Hey guys, it’s Greg with Apple Explained and today we’re going to explore the history of the Mac Pro. This topic was the third place winner of last weeks voting poll and if you didn’t get to vote, make sure you’re subscribed, that way the voting polls will show up right in your activity feed and you can let me know which video you’d like to see next. So the Mac Pro is one of Apple’s most powerful computer models in their lineup. And its story began in 2006 when the first generation Mac Pro was introduced. It marked the third addition to Apple’s desktop lineup that still exists today, including the iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro, and the most recent iMac Pro. Now there has been quite a bit of drama during the Mac Pro’s lifespan, and we’ll discuss why that is later in the video, but in order to understand the whole story, let’s travel back to Apple’s 2006 Worldwide Developers Conference. It was Phil Schiller who introduced the Mac Pro, and it was certainly Apple’s most powerful machine at the time.And keep in mind that the Mac Pro was replacing the Power Mac G5, which was updated just one year prior and had already been a more than capable computer. So it’s easy to imagine that the new Mac Pro drew a lot of attention from pro customers who needed a powerful and expansive computer setup. And power is definitely what they got with the Mac Pro, since the standard configuration featured two Dual-core x8 Intel Xeon CPUs that ran at 2.4 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, 250GB of hard drive storage, an NVIDIA GeForce 7300GT card with 256MB of memory, and a 16X superdrive.Now keep in mind this was the base configuration and it cost just $2,499. Which was $800 cheaper than a similarly-configured Power Mac G5. Now there were other options customers could choose from, like models with one or two CPUs or choosing between four, six, eight or twelve core processors. And for those who needed an even more powerful Mac Pro, Apple offered a configuration with two Hexa-core Intel Xeon x5670 CPUs that ran at 2.93 GHz. Now as far as the system memory goes, the original Mac Pro featured 667 MHz DDR2 modules which were later upgraded to 1066 MHz DDR3 modules used in standard configurations from 2009 onward. It’s also worth mentioning that the first generation Mac Pro had pretty impressive hard drive expandability features. It had room for four internal hard drives that could be directly mounted into their slot, so there was no need
for cables which could tangle or disconnect.As for the type of drives, the original Mac Pro supported 3.5 inch SATA-300 hard drives. Now as a mentioned before, the Mac Pro featured a Dual-core Xeon Woodcrest processor. But Apple upgraded the original processor later on in 2007 with the Quad-core Xeon Clovertown CPU, and it was upgraded for a second time in 2008 with the dual Quad-core Xeon Harpertown processor. So all these changes kept the Mac Pro at the forefront of Apple’s computer lineup when it came to speed. And it quickly became one of the most popular machines for professionals and power users. Now part of the reason for the Mac Pros success was its wide array of I/O and ports, which including a total of five USB 2.0 ports, two FireWire 400 ports, two FireWire 800 ports, and two gigabit ethernet ports.Now I should mention that in 2008, all Mac Pro models dropped the two FireWire 400 ports in favor of four FireWire 800 ports instead. And as for its design, the Mac Pro didn’t change much from its predecessor. It was still a large aluminum tower with four built-in handles, but it did have one distinguishing feature – and that was an additional optical drive bay. Overall, the first generation of the Mac Pro featured really impressive specifications compared to other pro machines on the market. The computer supported multiple operating systems, including Mac OS 10.4.7 and later, Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, both 32- and 64-bit. But, seven years after the release of the Mac Pro, a new safety regulation in Europe prevented Apple from selling the machine to the European market. It wasn’t clear in what way Apple’s Mac Pro violated the new standards, but it likely had something to do with consuming too much power while idle. So Apple was faced with two choices, tweak the existing Mac Pro in adherence to European regulation, or take it off market and address the change in the next generation model.Apple took the second option since their updated Mac Pro would be released less than a year later. Now by 2013, the Mac Pro hadn’t received a major upgrade since its initial release in 2006. And reliable sources reported that Steve Jobs actually considered discontinuing the machine. Due to this neglect by Apple, some users actually began looking elsewhere for their pro-level computers. Apple recognized this frustration and knew they had to do something major to reassure pro
