Poke around in Apple's new software releases for the Mac and you just may find clues as to what new hardware may be coming down the pike. This week, such digging has Apple watchers guessing that new Mac Pro towers may be on their way.
Apple recently released the first beta of OS X 10.8.3 and Netkas.org quickly found something interesting buried in the pending update to the Mac operating system - namely, driver support the Radeon HD 7900 series of powerful discrete graphics cards from Advanced Micro Devices.
Support for AMD's "Tahiti" GPUs in the next version of the Mac OS got AppleInsider speculating that Apple has an updated Mac Pro in the works (it's tough to imagine any other current Mac form-factor using such powerful, honking GPUs), though the site noted that plenty of other clues have pointed to that happening already.
Back in June, Apple CEO Tim Cook promised graphics professionals and other dedicated users of Apple's last remaining PC tower that new Mac Pros would be released in 2013. That pledge came in the context of growing concern among Mac Pro users that Apple, which has in recent years shifted focus from its Mac products towards its higher volume iPhone and iPad lines, might be phasing out its workstation line altogether.
Around that same time, Apple stealthily upgraded its current Mac Pro line, bumping the £2,049 entry-level edition up to a 3.2GHz, quad-core Intel Xeon chip to go along with 6GB of RAM and kitting out the £3,099 model with two 2.4GHz, six-core Xeons and 12GB of RAM. Both of those Mac Pro versions also sport a 1TB hard drive and AMD's Radeon HD 5770 graphics cards.
The new parts, though welcome, clearly weren't everything Apple's workstation fans had been hoping for - AppleInsider characterised the June update as "a modest speed bump." As PCMag's Brian Westover wrote at the time, "Most notable about the update is what remains unchanged. The Mac Pro still offers USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 connections, with Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 nowhere to be seen, making the desktop unable to take advantage of high-speed devices like the Pegasus R6, a speedy RAID drive designed with video professionals in mind."
Those pro users may have to wait a bit longer for such Mac Pro integrations, but now that evidence is piling up that there will indeed be a new line-up of Apple workstations in 2013, it seems pretty likely that those new towers will incorporate Apple's most current I/O technology.
Until then, Apple's new iMacs start shipping 30 November.