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Future of the Mac Pro platform

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Patrick Murphy
Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 2:11:00 am

I think it might be worth while to suggest a few realities about Mac Pro's. Here's my view of the realities of their status.

1. For what they are, they're monstrously overpriced. My estimate is 2x. Build your own and the variable
2.5x to 3x.
2. Despite the price tag they ignore most of the industry standard data protocols.
Firewire 800? Are you kidding? What about USB 3, and SATA?
3. Apple's Mac Pro's don't support CUDA, an essential for serious PPro users
3. Is it reasonable to expect a company that's turning it's back on media professionals will continue to
manufacture a workstation that is only really necessary to FCP 4. Certainly there are some specialized applications that require the platform.
Don't you think these software creators are up tonight creating a port to W7?

Apple's shift in priorities has been well documented, here and elsewhere. We've seen the software implications of this decision. Isn't the demise of the Mac Pro tower hardware platform merely a matter of connecting the dots?



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Stephen Galinsky
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 2:34:01 am

[Patrick Murphy] "I think it might be worth while to suggest a few realities about Mac Pro's. Here's my view of the realities of their status.

1. For what they are, they're monstrously overpriced. My estimate is 2x. Build your own and the variable
2.5x to 3x.
"


THey're in line with competing pre-built machines from HP and Dell, last I looked. Admittedly that may have changed in the last year or so, but I doubt it'd be by much.

"
2. Despite the price tag they ignore most of the industry standard data protocols.
Firewire 800? Are you kidding? What about USB 3, and SATA?
"
Valid complaint. THat having been said, my Mac Pro has 4 eSATA ports via a PCIe card.

"
3. Apple's Mac Pro's don't support CUDA, an essential for serious PPro users
"
Yes it does, just not with the ATI cards they ship with. You're free to install a GTX285, Quadro 4000 or other NVIDIA card and get CUDA support.

"
3. Is it reasonable to expect a company that's turning it's back on media professionals will continue to
manufacture a workstation that is only really necessary to FCP 4. Certainly there are some specialized applications that require the platform.
Don't you think these software creators are up tonight creating a port to W7?
"

Reasonably valid.

--
Ed it.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 2:44:40 am

Could be. If FCS was a big bulky "pro" app, why isn't a MacPro a big bulky computer. It's not really sexy at all. Doesn't seem to fit where they are headed with slick, thin glossy little devices and a app store chock full of dollar signs.

Good call. The Mac Pro is dead.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Andrew Richards
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 3:28:03 am

[Patrick Murphy] "2. Despite the price tag they ignore most of the industry standard data protocols.
Firewire 800? Are you kidding? What about USB 3, and SATA?"


USB3 is hardly an industry standard. Thunderbolt leapfrogs it by more than double the bandwidth anyway. Apple knew they were hitching their wagon to Thunderbolt by the time USB3 was coming to market. I assume you mean eSATA. There are lots of cards, and that is why there are slots. You pick the I/O. You have a point about the price though, if you have to buy your I/O you should pay less for the chassis.

[Patrick Murphy] "3. Apple's Mac Pro's don't support CUDA, an essential for serious PPro users"

Or is it that nVidia doesn't support Macs?

[Patrick Murphy] "3. Is it reasonable to expect a company that's turning it's back on media professionals will continue to manufacture a workstation that is only really necessary to FCP "

Mac Pros may only be necessary to support FCP if you only look at Apple's app offerings, but there are plenty of other use cases, even beyond pro video. AutoCAD comes to mind, so does Mathematica. Don't forget Apple is a hardware company. The only reason they would stop selling the Mac Pro is if not enough of them were selling (as was the case with the Xserve). WIth the margins they make on a Mac Pro, selling one beefy 12-core nets Apple the same profits as selling a dozen iPads.

[Patrick Murphy] "4. Certainly there are some specialized applications that require the platform.
Don't you think these software creators are up tonight creating a port to W7?"


