Bonnie Cha

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Apple Previews New Mac Pro With Cylindrical Design, Double the Power

Calling last year’s Apple Mac Pro an upgrade is being pretty generous. Aside from a slight bump in processor speed and built-in RAM, there wasn’t much new about the desktop PC. But Apple CEO Tim Cook tried to smooth ruffled feathers by saying that the company was “working on something really great” in 2013.

Well, we got our first glimpse of what Apple’s been working on, and it was a showstopper.

Apple’s Phil Schiller gave WWDC attendees a sneak peek at the new Mac Pro, and gone is the large, industrial tower (which was often compared to a cheese grater) and in its place is a sleek, black cynlindrical device that’s one-eighth of the volume of the current model.

“Like with the MacBook Air, our engineering team has thought about the technology today and what would be possible with a new Mac desktop,” Schiller said. “It is a Mac unlike any we’ve ever made,” he added later.

Built around a new thermal core, inside the machine is a 12-core Intel Xeon processor, which offers double the CPU power of the prior model. Rather than a hard drive, the new Mac Pro uses high-speed flash memory, and it’s the first Mac to come with dual AMD FirePro GPUs for 2.5 times the graphics performance of its predecessor.

The Mac Pro is also be equipped with six Thunderbolt 2 ports for faster transfer speeds (20 Gibabits per second, to be exact), and can be used with super-high-definition 4K displays out of the box. Apple made no mention of an optical drive, but other connections include four USB 3.0 ports and two Ethernet jacks. More of a whizz-bang feature than anything, when the computer senses that you’re turning it around to access the ports, it will automatically illuminate them, so you can more easily plug in cables.

Though the Mac Pro is still aimed at professionals rather than consumers, the unique design of the computer is sure to draw the curiosity of many. Apple has come under some criticism lately for not coming out with anything new or innovative in the post-Jobs era, and to silence the critics, Schiller said, “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.”

Earlier in the keynote, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “For us, it’s never been about making the most. We care more that the Mac is number one in customer satisfaction and quality.”

He noted that the MacBook is the number one notebook in the U.S., and said in the last five years Mac has been growing 15 percent per year, compared to an average of three percent a year for the PC market.

Assembled in the U.S., the Mac Pro will be available later this year, but pricing was not announced at this time.


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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”