Apple's New 2019 Mac Pro isn't for Professionals, It's for the Luxury Market
Monday, June 3, 2019 at 11:01PM
Dustan Doud

Apple sometimes has a way of paying a lot of attention to the wrong things.  UI, Users, Accessibility - maybe the right thing.  Professionals, maybe the right thing.  The thousand people that can afford a solid gold apple watch... um... sure the profit margin is fantastic but maybe they are not the reason apple is frequently wonderful.  Lust worthy technology, to a technologist - or perhaps just me, isn't going to really be about using some beautify soft inferior metal that can't handle a picnic on on a boulder at the beach without looking like scrap.  Sorry gold.

I saw Apple's WWDC mac pro and had bummer moments aplenty.  

The case is thick.  That grill is deep.  And my first bummer moment - electronic discharge milling or convential CNC can cut precise half hemispheres into a 20mm slab of aluminium at considerable waste... but why go there at all?  What professional need is met with a insect nest friendly computing enviroment, a ban on workplace squirt guns?   A Unique solution to a difficult problem is quite a different thing than a silly solution to a well solved problem.   Posh, sure, useful... umm.  Useful like optional roller feet on a $6000 to $19,000+ desktop because are accidents never happen. Useful like a monitor with grill that lets those damn little beetles fly right inside your $6000 pro monitor when you are filming on set?

Then we move on to the Xeon CPU.  I like xeons... historically nice preformers solid choice... and the 14 nanometer 28 CPU version is available on New Egg for $10,000ish dollars.  A reminder, 14 nanometer is the best intel can do these days... but maybe they will soon have 10nanometer chips to be marketed as 7 nanometer despite microscopic evidence to the contrary.   Apple already has 7 nanometer components in the chips in the Iphone tennis... so awkward tech lust moment - its like falling in love with Juliet and trying to chase her down to go all "But soft what light" on her, but then getting waylaid by that mopey goth bitch Ophelia and being forced to hear all about everything rotten in Denmark and how drowning might be the only way to ease her sorrows so you know, when you finally do get away, that it's all going to be Act V Scene 3 for you and Juliet even if you both find each other?     

Really Apple, I have to buy ophelia?  Ophellia?  Even if I want Juliet?

Hook line and sinker.  Because next comes the GPU options.  And Nvidia's CUDA isn't in the offering, and the story is much the same.  

If you don't program AI, let me expain there's a training phase that takes hours or days to teach your computer dog to hold a biscuit on it's nose, followed by a trick phase that makes the biscuit vanish in a magical instant so quick that everyone thinks it must be easy - after all - obviously the dog did all the work.  If you ever trained a dog you might know better... and this is my beef with Apple's state of AI:  With apple you can have a trained dog easy enough, but to do any dog training is really going to be slow and painful in Apple's ecosystem.  For me... CUDA and machine learning go together.  It isn't that you can't do AI with just a single CPU or AMD boards or Apples modest Metal AI tools... it's just that running tensorflow on that 28 core xeon is never going to be fast compared with what you can do for less on a CUDA freindly graphics card with a thousand of cores.

...so.   Yes.  Apple made a AI development bet that looks stupid to me and hints a a fundamental forward technology disconnect.  The AI community probably isn't going to be flocking back to mac's soon.  And it kind of makes my brain hurt - apple should deeply embrace AI given its niche in the companion / personal assistant products - and instead... they made design decisions for their "professional" market that amount to "AI dev?  eh maybe next time?  Maybe never?  Oh, and good luck finding third party vendor and a hackintosh ktext and drivers so you can run Cuda boards in our walled garden."  And worse, that choice may likely keep Apple's Siri in the slow lane, compared to Amazon and Google, unless there are plenty of windows and linux boxes in Apple with cuda boards just exactly for deep learning and training.  But given the state of Siri, I think they don't exist at apple. 

Apple's new and different and moderately less useful AI developer tools -  isn't going do it apple.  Forcing devopers to  buy expensive GPU options that they almost certainly would want to immediately replace isn't super great for anyone but apple and hardware vendors.  It makes other options look pretty strong.  I really wish apple saw it's professionals as less monolithic and more in need of future proofing technology side bets  and able to support special use cases.  

I like apple.  I think I'm done with apple.  I don't need a specialized supercomputer workstation that isn't targeted to my needs, and more or less by random decreem can not be targeted to my needs.  I hate the pain of switching, but it seems like soon enough, that's me.  I'm not part of the luxury market, or whatever niche film maker video edit suite pro market this Mac Cheese Grater is tailored to (8K video hardly exists, but if that's the 2-3 year future of film, maybe they are the targets of the quirky engine tuning the 2019 mac pro has?)  

Beautiful, prideful, sleek, powerful and able to roll off a desk onto concrete floors in less than a second?  sure, the 2019 Mac Pro is all that.  Something I want to own?  No, not for me.

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