Apple Rac: rack-mounted Mac Pros now on offer

I think that is a legit recommendation. But they didn’t just get macs. They got the largest iMacs available. To book appointments. For a couple of chairs. :slight_smile:

Don’t underestimate the power of Prestige in corporate buying habits. I’ve worked in several offices where they would demand to have apple products because it makes them look suitably high end to clients who will be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on projects.

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Ha good point. Some of the iMac line does get a bit ornate.

Some companies need Mac servers for various reasons. For example, testing video games on Mac.

Due entirely to Apple’s utterly insane shrink-wrap license, you’re not allowed to run MacOS on non-Apple hardware, even in a VM with a box with a valid license key sitting next to the server.

This is, probably, the entire target market right there. For comparison, the current solution is a hilarious rackmount kit to strap a dozen Mac Minis into a cage.

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This reminds me of when I was a kid and would look at a chain link fence (or certain wall paper) and slightly cross my eyes and the pattern comes out at you a little (or cross your eyes more and it comes out a lot). Did anyone else do that?

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I dunno how much of that is left though. Most of the smaller creative businesses or freelancers I know that genuinely need this sort of work station with top performance have already moved off or gone hackintosh as performance lagged. And most of the die hard Apple guys I know don’t need these kinds of systems. Most of the graphic designers I know who are still on Mac just regularly get new top of the line iMacs. I’m sure there’s some niche there, but just from my admittedly limited view on this. It seems like you’re looking at people and businesses that don’t actually need that level of computing power, but where money isn’t enough of an issue for them to avoid over buying. And that sounds more like douchey wallstreet analyst, or my uncle the up his own ass doctor than a small business.

One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from the few hold outs in video is that it’s down to software. A Final Cut editor I know gets into it a lot. It’s not quite as simple as just buying another editing suite, there’s a whole host of associated support software and plugins. A lot of which is either macOS only, or specific to your software suite, so switching platforms involves replacing a lot of expensive, professional software. One guy told me he had about $10k sunk into macOS and Final Cut specific software licenses that needed to be replaced with a switch. And there was no way he could afford to do that fast enough to maintain his current capabilities, even if he got a much more powerful computer.

The thing about that sort of lag in this sort of business is it means you have to lower rates or lose work. Whether its the result of less capable equipment or lost software. Especially in an industry that’s gone pretty tits up the last 20 years. So if you’re in that situation paying a couple grand more than you should for a computer, to avoid many times that in software costs, will keep the doors open.

I’d imagine that exists in other industries. And probably worse cause a lot of media stuff is platform independent to begin with, and most people work on multiple systems anyway.

But it’s possible that’s what Apple is after. Smaller, money short operations who are over a barrel thanks to ecosystem costs.

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But look how pretty the rack-mounted Mac Pros are in my set up!

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Studios often like to rack workstations. Many studios use Macs. I think that’s where the majority of these things will end up, and it totally makes sense to me.

You should only be using Certified “Works With Apple” white iThernet cables… Looks like you need about $100,000’s worth :thinking:

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This has changed a lot over the last 3 years or so. Premiere Pro and Resolve have gotten quite good, PC workstations can be outfitted to be very powerful, and Windows 10 is not the end of the world from a post-production supportability perspective. Now, the new Mac Pro brings Apple back into real viability for pro video/color post work, and the Afterburner FPGA is potentially a game-changer for ProRes workflows.

Sorry to go off – I worked in pro media post production tech for 15 years. :slight_smile:

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It might not be as nuts as it looks. Cause a lot of the time with store front situations the comparison point isn’t what a computer costs, it’s what a computer costs from the big legacy POS/booking systems companies.

MICROS is more than happy to sell you a broke ass PC that would have cost $300 bucks 10 years ago for five grand, or lease it to you for $500 a month. And hey they recently upgraded to Windows Vista! On top of that there’s an expensive service contact and regular fees for the software.

