Apple Announces Redesigned Mac Pro and Incredible Pro Display XDR

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WWDC is arguably Apple's biggest event of the year, although it focuses mostly on software. This year, all eyes were on Apple to launch its promised redesign of the Mac Pro, and Apple has delivered. Professionals have been asking for a long list of features, although all of them center on two things: modularity and power. Both of these are the focus of the latest Mac Pro. That is not the only pro device being launched today—the 32" Pro Display XDR makes an appearance and with its stated feature set—including a Retina 6K resolution and Extreme Dynamic Range—it promises to be the best pro-oriented display on the market. And one more thing: macOS 10.15 Catalina is on its way with a host of changes.

The Mac Pro We Always Wanted

After the interesting cylindrical Mac Pro was released—an intriguing, if weird, design choice—pros found there was a limit to the fixed design. Pros started asking for more, and Apple deserves much credit for listening and learning from its pro users and releasing the 2019 Mac Pro. Completely redesigned, yet reminiscent of the last classic aluminum Mac Pro towers of years past, this brand-new workstation offers unmatched power, excellent expansion, and some exclusive technology that pushes the limits even further.

To quote Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, the Mac Pro was designed "for users who require a modular system with extreme performance, expansion, and configurability." I think Apple has nailed it here. The 2019 Mac Pro can max out with a 28-core Xeon processor, 64 PCI Express lanes, and a dedicated 300W of power alongside reimagined thermal architecture to keep the processor sprinting at full speed indefinitely. Processing alone won't get you there, so the six-channel memory architecture with 12 physical DIMM slots able to support 1.5TB of memory will help handle extremely large data sets and multiple pro apps with ease. There are also eight PCI Express expansion slots for customizing the system for exact professional situations.

Pros working with imagery or 3D applications will be looking to graphics next, and the Mac Pro can deliver up to 56 teraflops of performance in a single tower. It uses the new MPX Module with Thunderbolt™ integration and greater than 500W of power for expanding the graphics setup. For specifics, the base Mac Pro comes with an AMD Radeon Pro 580X, though the Mac Pro will debut the Radeon Pro Vega II for pros who need more as this graphics chip offers 32GB of memory and 1TB/s of bandwidth. Want to double that? Then the Radeon Pro Vega II Duo will do the trick. Believe it or not, Apple saw that it was possible to add even more, by supporting two MPX Modules so that two Vega II Duos can be used simultaneously to max out the Mac Pro's graphics at 56 teraflops and 128GB of memory.

Newly developed for the Mac Pro is the Afterburner, a programmable ASIC that can decode up to 6.3 billion pixels each second. Video editors will love this because it can now decode native formats in real time, with ease. Per Apple, this will allow for up to three streams of 8K ProRes RAW or 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW in real time—no more need for proxies. The Mac has long been a staple of the video editor's toolbox and, with the latest advancements made here, it is easy to see it again reigning supreme in plenty of edit bays.

Modularity is key for pros who want to buy a machine and then upgrade or enhance it as their workflows and demands change. The 2019 Mac Pro brings back the classic tower form factor, but elevates it with the latest in design. The stainless-steel frame features an aluminum housing that lifts clean off for 360° access to the components. A lattice pattern helps maximize airflow along with a redesigned cooling system that, in normal use, is just as quiet as an iMac Pro.

Beyond the pure power of the Mac Pro, Apple has announced that plenty of third-party support is coming. This includes the likes of Blackmagic Design, RED, Avid, and Maxon Cinema 4D. Blackmagic will have full CPU and multi-GPU acceleration for working in real time with 8K video, as well as bringing in effects and color correction on top of it with demanding ProRes 4444 footage. Avid will support up to six HDX cards, making it possible to have more IO, voices, and double the processing of any other machine. And, Maxon is getting 20% faster GPU rendering than comparable Windows workstations using three (three!) NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000 cards. The Mac Pro is truly a machine for professionals.

A Pro Display Worthy of a Pro Machine

Display technology has changed dramatically in the past decade. So, Apple stepped up with the Pro Display XDR. Large and in charge is the best way to describe this class-leading display. It has a huge 32" Retina 6K screen, true 10-bit color with P3 wide gamut support, a peak brightness of 1,600 nits, and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. All of this together makes the Pro Display XDR the display to beat.