I can't think of an industrial strength third party app that is Mac exclusive, can you? Everything I can think of can also run on either Windows or Linux on commodity hardware already.

There are rumors of a new Mac Pro in the pipeline, one with an all new chassis (finally!) and naturally Thunderbolt galore. If they are sticking with Xeon class CPUs they are at Intel's mercy since Intel hasn't shipped the Sandy Bridge multi-socket Xeon line yet. I just hope they make it rackable. Please.

Best,
Andy


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Devin Crane
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 3:41:28 am

[Patrick Murphy] "1. For what they are, they're monstrously overpriced. My estimate is 2x. Build your own and the variable
2.5x to 3x.
2. Despite the price tag they ignore most of the industry standard data protocols.
Firewire 800? Are you kidding? What about USB 3, and SATA?
3. Apple's Mac Pro's don't support CUDA, an essential for serious PPro users
3. Is it reasonable to expect a company that's turning it's back on media professionals will continue to
manufacture a workstation that is only really necessary to FCP
4. Certainly there are some specialized applications that require the platform.
Don't you think these software creators are up tonight creating a port to W7?"


1. Priced a comprable Dell Precision Workstation for the same price as a Mac Pro, no doubt Mac's in general are overpriced but 2.5x to 3x is an exageration.

2. Thunderbolt? So much more than what USB3 will ever be. Sata has been in Macs since the Power Mac G5s.

3. You can purchase the Quadro 4000 and 4800 for the Mac Pro's that support Cuda in the Mac Pros in the apple store. Also Apple in heavier on Open CL instead of Cuda.

Recent rumors suggest Apple is redesigning the Mac Pro's to possibly Rack Mountable
http://www.macrumors.com/2011/04/21/apple-developing-narrower-rackmountable...



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John-Michael Seng-Wheeler
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 7:15:38 pm

[Devin Crane] " Thunderbolt? So much more than what USB3 will ever be."
That's ignoring the fact that USB3.0 and Thunderbolt are built for entirely different uses.

Thunderbolt is kinda useless for single external drives. It doesn't provide enough power, and the tech is so expensive that your options will be limited and overpriced. For connecting a RAID, that's another story. That's what Thunderbolt is for. For all of us who use a tapeless workflow, dumping footage from P2 or SxS or CF cards to External Harddisks, USB3 is far more suitable then any other connection. I'd love to be using bus powered 2TB HDDs for my P2 footage. Only USB3 can do that.

Sata has been in Macs since the Power Mac G5s."

But it isn't hot swappable, which kinda makes it useless for eSATA.


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Devin Crane
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 9:46:59 pm

[John-Michael Seng-Wheeler] "Thunderbolt is kinda useless for single external drives. "

USB3 is pretty much pointless with Single HDs when you have USB2 as well, there just isn't much of a future with it.

I think in the next year you will see some very innovative peripherals come out with Thunderbolt Technology. Just like with most new tech you will see the cost go down after the first year. TB runs on PCI-Express which opens the door for more powerful and faster external uses.



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John-Michael Seng-Wheeler
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 10:45:54 pm

[Devin Crane] "USB3 is pretty much pointless with Single HDs when you have USB2 as well, there just isn't much of a future with it. "

Are you aware of the speed diference between USB2 and 3? Um, Your point would have made more sense if you'd said: "USB3 is pretty much pointless with Single HDs when you have Firewire as well, there just isn't much of a future with it. "

If you don't think there's a future in USB3, by all means use 2.0 and have all your file copies take 3 times as long. Heck, as soon as we all go Solid State, it won't be three times, it'll be ten.


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Paul Jay
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 12:26:37 pm

Terrible informed.


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Nigel Thompson
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 1:01:36 pm

I doubt the platform is dead at all.

