The new Mac Pros have six PCIe… but not for graphics cards

Apple a few hours ago has presented the new Mac Pro Systems, that surely, you care little. These new systems do away with Intel’s processors for good and replace them with their ARM-based solutions. One of the curiosities of this system is that it has seven PCIe slotsbut does not support graphics cards, because?

These new systems are based on the M2 Ultra processor. It is characterized by having 24 cores, which are divided into 16 power cores and 8 efficiency cores, without further data. This processor includes a graphics card with 76 graphics cores and a total of 32 exclusive cores for the AI.

It has more features, such as supporting RAM memory modules of up to 192 GB with a bandwidth of up to 800 GB/s. According to Apple, the graphics card can process up to 24 video sources in 4K resolution at the same time.

It includes a large number of PCIe slots, but does not support graphics cards of any kind. This would be a step to end hackintosh computers.

What are those six PCIe 4.0 slots for?

The first thing we need to know is that we will not be able to install dedicated graphics cards. It is not that it only has the limitation of gaming graphics cards such as AMD Radeon or NVIDIA RTX, it does not support professional models either. This means that we will not be able to install an AMD Radeon Pro or an NVIDIA Quadro (currently RTX A Series)

According to the official Apple website, you can install the following items in the six PCIe 4.0 slots:

  • Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Cards
  • Serial Digital Interface (SDI) I/O Cards
  • Network connectivity expansion
  • Additional high-speed storage

For a video game fan it can be difficult to understand the need for these expansion cards. Within the professional sector, other elements are required, such as PCIe 4.0 cards for SSDs that support RAID configurations, for example.

It never mentions professional graphics cards. Supposedly, the graphics cores would be enough for photo and/or video editing, as well as game development. Although in the latter it generates many doubts.

A restriction, meaningless?

You probably have no idea, but CUDA is a very powerful programming language that is taught in universities. This language is developed exclusively for NVIDIA graphics cards. This language is widely used in scientific research or in video game development, among others.

Interestingly, we won’t see any AMD Radeon Pro graphics cards either, ending another storied partnership. They are not only the first Mac Pros in history without Intel processors, but also without AMD graphics cards.

So Apple is leaving out two large sectors, such as scientific research and video game development. Something that is quite surprising in a remarkable way.

This leaves us with a question, is it because the processor is not capable of supporting the data flow that a dedicated graphics card would generate? This does not seem to be the case, since there are solutions that combine ARM processors and NVIDIA graphics cards.

What seems most likely is that Apple is developing its own graphics cards. It doesn’t make sense for them to make their own processors and not work on developing their own graphics. In the end, what they seem to be looking for is to create an ecosystem that is as closed as possible.

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