Talk about rising expectations. Not long ago, I was seriously suggesting that Apple might release its Mac Pro desktop early, simply because of the availability of the new Intel Xeon chips, which are ideal for a powerful workstation. If that doesn’t happen, the next moment of opportunity is Apple’s WWDC next month, even though Leopard will be the major talking point.
At the same time, there are other sides of the story that probably rate equal coverage. You see, the people who buy these products are a conservative lot and they are not apt to rush madly into the stores to acquire a Mac Pro right out of the starting gate. They might prefer to wait for others to be the early adopters, in case there are defects of one sort another, particularly if there’s a major change in the form factor. In addition, if the software they require hasn’t appeared in Universal form, they might just wait on the sidelines.
For video production people using Apple’s Final Cut Studio, which will run native on Intel processors, this won’t be a problem. Assuming QuarkXPress releases a final Universal version 7.0, the same is true, and there are certainly other applications for content creators that are ready to roll or already available.
But Photoshop will not be among them, and would it make sense to shell out three grand or more for a computer that will run Adobe’s Creative Suite at half speed?
This doesn’t mean Apple would want to delay its professional desktop, although there’s good reason to keep some Power Macs in the catalog for folks who aren’t ready to ditch the PowerPC, and perhaps even the Classic mode for legacy Mac OS 9 software.
On the other hand, assuming a Mac Pro does appear as expected. How would you like to see it changed? No more of that cheese grater look, or does it even matter, so long as its powerful enough to get the job done?
Besides, it’ll probably be placed below your desk, and you’ll only pay attention if you have to change connections.
So it’s quite possible, as some rumor sites suggest, that the Mac Pro will look very much like today’s Power Mac G5. But wait a minute! Consider all that elaborate cooling gear, including the liquid system on the high-end models. Right now, only two hard drives fit inside, and there’s but a single optical device. Since the Intel chips supposedly run a whole lot cooler, you have to believe Apple will simplify the ventilation network and provide more room for extra drives, perhaps four as in the Power Mac G4. There also ought to be room for a second optical drive, just as you see even in lower priced PC minitowers.
You see, a Mac Pro would have to be designed for usability more than having just another pretty face. There’s also the evidence of recent history, since Apple’s Intel-based line looks a lot like the PowerPC predecessors, and only the MacBook has gotten a somewhat updated form factor to accommodate the widescreen display.
There is also good reason to expect a rich selection of 3D graphic cards, some with superior gaming capability. You see, gamers are a major audience for professional-caliber desktops as well. Ask Alienware, now a subsidiary of Dell.
But as I said, this is not a rumor, just a little-common sense that may end up being totally wrong when the real thing finally makes its debut.
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