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Apple's aging Mac Pro is falling way behind Windows rivals

Agam Shah | April 8, 2016
The company could be waiting for faster GPUs and SSDs before releasing a new high-powered workstation.

Apple has more than VR to consider if it wants to retain Mac Pro users. Apple may enter the fast-growing car market, and computer-aided automobile design will happen on workstations like Mac Pro, O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell also suggested Apple could opt to merge Mac Pro with the iMac. It's not an unprecedented idea; Apple in 2010 killed its Xserve product line and provided a guide for users to transition to the Mac Pro or Mac Mini.

But patience has its virtues. If Apple hangs on before upgrading Mac Pro, some breakthrough technologies could put the desktop leagues ahead of its Windows rivals.

Intel is developing super-fast Optane memory SSD products, which will come to high-end gaming desktops and workstations later this year. Intel claims that Optane, which is based on a technology called 3D Xpoint, is 1,000 times faster and durable than NAND flash storage.

Faster GPUs are en route as well. Apple has shown an affinity for graphics processors from AMD, which plans to release GPUs based on its Polaris architecture later this year.

AMD's rival Nvidia this week introduced a new GPU called Tesla P100, based on its new Pascal architecture and targeted at high-performance computing. Nvidia could also release Quadro GPUs, based on Pascal, for workstations later this year.

Apple could upgrade the Mac Pro if only to show evidence of its technological superiority over Windows rivals. There's no mantra like "good enough" computing for high-end desktops like the Mac Pro, O'Donnell said.

"It's about maintaining relevance," O'Donnell said.

 

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