think straight data transfer should not be much slower than others
    so what is the advantage in speed of Apples new “Pro” moving

  37. Victor Aulestia Jun 17, 2013 08:27

    I am still using FinalCut Pro 7. I was going to move to FinalCut X until I read your article. I will wait to lease the new MacPro to move to FC X.
    Thanks for the article

  38. Craig Jun 17, 2013 09:33

    I think many here are missing a key advantage to Thunderbolt External vs PCIe slot internal devices. These devices whether, Video I/O cards, hard drives, even expansion chassis, can now be moved from computer to computer.

    Everything that hooks to the new MacPro can also hook to your MBP or even MB Air. The lowers the cost of ownership if you use multiple computers, split time between office and field production, etc. That even the MacMini and MB Air can use devices that were once limited to cards, is a major change. That such device can hook straight to your new MacPro is a major cost saving, avoiding the need for separate PCIe card purchases.

    Let’s not understate the value of being able to easily reconfigure you MacPro’s externals. As much as one might complain about the cable mess, the idea of having to shut down and pull out the old MacPro card to change cards may be even more burdensome. While swapping cards may have been rare, swapping Thunderbolt devices is much less difficult.

  39. Bobby Jun 17, 2013 10:57


    I’ve waited so long on your insight of the Mac Pro!

    I would like your analysis on the reaction from the Pro community.

    Does Apple have an obligation to create a product that fills their wish list?
    Did Apple abandon the Pro market?
    Is Apple being open by having sneak peaks of professional hardware and software or is Apple being closed?

    I think that Apple is just one of many choices for Professional Video makers.

    Maybe I’m a little narrow sighted but do carpenters and mechanic’s get this worked up over their tools like us video producers?

    Thanks for your time Larry. I hope you’re enjoying your summer.

  40. Larry Jun 17, 2013 11:19


    Thanks for writing. It is BECAUSE we all get so worked up about this that makes this industry so fascinating!

    Apple has an obligation to create products that people will buy. However, Apple has never followed the obvious path in creating new hardware or software. That’s what makes Apple Apple. I would argue that Apple has not abandoned the Pro market, but that it is redefining it. Whether that redefinition works for you is a question that only you can answer.

    WWDC was the largest gathering of professional developers and users that Apple will have this year. It made good sense to showcase a product designed for that audience to that audience.


  41. Mike Janowski Jun 17, 2013 12:03

    Agreed about the case design…the rotating idea is just plain stupid, once you get a couple of cables hooked up. Best thing they could do is come out with a cube-like expansion chassis, some sort of spherical audio monitor setup, and a pyramid-like thing just for looks…so you could have the three noble shapes all connected to your sleek black trash can… ;~)

    I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the box…

  42. weltherrscher Jun 17, 2013 12:11

    when i see the keynote, i cry. in the night i cry too. in the morning i dont cry again.
    microsoft say: you must use our kinect spysystem with the xbox one. now i’m a sonyboy.
    apple say: you must buy all thinks new, if you want use our macpro.
    and now?

    why apple built not an external pcie and hdd tower with full 16xpcie and 10 hdd and so on? i have two universal audio card (uad duo, uad solo) for the great plugins. i dont want to buy an external thunderbolt thing.
    i dont think, that apple will buy the macpro for small money to compensate this things.

    what is really the thing:
    i dont want to go back in the microsoft headquarter. i dont like windows 8. its shit.


    ps: ease larry, say apple: the macpro need pcie!!!!

  43. Doug Sparkman Jun 17, 2013 12:13

    I think Craig’s point is great. Plus if Apple does not do it, Third Party developers should make a matching box with a bunch of slots to go on the desktop or under the desk. If the box requires multiple cables, they can be wrapped together since they are all going to the same place.

    Speaking of third party developers, why doesn’t a software company come out with a replacement for DVD Studio? I don’t want to invest in Adobe CC just to get one program.

