updated 09:25 pm EDT, Mon March 12, 2007
New Mac Pro's coming?
As rumors of an impending update to Apple's flagship Mac Pro desktop systems gather steam, new evidence--including a glitch at the Apple Store--is mounting that Apple may update its like of Mac Pro desktops very soon. Intel on Monday announced two new low-power quad-core Xeon processors and while the low-voltage Xeon processors themselves are unlikely to be used in Apple's systems, the announcement represents the maturation of the quad-core CPU line--indicating that the world's largest chip manufacturer has begun to reach high volume production, which in turn turn would lead to lower pricing for all of its quad-core Xeon chips. In addition, over the past month, Apple has already been offering heavy discounts on its refurbished Mac Pro systems. The strongest evidence, however, came when a glitch in Apple's UK Store search engine showed results that indicated that users could configure the Mac Pro as either either a quad-core or 8-core system.
As noted by AppleInsider, the technical glitch appears to have only affected the UK-localized version of its online store, which appeared to be taken offline soon after with a traditional "We'll be back soon" -- a message that is often posted to the Cupertino-based company's online store ahead of product announcements. Apple's current Mac Pro offerings offer either one or two dual-core "Woodcrest" Xeon processors. Companies such as Dell have already heavily discounted the older servers built with the dual-core "Woodcrest" Xeons and last week began offering more modest discounts on building servers with quad-core "Clovertown" Xeons.
A report last year showed that new quad-core chips were essentially compatible with the current Mac Pro design, with users able to install quad-core Xeon chips in their Mac Pro without any problems.
According the report, however, the faster, more powerful quad-core and 8-core Mac Pro models were put on hold to better coincide with the launch of the much anticipated update to Adobe's graphics suite. While announcing the Adobe Creative Suite 3 launch for later this month, Adobe only said that the first Intel-native version of its flagship software will ship later this Spring in two different editions.
Intel focuses on power efficiency
Intel said its new energy-efficient 50-watt server Xeon processors represent a 35- to nearly 60-percent decrease in power from Intel's existing 80- and 120-watt quad-core server products. Pending pricing adjustments and the release of Adobe CS3, sources indicate that Apple will likely use the higher-wattage "Clovertown" Xeon chips to achieve the 8-core configurations, but the lower power chips will be available in servers from many companies, including Dell, HP, and IBM.
"As companies increasingly focus on reducing electricity bills and cooling costs associated with their computing needs, these new processors, requiring just 12.5 watts of power for each of the four cores or processing engines, deliver similar performance yet set a new standard in energy efficiency," the company said in a statement.
Intel's two low-voltage processors are: the Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor L5310 and L5320. The new 50-watt quad-core processors operate at 1.6GHz and 1.86GHz, respectively, feature a unique 8MB of on die cache for faster memory data communication and run on dedicated 1066MHz front side buses. In 1,000 unit quantities the L5320 is priced at $519 and the L5310 at $455.