Apple's new Mac Pro and 32" 6K Retina display are a match made in media heaven
Apple unveiled more than software at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2019 today. In addition to iOS 13, iPadOS and macOS Catalina, the Cupertino-based company also announced the Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR.
Six years after Apple announced its barely-upgradeable cylindrical Mac Pro, aptly dubbed the 'trash can,' Apple took WWDC 2019 as an opportunity to unveil its most powerful, modular Mac Pro to date.
While undoubtedly new, the overall design is reminiscent of Apple's original Mac Pro, complete with the 'cheese grater' vents, which are specifically machined to allow maximum airflow through the tower. However, unlike the original Mac Pro, this modular monster can shed its shell to offer complete 360-degree access to the internals, which are mounted on what Apple calls a 'stainless steel space frame' that serves not only as the skeletal structure of the computer but also as the handles and feet when the aluminum enclosure is slipped over it.
At the core of the Mac Pro is Intel's new Xeon processor with up to 28 cores, a dedicated 300W power supply and robust cooling that keeps to the computer running 'unconstrained at full power at all times' when required to do so. Apple has included eight PCI Express slots (four double-wide and four single-wide), twelve six-channel memory slots for a maximum 1.5TB of RAM and a slew of various USB ports, including two USB-A ports and two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the rear of the tower with two addition USB-C ports on the top of the case for easier access.
In addition to the tower itself, Apple has also created three modules that are specifically designed to interface with the Mac Pro: the MPX Module, the 'Afterburner' video card and an I/O module.
The MPX Module is a quad-wide PCIx card that houses two AMD Radeon Pro Vega 2 or Radeon Pro Vega 2 Duo GPUS, its own heat sink and a Thunderbolt 3 connector that plugs directly into the motherboard for maximum speed. If maxed out with the two Radeon Pro Vega 2 Duo cards, the MPX Module alone could provide up to 128GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2) from the GPUs inside.
|Apple's 'Afterburner' module|
Apple's new 'Afterburner' is a hardware accelerator card with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or a Programmable Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC). Apple claims the 'Afterburner' card can process up to 6.3 billion pixels per second and is capable of handling up to three streams of 8K ProRes RAW or 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW at 30fps. As Apple puts it, 'Proxy workflows, RIP.' The last one is an I/O module that adds two additional USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Apple has fitted the Mac Pro with a 1.4kW power supply and a specialized fan arrangement that actively cools the components using three fans at the front of the tower and a blower at the rear to push up to 300 cubic feet of air per minute through the 3D lattice grills on the front and rear of the tower.
The updated Mac Pro is set to launch this fall starting at $5,999, which will get you the eight core Intel Xeon CPU, Radeon Pro 580X GPU, 32GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Apple hasn't specified what a fully maxed-out Mac Pro would cost, but based on a brief analysis from The Verge, it's looking like it could top out at around $50,000 going by the current market price of the various components.
Pro Display XDR
Of course, what would a powerful desktop computer be without a beautiful screen to compose, create and review your work on it with? Years after leaving the display market, Apple is back—and it's created a display that's just as (if not more) crazy than its Mac Pro counterpart.
It's called the Pro Display XDR and it's a 32in 6K Retina (6016px x 3384px, 218ppi) HDR display that brings the best features of high-end reference monitors and manages to pack said features into a more compact, affordable (comparatively speaking) frame that offers the convenience of more traditional monitors.
The Pro Display XDR features 10-bit color depth, P3 wide color gamut, 576 zones of full-array local dimming and 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio on a screen that has sustained 1000-nits brightness (with the ability to achieve 1600-nits at its peak). This is done with the help of an in-factory calibration that custom defines algorithms to achieve the most accurate color rendering possible.
|An illustration from Apple's keynote showing the layers that go into making the Pro Display XDR.|
To keep the monitor cool, Apple took the same 3D grill from the Mac Pro and effectively turned the entire rear of the display into a giant heat sink for maximum heat dissipation.
Every Pro Display XDR comes with an 'extremely low reflectivity' screen, but Apple has also created a new matte option that uses 'nano-texture glass' to further scatter and light and reduce glare. In Apple's own words:
'Typical matte displays have a coating added to their surface that scatters light. However, these coatings lower contrast while producing unwanted haze and sparkle. The nano-texture on Pro Display XDR is actually etched into the glass at the nanometer level.'
Other features of the display include integrated reference modes—HDR video (P3-ST 2084), Digital Cinema (P3-DCI) and Photography (P3-D65)—and Apple's True Tone technology to adjust the monitor depending on the ambient lighting conditions.
Apple has paired the Pro Display XDR with the optional Pro Stand, a dedicated stand for the display that uses a specialized hinge mechanism to make raising, lowering, tilting and rotating the screen easy enough to do with one hand. The monitor snaps on using a magnetic connection on the back and can easily be swapped out with a VESA mount adapter for more customized mounting options.
|In case that new house wasn't looking as enticing as you would hope, you could go ahead and drop what was going to be your downpayment on six Pro Display XDR monitors.|
The Pro Display XDR relies on a Thunderbolt 3 cable to connect with the new Mac Pro, which can drive up to six of these things for a mind-numbing 120 million combined pixels.
The standard Pro Display XDR is expected to ship this fall for $4,999, with the nano-glass version costing $1,000 more at $5,999. The optional Pro Stand will set you back another $1,000, while the VESA mount adapter will be a slightly more reasonable $199.
While the pricing seems ridiculous, the display itself is on par—if not more capable—than many professional reference monitors that retail for five times the price. The stand feels like a bit of a money grab at $1,000, but the $199 VESA mount is a much more reasonable option and should yield more flexibility in the long run anyway.
For more information on the Pro Display XDR visit Apple's product page.
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