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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A bold new look for the Mac Pro desktop

Apple has introduced a new version of the high-end Mac Pro desktop at WWDC 2013. The updated model skips Intel's fourth generation of Core i-series processors, previously codenamed Haswell, instead sticking with pro-level Xeon processors. But it's the design of this new Mac Pro that became a conversation topic: instead of a big square box, the new Pro is a shiny black cylinder that looks like it fell off the engine of a starship.
Apple unveiled the all-new, radically designed Mac Pro computer today at the World Wide Developer's Conference today in San Francisco.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)
Steve Jobs had a similar dream years ago in the G4 Cube, a famously minimal gleaming box that was meant to represent the future of desktop computers. The Cube was a cult favorite more than a commercial success, but the new Mac Pro feels like the clear revival of that black-box dream. Instead of cube, think cylinder.

The new Mac Pro: You have to see to believe (pictures)

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New design, new features 
In addition, the Mac Pro at long last has a new look and feel. The current tower design is one of the oldest in the Apple catalog, changing little from when it was called the Power Mac G5. Up until now, the Mac Pro has been missing USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, and other features many MacBook users take for granted.
Mac Pro(Credit: James Martin/CNET)
The new model has a striking new look. The first view we saw was from the top, where the circular design reminded me of Apple's planned new UFO-like headquarters. It's actually a tall black cylinder, but much smaller than the tower it replaces, fitting into one-eighth the volume of the previous Mac Pro.
Components are built around a "central thermal core," and the specs include an Intel Xeon CPU, faster 1,866GHz RAM, and new SSD storage that's 2.5 times faster than current SSD drives. Dual AMD FirePro GPUs are supported (even though current MacBook Pros use Nvidia graphics), and the system can output to as many as three 4K resolution displays.

Mac Pro sneak peek (pictures)

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Why the major overhaul now? One of the reasons Apple previously felt little need to update the Mac Pro was because it appealed largely to a small but steady professional audience and didn't require a flashy iMac-style overhaul to bring in new audiences. But, in the several years since the last major Mac Pro overhaul, the computer industry has shifted dramatically away from the traditional tower-based desktop toward laptops, all-in-one desktops, tablets, and now even touch screen "tabletop PCs" such as the Lenovo Horizon 27.
Does a bold design that's decidedly hardcore fit what pros need? That remains to be seen, but the Darth Vader-ish look of the Mac Pro certainly made a lot of WWDC attendees sit up and take notice. If iMacs are Jedi, the Mac Pro is decidedly Sith.
There's no price information yet, but the new Mac Pro is expected later in 2013.
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