updated 12:30 pm EST, Tue February 9, 2010
Temporary workaround requires extra hardware
Apple has recognized and is now probing a critical problem affecting the Mac Pro, sources claim. Some Nehalem-based systems have experienced massive increases in CPU power consumption while playing audio, which are worsened by leaps in heat levels, and performance drops as high as 20 percent. In spite of these changes, the CPU usage does not register in Activity Monitor, and fans fail to kick in at proper levels.
Why the power surges are happening remains unknown, but the problem should be avoidable by running audio through a PCIe soundcard instead of the integrated chipset. The issue also leaves Windows unaffected, suggesting that the error is inherent to Mac OS X. It may be corrected in Mac OS X 10.6.3.
Similar troubles are now also being reported for some Core i7-equipped iMacs. Like the Mac Pro, Core i5 and i7 iMacs are founded on Intel's Nehalem platform. Apple's operating system may not, however, be optimized for the technology.