updated 09:03 pm EDT, Mon June 11, 2012
Pogue claims hope for new design in 2013
[Update: added comments from NYT columnist David Pogue, alleged Tim Cook email] Apple has quietly updated its Mac Pro line, putting an end to speculation that the product would be discontinued -- but has instead given the machine the lightest possible refresh, updating the processors slightly (faster versions of the same two-year-old Westfield chips) and dropping the price of the 12-core standard configuration by $1,200 to $3,800. However, some evidence has emerged that this is a transitional move to a full re-design in 2013.
The base configuration offers the same single Xeon W3565 chip clocked at 3.2GHz (with 8MB of L3 cache), but now includes 6GB of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM (the machine previously came with no included RAM) and officially supports up to 32GB of RAM. It still includes a 1TB hard drive (with three additional HD slots available) and an ATI Radeon HD 5770 (or optional 5870) graphics card. It retains its former price of $2,500.
The standard 12-core model is the most changed upgrading to a 2.4GHz pair of 6-core E5645 Xeon processors (with fully-shared 12MB of L3 cache), with 12GB of 1333MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM on board (upgradeable to 64GB). The previous version of this system sold for $5,000, and did not include RAM. In Apple-supplied benchmarks, the new 12-core model is (unsurprisingly) rated as 50 percent faster than the previous eight-core model.
A server model is also available, with similar specs to the base model but including 8GB of and two 1TB drives, selling for $3,000.
The Mac Pro line is of course highly customizable, and all models include Turbo Boost and hyperthreading for a total of up to 24 virtual cores. The 12-core model, for example, can be upgraded to 3.04GHz chips at an additional cost of $2,400. 512GB solid-state drives (SSDs) are also available rather than 1TB HDs for an additional $850.
The shocking lack of included Thunderbolt ports on the updated machine will likely enrage those in the pro-video community. The unit retains its dual MiniDisplayPorts and Firewire 800 connections but does not include any mention of Thunderbolt, despite a promise by Apple that it would bring the technology to its entire lineup. The Mac Pro is now the only Mac model without Thunderbolt, nor have the USB 2 ports been upgraded to USB 3.0 as was seen on the new MacBook Pro and Air lineup today. The high-speed connectors can of course be added via one of the PCI 2.0 slots available.
Update: As pointed out by a MacNN reader, New York Times columnist David Pogue says he talked to an unnamed Apple executive who assured him that "new models and designs are underway" for the iMac and the Mac Pro, to which Pogue adds "probably for release in 2013." A rumored update to Ivy Bridge processors for the iMac, along with some pre-WWDC predictions, were not announced at this morning's keynote.
Further, a Mac Pro customer who wrote to Cook asking about the absence of Mac Pro news allegedly received a reply from the CEO, which said "Our pro customers are really important to us...don't worry as we're working on something really great for later next year." The email is unconfirmed, though Cook has been known to occasionally respond directly to email inquiries.