Apple today revealed that it is planning to introduce an all-new Mac Pro and a new external display next year.
The company acknowledges that the existing Mac Pro doesn’t fulfill all the needs of its pro customers, but the new model with have a more traditional modular design that will allow Apple to “keep it fresh.”
It’s been almost four years since Apple introduced the “trash can” Mac Pro. We all figured the company was giving up on the high-end machine and professional users who required all its power, but today it finally clears the air and confirms the Mac Pro’s future.
“We are completely rethinking the Mac Pro,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of worldwide marketing, told reporters during a recent roundtable at the company’s Machine Shop hardware prototyping lab. And there will be a brand new Apple display to go with it.
“Since the Mac Pro is a modular system, we are also doing a pro display,” Schiller added. “There’s a team working hard on it right now.”
Schiller was keen to point out to reporters that the Mac business is still growing faster than the PC industry, and now boasts almost 100 million users. It is close to being a Fortune 100 company all by itself, with a value nearing $25 billion.
The vast majority of computers Apple sells (80 percent) are notebooks, but the company still recognizes pro users who need a beefy desktop.
“We care deeply about [pro users] and we’re dedicated to communicating well with them and helping them understand what we’re doing and what we’re up to,” Schiller said. “We want to be as transparent as we can… and help them as they make their buying decisions.”
“They invest so much in the Mac, we want to support them, and we care deeply about them.”
Schiller confirmed that Apple has a team “working hard” on the new Mac Pro right now, and that it will be designed “so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements.” He emphasized that the Mac Pro is a “modular” system.
“We think it’s really important to create something great for our pro customers who want a Mac Pro modular system, and that’ll take longer than this year to do.”
This could signal the return to a more traditional desktop computer, which would give users the freedom to upgrade things like the processor and graphics cards as they see fit. These things are not replaceable in the current Mac Pro, and that’s an issue.
Even when it launched, the Mac Pro wasn’t as powerful as it could have been. Apple uses the kind of GPUs more commonly found in notebook computers, and they can’t compete with the dedicated video cards most consumers want in a high-end rig.
Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering, acknowledged that while the current Mac Pro is “good for some,” it doesn’t meet the needs of the consumers Apple was trying to reach. “It served its purpose well,” added John Terrus, VP of hardware engineering. “It just doesn’t have the flexibility we now know we need to have.”
This all sounds incredibly promising, but neither the all-new Mac Pro or the external monitor that will go on sale alongside it will be available this year. Apple didn’t actually say when they would be available; we just know it won’t be in 2017.
However, Apple is launching a refreshed Mac Pro today to tide us over (read: shift more units) in the meantime. It brings faster Intel Xeon processors with more cores, and the option to add beefier AMD FirePro graphics.