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Re: Pretty amazing Thunderbolt demo.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Pretty amazing Thunderbolt demo.
on Jan 23, 2012 at 3:38:23 pm

[kim krause] "the mac mini will be the new mac pro!"

Kim, I half-agree with you.

If you bought a Mac Pro only for its ability to expand, then yes, the Mac Mini with Thunderbolt is the new Mac Pro, for you. Video editorial used to require a workstation because there were no desktop or portable systems available with the necessary expansion capabilities. You needed the expansion that a Mac Pro provided, but perhaps the CPU performance and RAM capacity was overkill for your needs.

Thunderbolt separates expansion from raw computing performance, and moves it outside the box. That's what makes it a big deal. For the first time, you don't need to buy a Mac Pro if all you want to do is move some large frames of video around quickly. With Thunderbolt, portables can be expanded, too, which opens up all sorts of new possibilities for doing work on a portable machine. I think this is the exciting part of this demo.

I agree with you and Jeremy that this means that the two of you won't need Mac Pros anymore. I'm glad that you have new options that will work well for you. However, I sharply resist the implication that Thunderbolt makes the Mac Pro irrelevant because other systems now also have expansion capabilities, or that Thunderbolt will enable bolt-on CPU and RAM upgrades (which is totally inconsistent with current system architecture).

There's still a big difference in compute power and RAM capacity between a Mac Pro and a Mac Mini that Thunderbolt cannot address. If you bought a Mac Pro for its number-crunching performance, then Thunderbolt will not make the Mac Mini the new Mac Pro for you.

In other words, I'd argue that thanks to Thunderbolt, fewer people will need Mac Pros to do their work. Users with CPU- or RAM-intensive applications will need them, while users with expansion needs will be able to use smaller, cheaper, lower-performance systems.

Sidebar: it'll be interesting to see if this snowballs into the rumored Mac Pro cancellation. If a large segment of the current Mac Pro constituency moves to a MBP, Mini or iMac with Thunderbolt since they need expansion and not compute performance, will Mac Pro sales be reduced drastically enough to put it on the chopping block?

Walter Soyka
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