I do think however it will change form. USB 3 is NOT an industry standard whether you would like to think so or not. FW800 has been for years and still is ...... SATA is now standard internally in ALL mac pros.
Because of the performance and possibilities of Thunderbolt why should they even bother to put in USB 3 ......

i think the form factor will change ..... dvd drives just may disappear and PCIe stuff will be outboard which is exactly what thunderbolt is.

my 2cents

High End, Production & Post Production
in the Caribbean
http://www.bistt.com


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John Godden
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 1:25:01 pm

Spec out an equivalent Dell or HP and you'll see that the price of a MP is VERY competitive.

cheers
JohnG


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Rahul Duggal
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 2:57:07 pm

If all these features and price is absolutely necessary to you , then go and build a hackintosh with these said features.


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Nigel Thompson
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 3:10:33 pm

I've been hearing PC guys say this for years ..... It's too expensive, no this no that blah blah
it's not expensive by any means. If you went with equivalent spec Dell or HP it's be the same or even less. And if you want a high powered BOXX it'll be Lea that half the price....

High End, Production & Post Production
in the Caribbean
http://www.bistt.com


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Patrick Murphy
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 3:58:45 pm

First, yes, I've somewhat over estimated the price advantage of W7 systems vs. Mac Pros. I build my own systems, so I don't check high end PC's all that frequently. But after posting, I went and looked more carefully. It was educational. For instance, the feature set of the Dell Alienware Area 51 ALX compare quite favorably with an comparably priced Mac ($3.5k). The Dell CPU is definitely competitive with the Mac, it sports 2 video cards vs. the Mac's 1, and it comes with an onboard 2TB Raid 0 drive. Meanwhile at HP I was able to build a i7 Sandy Bridge with 12 GB RAM, a 120 GB SSD, and a Nvida GTX 550 video for $1900. Definitely an HD edit-worthy box for a whole lot less than the cheapest Mac Pro.

The real question here is which system makes the most sense for editors in a post-FCP7 world. I don't see why the Pro would be the platform of choice for Avid and Adobe installations. FCPX will run great on a well dressed iMac (and seems almost designed for it frankly).

But at the end of the day, the decision on the MacPro's future lies in Apple's hands. From where I sit it doesn't look like a hardware platform with much of a user base, save for hard core loyalists. Given the rather unsentimental behavior of the Commissariat in Cupertino, I'd say it's living on borrowed time.



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Devin Crane
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 5:11:39 pm

[Patrick Murphy] "For instance, the feature set of the Dell Alienware Area 51 ALX compare quite favorably with an comparably priced Mac ($3.5k)."

Dell Alienware is a gamer's station, need to look at their Precision Workstations for a better comparative.

Besides you can install several graphics cards into the Mac Pros, however most editing applications only see 1 card at a time.



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Jay Ryde
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 4:56:18 pm

Mac Pros are not dead.. And I'd be very surprised if they do die. Why? Because it is the only Apple computer one can completely configure and reconfigure from processor board upwards. Simple as that! I'm surprised to see so called pro users using iMacs as a critical components to their production suits.. I would have thought this a no brainer!


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Keith Rocheck
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 2, 2011 at 5:15:31 pm

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/7930

I laid some of this out over there. The MacPro's days are numbered though ... how many years that will be is in question, but there's no doubt in my mind it will die off with no replacement.


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Aristides Tiropolis
Re: Future of the Mac Pro platform
on Jul 3, 2011 at 1:57:02 pm

i7's are much cheaper than Xeons, I urge to you look at the pricing of an 930 or 980 Xeon equivalent. The same will also go for the 2600k's.

Prices in server grade equipment are much higher (they follow different specs and go through much more testing) and that what is Apple is using on the Mac Pro.

I agree though on the USB3 thing. No reason to ditch USB3 because of Thunderbolt. However the same could be said for the supposedly upcoming Firewire S1600 and S3200, I doubt though the industry is looking at them seriously. USB3 Cards can however be had from lacie for the Mac Pro.


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