New Mac Pro, Xserve

Today Apple announced a dramatic update to both of its professional Macs based on Intel’s high-end Xeon processors; bringing the Mac Pro and Xserve into the 45-nanometer era (all previous Intel Macs are based on 65nm technology; the PowerPC 970 “G5 was 90nm)” and offering up to twice the performance of previous models.

A lot has changed in the new Mac Pro…..but not everything the grapevine had been hoping for has arrived just yet.

Today’s update to the Mac Pro and Xserve is without a doubt one of the most anticipated of the past several months, and the numbers bear it out: 20% faster CPU-to-northbridge (Front Side Bus) bandwidth thanks to dual 1.6GHz FSBs, and memory bandwidth is now up to 1.6X faster as dual-channel DDR2-800 ECC FB-SDRAM (up from 667MHz) and an improved memory controller flex their muscles.

The standard package also receives a dramatic upgrade in the graphics department, moving from the previous nVIDIA GeForce 7300GT to the new and powerful ATi Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB card on a PCI Express 2.0 bus which offers a considerably faster pipe for not only the primary graphics card but all five PCIe-2.0 slots in the new Mac Pro. Adding a second Radeon HD 2600XT is only $150 more…..quite a steal when one considers that Other World Computing is still selling the 8X AGP based Radeon X850 XT 256MB card for the first/second-generation PowerMac G5 for $355 USD…..

There is still an entry-level model for both the Mac Pro and Xserve which has “only” four cores, but unlike the previous generation this means a single quad-core Harpertown chip rather than two dual-core Xeons; that entails giving up the second 1.6GHz Front Side Bus and half of the CPU-to-Northbridge bandwidth available on the octo-core models. Generally, most Mac Pro and even Xserve buyers will want to stick with the “standard” 2.8GHz octo-core model.

Upgrading to 3GHz ($800) or 3.2GHz ($1600) is pricey to say the very least, and when Rumors acquires our own Mac Pro in the near future (look for the Fire Sale of our existing machines, components & peripherals out of our New England offices in the next few days!) it will almost certainly be a 2.8GHz octo-core model. In fact, if any readers are interested in bartering a new Mac Pro for exclusive advertising opportunities on the all-new Mac OS Rumors, at very favorable exchange rates with guaranteed return-on-investment, please contact our new advertising manager: advertising@macosrumors.com to make your proposal. We’re once again accepting direct advertising/sponsorship inquiries and unlike most other sites that try to distract you from the bottom line with fixed numbers like views or clicks as metrics…..we guarantee that every sponsor turns a solid profit on every campaign — no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts.”

A lot is changing here at Rumors in 2008, and the same is very much true in Cupertino. At the beginning of 2007, when the transition to new management that we have now completed had only just begun, we predicted that the year would be the most remarkable one in Apple’s history thus far — and it would seem that we were right. The iPhone revolution alone has been history in the making and changed countless lives as well as an entire industry……

2008 promises to be not just greater — but vastly different than the years which preceded it. We may not get as huge an operating system upgrade as we got in late 2007 with Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard,” but point updates to Leopard are anticipated to bring some every dramatic new improvements to the OS, several all-new Pro and “i” applications, no less than two all-new Mac models and at least three new iDevices.

This is just barely scratching the surface. Without a doubt, 2008 is going to be the most exciting year in Apple’s history for numerous reasons….take our word for it, we already have more stunning material to report on in January than we normally get in six months or a whole year so expect an action-packed few weeks here even after Macworld is behind us…..

The new Mac Pro and Xserve are a sign of what is to come: they don’t have the long-awaited SLI dual-GPU graphics acceleration support which we had hoped would arrive with the 45-nanometer based Mac Pro, they might not have every last kitchen sink type feature that ubergeeks go to companies like Alienware for…..but they are very powerful, very ultra-modern and expandable machines which continue to lead their product categories in almost every way.

As always, smart consumers don’t buy RAM from Apple (we recommend Other World Computing, MacSales.com — though they are not currently a sponsor)…..and if you intend to be an early adopter of either of these powerful new Xeon-based Macs, share your experiences with the Mac community by emailing us: rumors@macosrumors.com!

Stay tuned for more updates on the new professional Macs — including in-depth looks at the specs, competition, and fine technological details of each new model Mac Pro and Xserve with commentary from staff, contributors, sources, Apple employees in Cupertino, Apple Store retail foot soldiers & Geniuses, and of course, readers like you with hands-on reviews and commentary!


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