The day after the announcement of the new Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR, we take another look at both new products and report the new information and new third party products for each.
By now, we are sure that you are more than aware of the new hardware announcements from Apple at WWDC 2019. We published a first look at the new Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR yesterday right after the Keynote.
24 hours on and we have new information on both to share.
It has been named the cheese grater by some, who maybe never owned an 'original cheese grater' 5.1 Mac Pro. But why the pattern?
As we know from previous Macs, thermal management is very important to stop CPUs throttling their speed. The hole pattern on the Mac Pro has been made by machining the front and the back areas of the end panels. This produces the stepped 'cheese grater' pattern that actually lets in more air through the unit than if it just had simple plain holes.
The design also started two years ago from a blank piece of paper, not a relook at the 5.1 Mac Pro as some people have suggested. Design, flexibility and modularity were the keywords.
The Afterburner accelerator module was originally designed for one purpose, to process ProRes RAW footage, taking the decode/encode strain off the GPUs so they can concentrate on image processing/rendering and of course supporting the GUI. The goal was to eliminate the need for proxies. Afterburner is made up of reprogrammable chips which brings us nicely on to the reaction from the industry to the Mac Pro.
“Apple’s new hardware will bring a mind-blowing level of performance to Metal-accelerated, proxy-free R3D workflows in Final Cut Pro X that editors truly have never seen before. We are very excited to bring a Metal-optimized version of R3D in September.” — Jarred Land, president, Red Digital Cinema
The old argument that Apple has failed to support Nvidia cards is going away. Not only will RED support the new machine and/or Afterburner, take a look at the industry comments that have been released.
One of the other arguments for Nvidia cards was the renderer Redshift. Maxon has announced that they should have an optimised version by the end of the year for the Mac Pro. They were lucky to get early access to a machine and have never seen performance like it. Metal looks like it will be the most important API for image processing in the future. We can see why.
If that hasn't quashed your desire for an Nvidia card, they can be installed in the Mac Pro, but will only run under Bootcamp.
Although we can see a lot of users connecting via 10GigE, installing extra connectivity such as fibre channel won't be a problem with a PCI card installed. GBIC or SFP, it's now your choice and that means you can connect with existing network topology. The whole of the video editing demo room (the area we took the photos in yesterday) was connected via fibre channel.
Why did Apple put a 1.4 kW power supply in? Because it is the largest power supply they could get in, that a single 13 amp cable can supply without tripping a breaker. If you max the box out, it is going to be like having a kettle on permanently!
On the form factor, a rack mount variant was announced, but one for the OB companies here, the tower version will also fit into a 19 inch rack. You won't be able to screw it in though! It also means (just like the 6.1 trashcan) that the Mac Pro is qualified to work on its side.
We really like the dual sided logic board, which makes tasks like adding RAM very easy as the slots are on the case side. One problem we can see however is the need to remove all the cables before lifting the lid off. The 6.1 trashcan Mac Pro was the same, but surely a switch that wouldn't allow the machine to run with the cover off could have been easier? Constant plugging and unplugging isn't fast, there is a risk of mixing cables up and there is also the problem of wear on sensitive connectors.
We really like the MPX (Mac Pro Expansion) modules. Interesting looking at the Mac Pro page, it quotes benchmark tests of a pre-release version of Final Cut Pro X running on a Mac Pro with Dual Radeon Pro Vega II with Infinity Fabric Link. Add another MPX unit and you will have four GPUs running in the box. As long as FCPX can address them all, (we are pretty sure multiple GPU support is there) this will render & export projects fast. Very fast.
Although a new version of FCPX wasn't released, that pre-release version has popped up on demo machines and Apple product images.
Kudos to Charles Coleman over on the FCPX Facebook page for spotting the new colour mask features in the Inspector.
We also have news of the first third-party 'modules' for the Mac Pro. Although not in the Keynote, we saw one of the first available, an internal RAID for the Mac Pro and yes it was in the same matte-black finish as the Apple modules.
