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Is a Mac Pro update coming soon? New leaks point to improved AMD Radeon graphics

AMD Radeon Pro W6900X
A purported image of the upcoming AMD Radeon Pro W6900X

The Mac Pro could be about to receive a noticeable boost to its performance. A new range graphics cards called the AMD Radeon Pro W6000 series appear destined for the Mac Pro, and have been not only photographed but also benchmarked. These cards will support AMD’s Navi RDNA2 architecture, offering a substantial upgrade to current Mac Pro graphics performance.

Images of two of the cards have leaked, giving a first glimpse of them out in the wild. However, the photos depict the type of standard PCIe graphics card that usually appears in Windows PCs. Apple’s Mac Pro, on the other hand, uses a proprietary MPX Module to house the graphics card, so the images in question almost certainly do not reflect what the cards will look like inside the Mac Pro, if they are indeed ever offered for sale by Apple.

Even more tantalizingly, one of the cards — the Radeon Pro W6900X — has appeared on benchmarking website Geekbench, where it scored 177,719 in the Metal graphics test. Compare that to the Vega II Duo, currently the top-end GPU available in the Mac Pro, which scored 101,502 in the same test. Exact specs of the W6000 series cards, such as the amount of video memory they possess, are not yet known.

Interestingly, the W6900X card was tested inside a Mac Pro system (code-named MacPro 7,1) with an Intel Core i9 10920X processor, something that is not currently available to be configured inside a Mac Pro. What this means is anyone’s guess — Apple may have been using this processor simply for testing purposes, or it may offer it in future configurations. This seems unlikely, though, as currently the Mac Pro only offers workstation-class Xeon processors.

Still, the leaked images and scores remain intriguing, and could hint at a future graphics upgrade for the Mac Pro. Industry analysts have claimed for months that the Mac Pro is due to be updated in 2021, including with an all-new half-size model, although the full-size version will not yet make the leap to custom Apple Silicon chips. This could be because Apple is waiting for more pro software to be available on the new chip architecture, or because Apple’s high-end chips are not yet ready for production.

Still, given that Apple is actively testing new internal components for the Mac Pro, we might not have long to wait for news of a refreshed version.

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