WWDC 2023 Thread

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dada_dave

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The Mac Pro seems a little pricey but I think it also portends a new understanding of what the Pro is - it is not so much performance (since Studio has the same SOC) but expandability with special PCI cards.

Totally agree overall. And many people need PCIe expandability and cannot (or don't want to) use expander chassis.
Unfortunately you’re not getting true expandability :( - if I’m counting correctly there are only 16 actual lanes of PCIe, maybe 24 but I don’t think so.All the slots are on switchers so as you saturate the routes you’ll lose performance quickly
 
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Citysnaps

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Unfortunately you’re not getting true expandability :( - if I’m counting correctly there are only 16 actual lanes of PCIe, maybe 24 but I don’t think so.All the slots are on switchers so as you saturate the routes you’ll lose performance quickly

I'm looking forward to reading Apple's official specs.
 

dada_dave

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I'm looking forward to reading Apple's official specs.
Tech specs are up but they don’t mention it anywhere:


They only mention slot size, not how many true lanes there are. This is the best you’re going to get and probably accurate given the source:


As someone else noted Apple is being very careful and cagey in their wording about the PCIe.
 

Nycturne

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Unfortunately you’re not getting true expandability :( - if I’m counting correctly there are only 16 actual lanes of PCIe, maybe 24 but I don’t think so.All the slots are on switchers so as you saturate the routes you’ll lose performance quickly

Which does suck, but I also wonder a couple things (being rather rusty in this area):

If I put a PCIe 3.0 device in one of these slots, does the switch effectively operate at 3.0 speeds when the 3.0 device is talking, or can it multiplex a couple 3.0 x4 cards into 4 lanes of PCIe 4.0 and get much closer to the performance the cards are capable of (minus the multiplexing overhead), assuming those cards can saturate 4 lanes each?

Outside of SSD arrays, what cards will saturate 16 lanes of PCIe (3.0 or 4.0) that are supported by this Mac Pro?

While I suspect this isn't perfect, I wonder if it's really that bad for folks doing video/audio capture work, or using HDD arrays?
 

dada_dave

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Which does suck, but I also wonder a couple things (being rather rusty in this area):

If I put a PCIe 3.0 device in one of these slots, does the switch effectively operate at 3.0 speeds when the 3.0 device is talking, or can it multiplex a couple 3.0 x4 cards into 4 lanes of PCIe 4.0 and get much closer to the performance the cards are capable of (minus the multiplexing overhead), assuming those cards can saturate 4 lanes each?

Outside of SSD arrays, what cards will saturate 16 lanes of PCIe (3.0 or 4.0) that are supported by this Mac Pro?

While I suspect this isn't perfect, I wonder if it's really that bad for folks doing video/audio capture work, or using HDD arrays?
I think we’ll probably have to wait for stress tests of the PCIe lanes to see how bad things get under different loads and devices. I know LTTtech did one for the 10Gb mini and were impressed that Apple managed to effectively get everything its own lane and saturating the device didn’t result in any loss of performance. I can’t imagine that the same will be true here though. We’ll see. You’re right that for many people they may not notice it, but those people are likely to be happy on thunderbolt and the studio - a big draw of PCIe slots is you get the full bandwidth with the internal expansion and here all you’re really paying $3000 for is that the devices are on the inside … I personally can’t say that’s good value. I’m not saying it’s wrong to want that, devices on the inside, but it’s wrong, in my opinion, for Apple to charge that much for it.
 
