At last year's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) was accused of neglecting its pro customers, as every one of its Macs received major updates with the exception of the iMac and Mac Pro, the company's two top-of-the-line desktop computers. The Mac Pro was fitted with new processors since Intel stopped making the older processors, but many users and former employees lambasted Apple for focusing too much on laptops and not enough on its computers and services geared toward programmers and professionals.
One year later, nobody has any complaints about Apple's new high-end desktops. With the redesigned, ultra-thin iMac released late last year, Apple one-upped itself at WWDC 2013 this week by unveiling its newest, most powerful and most creative desktop computer yet. The 2013 Mac Pro is something of a Death Star -- a dense black cylinder designed around a thermal core and brimming with advanced technology. The new Mac Pro is twice as powerful as the previous Mac Pro, which was still the fastest and most expandable Macintosh Apple sold despite its three years on the market. But even with this incredible power, the 2013 Mac Pro is also one-eighth the size of its predecessor with a diameter of 6.6 inches and a height of 9.9 inches, which was all accomplished thanks to a very innovative design built around balancing power and efficiency.
“With the latest Xeon processors, dual FirePro GPUs, ECC memory, PCIe-based flash and Thunderbolt 2, all built around a revolutionary thermal core, the next generation Mac Pro is the most radical Mac yet,” Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing, said in a statement. “All this performance and expandability is packed into a dramatic new design that’s one-eighth the volume, and best of all, it will be assembled here in the USA.”
Apple listened to those upset fans from WWDC 2012, and made Apple's most expandable Mac more open than ever. The next-generation Mac Pro is fitted with USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4 ports, and most importantly six ports for Thunderbolt 2, Apple's new connectivity technology that delivers up to 20Gbps of bandwidth to each external device. But since each Thunderbolt 2 port supports up to six daisy-chained devices, the 2013 Mac Pro is an ideal computer for transferring data between your computer and up to 36 high-performance peripherals, such as external storage devices, PCI expansion chassis, A/V breakout boxes and even the next-generation 4K desktop displays.
Thunderbolt 2 makes it easy for the 2013 Mac Pro to connect to peripherals, but users care much more about how quickly they're able to boot up and multitask several applications at once. The 2013 Mac Pro features next-generation PCI Express flash storage, which is up to 2.5 times faster than the fastest SATA-based SSDs and up to 10 times faster than a 7200-rpm SATA hard drive and ideal for launching massive files or applications such as Photoshop or Final Cut.
Of course, quick connectivity and boot-up times mean nothing unless the actual tasks perform equally fast. The 2013 Mac Pro is certainly no slouch in the computing department, with configurations up to 12 Xeon processing cores from Intel, dual workstation GPUs with simultaneous support for up to three high-resolution 4K desktop displays, and a four-channel DDR3 memory controller delivering up to 60GB/s of memory bandwidth, which is perfect for video exporting or simulations.
The ultrafast processing and connectivity of 2013 Mac Pro is made possible by the new unified thermal core; instead of utilizing multiple heat sinks and fans to cool the computer's processor and graphics cards, Apple designed a core out of a single piece of aluminum that maximizes airflow and thermal capacity by conducting heat away from the CPU and GPUs and distributing the heat evenly across the core of the Mac Pro. With this single core, the total thermal capacity of the computer can be shared efficiently among the processors, especially if one processor isn't working as hard as the others.
Obviously, the level of centralized thermal energy in the 2013 Mac Pro required an equally powerful and efficient fan, so again, Apple focused on engineering a single fan large enough to pull air upward through a vent at the bottom of the computer. Apple designed the Mac Pro's fan so air absorbs heat as it travels vertically through the center of the computer and carries it out the top. By also carefully engineering the number, size, shape and spacing of the blades, Apple was able to make the fan in the 2013 Mac Pro surprisingly quiet by minimizing air resistance with backward-curved impeller blades that run at fewer revolutions per minute to draw air more efficiently.
Apple likely revealed the new Mac Pro before its late 2013 release date because the details of the machine are obviously going to get out anyway; unlike other Apple devices designed in California but built overseas, the Mac Pro is the first major Apple device that will be manufactured and assembled in the U.S. -- specifically, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, and Florida, among "a dozen other states across America," according to Apple.
"'Apple can't innovate anymore' my ass," Schiller quipped at Monday's Mac Pro unveiling at WWDC 2013.