Jun 062013

I’m writing my prediction for the Mac Pro replacement on my home-made Mac Pro replacement, which has four 3.4 GHz cores with hyperthreading, 16 gigs of RAM, NVIDIA GTX 650 GPU with 1 gig GDDR5 memory, one SSD and three HDD drives, in a black Fractal Design tower case with beveled edges. It’s a Hackintosh I built for about $600, and it works great. However, it’s just a stop-gap to what I hope is a new desktop Mac.

Heading in to WWDC 2013 it’s pretty clear that Apple’s Mac Pro replacement will not be a tower computer with a bunch of slots and drive bays. Based on the comments from Apple and bolstered by this week’s announcements from Intel, I think we’re going to get a sealed cube. With rounded corners, of course. Just like the WWDC logo.

Late last year, in a reply to an Apple user’s e-mail, Tim Cook said there would be something coming later in 2013 for the pro users. Having paid attention to all the rumors and discussions about it since then, here is what I predict it is:

  • A cube, smaller than a mini-tower. Think ‘Tall Mac Mini’. Expansion components may ‘stack’ underneath it.
  • One or two CPU sockets, with the new E3-1200 V3 series Xeons Intel just announced.
  • ECC memory, up to at least 64 gigs, probably 128 gigs, possibly 256 gigs
  • Probably no GPU slots. If present, they won’t be a standard form factor
  • Thunderbolt 2, announced this week. Double bandwidth (20Gb), backwards compatible. To be used in lieu of slots for connecting GPUs
  • No other card slots
  • Room for 2.5″ disks only, up to 4 of them

It will probably be previewed at WWDC, but not be ready for sale till the Fall. Apple will talk up the Thunderbolt 2 bus the same way they talked up the Mac serial bus in 1984, as a direct replacement for internal expandability. Pro users will howl, because regardless if they need them or not they want giant machines with at least two top-end graphics cards and 12 terabytes of internal storage. Other than the graphics issue I think they are wrong. I’d love a small powerful desktop Mac. But Apple is wrong if they think an embedded Intel GPU, no matter how much it’s improved, can replace a good discreet GPU card. It can’t, and an externally-connected Thunderbolt GPU is just weird and will be overpriced and underperform compared to current solutions.

I think Apple will basically say this new computer is as powerful as the Mac Pro in 1/10th the space. Problem is, the Mac Pro is already behind in performance, both CPU and GPU, and simply reaching parity with that in less space is not good enough.

But I can’t wait to buy one anyway. Maybe they will call it Mac.


Post-Keynote Update: Half wrong about just about everything. Story of my life.

Darth Vader Tissue Dispenser

  • A TUBE! A TUBE!. Expansion components won’t stack at all.
  • Unclear if there are one or two CPU sockets, but using new E5 series Xeons. That’s nuts. They did it wrong.
  • ECC memory, unknown capacity, but only 4 slots.
  • Two custom GPU locations – I don’t think they can be called slots. Definitely not a standard form factor.
  • Thunderbolt 2. Could be used in lieu of slots for connecting GPUs but that will suck.
  • No card slots
  • Room for ZERO 2.5″ or 3.5″ disks. PCIe SSD Only, up to 2 of them.
Oct 162012

Lovely fall colors. Didn’t get what I wanted in June or September, so again I’ll just cut-and paste from my WWDC Wish List:

  • New Mac – Not a giant Mac Pro, not an iMac, a Mac. A desktop computer with slots
  • Xcode for iPad – Write, compile, debug iOS apps on the iPad
  • Updated beefed-up iWorks and Logic Pro

And due to the thrice-extended wait, I now require three golden ponies with glitterwings and rainbow tails.

I won’t object to the expected iPad Jr. although it will require me to make a decision: iPhones or iPad Jrs for the kids this year?

May 152012

Here is my wish list for Apple announcements at this year’s WWDC or sometime soon after:

  • New Mac – Not a giant Mac Pro, not an iMac, a Mac. A desktop computer with slots
  • Xcode for iPad – Write, compile, debug iOS apps on the iPad
  • Updated beefed-up iWorks and Logic Pro

And a pony.

Update (June 14th): A perfect score – Zero. And the poor Mac Pro didn’t even get updated. The new MacBook with Retina display is fine if you are in to that sort of thing. I’d drop 2k on a killer Mac desktop, but first they’ll have to make one. Holding my breath for that pony.

Oct 032008

The iPhone and Mobile Me seem to have taken up all of Apple’s resources for the past year and a half while the Mac has stayed stuck in time. Now there is a big gaping hole in the Mac linueup. Has Apple missed out on the netbook trend?

In case you have been partying like it’s 2007 all year, netbooks are the adorable little 7″ screen sub-$500 laptops that everyone except Apple has come out with this past summer. Asus started it with the Eee PC and all the other Asian manufacturers quickly followed suit, and then HP and Dell got in to the game in the past month or so. In lieu of something akin from Apple, hackers and Mac enthusiasts have been finding ways to get OS X running on these little buggers like this one on a Dell Mini 9.

It’s very much unlike Apple to miss something like this. Usually they are first to market with the new hottness, not last. So will they get in on it at all? Actually they already did. And it’s sooo not the Macbook Air, which is way too big (in 2 dimensions), de-featured and expensive to be called a netbook. It was in 1997, when they introduced the eMate. The eMate was a clamshell plastic laptop with a 5″ or so greyscale LCD touchscreen (used a stylus) and a close-to-laptop sized keyboard. It was among the first things Steve Jobs cancelled when he came back as head of Apple.

It’s not beyond the believable that Steve would claim that the iPhone is the ultimate netbook and/or dismiss the netbook trend entirely. In fact he’s likely to do that anyway right up until the moment he has one to show us. I’m hoping for something else though – instead of making a smaller laptop, how about a bigger iPhone? A 7″ screen with a thin rolled stainless steel bezel around it would sure look sexy. In fact I’m willing to bet that is precisely what Steve wants to bring to market, and why he cancelled the eMate in the first place all those years ago.

Looking at the eMate I can imagine him saying it’s too big, the UI is too cumbersome, the screen too hard to read, not enough network connectivity or processing power. Then I imagine he started thinking about what would make an ultimate portable computing device and that eventually came to be the iPhone. Now if we can just get something like the iPhone but bigger and more open (srsly Steve – WAY more open) and still under $500, Apple can bury the netbook competition.

I’m holding my breath now until Steve gives me my pony.