It's fair to say that the current Intel-based Mac Pro has been outmatched repeatedly by some of the performance characteristics of modern Apple silicon-powered Macs, but that's all likely to change this year. A new machine is set to make the jump away from Intel for good, and it's expected to be a powerhouse, the likes of which we're yet to see.
The move to Apple silicon is one that has long been expected and the Mac Pro is the last Mac to move away from Intel and into something a little more speedy. That'll happen with the next revision, but what chip will we get?
The current Mac Studio is the fastest Mac Apple sells right now and comes with M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips inside. It's highly unlikely that a new Mac Pro will sport those, so the options are either something that will sit above the M1 Ultra or a new chip altogether. That chip would be based on the M2 that was announced during WWDC22, although specifications and naming conventions are anyone's guess at this point.
A recent report by Bloomberg claimed that a number of Macs are being tested, including a Mac Pro codenamed J180. That machine is said to sport the successor to the M1 Ultra, suggesting an M2 Ultra could be the chip to power what will surely be the best Mac Apple has ever made. Expect it to build on the M1 Ultra's 20-core CPU and up to 64-core GPU specs, too. One report from last year has the new Mac Pro offering up to 128 GPU cores and 40 CPU cores, essentially doubling that of the M1 Ultra Mac Studio.
One report by leaker Majin Bu suggests Apple will effectively bond two M1 Ultra chips together, although again, naming is unknown.
We're expecting Apple's new Mac Pro to look largely the same as the one that's currently on sale. While cooling won't need to be quite so aggressive thanks to Apple silicon, expansion is likely to be part of the equation and that will require a tower-like design. That cheesegrater look is probably set for a return, too.
This is one aspect that we have little information on, but given that the current Mac Pro starts at $5,999, the switch to Apple silicon could see that price fall. Although, on the flip side, Apple will still market this machine at the very top of the lineup and could give it a price to match. The M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studio starts at $3,999, so that should give us an indication of the kind of ballpark figure to expect.
Release date and availability
While hard information is difficult to come by for obvious reasons, a new Apple silicon-powered Mac Pro is expected to be announced before the end of 2022. There was a slim chance that June's WWDC could see the big announcement, but that's been and gone. One report claimed September as a likely release month, however.
No matter when it's announced, those looking to actually buy one might struggle to do so. We already see various Apple products with long delivery windows with those sporting the most capable chips seeing the longest delivery delays.