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Joelist

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All of the lanes are PCIe 4.0 and with an Ultra as the SOC plus a built in I/O card I suspect the number of lanes is more than adequate. Plus remember that a lot of the things users used to rely on external cards for are already in the package (like Afterburner). It will not support anyone's dGPU because Apple Silicon is specifically designed around their unified memory and GPU solution, which in any event is already crazy performant (especially in the Ultra).
 

dada_dave

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All of the lanes are PCIe 4.0 and with an Ultra as the SOC plus a built in I/O card I suspect the number of lanes is more than adequate. Plus remember that a lot of the things users used to rely on external cards for are already in the package (like Afterburner). It will not support anyone's dGPU because Apple Silicon is specifically designed around their unified memory and GPU solution, which in any event is already crazy performant (especially in the Ultra).
SSD raids can saturate it. But let’s say you were right, then who is the Pro for? That’s the problem. It’s basically just for someone who would prefer to stick their devices inside instead of outside with no additional bandwidth benefits and wants to pay an extra $3000 to do that. Like for instance let’s say Apple changed the PCIe controller to allow normal mapping of memory so that under Asahi Linux I could use a dGPU for CUDA. This is an actual use case for me. In fact it’s even the ideal because I can plug in one GPU and can get the full bandwidth as long as I do nothing else. But I’d have to pay >$2500 (taking away some money to pay for thunderbolt enclosure over) over the Studio to get a little extra bandwidth and have the organizational convenience of it being internal. Even for me who might otherwise be considered an ideal use case, needs the internal bandwidth but can get away with just one device, that’s a tough sell - it is vastly overpriced.
 

Citysnaps

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But let’s say you were right, then who is the Pro for? That’s the problem. It’s basically just for someone who would prefer to stick their devices inside instead of outside with no additional bandwidth benefits and wants to pay an extra $3000 to do that.

It would be for, just as one example, this guy who's a professional music producer and sound designer - going from two older Mac Pros with cards stuffed into external PCIe boxes, to a rack mount Mac Pro with slots. And found happiness.




If I were still in the biz, I'd be using the new Mac Pro as a foundation for custom-designed multiple SDRs on PCIe cards used by customers for collecting and analyzing RF signals of interest. Using an external PCIe box would be, in a word, hokey. And off the table. :)

No doubt there are many dozens of similar applications for a Mac Pro with slots.
 

dada_dave

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It would be for, just as one example, this guy who's a professional music producer and sound designer - going from two older Mac Pros with cards stuffed into external PCIe boxes, to a rack mount Mac Pro with slots. And found happiness.




If I were still in the biz, I'd be using the new Mac Pro as a foundation for custom-designed multiple SDRs on PCIe cards used by customers for collecting and analyzing RF signals of interest. Using an external PCIe box would be, in a word, hokey. And off the table. :)

No doubt there are many dozens of similar applications for a Mac Pro with slots.

And he's willing to pay $3K on top for no extra bandwidth - either compute or PCIe - and thinks yeah Apple is being reasonable for charging that price? That's what I keep coming back to. I'm not dismissing someone liking internal PCIe slots or saying they're bad. I'm not saying the Mac Pro should not exist, but I'm disappointed by what Apple put out as a Mac Pro and I feel they are vastly overcharging for it to boot. What Apple has done basically means the Pro and Studio have the same amount of PCIe connection and you are being charged $3K to move them inside. That's exorbitant. To make this reasonable in my mind is that the base Mac Pro Ultra should be much cheaper, no more than $6K (preferably more closer to $5K), and the Mac Pro should also come with a higher tier with more actual PCIe and a bigger SOC overall. Fingers crossed for the M3.
 

Citysnaps

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And he's willing to pay $3K on top for no extra bandwidth - either compute or PCIe - and thinks yeah Apple is being reasonable for charging that price? That's what I keep coming back to. I'm not dismissing someone liking internal PCIe slots or saying they're bad. This isn't saying the Mac Pro should not exist, but what Apple has done basically means the Pro and Studio have the same amount of PCIe connection and you are being charged $3K to move them inside. That's exorbitant. To make this reasonable in my mind is that the base Mac Pro Ultra should be much cheaper and the Mac Pro should come with a higher tier with more actual PCIe and a bigger SOC overall. Fingers crossed for the M3.

