It looks like Apple could be announcing new Mac models for the majority of their line at the upcoming WWDC, which starts Monday June 11th with a keynote by Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Personally, I’m really excited to see a new Mac Pro, as I’ve written here before. This is a much needed machine in the Pro community. If it is in fact a reality, the next big questions will be:
Form factor – after the discontinuation of the Xserve, rumors pointed to a new Mac Pro that could be rack mounted. That would be helpful in a few installs I’ve done. Personally, I’m still a huge fan of the current enclosure. If they didn’t update it at all, I wouldn’t care. Like the shape of the Porsche 911, it’s a classic. I’m not one of those who thinks it looks old and tired.
Thunderbolt – the tough thing is Thunderbolt needs to be implemented on the motherboard, but since it can also send display signals, it needs to route through the graphics card somehow. Apple could go with separate ports, but that could confuse end users. It’s already confusing enough that Apple sells both a Thunderbolt monitor and a mini Display Port monitor for the same price, with a similar connector, but only work with certain computers.
eSATA and USB 3.0 – rumors for the laptops point to USB 3.0, but no rumor has mentioned eSATA on any Mac. Too bad. With the Mac Pro, I’d like to be able to use eSATA without needing to occupy a PCIe slot. But a cheap Thunderbolt to eSATA connector (or hub) could replace this fairly easily.
PCIe slots – will Apple upgrade to PCI 3.0 and how many slots will there be? Expansion units are expensive and I’d like to not have to go that route. A big driver of the Pro movement to Windows PCs has been the expanded number of PCIe slots available in the larger towers. I’d like to see same number of slots or more, but a switch to a smaller form factor could limit the number of slots. There’s also been rumors of a Mac “X” with a single slot (for a graphics card) and Thunderbolt to replace the rest of the slots. This would be a huge step backwards as Thunderbolt is only 4 lanes and the current Mac Pro has a total of 40 lanes over its 4 slots. (slots 1 & 2 – 16x, slots 3 & 4 – 4x)
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion – I hope the new Mac Pros don’t require Mountain Lion. It could take awhile before the Pro app developers update their software for it. OS X 10.7 Lion is still buggy for many Pros. I’ve been very slow in upgrading. In fact, I’m only upgrading because of MobileMe support ending this month. But that’s a rant for another post.