But now a days there are a lot of much better, cheaper apps and services you can just run on off the shelf shit. With one time software purchases, or reasonable fees scaled to your needs. Think Square. They’ll handle your merchant processing for a flat 2%, fees for POS functionality start at like $20/month for the simplest shit. And their software package has reservation systems, clock in and out, and a bunch of other normal stuff. You can often buy devices direct from these guys as package deals that come out cheaper than buying at retail. Including Apple stuff.

You can run this stuff on any devices, but you don’t want to cheap out for reliability’s sake. And they tend to be more mature on Apple’s stuff, since that’s where most of them started. iOS and macOS seem to get along better than Android and Windows too. Plus there’s cache to Apple, for better or worse, that can impact your business. People will view you as more down market if you get obviously cheap devices, especially look alikes. And that impacts sales. So iPads and iMacs are kind of the go to.

The standard setup is tablets for each register, and a desktop of some sort in the back for general computing and administration tasks. So these guys might have just opted for 2 iMacs instead 1 iMac and 2 iPads. It’s ostentatious but it might not have cost them any more, and it would definitely be cheaper than dealing with any more traditional companies.

That’s provided they’re actually running any serious booking software on there and those computers are also their registers. It’s entirely possible they’re just using the macOS Calendar app for that shit. In which case the comparison point is a $5 reservation book.

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In the larger scheme of enterprise server pricing, $56,000 isn’t all that insane, honestly.

I would have thought computing power was a commodity these days.

Why would anybody spend more than the average going rate to process bits in a closet?

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It’s… more complicated than that. Especially when it comes to pro media workflows.

Again, I will point out the Afterburner FPGA PCIe card that is optimized to decode the ProRes codec. It does this much faster than a CPU or even high-end GPU, as it is designed for this very specific processing task.

“With Afterburner installed, the Mac Pro can simultaneously play back three streams of 8K video encoded using ProRes RAW.”

That is… gnarly. No other setup on any platform can do that, as far as I know (not even close, I don’t think). 8K video is 4x the pixels as 4K, so you could get realtime playback of probably as many as twelve 4K ProRes RAW streams. Again, that is…

image

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Quite true, though in the scheme of enterprise servers putting a 1 socket, 1.5TB RAM/8TB storage/4GPU max/8xPCIe max system without redundant PSUs or any sort of BMC into 5U is…atypical to say the least.

Likely much more pleasant to share a room with than average; but a really weird configuration. For CPU compute it’s a bit of a lightweight and more or less mocks the idea of density by existing; by the standards of VM hosts or big in-memory loads that’s pretty tepid max RAM; for GPU compute something more along the lines of 8-10 GPUs in a 4U, with at least the option of dual sockets, is more typical.

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They should have gone one better and worked an anomalous motion illusion into the pattern (so it would appear to creep/spin/shimmer).

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This is the real no-no from a server point of view. Even the cheapest rack-mount server from Dell/HP/etc. will come with hot-swappable disks at the front (ie if a disk/ssd dies, you can pop it out while the server is still running, and replace it without needing to turn the server off), and at least the option for redundant hot-swappable power supplies (same deal, power supply dies, you can swap it over). On a $55k server you’d expect hot-swappable fans, and maybe even CPU and RAM too.
Plus, any but the cheapest server come with BMC/iLo/etc. which is a separate ethernet port, which allows an admin full access to the server via the network. you’ll see hardware status, you can restart the machine, you can even add a ‘virtual USB’ which is actually an ISO on your desktop.
Basically you can do everything you could do if you were stood in front of the machine, from a hundred miles away.

This Mac Pro is basically a desktop computer tipped on it’s side. It really doesn’t have any of the features that make Real™ servers cost thousands.

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In fairness it has some of them; just in a package that is profoundly alien to trends in server construction.

The $50k configuration is presumably the one with the Xeon W-3275M. Intel sticker price is $7,453. Apple presumably pays less, and you might too depending on your rep’s buying power with your vendor of choice; but (as sad as it makes the people pining for a decent expandable Mac desktop) that’s pricey workstation gear. For RAM, OWC wants $20k for 12 x 128.0GB PC23400 2933MHz DDR4 LRDIMM; again your buying power may vary but that much load-reduced ECC RAM isn’t cheap.

