Apple’s Mac Pro was introduced in 2019, and updates usually come out in increments—new graphics options here, SSD module upgrades, there, etcetera. But the Mac Pro will soon undergo a major update when Apple adds its own System on a Chip (SoC) to the workstation. This article keeps track of everything we are hearing about the new Mac Pro, so return to this page to keep up to date with what could be coming.
2022 Mac Pro: Release date
We had expected to see the new Mac Pro at WWDC in June, but we were disappointed. Apple is yet to reveal its Apple silicon-powered Mac Pro.
It was a surprise no-show at WWDC; the developers conference was the location where the 2019 and 2013 Mac Pro were launched (shipping later in the year). It seems that Apple will either hold a separate event about the Mac Pro, or, dare we say, discontinue it. While we had expected to see the Mac Pro previewed at WWDC, we still didn’t expect the model to ship until later in 2022.
Apple said in June 2020 that it planned to transition all of its Macs to its own chips within two years. This can be interpreted as two years from June 2020, or two years from when Apple introduced the first M1 Mac: November 2022. So we can assume that, at some point before the end of 2022, the Mac Pro will gain a powerful Apple chip. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said in an August 2021 Power On newsletter that Apple is on track to meet its deadline of November 2022 for the Apple-powered Mac Pro. Read: Gurman: Apple iMac and Mac Pro to arrive by November 2022.
However, there could be an even longer wait for the Mac Pro update. According to a tweet from analyst Ming Chi Kuo the Mac Pro and iMac Pro won’t arrive until 2023:
It’s no real surprise that the wait for Macs like the Mac Pro to start to use Apple Silicon would be so long: Apple’s high-end desktops involve considerably complex development with Apple encountering more challenges. It would be no big surprise if Apple misses the deadline with the Mac Pro, especially as the industry is encountering component shortages and other delays.
2022 Mac Pro: Price
The other big question is how much will the new Mac Pro cost. The current Mac Pro starts at $5,999/£5,499 and we assume the Apple silicon-based Mac Pro will stick with that general price point. Apple’s M1 Mac prices haven’t fluctuated much from their Intel predecessors, so the new Mac Pro will almost certainly be a super-high-end machine for professionals.
However, since the advent of the Mac Studio, which starts at $1,999/£1,999 for the M1 Max version, rises to $3,999/£3,999 for the M1 Ultra version, and tops out at $7,999/£7,999 if you fully spec it out, there is a question of what the Mac Pro would bring that that model doesn’t already offer. Many are hoping that the Mac Pro will offer the upgradability and configurability that the Mac Studio lacks, which may justify a slightly higher price for similar specs.
2022 Mac Pro: Design
Will the new Mac Pro have a new design? Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who seems to have some good sources, has previously reported that Apple won’t discontinue the current Mac Pro design. This seems likely given the problems Apple encountered the last time it made the Mac Pro smaller. We hope that the company won’t be making the same mistake twice and the new Mac Pro will maintain the proven design.
2022 Mac Pro: Specs
What can we expect from the new Mac Pro? Those Mac users for whom the Mac Pro is targeted will be interested in the capabilities of the machine. Will Apple be able to make a processor to rival the workstation processors of Intel?
In a July 2022 report, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple will use a new M2 Extreme chip in the high-end Mac Pro, with the M2 Ultra available are a lower cost. Since the M2 was just released with the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple may feel that it should move forward with the M2 Ultra and Extreme, but it’s unknown what the specs for those chips are.
Earlier rumors suggest that Apple will combine two M1 Ultra to make an M1 Extreme, which will offer:
40-core CPU (32 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores)
Up to 128-core GPU
Up to 64-core Neural Engine
Up to 256GB of RAM
1,6000GBps memory bandwidth
However, now that Apple has revealed the M2 chip, which is present in the MacBook Air and 13in MacBook Pro, there is a question of whether Apple will jump straight to the M2 for the Mac Pro. Could an M2 Max or M2 Ultra be destined for the Mac Pro? We’re not convinced Apple will move quickly enough to achieve that before the end of 2022.
Right now the maximum CPU cores you can get in a Mac Pro is 28 courtesy of its Intel Xeon processor. The best Mac Studio can provide 20-core CPU. By comparison, AMD offers up to 64 CPU cores for some of its high-end chips for gaming PCs.
