This article is the predictions of MaX Falstein, CET and Founder of MaX Saxe Design for the year of 2017 (1st January to 31st December 2017) in the form of public developments and releases of new hardware and software designed by Apple Inc.
Apple Inc. is a very secretive company. It is one of the most secretive companies on the planet; however, it does have the inevitable slip up on accidentally disclosing secretive information pertaining to hardware or software developments.
My first prediction relates to the MacBook range for April 2017.
The 12-inch MacBook is a fantastic µMac (microMac). The 2016 top of the range (totr) version is being used to write this article.
It is fast, stable, secure and able to do everything I need it to do in an ultralight portable computer.
The 12-inch MacBook replaced the unibody MacBook, which replaced the white and black polycarbonate MacBook.
The 12-inch MacBook is in a different league of design to the 13-inch MacBook predecessors. It is sleek, stylish and deals with heat incredibly well.
I push my MacBook rather hard. It hooks up to hundreds of my servers for VE, VM and container services. For the vast majority of the hours, I am awake, I am on my laptop. I like working on lots of large screens, but I am usually away from my desk, working at University of on location.
I predict the 12-inch MacBook will be joined by a 15-inch MacBook.
The 12-inch and 15-inch MacBooks will have identical hardware, except for the display, but a bit of an upgrade compared to the 2016 12-inch MacBook:
- 16 GB of LPDDR4 RAM
- Updated m3, m5 and m7 dual-core processors
- New Apple Inc. coprocessors will be added to the m-core processors
- 1 TB NVMe flash will be available
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports will replace the single USB 3.1 Type C port and a single 3.5 mm audio (in/out) jack socket
- Updated multi-layered battery
There will be some features which are unlikely to be updated:
- The 2304 x 1440 12-inch display
- The 12-inch unibody chassis
However, the 2017 15-inch MacBook will have:
- 2880 x 1800 15.4-inch display
- 15-inch unibody chassis
It has been recently reported Apple is engineering its own processors for the Mac platform. These chips will not replace the Intel processors used in all of the Mac computers.
The following article explores what is expectedly happening with the coprocessor developments within Apple.
If the article is correct in expectations, the 2017 MacBook Pro and 2017 MacBook Air computers will feature the same coprocessor for low power functions.
The second prediction relates to the MacBook Air range.
The new MacBook Air range is eagerly anticipated. It will feature:
- 11-inch and 13-inch unibody variants
- Intel Core-i3 and i5 dual and quad core low power processors with Apple's low-power coprocessor
- Up to 1 TB of NVMe flash
- Massive multi-layered batteries
- 2080 x 1300 11-inch display
- 2560 x 1600 13.3 inch display
The 2017 Apple Mac coprocessor should feature in the 2017 MacBook Air range.
My third prediction relates to the MacBook Pro range.
The 2016 MacBook Pro added the Touch Bar with Touch ID and 6th generation Intel i-core processors and AMD Radeon Pro graphics for professionals. It did receive a lot of complaints about out of date processors, RAM and battery technology (due to battery life).
The 2017 MacBook Pro range will feature the Intel Core i7 quad-core processors. Some rumours suggest the possibility of a lower clock speed Intel Core-i7 with eight cores and 16 threads to reduce power consumption and optimise the laptop for high-end professional applications.
The 2017 Apple Mac coprocessor should feature in the 2017 MacBook Pro range.
The 2016 MacBook Pro received more harsh comments over the limited 16GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory, which is not user upgradeable. This laptop is designed for professionals in the most demanding of workflows, 16 GB is not enough for running multiple simulations or virtual machines.
That being said, the correct way to do that sort of set up is over a network, which destroys the point of being mobile, unless you have multiple 4G connections to stream the VE/VM data over cellular at great cost. The package is a little misinformed on where it needed to be.
The 2017 MacBook Pro will have to sort this out by allowing up to 32 GB of non-user upgradable LPDDR4 RAM.
My fourth prediction relates to the iMac range.
The iMac is rumoured to be getting the same treatment of eight core Intel Core i7 processors in the 24 inch and 27-inch models.
There is chatter of an iMac Pro or an iMac Extreme model being launched, which would feature a single Intel Xeon E5v5 processor (yet to be launched), which I hope is user upgradable to the Intel Xeon E5-2699v5 processor (yet to be launched).
