The Mac Pro, which was Apple’s marquee computing machine at one point, had been feeling neglected off late. The last time it was refreshed was in 2013, when the gorgeous black cylinder form factor made people sit up and take notice. Now, after languishing for a while in the shadows, the Mac Pro has returned to the top of Apple’s priority list. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, confirmed that there is a new Mac Pro in the pipeline, during a briefing at the company’s Machine Shop hardware prototyping lab.
Apple’s rethinking of the Mac Pro could revolve around a modular design that will be able to pack in top-end processors for ultimate performance, the most powerful graphics chips and the ability to install and upgrade new components along the way.
In fact, the last Mac Pro refresh in 2013, despite its beautiful design, restricted the ability to install upgrades, something that was a limitation for power users. Chances are that Apple will also be working on Pro displays to go with Mac Pro.
Since then, perhaps swept by the wave of a general perception that convertibles and portables will become powerful enough, Apple shifted focus from Mac Pros to the MacBook (the new Pro Retina and even the smaller 12-inch MacBook have been launched since) and making the iPad (iPad Pro 12.9 and the iPad Pro 9.7) creative productivity-centric devices.
Also read: Review: Apple iPad Pro
Times have also changed since the last time Apple refreshed the Mac Pro. At that time, parallel graphics chips used to be the norm for desktop computing devices, something that the industry has moved away from now.
Also, professional apps are now better equipped to utilize powerful graphics solutions better, and are also designed for higher resolution displays—which necessitates the latter too. Apple will also have to ensure the new Mac Pros are capable of handling virtual reality (VR) and high-end gaming, because if it must be the benchmark computing device, that will indeed be essential.
However, the new Mac Pro isn’t coming anytime soon. Apple says that the earliest we will see a new Pro will be next year. But the iMac line-ups will get the annual refresh this year, and will pack in even more powerful hardware that would also appeal to professionals and creative users.