Apple Unveils 8-Core Mac Pro

The latest desktop Mac model offers two quad-core Xeon processors from Intel, and Apple will continue to sell Mac Pros with two dual-core processors.

With little fanfare, Apple revealed April 4 that its Mac Pro desktop model can now be configured with two quad-core Intel Xeon processors.

On its Web site, the Cupertino, Calif., company is advertising a Mac Pro, which will feature two quad-core 5300 series processors that can run up to 3.0GHz.

The two quad-core processors offer 8MB of Level 2 cache each – for a total of 16MB – as well as a 1333MHz FSB (front side bus). Apple is also offering the Mac Pro with a total of 16GB of RAM and a total of four SATA (Serial ATA) hard drives that can support up to 3TB of data.

Apple first announced that it will offer two dual-core Intel processors with the Mac Pro at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Aug. 6. On its Web site, the company continues to offer Mac Pros with dual-core Xeon processors that run at 2.0GHz, 2.66GHz and 3.0GHz.

The retail price for a standard Mac Pro on the companys Web site – two 2.66GHz Xeon dual-core processors and 1GB of memory – is $2,499 and the new quad-core configurations will add an additional $1,498 to that price.

Apple did not indicate which specific Xeon quad-core processors in Intels 5300 series the Mac Pro will use.

While Intel does not list a specific quad-core Xeon that runs at 3.OGHz on its Web site, an Intel company spokesperson confirmed that Apple is intending to use a quad-core processor with the Mac Pro that is in limited production.

Earlier this year, Intel did mention that it was preparing a 3.0GHz, quad-core Xeon processor, but company officials did not divulge when it would go into production.

"We are indeed shipping a 3.0GHz Xeon version [and] expect to see faster gigahertz speeds for our high-end Extreme PCs very soon, too," Bill Kircos, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK. "For now, the product is in limited production and Apple has chosen to adopt it. We will introduce another 3.0GHz Xeon SKU [Stock Keeping Unit] later on as well."

/zimages/3/28571.gifDoes Intels road map hold the key to the Macs future? Click here to find out.

The Mac Pro also features a doublewide, 16-lane PCI Express graphics slot that can support either a Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT, an ATI Radeon X1900 XT or a Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 graphics card.

The desktop can also support up to eight displays, according to Apples Web site.

The launch of the newly configured Mac Pro comes a little more than a week after Adobe launched the full versions of its Photoshop Creative Suite 3 and Adobe Photoshop Extended.

According to analyst Gene Munster, the release of CS3 will likely lead Apples core group of professional users to invest in updated versions of the companys desktops and notebooks to accommodate the new software.

Munster also said he believes that a recent dip in Mac sales could mean that these professional users were waiting for CS3 before investing in a new Mac.

"We believe that the success of the Intel-optimized CS3 will drive sales of Apples pro-level computers, as Adobe creative pros are waiting to buy Intel machines until CS3 is released," Munster wrote in a Jan. 24 report to investors.

In addition to its professional users, Apple is hoping the ability to use eight processing cores with Mac Pro will appeal to software developers, animators and even users conducting scientific research.

"The eight-core Mac Pro gives pro software developers a platform to prepare new versions of their applications for the future, when eight-core technology is more prevalent on the desktop," an Apple spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to eWeek.

"The eight-core Mac Pro offers greater performance for some processing-intensive tasks, such as 3D [three-dimensional] modeling, animation and scientific applications," the spokesperson added.

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