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iMac Apple Hardware Technology

iMac Pro Teardown Highlights Modular RAM, CPU and SSD Along With Redesigned Internals (macrumors.com) 128

Popular repair site iFixit has acquired an iMac Pro and opened it up to see what's inside. They tore down the base iMac Pro with an 8-core processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Mac Rumors reports the findings: iFixit found that the RAM, CPU, and SSDs in the iMac Pro are modular and can potentially be replaced following purchase, but most of the key components "require a full disassembly to replace." Standard 27-inch iMacs have a small hatch in the back that allows easy access to the RAM for post-purchase upgrades, but that's missing in the iMac Pro. Apple has said that iMac Pro owners will need to get RAM replaced at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider. iFixit says that compared to the 5K 27-inch iMac, replacing the RAM in the iMac Pro is indeed "a major undertaking."

Apple is using standard 288-pin DDR4 ECC RAM sticks with standard chips, which iFixit was able to upgrade using its own $2,000 RAM upgrade kit. A CPU upgrade is "theoretically possible," but because Apple uses a custom-made Intel chip, it's not clear if an upgrade is actually feasible. The same goes for the SSDs -- they're modular and removable, but custom made by Apple. Unlike the CPU, the GPU is BGA-soldered into place and cannot be removed. The internals of the iMac Pro are "totally different" from other iMacs, which is unsurprising as Apple said it introduced a new thermal design to accommodate the Xeon-W processors and Radeon Pro Vega GPUs built into the machines. The new thermal design includes an "enormous" dual-fan cooler, what iFixit says is a "ginormous heat sink," and a "big rear vent."
Overall, iFixit gave the iMac Pro a repairability score of 3/10 since it's difficult to open and tough to get to internal components that might need to be repaired or replaced.
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iMac Pro Teardown Highlights Modular RAM, CPU and SSD Along With Redesigned Internals

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  • by alternative_right ( 4678499 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @08:30PM (#55866263) Homepage Journal

    Yesterday's hardware at tomorrow's prices, just so you can claim you like the kindergarten-level operating system with all the useful internals obscured. And then, it's a walled garden, and you have few hardware options. Just lubricate your anus before you walk into the Apple store, because you will be sodomized financially and spiritually by this runaway virus of a company.

    • It depends on what does actually mean "Apple-customized CPU, SSD". Is the customization worth it?
    • Just lubricate your anus before you walk into the Apple store, because you will be sodomized financially [...] by this [...] company.

      That's a really strange place to keep your wallet.

  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @08:38PM (#55866327)

    Other than probably costing 50 cents per iMac more, what was wrong with the pre-2013 iMacs, where the screen glass was held on with small magnets and the actually LCD was bolted below it?

    Other the mean-spirited customer-hostile design, why glue the LCD on to the case, requiring removal with a pizza roller or knife to fix anything on your own?

    If Apple had spent a tiny bit more per machine, repairability would probably be more like 7 or 8 out of 10.

    • Re:LCD attachment (Score:5, Insightful)

      by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @08:47PM (#55866369)

      Non-reparability is a feature not a bug. It is broken by design, at the direction of management at the highest levels.

      • Non-reparability is a feature not a bug. It is broken by design, at the direction of management at the highest levels.

        Apple just cant help themself, and it will be their undoing.

        FINALLY apple had thrown a bone to the power users who had been stuck with the trashcan macs to handle workstation loads (3d/video production, hardcore audio processing/GIS/etc) , butr decided to kick back at the ONE GODDAMN complaint we had about the trashcans, the lack of upgradability. Sure a wad of glue and shiny might be fine f

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Other than probably costing 50 cents per iMac more, what was wrong with the pre-2013 iMacs, where the screen glass was held on with small magnets and the actually LCD was bolted below it?

      Other the mean-spirited customer-hostile design, why glue the LCD on to the case, requiring removal with a pizza roller or knife to fix anything on your own?

      If Apple had spent a tiny bit more per machine, repairability would probably be more like 7 or 8 out of 10.

      Probably because magnets are insecure? I mean, if they weaken

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @08:38PM (#55866331)

    The CPU may be a bit custom, but I believe the socket is standard.

    The SSD storage chips are defiantly custom, but third parties have produced storage upgrades in the past, and they probably will for the Mac Pro as well.

    Although it doesn't look as easy as opening a door, it didn't seem like opening the iMac itself to switch out RAM looked too difficult - but for now a bunch of RAM is still pretty expensive for the system, no matter how you slice it.

    The fan upgrade is really nice, since the current iMacs will spin up the fans quite a bit on load, where from multiple reviews it sounds like the iMac Pro fans almost never go to full (unless CPU and GPU are both maxed at once for a while).

    It would be nice to know more about how the GPU fares in comparison to other recent GPU's... A big aspect of the GPU upgrade scene that everyone seems to be overlooking though is that it doesn't matter much if the internal GPU is fixed, because apple is now making an eGPU box for attaching other GPU's to a system externally. That will be really great for those wanting to do any kind of deep learning research.

