Most pundits are expecting the long-in-the-tooth Mac Pro to be updated with some serious Apple Silicon this year. However, is there a big enough audience for what is expected to be a very expensive computer?
The current Mac Pro is over three years old. And it’s the only Mac in Apple’s lineup that has not yet transitioned to an Apple-made M.x processor.
In his Dec. 12 “Power On” newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said Apple had planned to introduce the new Mac Pro by now, but the high-end machine has been held up for a number of reasons, including multiple changes to its features, a significant shift in the company’s plans for high-end processors and a potential relocation of its manufacturing.
From his report: When Apple first set out to build a replacement for the Intel Mac Pro, it planned a machine with a processor based on the original M1 chip. The approach called for two main configurations: one chip equal to the power of two M1 Max processors — the highest-end MacBook Pro chip — and another equal to four M1 Max components combined.
The dual M1 Max chip ended up first launching in the Mac Studio as the M1 Ultra, and Apple decided to push back the Mac Pro to the M2 generation. The company then planned for the Mac Pro to come in two configurations: an M2 Ultra version and a double-M2 Ultra that I’ve dubbed the “M2 Extreme.”
Gurman says Apple has likely scrapped that higher-end configuration because of both the complexity and cost of producing a processor that is essentially four M2 Max chips fused together. He estimates that, based on Apple’s current pricing structure, an M2 Extreme version of a Mac Pro would probably cost at least $10,000 — without any other upgrades — making it an extraordinarily niche product that likely isn’t worth the development costs, engineering resources and production bandwidth it would require.
Instead, the Mac Pro is is expected to rely on a new-generation M2 Ultra chip (rather than the M1 Ultra) and will retain one of its hallmark features: easy expandability for additional memory, storage and other components. Will that be enough to justify the price — or will pro users go with a Mac Studio/Studio Display (or XDR Display) instead?
(By the way, Gurman’s info is from the free version of Power On. If you like it, and want more, consider subscribing to Bloomberg.com).