  44. Joe Jun 17, 2013 12:22

    Bicycle Commuter wrote:

    “Each Thunderbolt2 port is _one_* 20 Gbits/s bidirectional channel (2.5 GBytes/s) (original Thunderbolt is two 10GBits/s bidirectional channels)
    *look at’s TB2 article…”

    Would refer everyone to this post on RedUser clarifying both the errors in the anandtech article, and the actual speed/specs of the MacPro TB3 ports – it’s actually 3.95 GB/s (Bytes, not bits) per port. It will effectively be 4 times as fast as the current TB because TB 3 is PCIe 3 based, and both channels are now available:!-It-s-OFFICIAL!&p=1215793&highlight=#post1215793

  45. Larry Jun 17, 2013 12:34


    From what I know, Thunderbolt 3 has not been announced. Intel just revealed Thunderbolt 2 last April at NAB.


  46. Joe Jun 17, 2013 12:57

    Excuse me, got TB 3 confused with PCIe 3, it is in fact TB 2

    Jeff’s post on RedUser is, fortunately, less typo-prone than mine haha

  47. Stephen Jun 17, 2013 13:45

    I’m sure it won’t take long for some third party to make a big box, with PCIe slots, and drive bays connected via TB with room inside for the Mac Pro itself. Sonnet does this already with their xMac server for Mac Minis

  48. Craig Jun 17, 2013 14:29

    Doug, third party hardware developers certainly seem to have some history of making their product look “Mac like.” I wouldn’t be surprised to see some interesting chassis designs.

    If you go to the Mac App Store you’ll actually find a bunch of DVD authoring programs. None seem to be on the level of DVD Studio Pro though although some seem competitive to iDVD. Unfortunately most seem to have mediocre review ratings at best.

    I don’t think there’s much motive for any of the bigger developers to put in the R&D for a replacement. The demand for advanced authoring on DVD is shrinking. There may not be much demand for advanced Blu-ray authoring either. It’s not that there’s no demand at all but it seems that it’s on a serious decline if not at least stagnant so that doesn’t give much room for a developer to get Return on their Development investment.

    There is Adobe Encore but that’s tied into Adobe’s Creative Cloud now and even then, I don’t think it’s available as a single app rental.

  49. Rocket Jun 17, 2013 15:25

    As a daily user of FCP7, I can verify Larry’s experience with the multi-threading. While you can cherry-pick scenarios where FCP7 does better, the vast majority of the time it is lightly using 1-2 cores and less than 2GB of RAM. A 6-12 core system is completely wasted on FCP7.

    As for the expansion in the new Mac Pro, I see people complaining that they can’t add a 3rd graphics card or other high-speed cards to the new system. The reality is that the current system can’t support that kind of a setup either. The 2010 Mac Pro has 2 PCIe x16 slots and 2 x4 slots. I have a 12 core at work with 1 graphics card, 1 AJA video card: (in the other x16 slot even though its only x8) a Fibre Channel card and a panasonic P2 card downloader in the x4 slots. With the AJA interface I can’t support even a second graphics card much less a third, and there are no more high-speed interfaces available to me. That’s it, the machine cannot take on any more.

    With the new Mac Pro, using the same amount of “cards” I would still have 3 thunderbolt ports that are full x4 speed, (PCI 2.0) not counting the ability to add up to six devices per port for devices that don’t need full port speed or are used intermittently. Plus I’m getting two graphics cards, which I cannot fit in the system I currently have.

    I can see some scenarios where this new Mac Pro would not be ideal, but to say it has limited expansion is just plain wrong.

    Which brings me back to software limitations… FCP7, AE, PPRO, etc all have problems utilizing the hardware speed we currently have. FCPX does better, but even using it I don’t see my processors spiked as much as I’d like to. If the new version they promised really takes advantage of the all that CPU and especially GPU speed that might be a reason to upgrade. Otherwise, you might just be better off keeping the system you have.

  50. Chris Jun 17, 2013 17:13

    Does this imply that my unopened CS6 suite would be outdated on one of these suckers?

  51. Larry Jun 17, 2013 17:25

    No. You should be fine.


