Nearly a year after Tim Cook promised long-suffering Mac Pro users "something great" in 2013, Apple has finally announced a major update to its line of workstation computers. The new Mac Pro brings upgraded internal components, and it has also been redesigned for the first time since its introduction in 2006. Apple's Phil Schiller said that Apple wanted to do something a little bit different with the new box and design something that would last for years to come. He also announced that he was pleased with the result. "Can't innovate anymore, my ass!" he said in response to critics.
The new tower appears to come in a sleek, reflective cylindrical case that's looks absolutely tiny next to a current-gen Mac Pro—it's 1/8 the volume. The CPU, memory, and graphics are all built around a unified "thermal core," sounding a bit like the older Cube Mac. The box will feature up to 12-core Xeon CPUs and 1866MHz DDR-3 RAM. (The result is said to offer up to 2x the CPU performance available in previous Mac Pros.) It will also feature a PCIe-based flash drive, which Apple says will deliver 1.25Gbps reads and 1Gbps writes. The box will also include the updated Thunderbolt bus, Thunderbolt 2, and expansion is expected to be wholly external (unlike the older—and much, much larger—Mac Pro).
The cylindrical computer will also come standard with two workstation-class ATI FirePro GPUs, each with 384-bit memory busses and 528Gbps of memory bandwidth. The GPUs are said to be capable of driving three 4K displays at once.
Finally, in a nod to one well-loved feature of the older Mac Pro, the new model also features a handle on top. In this case, the handle isn't just for lugging the unit around; it can be used to spin the new Mac Pro, revealing the ports on the back of the unit. These include Gigabit ethernet, HDMI out, audio, four USB3 jacks, and six Firewire 2 ports (driven by three separate controllers). The chassis also contains a motion sensor so that when it's revolved, the ports are illuminated for easier access.
The Mac Pro last received a major update in August 2010. Its CPUs were given a very minor speed bump at last year's WWDC, but they kept the same chassis, CPU architecture, and GPUs. It will be assembled, as with many other new Macs, here in the USA and available later this year.