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Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros

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Ben Holmes
Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 9:48:08 am

Sooo - this forum is for talking about something we know nothing about, so in that pioneer spirit, here's why I like the new Mac Pro rumours:

http://www.9to5mac.com/71495/apple-updating-server-lineup-as-mac-pro-and-ma...

Now, I loved the idea floated a while ago that the Mac Pro would be reborn as a 3U rackmountable device. It cleans up that whole XServe mess a little, and coalesces it into a single pro product. Studios and facilities would love it (I frequently have to remove trays from racks to fit Mac Pros), and a high-margin, low volume (in Apple's terms) product gets a new lease of life. Maybe the prices will be more reasonable? We can but hope - bearing in mind the cost of processors, but looking at competing PC workstations at the same time.

Now is also a good time for a case refresh: Clearly the ports have to change, adding Thunderbolt (although it's not as compelling a product as it is on a laptop), but also there are NO NEW Intel processors suitable for Mac Pros until the end of the year. On this basis, 6 months of sales boosted by a more affordable, more ergonomic casing make sense.

And the final piece of the puzzle? FCP X.

It strikes a lot of people at the moment that FCS and AVID are similar value propositions, at least on a software basis. On the one hand, AVID software costs more, on the other, Mac Pros cost more. In the end, especially if AVID finally announce support of proper video cards (which has never made economic sense to me until Nitris DX changes) this may give people one more opportunity to jump ship.

Whilst the days of Mac Pros may, in the long run be numbered by powerful iMacs and their successors, don't kid yourself there isn't a market for them, especially with 64-bit, Grand Central Dispatch munching software on the horizon. Right now, there's barely a compelling reason for editors to buy Mac Pros over iMacs, but come the end of June, there may be.

Does this mean Mac Pros are a shoe-in for release with FCPX? I don't think so - but I think Apple would love to do it for marketing purposes. I'm not sure it's fair to suggest that the development cycles of either product would be kept in sync - these things just take too long, and are tied into too many other factors like manufacturing and supply.

But wouldn't it be nice...?

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/community/communitydetails/?UserStoryId=87...


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Paul Dickin
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 10:56:12 am

HI
Hmmm.
The only reason to come out with a new Mac Pro at the moment would be to add the v1 Thunderbolt ports.
In terms of high end (Mac Pro) users that adds zilch new functionality at this point in time, given the state of Thunderbolt peripheral progress so far.

The replacement Sandy Bridge two-processor CPUs aren't going to be available from Intel until Q4 2011, and they require a new CPU socket and chipset, so a complete motherboard redesign - a good time to add Thunderbolt, maybe even a faster v2 optical Light Peak option?.

A form-factor change would be easy for the Sandy Bridge Q4+ redesign, but very costly now.
FCP X/Motion X should scream on the current boxes, so plenty of wow! factor potential already at hand.
(Airs and Minis need Thunderbolt though.)



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Ben Holmes
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:13:24 pm

Yup - as noted, no new processors, and I'd discounted any refresh this year except......

1. These supply rumours often come to something - Apple can't hide when stock is being run down, although the timeframes are often longer than people seem to think. It's pretty thin, admittedly.

2. Mac Pro graphics need updating (you can get a card, albeit mobile, with more RAM in an iMac at the moment)

3. Seems like a good time (without new processors) to refresh a line in form factor to grab back some server sales, and boost things along for a few months until they hit.

4. The last Mac Pro case design was launched before a big processor change - don't forget the original ones were Power PC, then the first Xeon used the same design (it's been around since 2003!!) and it doesn't strike me that the Q4 chips would require much in the way of case changes, being similar power chips.

5. Although less useful in a Mac Pro, Thunderbolt is a 'pro' feature, and I don't think Apple will want their pro machines going without for long - even if you and I know it's not a gamechanger, it's still the kind of design consistency they, and their peripheral makers like.

Anyway - food for thought. Honestly, I wouldn't care so much except I have a looming deadline to purchase new gear, and right now I think I'll wait a little longer before I jump. Once that deadline hits, however, I'm in whatever, and won't be THAT disappointed if there's a new model - although my gear travels a lot, and a rackmount unit would save me a fortune in flightcases!

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/community/communitydetails/?UserStoryId=87...


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Paul Dickin
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:36:21 pm

Hi
As I understand it its the Mac Pro Server model that's been EOL'd.
Which is logical as that model won't exist once Lion ships - as the Server upgrade is an App Store download, so there won't be a retail Server model as such.

Points to Lion being sooner rather than later though ;-)



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Craig Seeman
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:39:22 pm

[Ben Holmes] "5. Although less useful in a Mac Pro, Thunderbolt is a 'pro' feature, and I don't think Apple will want their pro machines going without for long - even if you and I know it's not a gamechanger, it's still the kind of design consistency they, and their peripheral makers like."

Key will be for people using the new MBPs or facilities also using the new Thunderbolt iMacs. It will make it much easier to move gear around if they're all using the same ports. Think of the Matrox MXO2 with Thunderbolt for example.