  52. Dave Barak Jun 17, 2013 17:30

    From a visual design standpoint, it’s a very ominous design, one that I think could only be topped by a flat black vertical slab with the proportions of 1×4x9. [ ]

  53. Dan Wright Jun 17, 2013 18:46

    Anything about supporting Blu-Ray?

  54. Larry Jun 17, 2013 18:51


    I don’t ever expect Apple to support Blu-ray. They are leaving that to third-parties.


  55. Cris Daniels Jun 17, 2013 20:00

    This new Mac in and of itself is a neat product, but in NO way a replacement for what professionals really needed to be built.

    The simple fact is that 5 minutes after unboxing, like my Mini, it will be an insane mess of cables and wires running everywhere.

    Now for what professionals really needed:

    No firewire 800? Nothing? I need adapters to use something this common? $50 adapters to boot?

    Rackmount was a virtual must have. This is NOT a form factor friendly to real work environments. The whole Bazooka Bass tube look from the 90’s is the essence of the anti-rackmount. Can you even lay it on its side? Or will the cooling not work correctly?

    All secondary HDD’s are not external. Bad move.

    2 graphics cards but one HDMI, which means I need another adapter to waste Thunderbolt power on HDMI for a second monitor.

    Built in graphics card is a loser. The development rate of graphics GPU changes every 90 days, this thing is going to be antiquated in a year.

    4 RAM slots?, it had better hold 32GB DIMMS thats all I can say

    One processor? Performance is doomed to mediocrity compared to something like a Z820, this wont even be close.

    No PCI-e slots

    IMO, the market was crystal clear on what most serious users wanted. A smaller version of the Mac Pro. No optical drive, space for two internal drives, One or Two PCI-e slots plus room for the graphics card (so three total). Or this integrated graphics with Two PCIe slots in case the integrated card is outgrown. Single or Dual processor model. 4 dimm slots on single, 8 on double. Aluminum case, that will actually sit on a desk, but has optional rack ears. 3U total height will accommodate everything. So the thing can be smaller than now, weigh less, look amazing, and be a dual CPU powerhouse.

    Instead we got the offspring of the Mac Cube (which overheated but I digress….)

    This is the perfect mate to FCP X. So in that sense, its a home run. Of course if you already went Dual E5 Xeon + Adobe Creative cloud, this confirms that you made the right decision….

  56. Yury Jun 17, 2013 20:10

    Summarizing all above said: the point of NewMacPro is if the Software that you use could properly utilize the kind of calculation NewMacPro gives you – the AMD OpenCl and new Xeon stuff. That’s all.

    In general nothing changed at all – just usual evolution to keep up-to-date interfaces and justify the ton of money the Apple would ask for a new MacPro. Most of people could still use the OldMacPro.

    So the intrigue of NewMacPro is would the Adobe support it properly. Or it would be a beautiful futuristic top notch masterpiece of money waste and engineering.


  57. funkydmunky Jun 17, 2013 23:10

    Typical Apple gimmick. If you want a real high powered PC why would you want it in a silly tube? Seriously.
    Designed to cash in on Apple fanboi’s who don’t have the IQ to build their own for 1/2 the price, and or must run FC-X. There is nothing special about this product. Nothing that is Apple only tech. Everything is off the shelf except a ridiculous case that then would require a daisy chain of add-on’s.
    This isn’t great tech like iPhone, iPad, Mac-book’s ect..
    It’s a PC with a gimmick.

  58. rinze schuurman Jun 18, 2013 03:36

    I don’t think raid 5 will be a problem with Areca. Been using their hardware for years (and so do most of the big suppliers of PC hardware) without any problems

  59. Kilroy Jun 18, 2013 09:32

    The Keynote said 12 cores that’s two cpus of six cores.

  60. EddieSki Jun 18, 2013 12:36

    @ Ted T. : Your MacPro is just 4 years old and still has life. And if needed, why not boot it into target disk mode, and connect to 2013 MacPro? Nothing else to buy but cable and adaptor (Tbolt to FW800).

