The “new” Mac Pro hasn’t been updated since 2013. I expect that it will be this year. But what if an “iMac Pro” replaced the Mac Pro as the new desktop for those needing as much power as possible.
There are a couple of reasons why Apple might take this route. One: the Mac Pro has a limited, but vital, core group of users. Unit sales of the pro desktop are small -- and Apple doesn't like small (at least in terms of sales, though it loves small when it comes to design). An iMac Pro would appeal to those beyond the current Mac Pro target base.
Two: the iMac, in its current form, offers lots of power and, with Thunderbolt, impressive expansion opportunities. In fact, the technology offers the potential and promise for even more expansion capabilities such as external graphics cards. More on that in a moment.
In fact, the main reason for making an iMac Pro is Thunderbolt. Imagine taking advantage of Thunderbolt connectivity for a data unit that lets you mix and match multiple drives. Thunderbolt’s PCI-e support also offers intriguing possibilities, such as the ability to add external graphics cards.
Companies such as LucidLogix are reportedly working on Thunderbolt graphics solutions that allow just about any graphics card to be used with a notebook via an external enclosure. Imagine if Apple had similar technology in the works that would allow you to add new graphics card to desktops or laptops. If your graphics card was getting long in the tooth, just pop in a new one in the external enclosure. It could also open up more native GPU support. Right now this is a Windows-only solution (with kinks still to be worked out), but I'd be surprised if a similar Apple option isn't coming down the pike.
An iMac Pro may not be what Apple has in mind. But the idea makes sense. It helps simplify the Mac line-up. In fact, I have a theory on how Apple might take EXTREME measures to do this. More on that tomorrow.