Yesterday Apple unveiled their ridiculously sexy update to the Mac Pro line. The sleek, 9.9-inch-tall, 6.6-inch-diameter cylinder is unlike any other desktop machine you've seen.
At first blush you might assume they're simply playing with basic geometry, as they did with their famously failed Cube design; but the cylindrical shape was not arbitrarily selected, and is pure form-follows-function. The design process began with re-thinking the internal architecture and deciding that each core--the machine can be kitted out with up to twelve--ought receive equal cooling to improve performance. Says Apple of the resultant "thermal core" design:
Rather than using multiple heat sinks and fans to cool the processor and graphics cards, we built everything around a single piece of extruded aluminum designed to maximize airflow as well as thermal capacity. It works by conducting heat away from the CPU and GPUs and distributing that heat uniformly across the core. That way, if one processor isn't working as hard as the others, the extra thermal capacity can be shared efficiently among them.
The form factor also echoes the shape of the single large fan located in the bottom of the machine. Air gets sucked in, blows upwards through the device, and exhausts from the top. And despite the fan's extra-large size, the blades have been tweaked for silence. "By minimizing air resistance throughout the system, we were able to design a fan with backward-curved impeller blades that runs at fewer revolutions per minute, draws air more efficiently as it spins, and creates considerably less noise," says Apple.
As for a release date, we're left with the vague "later this year."