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back to article MacBook Air now uses PCIe flash... but who'd Apple buy it from?

Apple's next iteration of its workstation-class Mac Pro will use PCIe flash memory, as will the new MacBook Air. Cupertino's move towards flash memory could set a precedent other consumer manufacturers may follow. The Mac Pro format changes from a boring rectangular tower, albeit one with alloy handles, legs and mesh screen work …

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Just PCEI Sata. Cheap and proprietary?

It is simply Sata over PCIE but still the old version(2GB sec is possible).

Nothing fancy but knowing Apple maybe has a propreitary adjustment.

It has been around for a good few years now, but like lots of stuff gets bullshit reinvented for Apple.

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Re: Just PCEI Sata. Cheap and proprietary?

Apple Proprietary Adjustment v1.1.

Charge six times the price..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just PCEI Sata. Cheap and proprietary?

Your bias would like to think they charge 6x the price except they actually DROPPED the price on some Macbook Air models or included more flash storage as standard.

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Re: Just PCEI Sata. Cheap and proprietary?

So that'd be 4 times what everyone else charges.. fantastic!

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Re: Just PCEI Sata. Cheap and proprietary?

"It is simply Sata over PCIE but still the old version(2GB sec is possible)"

I've never seen a 16Gb/s SATA interface. As far as I was aware, even the current gen SATA will only do 6Gb/s which is 750MB/s.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just PCEI Sata. Cheap and proprietary?

Please find us an ultrabook with the same specs as a Macbook Air, up to and including the latest Haswell chippery and an all-metal chassis, for one quarter the price.

We'll wait...

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Anonymous Coward

Does it come

Does it come with a vibrating attachment?

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And resemble... look like..

A mammoths butt-plug...

I liked the old ones, was supporting mac when they came out.. this.. not so much. The power buttons in a weird place too apparently..

Given its appearance what's the betting on how long before some meatspace Consuela is gonna blast half a litre of lemon pledge up its whatsits?

Mind you at least its not iOS Swingers Party Edition...

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Re: And resemble... look like..

Butt-plugs are designed to go in, but then be easily removed. What you are thinking of is a 'loader', used by drug mules to conceal contraband in the same orifice. Form follows function.

I haven't heard of pachyderms being used to smuggle drugs, but it might explain why an elephant is transported from Florida to Texas in Smokey and the Bandit II.

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Re: And resemble... look like..

I thought it doubled up as an oversize biscuit barrel or an umbrella stand.

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Re: And resemble... look like..

Is that title a Short Circuit reference to when No. 5 is doing a tomato soup Rorschach test maybe?

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Re: And resemble... look like..

Thank god someone got it.. I was beginning to lose hope..

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Re: And resemble... look like..

Strange, I seem to have attracted a downvote groupie.. Its ok Eadon, no one will laugh..

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Sil

Arch-enemy

If Apple chose Arch-enemy Samsung then surely not many companies master the technology or can produce it at Apple's desired scale.

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Meh

it's a chimney

The pro reminds me of my weber chimney starter.

I guess they're using 'stack effect' cooling to minimise the need for fans.

It looks nice, but it must be possible to design something good looking *and* expandable.

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Re: it's a chimney

The only person I know who uses (and has to use) Mac Pros for his video production company also has racks for storage (RAID speed and redundancy). I'm not sure that the Thunderbolt 2 will be the bottleneck when bringing raw video into the system, and people have already been happily using high-end video transcoding cards in Thunderbolt-PCIe cases (for on-site work with Macbooks).

If the Mac Pro is meant to sit near the user, then taking thermal design (with its acoustic implications) as the starting point is very sensible. Storage and and accelerator cards (more than you could fit in an old MacPro, you could now have a little GPU render farm in a rack) can live elsewhere.

Should the Mac Pro fail, just unplug it and plug in a spare Thunderbolt-equipped machine - storage and accelerator cards will still be available to it. Some people might not even need to bother with a new Mac Pro, and will plug in a Macbook Pro.

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Re: it's a chimney

Looks like a giant ferrite bead to me!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it's a chimney

Thunderbolt is essentially serial-pcie and with 20GB bandwidth I'm not so sure that that doesn't give you all the expansion you need. You certainly wouldn't get better performance from internal cards ...

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Flame

Re: it's a chimney

It'll look even more like a chimney after someone mistakes it for a waste-paper basket!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it's a chimney

it is expandable - externally and super fast Thunderbolt 2.

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Re: it's a chimney

"If the Mac Pro is meant to sit near the user, then taking thermal design (with its acoustic implications) as the starting point is very sensible. Storage and and accelerator cards (more than you could fit in an old MacPro, you could now have a little GPU render farm in a rack) can live elsewhere.