Being the professional that he is, there's no doubt in my mind that should he decide to go that way with a new Mac Pro (assuming he needs one - seems he's pumped with what he has now), he'll make his own technical (and business case) assessment when more vetted technical/performance information is available.
 

dada_dave

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Being the professional that he is, there's no doubt in my mind that should he decide to go that way with a new Mac Pro (assuming he needs one - seems he's pumped with what he has now), he'll make his own technical assessment when more vetted technical/performance information is available.
Of course, but really the only thing we’re waiting on is if the CPU/GPU got any kind of speed bump other than that it’s just an Ultra … it’s not going to increase the PCIe lanes available in the Pro relative to the Studio. Make no mistake I hope someone does stress test the PCIe setup under various load outs to see what it can handle and I’m sure someone will eventually will but that core limit of the number of PCIe is intrinsic because it is just an Ultra. In other words ideally such a test would also include an Ultra Studio and the costs of the two setups compared.
 
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Citysnaps

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Of course, but really the only thing we’re waiting on is if the CPU/GPU got any kind of speed bump other than that it’s just an Ultra … it’s not going to increase the PCIe lanes available relative to the Studio. Make no mistake I hope someone does stress test it under various load outs and I’m sure someone will eventually will but that core limit of the number of PCIe is intrinsic because it is just an Ultra.

You posed the question: "But let’s say you were right, then who is the Pro for? That’s the problem. It’s basically just for someone who would prefer to stick their devices inside instead of outside with no additional bandwidth benefits and wants to pay an extra $3000 to do that."

I provided a couple of cases (of no doubt many dozens). One being a professional music producer who needed to have a Mac Pro with slots to meet his requirements that weren't being previously met. And what I would use as a foundation for collection/analysis hardware systems I used to design when I was in that business.

As with any design, that starts with systems engineering a solution before making any detailed designs and purchase decisions. And with that, collecting as much vetted technical information, specifications, reviews, etc. as possible before deciding to go forward in a particular direction. It has always been that way.
 

dada_dave

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You posed the question: "But let’s say you were right, then who is the Pro for? That’s the problem. It’s basically just for someone who would prefer to stick their devices inside instead of outside with no additional bandwidth benefits and wants to pay an extra $3000 to do that."

I provided a couple of cases (of doubt many dozens). One being a professional music producer who needed to have a Mac Pro with slots to meet his requirements that weren't being previously met. And what I would use as a foundation for collection/analysis hardware systems I used to design when I was in that business.

As with any design, that starts with systems engineering a solution before making any detailed designs and purchase decisions. And with that, collecting as much vetted technical information, reviews, etc. as possible before deciding to go forward in a particular direction. It has always been that way.
You seem to be conflating my argument with one that says the Pro should not exist. That is not where I am coming from. Perhaps my earlier question would have been better phrased as "then who is this Pro for?" The answers you gave are good answers to "are there users for any kind of Mac Pro at all?" In fact when @Joelist I believe phrased that very question these are the answers you gave and I agreed with them (still do). But that is fundamentally different from the question I am posing here. My question's context is not only are there enough use cases to sell this particular device to but also are there enough where those use cases would be willing to fork over an extra $3000 on top of the cost of the studio without additional benefit beyond internal vs external expandability? Yes of course to answer with absolutes we'll need hands on. But we can tell a lot right now and what we can see or at least what I can see is not good. A $7K starting point is unreasonable for what Apple is providing especially since they set the price of the studio at $4K. Again, I'm not criticizing users who want to move PCIe devices inside their case. That's perfectly valid - hell my own ideal use case would benefit from it! I am criticizing Apple charging those users who want that an extra $3 grand to do it with seemingly no other benefits that could possibly justify that level of price increase. Frankly even a speed bump wouldn't fully justify it though that would help a little. In essence, they've got a case and overall setup with this Pro that is wanting, in fact begging for, a far more powerful and connective SOC than what they've put into it, but they're still charging users like that's what they've indeed put in it. I don't want the Mac Pro line to die - I want a better base Mac Pro or for this base Pro to be cheaper with higher tiers. I've actually been impressed with the base prices of the Macs until now, but this one is ... just not justified by what we see.

Could I be wrong and there is a Apple-told-no-one-super-secret about this Mac Pro that makes this price make sense? I suppose ... but in a realm of answering with reasonable doubt rather than absolutes ... is that a reasonable doubt?