Pegasus R4i: 4-bay PCIe RAID Storage for the new Mac Pro (Up to 32TB)
- Elegant and rugged chassis designed uniquely to fit into the new Mac Pro’s PCIe slot
- Four swappable modules with 8TB 7200rpm SATA HDDs- pre-formatted and pre-installed
- Best-in-class Pegasus hardware RAID5 for an optimal combination of performance, capacity and redundancy
- Use the latest Promise Pegasus Utility for simple-to-use but powerful storage management and monitoring
Promise Pegasus J2i: 2-bay Internal Storage Enclosure for the new Mac Pro
- One 8TB 7200 rpm SATA HDD pre-installed, pre-formatted
- Bay for an optional additional HDD (to be installed by customers)
- Custom internal cable assembly
No word on the price for either of the products yet. We expect to see a lot more custom modules for the Mac Pro in the future, hopefully multiple SSD variants.
The demo footage looked amazing. It was of course 8K ProRes RAW from the new Canon camera we showed yesterday. The Atmos unit used was the new Neon 8K that recorded the output from the Canon. You will need to connect them together with 4 x 12G-SDI cables!
“We love delivering innovative, disruptive solutions for today’s progressive filmmakers and creators who demand high quality content. And to that end, we’ve once again collaborated with camera and computer ecosystem partners to deliver ProRes RAW at 8K resolution, which is built for the amazing new Mac Pro.” Said Jeromy Young, Atomos CEO.
We will watch Atomos with interest as 8K ProRes RAW could be very disruptive for the film industry.
If you need a quick roundup of the Mac Pro news from WWDC, take a look at Patrick Southern's 11 minute YouTube review. Some of the B-roll shots might look familiar!
Pro Display XDR
In many ways, this might be more of a 'game changer' than the new Mac Pro. Why? Because there are no monitors out there that can compete on the image quality or price.
The Pro Display XDR blows away the competition when viewed side by side with its competitors. Forget the HDR offering of the likes of Dell, the only monitor that comes close is a Sony BVM that sells at $43,000. Even that struggles with the blacks in HDR. With 1,600 nits of peak brightness and an amazing 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, make sure you test out one of these before buying a monitor, especially if you do HDR. When displaying normal dynamic range video, the monitor has an output of 500 nits.
Traditionally because these monitors have been so expensive, facilities could only afford one, which would probably sit in the grader's suite. Now as the Pro Display XDR is priced $4,999, everyone in the production chain can have one and monitor the footage correctly.
We also like the nano-texture that reduces reflections, it is a very clever use of technology. On viewing two monitors, one with the texture and one without, the difference is easy to see. Gone are the reflections that have compromised previous flat screens. Also the advanced polariser gives the displays a large viewing angle. The monitors from other manufactures have noticeable warming of colours and a large light drop-off at similar angles. Remember, they are 4K as well, not the 6K 6016 x 3384 from Apple.
We can't talk about the display without mentioning the Pro stand. If you want that anglepoise functionality (including rotating the screen) then yes, you will need the pro stand. Or of course, you can buy the $200 VESA adaptor and connect it to your own desktop or wall monitor mountings.
Also yesterday, although it got a bit buried in the Mac Pro news, Blackmagic announced a Teranex SDI to 8K HDR Display Port converter.
We would imagine a lot of Pro Display XDRs will be connected with a single Thunderbolt cable to Mac Pros. If you want to view other 8K HDR sources, then this new box from Blackmagic will do the conversion.
"We are excited to announce the new Teranex Mini SDI to DisplayPort 8K HDR for customers working with the new Pro Display XDR," said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. "It provides advanced HDR and color critical monitoring features such as built in scopes, 33 point 3D LUT support, automatic probe based calibration and native 8K for the latest customer workflows!"
- Includes support for HDR via SDI and DisplayPort.
- 2 built in scopes live overlaid on monitor.
- Film industry quality 33 point 3D LUTs.
- Supports automatic monitor calibration using color probes.
- Advanced Quad Link 12G-SDI inputs for 8K.
- Scales input video to the native monitor resolution.
- Includes LCD for monitoring and menu settings.
- Utility software included for Mac and Windows.
- Supports latest 8K DisplayPort monitors and displays.
- Can be used on a desktop or rack mounted.
That's it for out time at WWDC. It has been busy, but we have seen the launch of some amazing products from Apple with major commitments and products from third parties.
It looks like the next six months will be very interesting. However, it is now time for some sleep!