    My understanding is that this will be a single CPU (12 core), dual GPU setup. I still haven’t found PC14900 modules that are larger than 8GB (I would think with 4 slots, it would have to have 4×16GB for 64GB of ECC memory…).

    I am also considering the Areca product for my needs. With the longest Tbolt cable, it can fit in a quiet, ventilated area under my desk.

    But I wonder, does anyone use more than 2 GPU cards? And regarding the PCIe lanes … there aren’t 4×16 lanes in the current macpro. It will support 4 PCIe cards: all four slots cannot simultaneously support four cards that implement the same lane configuration. Only one slot actually has 16 lanes going to it—you can put a x16 card into a slot that is only using one lane and it will operate properly, but it will operate more slowly than the same card in a x4, x8 or x16 slot.

    Sign me up for the new MacPro.

  61. Larz Jun 18, 2013 13:25

    I’m primarily a still photographer who shoots some video and edits with FCPX. I currently have a 2008 Mac Pro with (five) 7200rpm SATA hard drives installed. One drive is installed in the empty drive bay by using an OWC kit. Been using Macs since the early 90s—originally had an SE.
    Must say I’m very disappointed in the proposed new Mac Pro. Am I correct that I cannot put any SATA drives inside this machine? Sure would love to be using solid state drives, but they’re way out of my price range. A major point of the MacPro is to be able to put in your own drives and PCI cards without having to have external boxes—>And add ram as you see fit. The idea of connecting and buying external boxes which connect with Thunderbolt adds way too much money to the price of the New MacPro. Also, Thunderbolt version 1 is barely available in external boxes today, two years after its introduction. When do we think Thunderbolt version 2 will be widely available? I would guess not until 2016. Also with all these external boxes there will be a rats nest of cables and it will not be very “green” seeing as how each external box will have it’s own power supply. My card reader and mini external hard drives connect with firewire, so they’ll all need to be upgraded. (More $s). I could care less what the machine looks like since it will sit under my desk. The new design seems perfect for spilling coffee into. Oh and the permanent graphics card—>what are they thinking. I’ve already upgraded my current 2008 Mac Pro’s graphic card once.

    I would consider switching to PC, but Windows 8 is getting bad reviews. I would like to see Apple go back to the tower design where one can add the drives, PCI cards, and RAM they desire. Having to buy all these external cabinets will most likely double the price of the Mac Pro. Is Apple now designing computers for aesthetics rather than practicality? Fine to add Thunderbolt, but why remove, firewire, and e-sata ports. Bring back the box, make it prettier if you like, but leave the functionality.

  62. Yury Jun 18, 2013 18:38

    To Larz:

    On presentation it was said that TB ports have full backward compatibility with FW. So use the adapter. 29$ not the hell of the money comparing to the price of NewMacPro.

    I believe that all HDDs would be external now. Because NMP almost 3 times smaller than OMP as i could see on the presentation. Use fast internal SSD for the system and everything else thru DAS or single box connected to TB. That’s a proper conception. And no rat nests of cables at all. 1 power cord and 1 TB. That’s all.

    Anyway i don’t see any reasons for the still photographer to change the OldMacPro.

  63. Joey Jun 18, 2013 19:26

    For those worried about rack-mounting for these new Mac Pros, looks like solutions are already being worked out.

  64. Caesar Darias Jun 18, 2013 19:41

    Thanks for all the useful information, Larry.

    Can you please clarify the timing for these products, i.e., the Mac Pro and related Thunderbolt 2 products? Here’s what it says in a blog on Intel’s Thunderbolt page:

    “Thunderbolt 2 is currently slated to begin production before the end of this year, and ramp into 2014.”

    The blog is dated June 4, 2013.

    So for those of us who would like to purchase a new camera and a new computer, and want to make a decision soon, I think we are at least a year away from having a Mac Pro AND the software and hardware to support it. What do you think?

    I think a new iMac is in my future.

    Also, can you elaborate on this comment you made: “I’ve heard lots of rumors of what’s causing the problem.”

