An Apple executive discusses the new Mac Pro’s lack of graphics card support

While the new Mac Pro features six available PCI Express expansion slots for audio, video capture, storage, networking, and more, the desktop tower is no longer compatible with graphics cards. Instead, graphics processing is handled entirely by the M2 chip, which includes up to 76 GPU cores that access up to 192GB of unified memory.

John Turnus, Apple’s chief of hardware engineering, touched on the matter briefly in an interview with Apple Inc Fireball audacityJohn Gruber last week, stating that expandable GPU support for Apple silicon isn’t something the company has pursued.

“Essentially, we’ve built our architecture around this shared memory model and this optimization, and so it’s not entirely clear to me how you’re going to go into another GPU and do it in a way that’s optimized for our systems,” Ternus said. “It wasn’t the direction we wanted to go.”

Another limitation of the new Mac Pro compared to the Intel-based model is the lack of user-upgradeable RAM, since unified memory is soldered to the M2 Ultra chip. Additionally, the Intel-based model can be configured with up to 1.5TB of RAM, which is 8x the max of 192GB for the Apple silicon model.

There are certainly advantages to the new Mac Pro and its unified architecture. For example, Apple says the new Mac Pro is three times faster than the Intel-based model in some real-world workflows like video transcoding and 3D simulation. For video processing, Apple says the new Mac Pro has the same performance as the Intel-based model with seven Afterburner cards. As for overall CPU performance, the new $6,999 Mac Pro model is up to 2x faster than the Intel-based 28-core Mac Pro, which started at $12,999.

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The new Mac Pro is available to order now, and hits stores on Tuesday. Customers who don’t need PCI Express expansion should consider the Mac Studio, which can be configured with the M2 Ultra chip for $3,000 less than the Mac Pro.

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