 

A 6016 x 3384 resolution gives users over 20 million pixels to work with, providing an ultra-sharp canvas. P3 wide color and true 10-bit support open the door for over 1 billion colors, making this a tool worthy of high-end photography, cinematic editing, color grading, 3D animation, and more. Also, it has an ultra-wide viewing angle and has an anti-reflective coating to minimize glare. A new nano-texture matte option will be available, as well, that will deliver an absolute minimum of reflectivity and glare.

XDR is a slightly unfamiliar term. It means "Extreme Dynamic Range" and represents the display's ability to push beyond the standard that is HDR. A direct backlighting system with 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness makes this Extreme Dynamic Range with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio possible. The aluminum lattice pattern at the rear of the display serves as a heatsink, making it able to maintain the 1,000 nits of full screen brightness for an indefinite period of time.

Edge-to-edge glass with a 9mm border provides a clean, minimal look. Completing the beautiful design is the Pro Stand, and a well-designed arm counterbalances the display for a near-weightless feel. There are, obviously, the standard tilt and height adjustments, as well as the ability to rotate into portrait mode at will. For more standard setups, users can pick up a VESA mount adapter. Additionally, the Pro Display XDR uses Thunderbolt™ 3 for single-cable connectivity. However, if you want multiple displays, the Mac Pro is a clear winner because it can drive up to six displays for a total of 120 million pixels.

macOS Sets Its Sights on Catalina

Among the best things in the rumor mill leading up to WWDC is what the next macOS will be called. Back when it was big cats it was something else, but now Apple has moved, sensibly, to scenic West Coast destinations, and the next one of the ticket is Catalina. A gorgeous new background featuring the island is the first thing you'll see in macOS 10.15, along with tons of improvements for all types of users.

First, we need to say a fond farewell to iTunes. The long-lived software has finally grown too big and is now being replaced with purpose-built applications that will provide streamlined access to your favorite entertainment. The new group of apps includes Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV, each with its own distinct advantages and improvements. Don't worry, syncing of your iPhone is now integrating directly into the sidebar of Finder, providing a direct approach that no longer auto-launches iTunes every time you want to plug in.

So what upgrades are in store for the latest trio of entertainment apps? Apple Music promises fast performance, and will host your entire music library, whether that comes from streaming, iTunes purchases, or ripping them from your personal CD collection. Apple TV is a better way to find and watch TV and movies. It even supports 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos natively—as long as you have a display and sound system to keep up. Smart recommendations of what to watch next and the upcoming Apple TV+ service will make this a must visit app. Finally, the Apple Podcasts app now gives podcasts the recognition they deserve. Users can now be notified of new episodes and has new categories, curated collections, and advanced search tools that will make it easier than ever to find new shows.

An exciting new feature, especially for creatives fond of tablets, is Sidecar. This allows an iPad to be set up as an extended display for your Mac. It works wired or wirelessly and even supports Apple Pencil for true stylus input on your favorite Mac apps. You can now load up Final Cut Pro X and use the Apple Pencil as a stylus for cutting and managing your tracks or open up Adobe Illustrator and doodle or tweak your latest masterpiece.

Quality-of-life improvements are always welcome, and Apple always makes sure to include everyone with major Accessibility changes. Voice Control allows for all operation of the Mac to be handled via Siri speech recognition technology. Labels and grids then help users interact with practically any app and, since all processing happens on the device, it is very secure. This function will be available on iOS and iPadOS, as well.

Speaking of security, Gatekeeper will now check all apps for security issues and new data protections will require apps to get permission before accessing your documents. All Macs with the T2 Security Chip now offer Activation Lock, making it nearly impossible for would-be thieves to boot up or access the device. Screen Time also makes its way over to Mac.

Project Catalyst is a new tool for developers that will allow for easier porting of iOS and iPad apps over to macOS. This means that plenty of your favorite mobile apps will soon find their way to your desktop. Other changes include an updated browsing experience for Photos, a new start page for Safari, the ability to block email from a specific sender in Mail, a Gallery View in Notes, and a redesign Reminders interface, along with numerous other changes.

There is a ton to unpack here, in regard to Mac, and professionals should be pleased with what Apple is doing for them with the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR. What do you think off all these releases? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the Comments section, below! Read more news from Apple here.

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