    In general the expandability through Thunderbolt 3 should be really good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 )
      It WOULD be easy to open if Crapple didn't glue the FUCKING screen to the case with double-stick tape.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @08:47PM (#55866365) Homepage

      Looking at the design, I am surprised, that Apple hasn't altered the design. In reality the CPU should be attached to the back plate and then the motherboard fitted over it. This would allow the entire back plate to be the heat sink and heat exchanger, obviating the need for a fan. I am surprised desktops have also not made this change. There is no reason the entire side of a PC tower could be a solid piece of finned aluminium obviating the need for a fan. Simply fit the CPU to the side plate and fit the motherboard on top, so CPU on one side of the motherboard, whilst all other bits on the other side, no fan required, as you have over a square foot of heat sink and a few square feed of heat exchange from the fins.

      • It shouldnâ(TM)t be a surprise that Apple hasnâ(TM)t done it; that really goes against their design language. You also canâ(TM)t really guarantee good air movement in a room, but I think thatâ(TM)s a secondary concern.

        It IS surprising that no PC manufacturers have gone that route, since most donâ(TM)t have such a strict or institutional design language (observation, not criticism) and they could easily choose that.

        The question then is whether nobody has thought of it or if nobody ca

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          High capital cost, that large finned heat sink and radiator heat exchanger would not be cheap, but fan less is a temptation. You would also need to mount the GPU to it and it does require a redesigned motherboard, CPU and GPU one side and everything else the other side. Then using copper instead or even something weird like diamond dust in aluminium composite. The dust might not be that expensive and it would hugely improve thermal conductivity https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] (think of the diamond as the

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Back in the Pentium 4 room heater days a company called Zalman made a case like that. Multiple heat pipes made both sides of the case a giant heatsink.

        It was fairly marginal. If your room had little airflow it wouldn't work. Even a tiny amount of forced airflow makes a huge difference.

      • In reality the CPU should be attached to the back plate and then the motherboard fitted over it. This would allow the entire back plate to be the heat sink and heat exchanger,

        An interesting idea, but:

        A) Would a device sitting in a 90F room with still air really be able to dissipate enough heat?

        B) Wouldn't the back of such a beast get so hot it could set fire to wallpaper behind it?

        To me the design seems really well done as it sounds like from what I've read., the fan is overpowered for most work - which mea

        • Weren't the last G5 PowerMacs watercooled?

          • Weren't the last G5 PowerMacs watercooled?

            I totally forgot that Apple did do that [everymac.com]...

            Though looking at the reports of leaking I can see why Apple has been reluctant to bring that back. Who knows, with the new Mac Pro later this year maybe it will be back (hopefully better sealed).

    • why lock raid 0 storage to the MB? and only on a pci-e X4 bus for 2 pci-e cards that also has web-cam and co-cpu on that same bus as well? it's not like they are lacking pci-e lanes. Each storage should have it's own cpu X4 link.

      • why lock raid 0 storage to the MB?

        Isn't part of that answer in security? With it paired to the MB if you detach the storage you can't read anything from it.

        It's not like the storage is slow (this link [appleinsider.com] says 2996MB/s write, 2450MB/s read), how much would have been gained with the x4 link?

        I've been out of PC building for a while and do not know what the x4 link is or what it would buy you...

        • no way to recover data is bad as well offline data copying. Mix in ssd wear and you end up with an 5K brick down the road.

          • no way to recover data is bad as well offline data copying.

            Not if you are persistent with backups (Hello, Time Machine). The risk of drive failure is why I've not done external Raid0 before, but with only two chips in an internal system it seems pretty reliable (bound to last longer than the system would be in service) - and since they are socketed repairs would be quick, and replacement easy as well if you thought the SSD's were getting too old in 5-10 years or so...

            It's not like most external SSD's are n

          • no way to recover data is bad as well offline data copying. Mix in ssd wear and you end up with an 5K brick down the road.

            No Pros are going to keep their generally large datasets on internal SSD, anyway; so what's your point?

            And, if you are still using that iMac Pro in THIRTY YEARS when SSD wear out MAT become an issue, then I think you can afford putting in a new pair of SSD modules.

            Oh, and as far as "losing everything": It's called Time Machine. Look into it.

    • The SSD storage chips are defiantly custom

      And let's hope they never change. Fuck the establishment!

  • down clocked cpu is the custom part full cpus may just overload the cooling.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @09:21PM (#55866541) Journal

    Aren't all iDevices Perfect At Assembly? Upgrading an iMac Pro is like adding more brushstrokes to the Mona Lisa...

    /sarc

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @09:34PM (#55866577)

    I have a couple of older Macs at home - a MacBook Pro and an iMac. Both of which I was able to upgrade to some degree. But the newer ones seem to have taken vendor lockdown to the extreme. I guess I just like to tinker - be it computers or cars - and buying a locked down machine does not appeal to me.

    Proprietary SSD's? Really?

    • I have a couple of older Macs at home - a MacBook Pro and an iMac. Both of which I was able to upgrade to some degree.

      Anyone who wants to tinker at this stage of computer use, the iMac Pro does not look bad at all. The pizza-cutter like thing to separate the screen is not that hard and then it's just undoing a few more components and you are in. Then it's just slots and sockets for most of it. It's not like many casual computer users alter those things anymore.