    What is the problem? Why this long delay? And, as far as I can tell, only Blackmagic has a camera with Thunderbolt. Why?


    Here’s the Intel link:–-intel’s-thunderbolt™-2-doubles-bandwidth-enabling-4k-video-transfer-display-2/

  65. Craig Jun 18, 2013 20:06

    More news about DVD and Blu-ray that may interest Dough and Larry too.
    I’m hearing that there’s no Adobe Encore in CC. So it looks like Adobe is killing their optical disc authoring program as well. Keep in mind that Encore was cross platform so this is both Mac and Windows.

    I think the reality is that there’s no economic reason for developers to pour R&D resources into what’s likely money losing product development.

  66. Drew Jun 18, 2013 20:36

    “How many people do put cards in their systems”?! All I know is that on the dozen Mac Pros I maintain at our company, almost all of them are full to the brim with cards. On one station I actually had to cut a card bezel to feed another connection through – it was either that or drilling a hole in the chassis.
    You can say almost no one uses expansion cards just as much as saying Mac Pros have a negligible market share for Apple. At this point I don’t care (and it doesn’t matter) if I suffer from tunnel vision or not.

    I’m with Craig, Headscratcher, Ted and others – Apple created a “Mac Midi”. TB bandwidth problems aside, a workstation needs to be bigger to have AIR in it, so the space can be filled with cards, hard drives and other expansion components. Bare cards are more economical than boxes with power supplies and multiplexed signals. I just don’t get how anyone likes the potential mess of flimsy non-locking cables that a desktop TB world creates. I didn’t even dare dream of rack-mountability.

    I think Gavin on RedUser summarized it well:

  67. Craig Jun 18, 2013 20:45

    Adobe’s official word on Encore. CS6 version is available but development is dead.

    Is the Encore CS6 version the final release of this product?
    Yes. The trend in the video and broadcast industry is moving away from physical media distribution. The
    future is in cloud and streaming content. Therefore we are focusing more on products that deliver to
    streaming services. For example, Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe Premiere Pro CC include a new
    feature allowing users to create iPad-ready video with QuickTime chapter markers. The Encore CS6
    version will be the final release of this product.

  68. Larry Jun 18, 2013 20:51


    I think we will see both Thunderbolt 2 and Mac Pros this year. Apple is on record saying that the new Mac Pro will ship “Later this year.”


  69. Larry Jun 18, 2013 20:52


    My understanding is that Encore continues to exist in the CC release, but it is, essentially, the same version of Encore shipped with CS6.


  70. cbm Jun 19, 2013 15:25

    I have posted this elsewhere, but it seems germane to this discussion, too:

    I don’t think that this change is different, in spirit, from some of the changes that Apple has pushed in the past. Apple tends to jettison things that it thinks are no longer relevant to the future, e.g. SCSI, ADB, Serial ports, etc. When Apple went USB-only on the original iMac, it was a controversial move, because there wasn’t much in the way of a USB device market at that point in time. Fast forward a year or so, and there were more USB devices than you could shake a mouse at. I see the Mac Pro “sneak peek” as a warning shot across the bow of the peripheral manufacturers. If manufacturers get on board with Thunderbolt, it’s a pretty interesting future, I think.

    My workflow already uses a combination of a fast boot/swap drive, FW800 and NAS for storage, so that won’t change much with a new Mac Pro, other than needing a TB->FW adaptor somewhere (at a cost of $29 from Apple.) I’m a firm believer in the concept of storage living outside of my “compute core.” I’ve changed computers with barely a hitch because my data lived somewhere else.

    Many PCIe cards will already work in an expansion chassis. Many will not. I believe this is mostly a driver issue, other than the rare card that needs more bandwidth than Thunderbolt provides. If you are someone who needs that third (or fifth) high speed graphics card, the new Mac Pro is not for you. But realistically, what percentage of the potential market for this sort of machine is in that segment? I imagine that most PCIe cards will be made to work in an expansion chassis, or a Thunderbolt alternative will appear.

