With just nine days to go until Christmas, I think we can safely say that we aren’t getting any more Macs this year.

As noted a few weeks back, I have absolutely no issue with this whatsoever. The absence of new hardware from Apple at the tail end of 2022 has given me some much-needed breathing space. It has enabled me to focus on other areas of my business – and even review a Porsche!

There is one lingering question, though. What has happened to the Apple silicon-based Mac Pro?

Will we see it next year? Or has it gone the way of AirPower?

What we know so far

The rumours about the Mac Pro haven’t been particularly voluminous. Whatever Apple is up to with its flagship desktop is being kept tightly under wraps.

However, when it comes to the design, the consensus appears to be that the new desktop Mac will look pretty much identical to the current Intel-based version. That means the classic-yet-typically-Apple stainless steel desktop tower case will likely remain.

Given that the current design was geared towards heat dissipation and airflow, one does wonder how much space and aluminium will be wasted if it’s housing the more thermally efficient Apple silicon chip. But, in fairness, they didn’t change the casing for the Mac mini when they placed an M1 chip inside that computer, so we shouldn’t be surprised if the next Mac Pro looks identical to the last.

When it comes to grunt, the new Mac Pro is expected to be based on the M2 platform. Once again, details about the chip powering Apple’s next big desktop have been thin on the ground, but it’s expected to offer 40 CPU cores, up to 128 graphics cores, and unified memory that can be configured as far as 1TB.

But what you care about is the name Apple is going to give this new universe-bending chip, and all signs currently point to the beautifully silly ‘M2 Extreme’. I really hope that’s true.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro

Leading up to 2022, there were rumours of a ‘mini Mac Pro’. This, many assumed, would be a miniature version of the current Intel-powered tower. Some even suggested that it could, in fact, replace the big one altogether.

That device turned out to be the Mac Studio, which was unexpectedly released in March 2022. I’m yet to get my hands on one but have spoken to several people who absolutely love theirs. Indeed, I interviewed Andy Wood from Pulse 8 Media earlier this year who has been blown away by the power offered in his base model Mac Studio.

If you spec-up the Mac Studio, its 20-core M1 Ultra chip will outperform the current 28-core Xeon Mac Pro with the most expensive graphics card. It’s the ultimate expression of what Apple silicon is capable of. More importantly, it offers more power than most people need, whether they’re editing video, producing music, developing software, or creating complex visual art.

This begs one huge question about the next Mac Pro that no one, to my knowledge, has answered yet.

Who needs it?

I’m not qualified to answer this question with any degree of certainty, I’m afraid. However, this is what inspires me the most about the next-generation Mac Pro; I love it when I encounter technology which seems so far removed from my own requirements and even those of the people I look up to.

If you want a really powerful Mac – one that will make mincemeat of pretty much anything you throw at it, I’d recommend buying a fully specced-up MacBook Pro. As I’ve noted on numerous occasions, my 16-inch MacBook Pro (which isn’t even fully ballsed-out) is the most powerful, impressive computer I’ve ever used.

If you want a Mac that’s capable of pushing the competencies of your area of expertise to the absolute limit, then I’d recommend buying an M1 Ultra Mac Studio. I have absolutely no idea what you’re going to do with it, but rest assured I’m mightily jealous that you’re capable of putting it to use.

So, in a theoretical world where an M2 Extreme-equipped Mac Pro exists, who on earth is going to need that?

Please let me know in the comments section.

Has Apple abandoned the Mac Pro?

I don’t think so. And, yes, I’m fully aware that Apple has a history of announcing stuff and never shipping it.

That’s rare, though, and missing the final hurdle of the Apple silicon transition for the Mac lineup would be humiliating. Let’s not forget that, during the event which launched the Mac Studio, Apple’s John Ternus referred directly to the last remaining Intel-based Mac.

“They [the M1 Ultra chip and Mac Studio] join the rest of our incredible Mac lineup with Apple silicon,” beamed Turnus, “making our transition nearly complete, with just one more product to go – Mac Pro. But that’s for another day.”

That was nine months ago and there hasn’t been an official whiff of the new Mac Pro since. We’re also rapidly emerging from the end of the two-year deadline Apple set itself to transition all current Mac hardware to its own silicon.

My guess? We’ll finally see this beast of a computer in March – exactly a year after the Mac Studio was introduced.

Final thought

I wouldn’t have a clue how to review an Apple silicon-powered Mac Pro (nor could I justify the expense), but I’d love to get my hands on one. I love this kind of ultra-aspirational tech – the kind for which I cannot fathom a use case but for which I know there is, somebody, somewhere, desperately awaiting its arrival.

I genuinely don’t think Apple is going to let us down on this one. In 2023, we’ll get to see the ultimate expression of what Apple silicon is capable of, complete with silly marketing names, crazy numbers, and more Intel-bashing than you can shake a teraflop at.