"Should the Mac Pro fail, just unplug it and plug in a spare Thunderbolt-equipped machine - storage and accelerator cards will still be available to it. Some people might not even need to bother with a new Mac Pro, and will plug in a Macbook Pro."

Thing is that you could do all this if they had kept the same case type. Plus having all the options of internal expansion for those that want this.

The point about noise makes sense, and I know there are some people who are currently lugging Mac Pros around to locations who are drooling over the new case. But I find it hard to believe that there are enough of them to make up for what is lost:

*The ability to mount 4 (or more if you use the optical bays) internal hard drives - which for many users provides more than enough storage without expensive external arrays.

*A standard size graphics card. Its hard enough to get manufacturers to make third party graphics cards when they only have to write special firmware. If they have to design a special form factor then that is going to make upgrades much less likely.

*8 RAM sockets. It looks like the machines will max out at 128GB RAM, but with only 4 sockets that means using 32GB modules. Going to be a while before you can do that for less than you paid for the machine.

*PCIe slots that don't require you to buy a Thunderbolt chassis.

Apart from portability and less noise - which are important but niche requirements - the only thing you seem to get in exchange is a cool look. Which seems an odd exchange for a Pro machine to make.

For the record I'm a long way for being in the market for a Mac Pro myself, but I do work with the hardware and users a lot - though mostly at the freelancer/micro-company level.

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Meh

Re: it's a chimney

>>> You certainly wouldn't get better performance from internal cards ...

Thunderbolt 2: 20Gbit/s (bit, not byte).

PCI Express 3: 985 MB/s (byte, not bit) per lane

A modern 16 lane PCI Express 3 card has approximately 6 times the throughput (123 GBit/s). Although not yet formalised, PCIe 4 is twice as fast as PCIe 3.

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Thumb Up

Re: it's a chimney

Complete with warmed cup holder insert in the top.

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Re: it's a chimney

>>> You certainly wouldn't get better performance from internal cards ...

Is a statement about the external cards, not the bus they are connected to... though thank you for giving us the numbers because they have been confused by some people!

I'm not sure what external card would saturate the Thunderbolt 2... Rendering stuff doesn't saturate IO, because it takes much longer to render than it does to output the results. People have been using 4K transcoder cards with Thunderbolt cheerfully enough already. There is a limit to how many times faster than real-time you need to be able to shunt video around... if you can get it off your RAID very quickly at will, it kind of negates the need to bulk transfer into your machine to edit it.

Having the expensive expansion cards housed externally means they can be shared between workstations, or even taken on the road for site work with a Macbook - so a useful resource isn't tied down to one user's desk.

An external enclosure means that RAID storage can be accessed very quickly locally by Thunderbolt, but also be available to colleagues (more slowly) over LAN without your Mac having to be turned on.

Having stuff housed externally means that the Mac's PSU doesn't have to be over-specified.

Making the Mac Pro smaller and out of less material will allow it to be cheaper than the old design with the same components- savings you can use to buy enclosures. You'll still likely be left with more free desk space than at present, too.

However, for all that, I'd wait for reports of how it performs in the real-world.

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Re: it's a chimney

"There is a limit to how many times faster than real-time you need to be able to shunt video around... if you can get it off your RAID very quickly at will, it kind of negates the need to bulk transfer into your machine to edit it."

I'm assuming you mean local raid i.e. G-RAID rather than networked servers? For server, if you use the ethernet ports you are limited to a theoretical 250MB/s if you can combine them. That's slower than a bog-standard SSD. Fast local storage is necessary unless you are using a render farm.

Check out Chase Jarvis' site for info on how an industry pro is doing it - copy local, edit, copy back to server, backup.

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Re: it's a chimney

>I'm assuming you mean local raid i.e. G-RAID rather than networked servers?

Yeah, a Thunderbolt RAID setup, as made by G-Technology and others, not a NAS!

>Check out Chase Jarvis' site

Cheers, a good video. Good to see they are taking no chances with their data!

They have one RED camera, which the output of which they merely back-up in the field, waiting until they get back to the studio for the processing. The HD footage they back up, and start to process in the field. People are starting to use the RED transcoder card in Thunderbolt enclosures when on site.

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Trollface

And if you bored with it...

It doubles up as a handy Wine Cooler...

http://www.maxwellandwilliams.co.uk/store/GZ0150-mw-bar-double-wall-wine-cooler-20cm/

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Re: And if you bored with it...

Who knew the new Mac Pro could make such a good wang-coffin....

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Re: And if you bored with it...

"wang-coffin" - I've not heard that phrase before, but it immediately put me in mind of a currently popular TV series. That, and John Bobbit- though his wife didn't use a container and threw it out of a car window.

