A separate report from Peter Cohen over at iMore suggests that it's now possible to achieve broadcast-quality video input and output and use high-speed peripheral interfaces like Fibre Channel and eSATA with Thunderbolt adapters instead of a PCIe card. So the reasons for having a lot of expansion are decreasing.
"Let's hope they have found a way to keep the need for external devices to a minimum," Borella writes. One problem with favouring Thunderbolt over internal expansion options is it would mean more desktop clutter.
Intel has come under fire recently for hindering adoption of Thunderbolt - a technology that it designed. A DigiTimes report criticised Intel's unwillingness to license the technology to other parties for a lag in adoption of the new standard, which was introduced two years ago.
However, Intel told Apple Insider that the DigiTimes report was inaccurate, noting that it is incorrect to paint Intel's as the "sole seller of technologies critical to Thunderbolt's operation".
"It's not proprietary or exclusive or anything. In fact, there are multiple suppliers that make the components," Intel's marketing director for Thunderbolt Jason Ziller told Apple Insider.
Graphics options in the new Mac Pro
Thunderbolt connectivity on the Mac Pro could also replace the need for PCI slots for GPU options. "As long at our future Mac Pro's GPU is beefy enough and equipped with enough VRAM, it's possible that it wouldn't even need slots for video cards," writes iMore's Peter Cohen.
However, Borella speculates that Apple might use the PCIe slots for "GPU options that will be offered at the time of purchase."
Borella describes the dual GPU capabilities referred to by his source as "welcome". He notes that Nvidia and AMD have released "many new GPU options on the Mac platform" over the past few months.
Apple is said to have hired around a dozen graphics engineers and graphics architects laid off by AMD earlier this year. The company is also said to be seeking a manager to lead the Orlando GPU team.
The new Mac Pro CPU
While Borella's source doesn't mention the processor it is a fair bet that the new Mac Pro will sport a new Intel processor, and a new Xeon just happens to be scheduled for launch later this year.
Crucially this new Xeon will be able to accommodate Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, both of which are lacking from the current Mac Pro's Intel chipset and motherboard.
How about a MacMini Pro?
Regarding the new design hinted at by his source, Borella admits: "Thoughts of a MacMini Pro do come to mind," adding that: "The earlier rumors of the 'modular' Mac Pro seem to be pretty close."
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