GPUs are a little trickier because Apple uses a custom variant and I’m not entirely sure what the naming of the closest equivalent standard card is; but $2500+ for a workstation card with 32GB of RAM isn’t unlikely.

If you want what Apple is selling it’s hardly a rip-off for the price, and I strongly suspect that the fit and finish and attention to detail are all gorgeous and such; it’s just that it’s profoundly alien relative to typical server design conventions:

At least the option of PSU redundancy is there on all but trash-tier servers(and a fair few workstations); a BMC(albeit often gallingly licence locked until you stump up just a bit more money; yeah, that’s you HPE, you know what you’ve done) is just expected in servers and common in workstations; and throwing in at least a few accessible and hot-swappable SAS or U.2 NVMe bays is ubiquitous even outside of storage-focused or “generalist/balanced” systems.

Single socket isn’t as crippling as it was, per-socket core counts have increased substantially lately(though Intel currently isn’t the one to stick with if you really want that); but even 1U pizza boxes are at least offered in 2 socket; and if you care about CPU density the quasi-blade “4 node 2U” units seem to be popular these days, which will get you 4x dual socket nodes, sharing PSUs and some support bits and pieces, in a 2U chassis; for 4 sockets/U.

I/O is also very atypical: not too surprisingly this thing has absurd amounts of Thunderbolt; but between the effective nonexistence of switched Thunderbolt and general niche status(outside of laptops and mac-focused accessories) that’s absolutely not what high speed I/O usually looks like. On that score the 2x 10GbE isn’t as stingy as some of the real cheapies(where 2 or 4x 1GbE still rules; but the choice of Aquantia 10GBASE-T copper, while appropriate to a workstation, is a bit out of place in a server situation. 10Gb SFP cages; or a few onboard 1GbE copper ports plus an OCP or proprietary mezzanine for 10/25/40/100Gb options would be more typical.

What I find a trifle interesting, though probably not too surprising given the likely sales volume relative to their other products, is that Apple hasn’t added BMC/LOM functions via the T2 chip. Just slapping an ASpeed 2500 and a realtek management NIC on the board would not be Apple’s style; but my understanding is that the T2 is a pretty substantial chunk of an iDevice SoC embedded in the system and already handling disk controller and encryption functions, boot security stuff; and some other secure enclave bits and pieces. Full independent computer with close connection to host computer and a security focus is kind of a natural place for BMC functions to live(and since they seem to be building the T2 on iDevice tech adding ‘BMC’ is probably closer to firmware update than major hardware revision).

Probably not enough expected sales(especially to outfits that have IT departments that won’t touch it if they can’t script against some reasonably standard IPMI or Redfish interface) for it to matter; but seems like a thing that they could do.

I expect that the rackmount version will be nice if you are using it with a bunch of other rackmount stuff(eg. pro audio gear); the premium for 1st part rack integration isn’t bad compared to what a 3rd party kit that’s slightly more awkward would likely cost; but if you start building compute clusters out of these things that’s a good sign that you are deep in the Apple software ecosystem.

That’s because they’re more targeted at the work station market than the server market. Top end work stations are basically just servers without data center features like what you’re listing.

Now it can be a server, if you don’t need a server with those features. So why not also sell it as a server as well? Believe they’re pitched as “enterprise servers” in that context.

From what I’ve seen of competitive work stations, you pretty much see the same thing. Down right identical to the one sold as a server. Just without some or all of that servery stuff. So it seems like a common product segmentation thing.

Apple just doesn’t appear to have a version for the next segment up. Just like they initially didn’t have a rack mount version.

And that seems to be the thing here. There do seem to be legitimate places where these things are competitive and appropriate. But from what ever angle to poke at it they seem more and more niche.

I would guess that adding a rack mount indicates they’re trying to build out a proper product stack over time. Like maybe you’ll see that kinda stuff in a server server version down the line, maybe they’ll add a lower cost version at the bottom of the stack for the freelance creatives and smaller businesses. Maybe they’ll be launching proper corporate pricing and support.

It’s entirely possible this all makes more sense to more people in a couple years.

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