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Apple's iMac Pro is a letter of love to developers


The iMac Pro exists because it turns out that there is a lot of air under the aging Mac Pro and on top of it. An incredibly popular MacBook Pro. A single-digit percentage of Mac customers buys the Mac Pro and, in recent years, Apple has seen a significant increase in "pro" customers of all grades buying iMacs because of their incredible screens, their overall form factor and their ease of deployment.

Since there was such an appetite for a beefier computer in this hardware pocket, and since it was already moving to completely rethink the Mac Pro, Apple decided to see how much that could be ridiculous with iMac's performance inside what is essentially the same shell as the current machines – with a beautiful layer of color treatment and some additional cosmetic differences.

Mac Pro Reset

You may remember that in April of this year, Apple was unusually candid about its failures with the Mac Pro. He had painted himself in a corner with this design, and needed to come back to one to rethink his approach. During this session, Apple executives told a roundtable that they were also rethinking what it meant to be a professional Mac client.

"First of all, when talking about professional clients, it's important to be clear that there is not a prototypical pro client. term so wide, and it covers many categories of customers.And we care about all these categories, and there are a variety of different products that these customers want, "says Schiller.

"There are music creators, video editors, graphic designers, a very good segment with the Mac – there are scientists, engineers, architects, software programmers – more and more more growing, especially our development of apps in the App Store.Therefore, there are a lot of things and people called pros, pro workflows, so we should be careful not to over simplify and to say "Pros want this" or "do not want it" – it's a lot more complex than that. "

Apple iMac Pro

Schiller stated that 15% of Mac customers use business applications several times a week and 30% use them one way or another. And the vast majority of these pros use MacBooks. However, iMac was beginning to be disproportionately used by professionals who found screens or form factors attractive or who found the pace of Mac Pro updates stagnant.

"Many of our customers were turning to iMac, we found a way to solve many, many more of those who were limited by Mac Pro with a new generation iMac", said Craig Federighi of Apple. And [we] really put a lot of energy behind all this. [But,] while this system [upgraded iMac] is going to be fantastic for a lot of customers – we want to do more. "

This will be the next Mac Pro. But now, the iMac Pro – a machine that will appeal to the pros looking for a robust hardware capable of handling demanding tasks, from medical imaging to virtual reality, but that also contains clues for the future of all Apple products. Macs.

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iMac Pro

I could see the iMac Pro and its new gray accessories in New York yesterday, as well as a series of pro demos that Apple sowed with the machines for a few days to allow them to get an idea of ​​the types of earnings they would see from it.

The machine itself is a near-physical match for the current iMac, aside from the dark gray finish.

The rear ports are certainly different, of course. You have 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, which operate on two separate controllers, 2 ports each. So you should get blazing speeds on those that are used for e-GPUs or storage or display. There are 4 USB 3.0 A ports and an SD slot and, for the first time, a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port on the back.

The 5k display is the same as that provided with the current iMacs. You can order SSD options of 1, 2 and 4 terabytes with the new machine for storage.

Another change is the fact that you can now completely remove the media from the iMac and mount it on VESA. Previously, you had to either use an aftermarket solution to mount an iMac or order it specifically at the factory with the media removed, which allowed for mounting.

<img class="size-full wp-image-1578250 img-full" src="" alt=" Apple iMac Pro back "width =" 1024 "height =" 682 "/>

Apple iMac Pro back


All iMac Pro configurations will not be available to order online and in store next week. You will be able to get the Intel Xeon W versions at 8 and 10 cores of the machine with other memory, graphics or storage options, but the 14 and 18-core editions can no longer be ordered that in January. These new basic configurations are previously unannounced options. Each has 1 MB of L2 and 1.365 MB of L3 cache.

To be clear: you can order all the options that iMac offers today, with the exception of the two highest level processors. It turns out that it's not such a big limit because the 10-core should really be the highlight anyway. The 10-core model offers the highest turbo speeds at 4.5 GHz for single-thread performance and supports hyper-threading, allowing 20 threads to both run on tasks. This is enough to allow real-time playback on a Red Weapon 8k footage file in ProRes 4 × 4, for example – or a Logic file of 140 tracks.

High-core options are really best for applications that take full advantage of so many low-frequency cores. Auto-learning or AI applications that use the cores of multiple processors to schedule tasks for GPUs, for example, or rendering pipelines for external GPUs now supported by iMac.

<img class="size-full wp-image-1578254 img-full" src="" alt=" Apple iMac Pro Camera "width =" 1024 "height =" 682 "/>

Apple iMac Pro Camera

If you're not sure what to order, go 10-core. You'll be able to load up to 128GB of memory (not scalable for users, but can upgrade to a service center or store) and get the more robust Vega 64 graphics cards available to end up with a machine incredibly impressive.