The 24-inch model would support 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and the 27-inch model would support 32 GB of DDR4 RAM.
The iMac Pro is rumoured to support 64 GB of RAM in a 27-inch or 32-inch chassis with two NVMe flash modules.
The graphics in the 24-inch iMac is rumoured to be an AMD Radeon Pro 460 with 2 or 4 GB of VRAM.
The graphics in the 27-inch iMac is rumoured to be an AMD Radeon Pro 480 with 4 GB or 8 GB of VRAM.
The graphics in the 27-inch iMac Pro is rumoured to be an AMD Radeon Pro 480 with 8 GB of VRAM.
The graphics in the 32-inch iMac Pro is rumoured to be two AMD Radeon Pro 480 graphics cards, each with 8 GB of VRAM.
The 24-inch and 27-inch iMac will feature a 1 Gbps Ethernet port, whereas the iMac Pro will feature a 10 Gbps Ethernet network port.
My fifth prediction relates to the Mac Pro range.
The Mac Pro. The 2013 Mac Pro. You can still buy it. The Mac which dates back to 2013 is ancient. Hardware wise that is. It looks fantastic, operates flawlessly and it about as brilliant as Apple has managed since 2013. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro (I use every day) and the 2016 totr 12-inch MacBook (I use every day) is not an exception. They are both incredible devices, but the Mac Pro was otherworldly to all Mac products and the majority of professional workstations when it came out in its tiny package and blew everything out of the water when it came to turnkey solutions from a major manufacturer.
That being said, I am very disappointed with Apple for not bringing out an updated Mac Pro every single year.
My desk would have a very high spec Mac Pro with eight 6K 21:9 monitors in a custom zero-bezel enclosure in a heartbeat forming a 42:9 (4H-2V) array, but the Mac Pro to support that sort of application is not here, just yet.
The 2017 Mac Pro is very likely to be an all-out killer of a device, but it will have to come at another launch - unlikely to be the September launch of the iOS devices and unlikely in the MacBook Air and Pro range launches a few weeks later. It is likely to be in a special iMac, iMac Pro and Mac Pro launch in November when everyone is hoping for some new 5K iMac action and some Mac Pro goodies to reign in before Christmas.
The 2017 Mac Pro will feature:
- One or two Intel Xeon E5v5 processors (user upgradable)
- Up to 256 GB of DDR4 RAM (user upgradable)
- Two or four AMD Radeon Pro proprietary graphics cards (user replaceable)
- Up to four NVMe flash modules, each supporting up to 2 TB
- Two 10 Gbps Ethernet ports
- Eight or ten Thunderbolt 3 ports (supports USB 3.1)
- Zero USB 3.1 ports
- Zero HDMI ports
- Zero audio ports (as part of Apples' "courage" to get rid of the ancient 3.5 mm audio ports)
The Thunderbolt 3 standard has made external graphics (eGPU) plausible for compute, gaming, rendering and many other functions with compatible computers.
External graphics gives the Mac range a huge advantage for extending their mobile platforms beyond the realms of a normal laptop.
It can have a similar effect with the desktop platforms with massive multiple monitor arrays and external graphics compute and rendering parallelisation.
AMD has worked with Apple to develop the AMD Radeon Pro 460 and 480 cards. There are clear signs of the AMD Radeon Technology Group and Apple's relationship, which was made very public with the development of the AMD FirePro W300, W500 and W700 graphics cards for the 2013 Mac Pro, which supplied technology to the AMD FirePro W9000 and W9100 top of the range graphics cards and the S10000 server graphics card.
Apple has some neat tricks with the external graphics part of their development operating system. I am yet to see just how good it can be when the AMD Radeon Pro SSG is fully supported by the external graphics functions on a totr 2017 MacBook Pro or totr 2017 Mac Pro.
New Bluetooth 5.0 has been approved by the Bluetooth SIG as of December 2016, it should feature in all or the latter part of the 2017 Mac range.
The last point I would like to make is about Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11)
It is an unknown whether Apple will be introducing IEEE 802.11ad 60 GHz short-range Wi-Fi capability into the Mac range. If it does, it is likely to be the first manufacturer to do so. It would be a huge development step for the company and IEEE.