A prototype of a shorter, narrower Mac Pro is reportedly making its way around the Apple campus right now, sources claim. The new design is also said to be rackmountable, potentially replacing the discontinued Xserve and providing IT professionals with a suitable upgrade path.
According to 9to5Mac, the new design is said to be narrowed down to just over 5 inches (13cm) and shortened down to 19 inches (48cm). The design will allow for a higher drive density than current server hardware, allowing for two drives per sled in a stack. Both traditional hard drives and newer solid state drives will be supported. Overall, in rack mount terms the new system will take up 3U of space.
The current design on the shelves made its debut in 2003. Known as the Power Mac G5, the system replaced the aging Power Mac G4, which featured a unique translucent plastic design. The redesign marked an aesthetic shift away from the ubiquitous plastic smooth casing in Apple's lineup to a more refined aluminium look. The minimalistic design motif that Apple moved towards during this time, particularly in its professional lineup, has been employed by the company's designers even today, making the G5-era Power Mac design still look quite modern. Apple tend to refresh product design every three or four years though, so for the Mac Pro to look nearly the same after eight years is particularly unusual in Apple's lineup.