I hope the M3 generation will rectify at least some of this.
 
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Citysnaps

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My question's context is not only are there enough use cases to sell this particular device to but also are there enough where those use cases would be willing to fork over an extra $3000 on top of the cost of the studio without additional benefit beyond internal vs external expandability?

For my use cases (assuming I were still in the business) certainly yes, and no doubt many others. For many commercial/laboratory/industrial/government site environments there will likely be a number of (or many dozens of) racks of equipment/instrumentation/computers etc.

Thus, a product going into that kind of space is expected to go into a rack, possibly co-located with other equipment in the rack, and often chilled via underfloor air conditioning, and with underfloor cabling.

There's no way I'd write a proposal to develop a custom system (or respond to an RFQ for an off the shelf system) consisting of a Mac Studio sitting next to a PCIe box, either sitting on a rack shelf, or on a nearby table next to a rack full of other equipment.
 

Joelist

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The funny thing is I was the one who asked a while back whether the existence of the Studio meant the Pro no longer has a purpose. I think this release shows how they have the Pro envisioned now - specialist PCI expansion. They were never going to allocate precious fab runs to a super special SOC that only works in one case with a very small user base, especially when most of those who formerly used the Pro have either already moved to the Studio or the MBP with the Max. Remember that the two main expansions Pro users had were the dGPU and Afterburner - both of which now exist in the package. And one of the sales advantages of the M Series Pro and Max has been built in Afterburner on die.

The only thing I hope they do for the new Pro is push the Ultra in it to max level out of the box and maybe bump the storage to 2 TB. But even at its current level when you do the math on it the weird thing is it costs more at the start but actually much less fully tricked out than before.
 

Citysnaps

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I think this release shows how they have the Pro envisioned now - specialist PCI expansion.

Yes! And I believe there's a market for that. Not huge, but decent.

Apparently Apple believes that as well.
 

Eric

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I'll try not to pollute your guys' thread with this stuff but some of these memes are gold.

c7eo1b1d7g4b1.jpg
 

dada_dave

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The funny thing is I was the one who asked a while back whether the existence of the Studio meant the Pro no longer has a purpose. I think this release shows how they have the Pro envisioned now - specialist PCI expansion. They were never going to allocate precious fab runs to a super special SOC that only works in one case with a very small user base, especially when most of those who formerly used the Pro have either already moved to the Studio or the MBP with the Max. Remember that the two main expansions Pro users had were the dGPU and Afterburner - both of which now exist in the package. And one of the sales advantages of the M Series Pro and Max has been built in Afterburner on die.

The only thing I hope they do for the new Pro is push the Ultra in it to max level out of the box and maybe bump the storage to 2 TB.

Yes! And I believe there's a market for that. Not huge, but decent.

Apparently Apple believes that as well.

For my use cases (assuming I were still in the business) certainly yes, and no doubt many others. For many commercial/laboratory/industrial/government site environments there will likely be a number of (or many dozens of) racks of equipment/instrumentation/computers etc.

Thus, a product going into that kind of space is expected to go into a rack, possibly co-located with other equipment in the rack, and often chilled via underfloor air conditioning, and with underfloor cabling.

There's no way I'd write a proposal to develop a custom system (or respond to an RFQ for an off the shelf system) consisting of a Mac Studio sitting next to a PCIe box, either sitting on a rack shelf, or on a nearby table next to a rack full of other equipment.

