Mac Pro — Small Package, Big Price
Since the introduction of the Power Mac G5 in 2003, Apple has been using essentially the same huge (approx. 20 x 8 x 19 in, or 51 x 20. 5 x 47. 5 cm),
rectangular aluminum case. Desktop Macs have also been almost ridiculously heavy.
The 2012 Mac Pro 12-core model, for example, tipped in at nearly 40 lb ( 18 kg).
All that changed last year.
The late 2013 12-core machine is cylindrical, with a height of 9.9 in ( 25 cm)
and a diameter of 6. 6 in ( 16. 7 cm); its weight has been reduced to just 11 lb ( 5 kg).
Opinions are mixed about its appearance (which is not as dark as it looks in
publicity photos), but it does look like something that you would want to keep on
the desktop instead of parking under your desk.
The size reduction is accomplished in a way that any given user may or may
not appreciate. The old units had lots of space inside for hard drives, optical drives,
and a bunch of expansion cards, but the new design is geared more for external
expansion via connectors and ports. The rear panel provides four USB 3.0 and six
Thunderbolt 2 ports, plus dual gigabit Ethernet and an HDMI 1.4 UltraHD
connection. And, of course, there is wireless access via 802.11AC and Bluetooth
4.0. It also saves space by eliminating the use of mechanical hard drives, instead
providing up to 1 TB of PCIe-based Flash storage.
In terms of processing power, you can choose the paltry pair of 3. 7 GHz
quad-core Xeon E5s or max it out with twin 2. 7 GHz six-core processors. It can be
configured with up to 64 GB of DDR3 RAM. Apple says that will give you up to 7 Tflops of performance,
compared to a measly 2. 7 Tflops in the previous models.
Here's the nitty gritty. Mac Pros have never been for the budget-minded, and that hasn't changed. The eight-core
machine starts at $2,999 and the 12-core one at $3,999. If you max out the RAM, Flash storage, and graphics, you're
staring at $9,599, and that doesn't even include a mouse or keyboard. And, you really need to think about the Sharp 32 in
4K display ($3,595), right? But, hey. You don't really need that new car, do you? Details at www.apple.com/mac-pro. ▲
EVENTS, ADVANCES, AND NEWS
■ Mac Pro with covers off,
March 2014 9
COMPUTERS and NETWORKING
Faster, Cheaper SSD
If you're looking for a storage upgrade, you may be pondering the choice between a new hard drive and a
solid-state drive. The SSD has lots of advantages, such as
faster bootup, less power draw, no moving parts, and so
on. However, they have one big disadvantage: price. You
can pick up a 1 TB Seagate HDD for about $120,
The 840 EVO is built on Samsung's 128 Gb NAND
Flash memory, and the company has produced a 1 TB
version by packing in four Flash memory packages —
each with 16 layers of memory chips. What often
separates a top-notch SSD from a mediocre one is the
controller technology, and this one uses the company's
fifth-gen MEX 5 multicore controller which runs at
400 MHz — a third faster than the previous generation.
This gives you read/write speeds of 540/520 MB/s. That
compares nicely to the Seagate's maximum sustained
transfer rate of 175 MB/s.
You'll still have to shell out some bucks, but as of this
writing, at least one online vendor is offering the 1 TB
version for $529. You can save money by scaling back to
750 GB ($429), 500 GB ($309), or even 250 GB
840 EVO SSDs