Apple today released Apple Afterburner, an accelerator card that debuted alongside the new Mac Pro in 2019, as a standalone product on its online store.
The company said in a support document that the card "accelerates decoding and playback of multiple streams of ProRes and Pro Res RAW video files." It's only compatible with macOS, and third-party apps have to be updated to support it.
Those aren't the only compatibility restrictions that will limit the standalone Apple Afterburner's appeal. Apple said in the support document that the card doesn't support Thunderbolt expansion chassis; it can only be used in the new Mac Pro.
So why release the standalone Apple Afterburner? Either the company is planning to release additional products that support the card, is hoping that Mac Pro owners will upgrade their systems or is sick of people forgetting to buy the card in the first place.
We'd rank those possibilities in order from "sensible" to "nonsensical." (Who's going to forget to buy the Apple Afterburner when configuring their Mac Pro?) But hey, now at least Mac Pro owners don't have to commit to buying the accelerator card right away.
Apple is selling Apple Afterburner for $2,000 via its online store; it costs the same amount when selected as a configuration option for the new Mac Pro.