      Just like the laptops, eventually someone wi

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Everything old is new again.

      I used to admin an Motorola Delta 3600 (VME bus box) back in the day. The hard drives were SCSI, and OEM'ed by CDC, but I couldn't drop a stock CDC drive into it, because it had custom firmware on the drive.

  • 1. No headphone jack. Will stick with the 5s until it dies.

    2. No DVD writer. Will stick with my ancient MacBook Pro until it dies. Already updated to 16gb and SSD, so there.

    The iMac Pro is only worth its price to those who can expense it. I can't.

    • No headphone jack.

      The iMac Pro actually *does* have a standard 3.5" stereo headphone jack. Why would that even matter, I have zero idea.

      Already updated to 16gb and SSD

      Base iMac Pro ram is 32GB...

      You say "SSD" like that means anything. Does YOUR SSD do writes on a fully encrypted partition at 2996MB/sec [appleinsider.com]?

      • 3.5 mm stereo jack.
        • 3.5 mm stereo jack

          Indeed, it is not a 3 inch hole in the back. Though you can imagine Monster salivating over the thought of how much metal would go into a gold plated adaptor plug.

      • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

        You say "SSD" like that means anything. Does YOUR SSD do writes on a fully encrypted partition at 2996MB/sec [appleinsider.com]?

        It better write fast because you will NEVER be replacing it!

        Har har har!

        • It better write fast because you will NEVER be replacing it!

          Since it is socketed that is exactly wrong. It's just as easy to replace as RAM if you have the right chips...

          Why would you think OWC will not have an upgrade for it after a while? They have done that before with the Mac Pro [macsales.com], which has a custom SSD chip [everymac.com] as well...

          I'll take your response to mean your write speeds are about 10x slower. Which is fine, but some people would like lots faster disk I/O.

      • Does YOUR SSD do writes on a fully encrypted partition at 2996MB/sec

        Mine's actually closer to 4000 and it's been on the market for over 2 years, actually. Apple's not anywhere near cutting-edge in that regard.

        • Mine's actually closer to 4000

          iMac Pro is 2996M*B*/sec

          Not b...

          Thanks for playing.

          • Yes, and the 960 PRO is specced at 3500MB/sec. To my own surprise, I've seen mine write considerably faster.

            Who do you think makes Apple's SSDs in the first place?
            • The Samsung 960 Pro real world performance is more like 2000MB/s write - best case [techadvisor.co.uk]

              Remember, that 4000MB/sec speed was for WRITES in the iMac.

              It's nice you can get close (for reads, though 500-800 MB/sec is still a pretty large difference), but there is no way your SSD is performing at twice the speed of that review for writes... and if you are getting over the rating in speed (especially way over 500MB/sec faster) you have some kind of cache affecting results.

              I have a Samsung 850 SSD I use in an external en

              • You have a SATA drive (6Gbit/sec at the protocol level) and think it's meaningful that it's slower than a PCIe-connected drive? And yeah, I got my wires crossed re: read/write. My writes are closer to 2500 and my reads are pretty near the theoretical maximum for 4x PCIe3 so I doubt the Apple drive does any better there, considering that's how it's connected.

                I'll go ahead and wipe the egg off my face re: the read/write mixup and move on.

                I would post current CDM results but I've been thrashing the drive t
                • . think it's meaningful that it's slower than a PCIe-connected drive?

                  Link was for a PCIe connected drive, I thought. That's what I was looking for anyway.

                  My writes are closer to 2500 and my reads are pretty near the theoretical maximum for 4x PCIe3 so I doubt the Apple drive does any better there, considering that's how it's connected.

                  But it's two chips in RAID0 so it has some headroom for performance...

                  And those read/write speeds are also to a fully encrypted drive.

                  Honestly, I'd be interested to see a ben

                  • Link was for a PCIe connected drive, I thought. That's what I was looking for anyway.

                    Yes, and you mentioned your SATA-connected 850. That's what I was responding to. Wouldn't it have been kind of silly of me to respond to my own comment?

                    But it's two chips in RAID0 so it has some headroom for performance...

                    It's still connected to a single 4x slot. Once you max out that throughput, it doesn't matter how fast you are on the other side; you could have a million chips in a RAID strip and still wouldn't be able to exceed the throughput that 4x slot can handle.

                    And those read/write speeds are also to a fully encrypted drive.

                    And as I pointed out elsewhere, Ryzen and anything Intel has put out for the past few generations can handl

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      1. No headphone jack. Will stick with the 5s until it dies.

      2. No DVD writer. Will stick with my ancient MacBook Pro until it dies. Already updated to 16gb and SSD, so there.

      The iMac Pro is only worth its price to those who can expense it. I can't.

      I'm with you but don't even know if it is worth the price for people who can expense it.

      It's time to look elsewhere when a manufacturer starts intentionally making a product difficult to upgrade so that you will either use their upgrade service, buy their dongles, or max it out at the time of purchase.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You can actually *change* the CPU and the memory, **after** you buy the machine. Take that PC losers.

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