Here are the rough specs of the Mac Pro prototype that we first saw mid-month in a “batphone” stream from sources on the West Coast, and more recently had several of our East Coast reporters play with hands-on during a source meeting in New York City this week:
*2.8, 2.93, and 3.2GHz Core i7 Xeon 5500-series “Gainestown” processors with 8MB of L2 cache; previous models had 12MB of L2 per chip but due to Nehalem improvements, new L2 actually performs better — and the reduced amount improves cost, manfacturing yields, power/heat dissipation, et cetera.
*All versions dual-chip/dual Front Side Bus based; 2.93 and 3.2GHz models available with either quad or eight-core chips creating a total of eight or sixteen(!!!) cores.
*Nehalem re-introduces Intel’s HyperTransport technology which processes two threads on each core — causing the OS to see 16 or 32 “logical cores,” respectively.
*Triple DDR3-1333 (!) SDRAM memory busses, forcing memory to be installed in sets of three DIMMs, but offering upwards of 4.8 billion transfers per second through Nehalem “QuickPath Interconnect” which is a more than 60% boost over the closest alternative DDR3-1066 based design currently on the market.
*There has been some question as to whether Core i7 Xeon supports ECC (error correction/control) FB-DIMMs which have been in the past several models of Mac Pro; the other Core i7 chips do not. Checking this with sources, will post updates to the comments of this article and in future articles.
*Power usage and operating temperatures of the new CPUs are down substantially from the current 5400-series Xeon models, making for a quieter, more energy efficient, and “greener” Mac….the entire chipset/motherboard also cuts down significantly on environmental pollutants such as lead, mercury and volatile manufacturing by-products.
*Dual-GPU “SLI” graphics system built by nVIDIA; entry-level eight core 2.8GHz model will have a single ATi GPU — possibly a 3600-class card — and all others will sport various types of dual nVIDIA cards in the 8000/9000 series. A configuration with dual GeForce 9800GX2 cards (which have dual GPUs on each card) for a total of four GPUs has been mentioned by sources but thus far, we have not been able to see one with our own eyes.
*Three memory riser cards (one for each bus) provide a total of twelve DDR3-1333MHz DIMM slots supporting at least 32GB, possibly as much as 48GB of RAM with 4GB DIMMs. Stock configs will sport either 1.5 or 3GB of RAM due to the triple-channel architecture — a significant improvement over the 1 & 2GB configurations currently offered.
*PCI Express expansion options considerably improved: two double-wide 32X graphics slots for SLI GPU(s), either 3 or 4 (depending on which prototype; we think, but cannot confirm, that the final version will have four) single-wide slots for “regular” expansion cards. These slots have a total of 32 PCIe lanes which can be dynamically assigned based on how many cards are inserted and what type of cards they are; the first two slots can run at up to 16X, the rest up to 8X. There had been some reporting early on that the dynamic feature might be disabled in favor of a more stable/reliable/compatible fixed 8X speed for all slots, but this no longer appears to be the case.
Other than these changes, most of the other things such as internal drive bay layouts, ports, and so forth do not appear to be significantly altered in the new case. Due to its only somewhat increased height/width over the current models, the new Mac Pro doesn’t have too much room for other changes now that it has up to twice as many expansion slots and half again as many RAM slots….
Shipping in early to mid March, these will quite simply be the most powerful Macs ever and one of the most impressive Core i7 Xeon based computers of any kind, anywhere on the market!
Overall, we couldn’t be more impressed by this incredible piece of technology and will be keeping a very close eye on related rumors as they develop. Be sure to check back often, since even before new articles are posted we’ll be posting updates to the comments section below….and if you’re a retailer or other party who wouldn’t mind parting with one or more of these beastly machines when they ship, please consider becoming a sponsor of Rumors! Barter with us to be the exclusive provider of our new desktops which are badly needed for the new team who are slaving away on Macs multiple generations old, mostly laptops and Minis. If you’re interested, drop us a line and we’ll show you how strong returns on your investment are ensured by our Guaranteed Return-on-Investment sponsorship/advertising policies….otherwise, thanks for visiting MOSR today and for supporting us with your clicks! 🙂
Much more “Nehalem” Core i7 dirt is on the way — starting with the forthcoming Nehalem iMacs which we may see significantly sooner than March….so stay tuned!