The Next Generation Mac Pro: Trading a CPU for a GPU Makes Sense

Phil Schiller made a strong statement during the new Mac Pro, about fifty-eight minutes, thirty seconds into the keynote video.

"For those of you who use OpenCL, and you all know you should. This delivers 7 Teraflops of compute power to your applications."

This statement is a very good reason why the new Mac Pro would be, as far as everyone can tell, dropping Dual-CPU and adopting Dual–GPU configurations, if not the reason. For graphics type rendering, GPU is more powerful, and better equipped for such a specific type of computation when utilizing the new OpenCL technology. 

Final Cut Pro X is Apple's flagship application that showcases the firepower of OpenCL, and in turn the new Darth Vader Edition Mac Pro. This is skating to where the puck is going. And Schiller is telling developers big and small, who should know this already, that it is time to start adapting your software. You've got till this fall. (And so does Apple, but they could of course hold the Mac Pro ship date until FCP X Vader Edition is ready to ship too.)

In addition, the cost of either the CPU or the GPU processor is likely to be of the same ballpark, so trading a CPU for a GPU would presumably allow Apple to keep prices of the new Mac Pro within reasonable grasp of current prices, by not going with a 2+2 design. (not to mention additional R&D costs)

Another key factor that impact the overall cost of the product; packaging. Imagine how much Apple will save on shipping these smaller workstations across the globe; especially for Apple's first "Assembled in the USA" Mac. This could help to keep costs in-range while diving head first into new bleeding edge technologies. A proper 2+2 design would require added space and cooling, making the final design bigger then it is, which could scale costs even more then Apple was willing to do.

A new Mac Pro even two-thirds the size of the current tower would not be as impressive. At one-eighth the size, this is Apple flexing their engineering muscles they've honed so well over the years with iOS devices and laptops. This is the modern Apple signature. And yes, a Mac Pro you can carry with one had is indeed impressive. Mac Pros are already being rolled around on carts and packed into roadie cases. But now you can fit two or three in the same case. Or travel with only one, in a much smaller and presumably, lighter case. 

The Mac Cube rebooted; The Mac Pro Tube, is Apple at the top of their game. They’ve taken everything they’ve learned about small-i-fying computing power and optimizing everything everywhere they can, all while being completely forward thinking. The new Mac Pro, like Final Cut Pro X, isn’t about what’s needed today, it’s about what will be needed two-to-three years from now. Apple has made a very un-sexy marketplace, the professional’s workstation, completely sexy. Once we get over the trash can jokes of course.
© 2017 Ryan G. Poirier Make Contact