And it costs $3K more than the studio with the identical actual PCIe expansion capabilities, why? I mean this isn't even a PCIe specialist relative to the Studio, it contains no more PCIe lanes than the Studio does. They have the exact same raw capabilities to connect to PCIe devices here. So the claim that it is a PCIe specialist doesn't really hold up. The nest you can claim is its an internal device specialist and then charging like it's more than that. Frankly, they're making the user base for the Mac Pro smaller than it has to be and that worries for the future of the platform. They are restricting it to only those who absolutely must have internal expansion and are willing to pay almost anything to get it. Again, for the umpteenth time, the Mac Pro isn't the problem, an M2 Ultra Mac Pro isn't even the problem, an M2 Ultra Mac Pro priced like it has the fabled "Extreme" variant is the problem. Going from the Max to the Ultra is $1000 less in price difference and in addition you get double the RAM and a double the hard drive when you do! This is a case of I feel like I'm taking crazy pills Zoolander-meme style. You cannot honestly think this price is justified? Just out of curiosity at what price point would you consider the Mac Pro to be reasonable? And how much would Apple have to charge you before you would go that's just extortion - your just charging me ludicrous amounts because I need internal expansion? How much for someone to invent a rack mountable case that you can put a Studio into with a PCIe expansion box? $3000 per unit is a lot of money (in fact $3500 for the rack mount). I bet you, you could make an aftermarket rack mountable solution and sell it for less, potentially quite a lot less.

They were never going to allocate precious fab runs to a super special SOC that only works in one case with a very small user base, especially when most of those who formerly used the Pro have either already moved to the Studio or the MBP with the Max.

There's absolutely no proof that a super secret Mac Pro M2 Extreme chip existed and was killed because it was too costly. That's Gurman and given his track record of breadcrumbs mixed with spurious speculation I wouldn't put any stock into it. None of the max chips were build to go to more than 2-dies and having said even in that rumor it wouldn't be allocating fab space for only the Mac Pro for an exotic die that no one else uses - under his rumor it uses the standard Max dies already being made, again no special dies required. Further, halo products exist at every manufacturer and are used explicitly for that purpose - a tiny percentage of users who will pay a premium to get the best and which serves as a baseline in the mindset of the people buying your computing product regardless of whether or not they are purchasing that premium product. That's actually quite economical. Companies do it all the time. The problem is the Mac Pro isn't a halo product they way they structured it. You've combined the worst of all worlds with the current Mac Pro and pricing.

But even at its current level when you do the math on it the weird thing is it costs more at the start but actually much less fully tricked out than before.

Well ... yeah? It doesn't have as much RAM ceiling and only SOC tier upgrade ... don't get me wrong the M2 Ultra is a beast, but I can also get that in the Studio for almost half the price.
 
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Citysnaps

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Because to me, you're arguing I have to have the internal expansion, fine again I don't dispute that internal expansion is a good thing and the Mac Pro should exist, but you at least agree that Apple is overcharging right?

To some extent. COGS for the Mac Pro for sure would be more - whether floor standing or rack mount. Of course not $3K more. Perhaps Apple's GPM is higher because it's a specialty low-volume product rather than a commodity phone/laptop/MacStudio.

It wouldn't bother *me*in the slightest, though (with the caveat... if I were still in the business).

I would not want to never go back to designing SDR systems, or any system, using PC-based rack mount computers as a foundation. That $3K would simply be passed onto customers, with an appropriate GPM markup. And life would go on. :)
 

dada_dave

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To some extent. COGS for the Mac Pro for sure would be more - whether floor standing or rack mount. Of course not $3K more. Perhaps Apple's GPM is higher because it's a specialty low-volume product rather than a commodity phone/laptop/MacStudio.

It wouldn't bother *me*in the slightest, though (with the caveat... if I were still in the business).

I would not want to never go back to designing SDR systems, or any system, using PC-based rack mount computers as a foundation. That $3K would simply be passed onto customers, with an appropriate GPM markup. And life would go on. :)
So I looked it up and of course someone already made the thing I suggested could be made and it is indeed far less money:


Look you obviously know way more about this than I do so is there a reason why if I had to pick between the Mac Pro and the above Sonnet product + Studio, why would I pick the Mac Pro? I seem to get almost everything the Mac Pro offers for substantially less money. But again, I’ve never worked in this field, I’ve used clusters, I’ve never built them or been responsible for maintaining them. So I am extremely open that I’m missing something here but this seems to be Apple’s competition and I as a non-expert can’t see why I wouldn’t pick it.
 
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