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Apple Hardware

Apple's New Mac Pro Gets High Repairability Score 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the less-filling-tastes-great dept.
iFixit has posted a teardown of Apple's new soda-can-shaped Mac Pro. Despite the unusual form factor, it earned a relatively high repairability score: 8/10. iFixit said, "For being so compact, the design is surprisingly modular and easy to disassemble. Non-proprietary Torx screws are used throughout, and several components can be replaced independently." They say it's easy to access the fan and the RAM slots, and while the CPU is buried a bit more deeply, it's still user-replaceable. The Mac Pro doesn't get higher than an 8 because its uses some proprietary connectors and the cable routing is cramped. They add, "There is no room, or available port, for adding your own internal storage. Apple has addressed this with heaps of Thunderbolt, but we'd personally rather use the more widely compatible SATA if we could."
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Apple's New Mac Pro Gets High Repairability Score

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  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:15PM (#45831493)

    Still like to have more then 1 port in side the system and 1TB max is not really that much and the 256 GB base is a joke for an pro system.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:44PM (#45831735)

    From the presence of a PLX chip, it seems they're having to split PCIe lanes.

    The Xeon E5-1620 has forty PCIe lanes. Give sixteen to each FirePro card, and you're left with only eight for Thunderbolt and the flash memory. Each Thunderbolt channel uses at least two lanes (they provide four lanes of PCIe 2.0, which is the bandwidth of two lanes of 3.0), so if we assume each port is on its own channel, that's at least twelve lanes. And the SSD is probably using either four or eight lanes as well.

    So now not only do we have to figure out how many Thunderbolt buses there are, but we have to figure out how the PCIe lanes are being switched. It could be that heavy Thunderbolt traffic will slow traffic to the graphics cards and/or flash drive, which is a very, very weird symptom. From the positioning I think it more likely that all the TB controllers are being switched, maybe with whatever other PCIe devices are on the I/O board, but I can't say for sure.

  • by AC-x (735297) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:45PM (#45831745)

    This isn't 1994 - the things generally don't die

    Lithium-ion batters have a limited lifespan and will lose their capacity. With almost all other laptops it's incredibly cheap and easy to fix, on the MacBook Pro the batteries are glued to the inside of the case! There's literally no legitimate reason for Apple to do that.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @04:00PM (#45831865) Homepage

    Except that I have a 512 GB SSD on my current MacPro - which is about 3/4 full of programs and support files. The scratch disk is a 128 GB SSD. Everything else is enormous gobs of spinning glass. I'd consider the trash can (after Rev 2 of course, never buy Rev 1 hardware from anyone, much less Apple), but I'd probably spring for the 1 TB SSD since you have to have the option to have a separate scratch disk. And yes, theoretically, if you have enough RAM you don't need a scratch disk, but various Adobe products haven't quite figured that out.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @04:08PM (#45831941)
    The same reason why rack servers don't have a lot of USB ports. The Mac Pro is not a desktop. It is not a Mac mini. People who are using a Mac Pro will be working on large files stored on a SAN or TB enclosures because 1TB will not be enough. So Apple decided not to bother with make the Mac Pro larger to accommodate a feature that few of the intended market will use. If you need a small network file server, Apple makes the Mac mini server. This machine is intended for pros to edit 4K video, not a file server.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:36PM (#45832669) Journal

    And yes, theoretically, if you have enough RAM you don't need a scratch disk, but various Adobe products haven't quite figured that out.

    diskutil erasevolume HFS+ "ramdisk" `hdiutil attach -nomount ram://8388608`

    -jcr

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @07:29PM (#45833429) Journal

    I'll grant you limited choice in video cards, but otherwise, personally, I think you're putting too much emphasis on legacy hardware whose importance is waning.

    Standard-sized PCIe as a physical card architecture (as opposed to an internal bus architecture) is basically dead and buried already. With the exception of flash storage, almost nothing uses PCIe cards anymore, even in the pro audio and video space. Everything is external, because external peripherals are easier to deal with—easier to install, easier to replace when they fail, etc. Of course, for the few people who do still need PCIe, you can use a Thunderbolt 2 PCIe chassis, so long as you don't need anything faster than x4 PCIe 2.0 speeds. That pretty much covers 99.999% of non-graphics-card use of PCIe.

    And SATA is dog slow compared with Thunderbolt. A single Thunderbolt 2 port is fast enough to hang three of the fastest 6 Gbps SATA drives off of it and still have enough spare bandwidth to handle a half-speed (S200) FireWire device on top of that, all without performance degradation. As a result, there are already Thunderbolt to SATA adapters that run at full SATA speeds, and lots of manufacturers also make RAID enclosures that let you stick several SATA drives on a Thunderbolt bus, with big performance wins over USB-, FireWire-, or SATA-based RAID enclosures.

    Of course, in the long run, it seems likely that storage will move towards direct PCIe flash storage (like the internal storage in the Mac Pro) because it is much faster than SATA is currently capable of supporting, because flash is much faster than hard drives, and because in a Thunderbolt world, SATA is an unnecessary bit of protocol bloat that can only reduce performance, not improve it. When flash becomes cheap enough, SATA will likely fade into obsolescence, though for folks who need lots and lots of storage in the short term, that isn't the case yet, hence the RAID enclosures.

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