Apple’s all-new Mac Pro won’t arrive until 2019, the company has confirmed, the handiwork of a new team focused on the demands of professional users. Long-anticipated by the pro-creatives that have in many cases been vocal with their complaints that Apple’s current range overlooks their needs, plenty about the new Mac Pro remains a mystery.
Apple, though, is pulling the curtain back just a little. A year ago, it sat down with select media and made an unexpected confession: it had got the cylindrical Mac Pro wrong, and was “completely rethinking” what its replacement would be. At the time it suggested the new Mac Pro might arrive in 2018, though without any promises. Now, it seems, it’ll be 2019 before we see their handiwork.
On the hardware side, last year Apple conceded that it had placed a bet with the Mac Pro on multiple GPUs working in tandem being the primary architecture. Instead, the graphics industry opted for single, potent GPUs working under heavy load. The result of that mistake was a thermal nightmare, and a complete reconsideration of just what makes for a Mac Pro so, well, “pro”.
That prompted the creation of a team specially focused on exactly what professional users want from their hardware and software. Dubbed the Pro Workflow Team, it’s under John Ternus and has tight links to the engineering division that will be responsible for the final Mac Pro hardware, TechCrunch reports. Unusually, while Apple is making all the expected noises about talking to pro-creatives about their needs, it’s also going further than that.
Turns out, the sort of users Apple is hoping to tempt with the Mac Pro are often using their computers for highly secretive purposes: movies yet to be released, for example. While they might have a long wish-list of what they’d like to see from the upcoming computer, they’re limited in what they can actually discuss. So, Apple decided to bring in creatives of its own, either contact or full-time, who will use the prototypes to work on actual projects and then give feedback as to how the whole thing worked out.
“We’ve been focusing on visual effects and video editing and 3D animation and music production as well,” Ternus told TechCrunch. The upshot to that isn’t just generally well-specified machines, but ones which truly fit smoothly into pro-workflows. That could be avoiding processing lag when it’s most frustrating, or rearranging how drivers are managed to cut out the tiny hiccups that add up over hundreds of repetitions during the course of a typical day.
That’s all well and good for those working on Apple’s internal test projects, but for everybody outside the company waiting on a new Mac Pro, there are still some huge questions. Apple is still apparently committed to making a modular machine, though the form that modularity is unclear. If you’re hoping for a big chassis with lots of open slots and bays, for example, you might end up disappointed: TechCrunch says it saw Apple experimenting with external GPUs, Thunderbolt 3 peripherals, and using iPad Pro as an input device with highly customizable interfaces.
What that means for the 2019 Mac Pro is unclear at this stage. Certainly, Apple’s strategy to use external peripherals and expansion with the existing, cylindrical Mac Pro failed to catch on, though some of that has arguably been down to the paucity of Thunderbolt 2 accessories. macOS is, meanwhile, only just getting up to speed with Thunderbolt 3 external GPUs.
How much of the old Mac’s failure was timing, therefore, and how much was an inherent misunderstanding of what professionals want and need remains a point of argument. We won’t hear Apple’s voice in that until it decides to show us the new Mac Pro next year.