The New Mac Pro - Think Different

Yesterday Apple showed a sneak preview of the new Mac Pro that will ship sometime in the fall of this year - and it's radical design clearly surpised and shocked the professional community. Honestly, I was surprised that they even did a preview - typically Apple shows you a new product when it's basically ready to ship. This time, I think they were very smart to give everyone a look so the professional community can "process" thier emotional reactions. Because clearly, there were some emotional reactions.


All the emotional reactions on Twitter and various blogs and forums that I follow - most of which are in the field of film, television and technology - remind me of how much of a "preservationist community" a huge portion of the film community is. It's ironic that so many people claim to embrace technology - yet have such an issue with change - with ... "thinking different". 

Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.
— Apple exec Phil Schiller
The term innovation can be defined as something original and new that “breaks in to” the market or into society. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.
— Innovation on Wikipedia

There's a lot of desktop PC options. HP is making great, workhorse computers. There is a growing community of HACKINTOSH builders exchanging specs and helping each other with configurations. What did you expect APPLE to do? Just make a faster version of the existing Mac Pro?  Do we really need APPLE to do that? 

The loudest complaining is about "lack of expandability" - which is a very silly, inccorrect statement. This new computer is the MOST EXPANDABLE computer that APPLE  has ever made. They made a radical choice that all expansion has to be EXTERNAL as opposed to INTERNAL.  Via Thunderbolt 2.0 and USB 3.0.

"OMG we are going to have a mess of cables and periferals all over our desks!!" people cry. Really? You can always put this under your desk - and it's TINY. If you are so in love with your big 40lb Mac Pro on your floor - buy a metal box the same size and drop one ... or two ... or three ... of the New Mac Pro computers inside of it. Put it in persepctive folks.

So ... your an editor. You can connect three displays (even 4K) directly to the computer. That's one cable from the computer to each of the monitors. You have HDMI 1.4 out - no adapter needed - so you couls also connect that to a Plasma, LCD, LED, 3D TV or 4K TV with one HDMI cable - and then connect two monitors via TB>Displayport. Most editors don't even need video I/O cards / devices today - when was the last time you ingested from tape?  Really want to output to a HD-SDI monitor? 

AJA T-Tap for $269 or BlackMagic Ultrastudio Mini Monitor for $137

There is no doubt we will see lots of new options for TB 2.0 expansion enclosures. There's no doubt we will see creative rack-mount solutions - which will put THREE of these bad boys in the less than the same space as one current Mac Pro.  

Some folks in the REDUSER community are upset because they were planned to put the forthcoming RED ROCKET-X inside the new Mac Pro. Escpecially after Jarred Land posted the following statement:


as long as the enclosure is long enough it will work, remember the Rocket-X is a full length card. But its going to be slow. Thunderbolt 1 cripples the existing Rocket... and the Rocket X is many times faster. Thunderbolt 2 will be faster, but not as fast as the card.

Lets hope Thunderbolt 3 is just around the corner :)
— Jarred Land - president, RED Digital Cinema

But to put this in perspective - even though the card will be faster than TB 2.0 - it doesn't mean that the Rocket X card won't transcode Dragon 6K R3Ds faster than realtime. We don't know because a) we don't have a TB 2.0 enclosure to test b) we don't have a ROCKET X card to test c) we don't have ant Dragon R3D's to test.

My gut tells me that the card WILL transcode Dragon 6K faster than realtime in a TB 2.0 enclosure. I wonder if it's possible for someone to make a TB 2.0 enclodure that combines TWO TB 2.0 streams in parallel ... not sure if that's possible.  Regardless, for the hardcore DIT doing transcodes on or near set - one can always combine a inexpensive PC as a purpose build Rocket X transcode box on his/her cart and use a new Mac Pro for creating looks, ProRes transcodes, and everything else. I have seen many DIT carts/systems these days outfitted with a Mac Pro, or two Mac Minis + a PC tower. 

Further - with 7 teraflops of compute power on the GPUs - I sincerely hope that RED releases a GPU debayer ahead of this new computer. People would still buy the Rocket X card for the fastest processing - but an "easy" workflow - aka - a GPU debayer for R3Ds - even it it's ONLY real-time - would dramatically help the adoption of EPIC on productions - and it would make a TON of people rejoice.

It will ALWAYS be cheaper to build a custom PC. That will always give you the most choices. But you need to ask yourself - how valuable are the hours in your life that you will loose fighting Windows OS. Or trouble shooting a bunch of computer parts on a bench. 

Smaller, lighter, cooler and FASTER than any other APPLE computer. 

Practically unlimited external expandability. 

Stop whining.