Is a term you need to use regularly? : D

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Re: And if you bored with it...

watch futurama.. you'll get it.. the bigfoot episode

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Facepalm

Re: And if you bored with it...

I feel ashamed that my Futurama knowledge has been exposed as deficient. I shall have to rectify that soon! Cheers!

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Uh oh..

I wonder how long it takes before some people want a grid for it because it gets mistaken for a bin :)

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Re: Uh oh..

What it needs is a proximity sensor, so when it detects a scrunched up piece of paper heading its way it whacks the fan up to 'turbo mode' to deflect it.

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A true Apple design

With such an odd case, I see no way they could fit ordinary PCI-e cards in there, or 3.5" bays. Optical drive maybe, but even that'd have to be an ultra-small custom part. So basically no options for after-purchase upgrades, and if you want more storage you'll have to fork up Apple store prices when you purchase it. I doubt you'll be able to replace the graphics hardware - it's probably built into the mainboard to save space.

I'm surprised they left the memory slots alone, and didn't just solder the RAM directly to the board.

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Re: A true Apple design

They are PCIe cards, but with a custom shape... nVidia or AMD may release compatible cards for it down in future. However, extra storage and PCIe ( 4K video transcoder, RAID, audio, graphics) cards can be added through the 3 Thunderbolt 2 controllers.

Video production is often fast moving - you want to shunt raw video onto the machine for editing, and then get the the result off it again for distribution, archiving and redundant storage.

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jai
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Re: A true Apple design

I see no way they could fit ordinary PCI-e cards in there

and that's not their intention either. He said in the presentation that "all expansion is external"

at least these days external expansion is viable. back in the days of the Cube all you could really do was put an external drive on it.

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Re: A true Apple design

That one one of the issues with the G4 Cube, though 3rd parties tried to remedy it.

Another issue with the Cube was that being flat and fanless, its top made an inviting surface on which to place pieces of paper, with less than ideal thermal consequences.

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Happy

Re: A true Apple design

Does anyone bother to do a little research before spouting off?

With the exception of user serviceable RAM (4 slots) or the PCI-e Flash storage (1 slot) all of the expansion is external via Thunderbolt 2 (6 ports for a total of 36 devices) and USB 3.

A number of third parties already offer RAM, PCI-e cards and Thunderbolt PCI-e breakout boxes for the MacBook Pros, so it's safe to assume this will be true for the MacPro.

Keep in mind that "Thunderbolt 2" is 20/gbps or 2.5 GB per second or x4 the speed of USB 3 bus. That should be more than sufficient for any external storage needs or an enterprise class RAID.

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Cost

Anyone got any idea on the cost of these as I've heard conflicting reports?

I presume some new displays will be brought out at the same time as these. So the cost for this and a single display - going to be a lot isn't it?!

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Re: Cost

People have been making estimates based on the cost of the AMD cards, the RAM and the Xeon chippery... but compared to the price of the kit you will likely be using with it (as you say, the displays, plus accelerator cards, RAID storage, cameras, etc) it will probably look quite reasonable.

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Gimp

Re: Cost

I don't think it really matters what you estimate.

At the end of the day, *all* of the prices will be in the "Are you sitting down for this one, sir?" territory.

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Re: Cost

"If you have to ask, you can't afford it" would be the best analogy.

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Re: Cost

""If you have to ask, you can't afford it" would be the best analogy."

I think it's more a case that if you're asking you probably won't get one. These are not aimed at people buying with their own funds but rather people that need the power they offer in the form factor they offer and are happy to pay for it. Same for the Apple displays, people buy them because they are good not because they are pretty.

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The cylindrical design seems to be Ive making a statement, since Jobs was obsessed with cubes.

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It reminds me of something else

The deskinned picture reminds me of those public loos where the door opens half way through.

Perhaps where they had the idea.

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LPF

I want one...

It looks the dogs doodahs, how soon before a tribute to it starts getting manufactured by PC OEM's

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Happy

Re: I want one...

There will be a PC version on goodluckbuy or alibaba next week. Probably.

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Happy

Names...

..so it's a cross between R2D2 and a G4 Cube.

R2Cube2?

C(ube)2D2?

G4C2?

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Daft design...

Apart from looking like the bass-bin from the boot of some hoody's Vauxhall Corsa, I suspect they've been so busy trying to make it look "Ahhhh", that they've repeated the cube's design flaw.

Namely that if you put anything on the top (like any of the expansions, tethered via the expensive thunderbolt cables), it'll over heat!

The old Mac Pro was a very nicely put together piece of kit, practical to work on inside, with great expansion potential (although the lack of Sata3 and OSX's terrible support for non-Apple branded video cards was/is damn annoying).

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