28th June 2017

The iMac Pro goes Space Age

Ever since it was teased at the beginning of the month, the iMac Pro has been causing quite a stir. Unsurprising really, considering that the machine that is clearly focused on professional and creative users.

Here we take a closer to look to see what we can expect from the new ‘badass’ Space Grey all-in-one.

The first thing to mention is that it is not available until December, and if recent releases are anything to go by, we would suggest that it might not be until the end of December that we see a few ship. Even then, we would feel that it wouldn’t be until the end of January or beginning of February that we saw a consistent and regular flow of iMac Pros coming through Apple channels.

Now, onto the machine itself. Apple teased some headline figures at WWDC and their website carries a dedicated product site to the iMac Pro. Here they don’t under sell it either, describing the new machine as “an iMac packed with the most staggeringly powerful collection of workstation-class graphics, processors, storage, memory and I/O of any Mac ever.” So far, so good. But what does that actually mean?

Apple are clearly pitching this model at those people who are working in VR, 4K video and high end app development. Therefore, users will be able to specify the iMac Pro with up to 18 cores of processing power. This week the blog Pike’s Universum has suggested that, based on files contained within the BETA version of macOS High Sierra, the new model will be using Intel’s Xeon server-class processors from the Purley platform.

Purley is the name given to Intel’s Skylake-EX and Skylake-EP processors sitting in Intel’s LGA3647 socket, as opposed to desktop CPUs nestled in a LGA2066 socket. In layman’s terms, Apple will be using Intel’s latest server-grade processors rather than the consumer-targeted CPUs.

It is also suggested that the iMac Pro will feature an ARM coprocessor in the form of a Secure Enclave, similar to that of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This has led to speculation that the iMac Pro might support Touch ID.

When it comes to graphics, Apple have stated that the new Mac will come with the Radeon Pro Vega. This is over three times faster than any previous iMac GPU, packing the power of a double-wide graphics card into a single chip. It means higher frame rates for VR, real-time 3D rendering, more lifelike special effects and gameplay at max settings.

For those who have intensive rendering tasks, the supported RAM is a considerable 128GB, double what is available in the newly refreshed 27” iMac. There are also superfast Thunderbolt 3 connections and 10GB Ethernet port.

As with any Apple product, it is hard to predict exactly what will be included. But, alongside the refreshed Macs from WWDC, a real buzz has been created around the Mac range again. With the promise of a revised Mac Pro next year, it really does seem as if Apple have once again focused on their Pro users.

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