Since we're talking about case design, it's conceivable that at some point there can me a "slotless" MacPro with multiple Thunderbolt ports rather than PCIe slots. Such box could be rack mountable as well.



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Ben Holmes
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 5:46:50 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Since we're talking about case design, it's conceivable that at some point there can me a "slotless" MacPro with multiple Thunderbolt ports rather than PCIe slots. Such box could be rack mountable as well."

Nice idea - not sure we'll see this until Thunderbolt 2 - Beyond the Thunderdome is released...

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/community/communitydetails/?UserStoryId=87...


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Walter Soyka
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 9:57:33 pm

The Mac Pro needs more expansion slots, not fewer. HP's Z800 workstation has 7 slots. The current Mac Pro has 4. I could really use an extra slot or two.

I'm sure that Cubix would love to see a smaller case with more Thunderbolt and fewer slots, though.


[Craig Seeman] "Since we're talking about case design, it's conceivable that at some point there can me a "slotless" MacPro with multiple Thunderbolt ports rather than PCIe slots. Such box could be rack mountable as well."

But then you'd also have to rack your Thunderbolt capture device. This is definitely a case where I'd prefer to have an internal card.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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Craig Seeman
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 10:41:13 pm

[Walter Soyka] "The Mac Pro needs more expansion slots, not fewer. HP's Z800 workstation has 7 slots. The current Mac Pro has 4. I could really use an extra slot or two."

Thunderbolt is PCIe and can be daisy chained. The Sonnet Echo Express may be an example of where things are headed. A streamlined case with four TB ports might do more than you think



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Chris Kenny
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 11, 2011 at 6:55:12 pm

You'd still need to keep a couple of internal slots for GPUs -- Thunderbolt is only 4X PCIe.

But yeah, video I/O cards, RAID controllers, and practically everything else can easily be moved out of the box with Thunderbolt.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read Does FCP X make project files obsolete? on our blog.


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Hector berrebi
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 2:49:56 pm

[Ben Holmes] ". On the one hand, AVID software costs more, on the other, Mac Pros cost more."

maybe not completely related but worth a side note. many Avid systems are on
mac-pros... and many mac-pros are bought for AVID software... actually, the parallel workstations from Dell and HP (last time i checked) are more expensive than a similarly equipped mac-pro, which will run AVID just as well.


hector

Hector Berrebi
prePost Consulting


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Ben Holmes
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:10:32 pm

Whilst you can run AVID on Mac Pros, almost no one does in my experience - also I've spoken to a number of shared storage vendors who do not support AVID filesystems on Mac, although I'm sure there are some. If I was switching to AVID I'd go PC, because I know I'd get much better reseller technical support.

I'll admit - I always thought the HP workstations were cheaper in quotes I've seen for configured systems, interesting to hear that they are not, but I suspect deeper discounts are available to resellers for PC gear.

Edit Out Ltd
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FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/community/communitydetails/?UserStoryId=87...


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Warren Eig
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 7:00:46 pm

[Ben Holmes] "Whilst you can run AVID on Mac Pros, almost no one does in my experience"

Umm, I guess all the Mac Pros here in Los Angeles, cutting at Universal and Warner Bros running Avid are really HP or Dell machines dressed as Mac Pros??!!

Warren Eig
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Oliver Peters
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 11:25:03 pm

[Ben Holmes] "Whilst you can run AVID on Mac Pros, almost no one does in my experience - also I've spoken to a number of shared storage vendors who do not support AVID filesystems on Mac, although I'm sure there are some"

Generally Avid has stated their sales as 50% Mac, 50% PC. Most of the Avids I run across in creative post shops are on Macs. A lot of PCs in broadcast.

My own machine (an 8-core Mac Pro) has FCP7/FCS, Adobe CS 5.5 and Avid MC 5.5.2 on it. Media Composer is giving me the best performance, unless I want sequences bigger than 1920x1080. Then it's Premiere Pro (for real-time editing) or After Effects (for compositing).

As far as shared storage with Avid file systems and Macs - Facilis Technology, EditShare and Avid, for starters.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Ben Holmes
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 12, 2011 at 4:44:47 pm

Then I stand corrected - in the UK I never see them, but a lot of the AVIDs I see are hire machines, or in use by broadcasters - all of whom use PCs. Glad to hear its more common in the US, but it's just not the case over this side of the pond. I'm sure someone can give me some examples though.

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/community/communitydetails/?UserStoryId=87...


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Ben Holmes
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 12, 2011 at 11:09:21 pm

[Oliver Peters] " Facilis Technology, EditShare and Avid, for starters."

Actually, I think you just about named all of the ones I know. And they're all high-vale vendors...

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/community/communitydetails/?UserStoryId=87...


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Paul Jay
Re: Uninformed Speculation about Mac Pros
on Jun 10, 2011 at 3:36:10 pm

I heard a rumor that Motion 5 didn't need any form of hardware to run. :P


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