Dec 14, 2019

Apple Engineers Explain the Cooling Systems in Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR


In Apple’s newest Pro Display XDR and Mac Pro, two Apple engineers explained how the Mac Pro’s thermal management features work. They found out that the 2019 Mac Pro has cooling fans that are designed by Apple, including the design Apple implemented in the Pro Display XDR. The engineers also explained the main purpose of Apple’s “cheese grater” design in these recently released products.

Engineering news website Popular Mechanics released an interview with two different Apple engineers, named Chris Ligtenberg and John Ternus. The engineers said that the Mac Pro required the engineers to “exploit the laws of thermodynamics”, meaning that the processing power must reach its potential without overheating the Mac Pro.

Next, inside the Mac Pro’s internals, the cooling system used in it consists of 3 axial fans in front of the casing and a blower in the rear. The fans are actually designed by Apple to conform to their standards, as the fans used in other types of desktop towers are too noisy and loud.

Ligtenberg, Apple’s senior director of product design, told Popular Mechanics about Apple’s development over fan blades in Macs. He says that,
"Years ago, we started redistributing the blades," explains Ligtenberg, Apple's senior director of product design. "They're still dynamically balanced, but they're actually randomized in terms of their BPF [blade pass frequency]. So you don't get huge harmonics that tend to be super annoying." 
He says the fan blades distribute evenly on its weight, which gives out a randomized BPF. In addition, he also relates a similarity to how the fan blades in Mac computers are designed. Ligtenberg said it meant to make less noise, with the design being based on automotive tires.
"That [solution is] borrowed almost entirely from automobile tires," Ligtenberg says. "There's a bit of math behind it, but you can create broadband noise instead of total noise with that technique." 
Not only the Mac Pro has lots of unique characteristics that are different from other desktops, but the Pro Display XDR has many design aspects that have similar thermal management trademarked by Apple. The metal divots on the front and back of the Mac Pro casing and in the Pro Display XDR’s rear display provides ventilation and passive cooling of the components. In addition, the report also includes that the Pro Display XDR has fans to cool down specific components. Ternus said "[For the Display,] we wanted free [air] flow through the channels, no matter the orientation.”

This is significant as rotating the display to 90 degrees allows more airflow to get in the holes, which gives the components more ventilation regardless of the orientation. In Apple’s comparison from the 2019 Mac Pro to the older Power Mac G5, the new grille lets in 20% more airflow than its predecessor. As of now, Apple is accepting orders for the Mac Pro starting at $6000, and the Pro Display XDR at $5000. The desktops will arrive in 1-2 weeks after the order is placed.

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