If we assumed Apple could combine two M1 Ultra we could see a 40-core CPU. This ties in with a 2020 Bloomberg report that claimed the new processor that Apple is working on for the Mac Pro will offer 32 high performance cores.
The M1 Ultra has 20 cores – 16 are high performance cores and 4 are high efficiency cores. So, combining two of these M1 Ultra could bring 32 high performance and 8 high efficiency cores, just as suggested in the Bloomberg report.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman echos these predictions in a May 2021 report where he suggests the Apple silicon Mac Pro could be available with 20 or 40 computing cores, with 16 performance cores and four efficiency cores in the former – which sounds a lot like the M1 Ultra (Apple’s codename for this SoC is Jade 2C-Die), and 32 performance cores and eight efficiency cores in the latter (codename Jade 4C-Die).
Another suggestion from Gurman is that, at least in the short term, Apple is going to have both Intel processors and Apple silicon available in the Mac Pro. Gurman has suggested that “Apple has indeed been working on an update to the Intel Mac Pro.” We assume that would be a model with the existing design but a faster processor and possibly update graphics.
According to yuuki_ans on Twitter, Apple could release a Mac Pro that uses Intel Ice Lake Xeon W-3300 workstation processors in 2022. Yuuki_ans has tweeted accurate leaks in the past but does not provide information on how this Mac Pro fits in with Apple’s silicon strategy. Brendan Shanks on Twitter has also spotted references to Intel’s Ice Lake processors in the Xcode 13 beta.
The Apple silicon Mac Pro will use the graphics on the SoC instead of graphics cards by AMD, according to Gurman. The graphics could have 64 or 128 processing cores.
Since Apple has already launched the 64-core M1 Ultra this certainly seems probable, and if Apple is able to combine two M1 Ultra we could see a 128-core GPU in the new Mac Pro.
If Apple continues to sell an Intel-based Mac Pro models we can assume it will continue to use AMD graphics, but no reports have surfaced that cover what possible upgrades are in store if any. Nor do we know how long Apple will continue to sell non-Apple silicon Macs.
RAM and storage
RAM is an important consideration for creative pros. The M1 Max supports 64GB RAM (or unified memory as Apple refers to it) and the M1 Ultra supports 128GB Unified Memory. If Apple is able to combine two M1 Ultra we could see support for 256GB RAM.
However, the current Intel Mac Pro offers up to 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC memory in 12 user-accessible DIMM slots, which already places it ahead of where the new Mac Pro could theoretically be. But there is another issue that may lead pros to dismiss this machine: Apple doesn’t use typical, user-upgradable, RAM in M1-powered Macs. Instead it uses unified memory, which is quite different. This RAM isn’t just soldered onto the motherboard on the M1 MacBook and iMac—it’s built directly into the chip, making it faster and more efficient. There are certainly benefits to be had, but for users who demand customization options there may be a need to offer slots so that the RAM can be upgraded like the Macs of old. We don’t know if Apple will take such an approach with the Mac Pro, however.
But more likely is a dramatic rethinking of what a Pro desktop is. The unified memory is a big part of what makes the M1 Macs so fast, but tying the memory to the chip would drive up the purchase price significantly. The Mac Pro already starts at $5,999, but if you buy RAM through Apple it could add as much as $14,000 to the price. So if Apple doesn’t allow aftermarket memory, it’s also likely to limit the build-to-order options at checkout.
Apple currently offers up to 8TB of storage in the Mac Pro, and we expect the storage options to remain the same. The ports likely won’t change either, as Apple already offers four USB ports (two Thunderbolt 3 and two USB 3) and a pair of ehernet ports. However, the Mac Pro has eight PCIe x16-sized slots that support many different types of PCIe cards, so you can easily add more ports. We assume Apple will allow expansion slots on an M1 Mac Pro, but compatibility is a question.
2022 Mac Pro: Pro Display
When Apple launched the Mac Pro in 2019, it had a pricey companion to go with it: a $5,000 Pro Display XDR with an optional $1,000 stand. It is possible that Apple is working on an upgrade – which could be even more expensive. Read about the new XDR display in our separate rumor round up.
Then again the rumours about a new display may just relate to the Studio Display which launched in March.