The Vega 56 and 64 options are absolutely the most powerful graphics cards that have ever been included in a Mac and I've been able to see demanding VR applications, rendering tasks, and 3D and time-based manipulations real on any other iMac hardware – and chug on the relatively beefy PC that I'm currently using for VR.

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These new processors also support AVX-512 instructions, which will allow iMac Pros multi-core developer users to enjoy "free" performance if they use Apple libraries (or manually call the instructions).

The most interesting point from a global point of view, however, it is not the more exotic graphics or processor options, but a system controller chip called T2.

T2 and security

The T2 is an iteration of T1 chips that are in current MacBooks, but it brings more features of the machine into the fold. It controls the ISP that runs the 1080p camera, the audio controller, including the 4 mics and loudspeakers, the SSD controller and, most importantly, the Secure Enclave that is included in the iMac Pro.

The OS manages real-time automatic encryption for the SSD. This means hardware-based encryption with no impact on the CPU, which was always a FileVault compromise. If your SSD is separate from the OS, it can not be read. If you want an extra layer of protection, you can still use FileVault to inject your user key into the mix, thus preventing access to the target drive.

The T2 also validates the entire boot process (an option that can be disabled) from start to finish, preventing injection attacks at the physical access level.

The additional security layers of the T2 arrive absolutely at the rest of the Mac line. This is a personal prediction, by the way, Apple would not say it. But OK. But I was struck by the fact that this enhanced security, with built-in protections against sophisticated attackers, would be very popular in government or research applications. If I am a buyer with increased security needs, buy in bulk issa, imo.

Which brings us to the real question.

Who is this customer?

The demos that Apple had lined up tell the story of who they ride this machine. Four different RV applications, several render rendering workflows that have been updated in minutes or hours in real time on the iMac Pr and a session with a set of simultaneous multi-device simulators running Browser tests run in emulators of Windows and OS X machines while compiling Linux from the source – and nary a fan was heard spinning.

Survios introduced Electronauts, its hybrid music / rhythm game creation game on Vive, which added support via steam earlier this year. Using a full-fledged VR application from one of the best field developers on a Mac was a treat. I've launched virtual reality systems on my iMac and this has never been a pleasant experience. Sitting at my desk now I have an entire PC tower just to the right of my legs almost solely to support the multiple headsets I run. It will be great to be able to come back to a single machine for games and VR for me. But, more importantly, iMac Pro is now suddenly a viable option for VR developers.

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This is becoming important in mixed pipeline environments, Oluwaseyi Sosanya emphasized of the Gravity Sketch 3D design tool. Because they're very focused on supporting the automotive industry, they're used to designers who have to leave the Mac to access their modeling tools, and then go back to the Mac where they like to design. The iMac Pro fills this gap and facilitates the adoption by designers of digital modeling tools that normally rely on inserting a PC workflow into the process.

A few people from Cinema 4D were on hand to talk about stacking external GPUs on Thunderbolt arrays, increasing and decreasing the complexity of a scene, allowing them to work in real-world viewports that did not take only a few seconds to get a usable frame and a few minutes to display the production quality – something that should normally be sent to a rendering farm and wait.

Real-time or near real-time rendering of architectural scenes, medical imaging, and digital composition also showed the power of the machine.

OsiriX MD

The message was interesting to me. This was absolutely, clearly, a love letter to the developers. Most of the Mac and iOS developers I know use iMac or MacBook Pro machines – especially given the limited nature of the Mac Pro as it currently exists. And since Apple says the Mac Pro will focus on "modularity," I think the iMac Pro will be one of the most powerful integrated machines of its generation.

There is nothing here that recommends waiting for a software developer. I really believe that the Mac Pro will fall much more on the industrialized spectrum than in previous generations. The pricing is comparable to that of the build options, and you do not get the tips of Apple's all-in-one system like the T2. And although the price tag is not a joke – $ 4999 to start – it's a drop of water in the bucket for the medical and professional industries. A $ 700 OsiriX seat and an iMac Pro for stacking slices of a CAT scanner into a real-time 3D model of a distressed vascular system are nothing for a surgeon who is looking for more precision.

And, of course, Apple's own data argues that there was a piece of the outdoors under the Mac Pro, even at its most recent.

All benchmarks and hopefully the real world stress tests will follow to tell us exactly how the iMac Pro pays on its promises, but until now, it seems like Apple has a powerful new machine to hook up its leaky pro hole.