Is there an ARM Mac Pro?

Watched some of the WWDC videos and noticed that everyone working on an ARM based system was using a XDR display. Since that display only supports thunderbolt 3 and the ARM based Mini Apple is offering to developers doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3 does that mean that Apple has internal Mac Pros equipped with ARM processors? Or are they somehow connecting the Mini to the XDR display? I find the idea of an ARM Mac Pro interesting.

You can run a Pro Display XDR over USB-C (from an iPad Pro or MacBook Adorable, for instance). It just runs at 5K rather than the native 6K resolution.

As @ChrisUpchurch says, they could be “faking it”, but let’s not be surprised if Apple has some ARM prototypes of the full Mac range running in-house

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I agree. After going to so much pains to deliver a new modular Mac Pro to try and seduce the pro market again, there’s no way they’re going to drop the ball again. And they said all Macs will transition. I think it’s a given an ARM Mac Pro will happen. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for the next year. I think it will be the last machine to transition.

An Apple Silicon Mac Pro will happen but it’ll probably be 2.5 years or so.
Thunderbolt is merging with USB 4 and because USB is an open standard
we should see ARM support for it which means we’ll have essentially ARM support
for Thunderbolt finally in performance just not name.

The ARM Cortex-X1 gives us a nice glimpse into the future of higher end compute cores. Because of architectural improvements it’s already %22 faster than the fastest A7x series of cores and 30 % faster than the high end SOC shipping today.

Given the way compute loads are being distributed across hardware accelerators and GPU it don’t think the Apple Silicon Mac Pro is going to have a problem with today’s DCC workloads. Apple will design a beefy SOC and then connect a handful of them into a nice powerful system.

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Any thoughts on whether the modular design will extend to the processor, i.e. will it be possible to swap out an Intel processor on a current Mac Pro for an ARM processor rather than buying an entirely new machine?

If it were possible, it would probably require swapping out the entire motherboard, not just the processor.

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I very much doubt it. The whole thrust of this is to have a full integrated hardware stack. Compromising the stack to allow for a choice of processor would be a significant handicap.

Not to mention, why would Apple give up the revenue stream from new full systems to see components made by Intel?

As others have said, I really don’t believe it will be possible. I would say it would already be lucky to have existing MPX modules retain compatibility.

If so that will be quite a blow for those who have invested quite a bit in the new Mac Pro and accessories.

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Because those who have invested $10,000 to $50,000 in the knowledge that this is a modular design may be pissed as hell to find out it’s not really modular at all.

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If they do have an ARM Mac Pro under wraps I’m sure they would be using it in the keynote. The greater the performance they can demonstrate the better the change to ARM looks.

Years of experience – don’t believe everything you see in a demo.


Fair point. It would indeed seem very dishonest to have touted a modular design that would not work for more than a few years.

A new motherboard would seem reasonable indeed if the rest of the peripherals/MX modules/GPUs/RAM remained operational.

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Apple doesn’t support swapping to another Intel processor in the Mac Pro, much less changing architectures (they support changing out memory, MPX Modules, PCI Express cards, SSD modules and feet/wheels).


NVME, Thunderbolt and so many other protocols connected to Intel’s Hub architecture (MCH,ICH etc) so Apple has to find replacements that will work with their Silicon.

Haven’t done a bunch googling about what interconnect system ARM in the Enterprise is using beyond ARM’s CoreLink technology but I presume the AS Mac Pro will leverage a leader in this field to connect storage subsystem and more.

It should be exciting

USB4 incorporates Thunderbolt3 (which is mostly the same thing as TB4) as an ‘optional extra’ and they use the same plug-style. My guess is that every Apple SOC product will support USB4 going forward starting with the products at the end of the year. (The Mac mini dev kit being distributed now use the stock A12z chipset from iPad Pro, so it’s no wonder there’s no TB on it.)


Fair point, although I’m sure there are opportunities for fine debates about how to parse “modular” :grinning: