updated 11:00 pm EDT, Wed October 14, 2009
Apple may get early use of Gulftown Xeon
Apple may have a temporary exclusive on Intel's fastest workstation Xeons early next year, a purported leak argues tonight. An unnamed source says Apple is readying a Mac Pro based on the Xeon version of Intel's Gulftown six-core architecture and that the Mac builder would have a short exclusive for the processors, launching its own workstations in the winter while everyone else would have to wait until the spring. What configurations would ship aren't known by the MacBidouille tipster.
It's believed the mainboard for Gulftown systems would have added feature support, however, including 10-gigabit Ethernet (versus one gigabit today) and official support for 8GB and even 16GB memory sticks. A Mac Pro with the eight slots of the present-day design would support up to 128GB of RAM versus just 32GB using 4GB sticks.
Gulftown depends on Intel's 32 nanometer Westmere process to increase the complexity of the processor without necessarily affecting its size or power output. In addition to the extra two cores beyond most current Xeons, the Xeon design will support Hyperthreading and therefore address as many as 12 program threads at once. The amount of Level 2 cache should jump from 8MB to 12MB to reflect the extra amount of data moving between the added cores.
While unconfirmed, Apple has had a history of using Intel's latest Xeons ahead of others, such as exclusive access to a 3.06GHz Xeon for several weeks before competitors could use it.