    That said, I’m stuck waiting for MOTU to come up with a Thunderbolt solution for their PCI line (e.g. 2408mk3, HD192). Their adaptor card, the PCIe-424, does NOT work in an expansion chassis. If MOTU doesn’t come up with a solution for using their PCI line, the ripple effect of me moving to a new Mac Pro would involve replacing audio interfaces, and my digital mixer. The follow-on costs would probably end up being more than the MacPro. I’m optimistic that MOTU, like most manufacturers will get its act together regarding Thunderbolt.

    Summing up, if Apple/Intel are successful in their gamble to push the world towards Thunderbolt, in a year or so, we’ll think that compute cores like the Mac Pro are the natural order. We’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. Isn’t this the way computers have always been?

  71. Butch Jun 19, 2013 16:03

    So far I like where it’s headed. Having the baseline of everything in the system solid state and then making modular with a good PCIe I/O protocol allows for a lot customization.The inclusion of thunderbolt really opens some doors now its just an issue of third parties really taking the initiative and stepping through the doors to give us some options…Secretly I think that’s what this sneek peak was about more than anything else, blowing the horn for third parties to come to the table with the ThunderBolt accessories and general interop. that’s been missing for the last couple of years since the standards introduction.

    I would preferred them widen the case a bit to be able to get a 2nd CPU socket in there, but we’ll have to wait and see the final product for sale…while GPUs have taken a massive leap in performance and acceptance an overall system speed upgrade with new parts without special software modification would feel more assuring, it even would have been nice if Apple had partnered with Nvidia since CUDA, as of now, is the industry standard for GPU acceleration software development, but I prefer open standards, so we’ll have to see what the industry looks like when Apple actually starts putting these on sale. The minimalist front is a bit too minimalistic for me, no power button, no headphone jack, no convenient USB/Firewire/Thunderbolt jacks on the front…Apple already did this same thing with the first gen. of the “Cheese Grater” Power Mac design and after a couple of minor revisions finally put some convenience jacks on the front of the case. I envision eventually seeing some convenience jacks, an Apple Logo and maybe even an iPhone/iPod Touch tray on the front for basic to advanced monitoring functionality.

  72. Terry S. Jun 22, 2013 03:48

    Man, I’ve just about given up on my fellow creative professionals who just want to complain and whine about every “Outstanding” thing that has happened in software and hardware over the last two years! Apple created the best editing app by far with Final Cut Pro X, Adobe made professional software better and amazingly affordable with Creative Cloud, and Apple again delivered a “Rock-star” machine with their New Mac Pro! What the heck is with everyone! Don’t complain – Thank these fine people like Larry has, for all their time and effort to make our lives better and giving us such great opportunities to do what we do best, CREATE.

  73. David Sharp Jul 23, 2013 11:30

    Hello Larry

    I am a little skeptical of thunderbolt 2 and I was curious about your thoughts. If you have use all 6 ports on the machine, is it possible to get 20gbps from all 6 ports at the same time?

    2 for 4k monitors
    1 for hard drives
    1 for GPU’s
    1 for i/O card
    1 rocket cards

    Would a system start seeing a performance hit when all 6 ports are working at full capacity when handling 4k media? I’ve seen usb and firewire transfers (separately) slow down because I was using multiple ports of the same type at the same time, because the ports were all linked to the same plug on the motherboard.

  74. Larry Jul 23, 2013 14:19


    Thunderbolt, like all connection protocols, measures the total throughput of the channel. So that is 20 gbps shared across all connected devices.

    Keep in mind that there are two Thunderbolt channels, so one would drive your monitors – up to 3 4K monitors – while the other would handle all data processing. To fill a 20 gbps pipe, you would need a very efficient RAID 5 with at least 22 hard drives in it.


  75. Marcus Moore Jul 24, 2013 22:18

    David. The 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports are spread across 3 controllers. This means that there are 3 completely separate TB2 streams of 20Gbps, or that each stream has 2 ports.