When Daring Fireball’s John Gruber sat down with Apple’s head of software engineering Craig Federighi, head of hardware engineering John Ternus, head of AR/VR Mike Rockwell, and head of marketing Greg Joswiak to discuss the WWDC 2023 announcements, an intriguing tidbit emerged about the Mac Pro 2023.
MacRumors noted that John Termus explained why Apple has no plans to include support for an external GPU or graphics card.
“We’ve basically built our architecture around this shared memory model and this optimization, so it’s not entirely clear to me how to bring in another GPU and do it in a way that’s optimized for our systems,” said Ternus Grubera. “It wasn’t the direction we wanted to go.”
In other words, don’t expect GPU support in Apple Silicon for the foreseeable future, which might annoy anyone planning to use an Nvidia card and CUDA for ML (Machine Learning) training, for example. It’s hard not to notice Apple’s veiled attempt to slowly kill the Mac Pro, pushing it into planned obsolescence along the same path taken long ago by Xserve, Apple’s series of dedicated servers.
As I mentioned in mine Latest Mac Pro reviewin announcing this, Apple proudly dedicated its $2,000 accelerator card Now every Mac Pro has the performance of not one but seven built-in Afterburner cards. Why buy $14,000 hardware when a $3,999 workstation can do the same job? (ed.: One thing is for sure: Mac Studio will probably be one of the best workstations)
What about memory?
Neither Termus nor anyone present on June 7 talked about other major limitations Mac Pro users face; maximum amount of shared, non-expandable memory 192 GB. This is a fraction of what the previous generation Mac Pro (1.5TB) offered, and something that will impact the margins of current Mac Pro users. When we asked popular Mac software developer Affinity if 192GB would be a problem for their apps (creative tools), they said no.
192 GB should be enough to work in applications 👍June 9, 2023
However, as a company, Apple serves the majority of users and only a vocal minority will point out the shortcomings of its new offerings. Its hardware platform is quickly moving away from the traditional setup of what a desktop should look like; integrated, mobile-centric computing excels, and anything with a modicum of modularity is thrown out the window. It’s not like Apple was shy about it; This Video from WWDC 2020 explained that this is what the future will look like “Building everything on one chip gives the system a unified memory architecture.”
The combination of integrated everything and proprietary software stack gives Apple an inherent advantage in terms of both implementation, sheer performance and value for money that no one will be able to match.