users that they were still making machines for them. So Apple did something very unusual, they gave a sneak peak of the next generation Mac Pro before it was ready to go on sale. This happened on June 10th, 2013, during the Worldwide Developers Conference. And Apple’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Phil Schiller, took the stage to give the audience a first look at the new Mac Pro. Its radical new design was teased in a short introductory video, and the crowed was blown away. The new Mac Pro featured a cylindrical design that was an eighth of the volume of its predecessor, but packed in even more powerful technology.It featured a new generation Intel Xeon processor that allowed for 12-core configurations, which was double the CPU performance of its predecessor. It had the fastest memory ever included in a Mac, which also ran twice as fast as before. But the new PCIe flash drive performed even better, coming in at two and a half times faster than its predecessor. The graphics were also two and a half times as powerful and supported three external 4K displays. And I should also mention that this Mac Pro was manufactured in the US, which was a first for Apple in many decades. So with all of these great performance improvements the new Mac Pro must have been a huge hit with power users, right? Well, not exactly. And this was because of two factors in particular. First, its base price was increased from $2,499 to $2,999, a difference of $500. Now this could be attributed to the added cost of manufacturing in the US, but it could also be because of its expensive new design. Which brings us to the second problem. Expandability. You see, the previous Mac Pro was super expandable, and that’s why it was such a large machine.It could house a lot of extra components internally. But Apple opted for external expandability with the second generation Mac Pro, and that frustrated a lot of users. Because external components were not only more expensive, but they left your desk very cluttered. And this caused many power users to resent the radical new design of the Mac Pro, which appeared to favor form over function. Now I do want to point out that overall, the second generation Mac Pro was a solid improvement over its predecessor, and there were many positive reviews praising things like its ability to simultaneously support up to six Apple Thunderbolt Displays or three 4K displays. But as the machine was used
more in everyday life, the positive praise slowly turned into strong criticism. Many said the new radical Mac Pro design proved to be more of an inconvenience than an asset.And the biggest problem with the design was its cooling system. The Mac Pro featured what Apple called a unified thermal core. Which had never been used in any Macs up to that point. Air was pushed through the core by a single fan, rather than using multiple fans like in the past. Air was pulled in from under the case, and pushed out through the top, which worked well for the technology of the day, but didn’t work well for emerging technology. The problem was with the GPU. The Mac Pro was designed to accommodate two smaller GPU cards, but the tech industry moved in the opposite direction as larger GPUs were released that required a completely different system architecture than the Mac Pro provided. As a result of this incompatibility, Apple wasn’t able to give the Mac Pro a spec refresh since its introduction in 2013. Which essentially made the machine unusable for anyone that needed top-of-the-line technology. Apple eventually came out and issued a public statement, saying they designed themselves into a bit of a thermal corner, and they were sorry to disappoint customers who wanted an updated machine.Apple also said they were working on a new modular Mac Pro that’s slated for release sometime in 2019, but that means power users have to wait even longer for a sufficient pro desktop from the company. And this has caused quite a bit of frustration from many people in the Apple community, since they already had to wait six years for a second generation Mac Pro, only to be disappointed yet again. Now many people have pointed out that Apple appears to be investing far fewer resources in their Pro products since the release of the iPhone and iPad. And this wouldn’t be too surprising, since the Mac Pro only representations a fraction of a percent of Apple’s total revenue.And considering Apple’s focus on creating products for the post-PC era, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Mac Pro become discontinued in the near future. Especially if Apple believes the iMac Pro to be a sufficient alternative. But as I mentioned before, it sounds like there’ll definitely be at least one more generation of Mac Pro coming in 2019, and we are all eagerly waiting to see what the new model will bring to the table. And I do have hope
that Apple will make the right design decisions for the next model, partly because Apple has created what they call a Pro WorkFlow Team, run by John Ternus, which communicates and engages with the Mac Pro customers in order to learn what the users are looking for and how Apple can best meet their needs.Now this appears to have helped Apple identify issues with the current Mac Pro model, and steer them in the right direction when conceiving of the next generation. So because of this effort, Apple now claims to have a much deeper understanding of what their pro customers need and they’re working on addressing those needs in the 2019 Mac Pro. So although we don’t know much about the future of the Mac Pro, we can be fairly confident that Apple’s going to fix the glaring issues of the second generation, and only hope that they don’t introduce any new problems in the process. All that’s left to do now is wait patiently to see which direction Apple heads, and cross our fingers that the next Mac Pro will be a lot better than the last.So that is the history of the Mac Pro, and if you want to vote for the next video topic, don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time. .