It won't ship until 2018, but if you're one of those people or know someone who has been toiling away with a machine that hasn't received an update since 2013, good things are coming.
In an intriguing briefing with the press, Apple has done two things. Firstly, senior VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller basically told a group of journalists that Apple was sorry for not doing anything with the Mac Pro.
The second is their response. Apple will be releasing a new Mac Pro with a modular design that will accommodate the latest generation of GPUs, CPUs a touch more modern than the 22nm Intel Xeon E5-1680 V2 that shipped in 2013, and a new external display. None of these parts will arrive until 2018, although Apple confirmed that it would be updating the Mac Pro's configurations later this year.
The external display won't be a touch screen, which will be of interest to those who were intrigued by Microsoft's Surface Studio. The redesigned Mac Pro will also be walking away from a dual GPU design, which Apple's VP of hardware engineering John Ternus said was limiting for users.
"I think we designed ourselves into a bit of a thermal corner, if you will," Techcrunch, one of the publications invited to the briefing, quoted Ternus as saying. "We designed a system that we thought with the kind of GPUs that at the time we thought we needed, and that we thought we could well serve with a two GPU architecture… that that was the thermal limit we needed, or the thermal capacity we needed. But workloads didn’t materialise to fit that as broadly as we hoped."
One of the pitches made for the Mac Pro was development for heavy 3D applications, virtual reality and GPU-intensive workloads, something the current iteration of the Mac Pro doesn't do well. Daring Fireball noted an Apple executive saying that software developers could be the largest "pro" audience (pro users being those who use a "pro" level application, like software editing, video creation and so forth at least a few times a month), although the Pro was the third most popular device among that audience. On top of that, the split between Mac laptops and Mac desktops was around 80/20, which is a decent figure given the marketing weight and brand loyalty of the Macbook line.
For developers, designers and studios in need of workstations on the level of the Mac Pro, it's good news. Whether the final product will be worthwhile we'll know next year, especially when Australian pricing becomes known. (Here's hoping it at least comes with a keyboard and mouse this time.)