There are a few other spec decisions that Apple has reversed itself on (in the case of processors, across several different product lines including nearly all of its planned 2010 laptops….more than once) in roadmap document revisions over the past year, so we are leaving a lot of room for specification choices that the company may still be debating internally….but here is our best guess as to which test designs we’ve heard about will become shipping products in the near future.
These are a composite of a very wide range of prototypes, so expect them to be wide of the mark in at least one or two minor respects; note that there are a few refinements/changes from our previous Overview post based on new source reports about several moving targets with regard to specs, and our latest analyses of that information.
Across entire lineup
- Improved/modified enclosure which could be as obviously dramatic as the black-accent visual revamp we’ve described as long ago as this time last year….or as subtle as a slight size increase to accommodate a larger motherboard, heavier-duty cooling hardware, new port layout, and/or changes to expansion slots.
- Stock GPU(s) either ATi 4800-series or NVIDIA 200-series. Optional ATi 5000-series (5870?) and/or NVIDIA 400-series (470?) cards.
- On some or all models, PCI Express 2.0 expansion slots may be improved: some prototypes sported dramatic upgrades in this area, but the consensus is that either one new slot will be added (total of four), or speeds on the current three slots will be improved: either way, total PCIe bandwidth may increase to 32X (16+8+8/16+8+4+4) or more (up to 16+16+8+8, though this is unlikely) from current 24X (16+4+4).
- Reduced pricing on the Apple RAID Card.
- New build-to-order SSD drive options, and modest improvements to HDD options.
- Standard optical “Superdrive” upgraded to 24X from 18X?
- Some prototypes were based on a high-end motherboard design which includes support for USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0, but cost concerns and few USB3 devices currently on the market make it questionable which models this would be utilized for, if any. We’re not prepared to make a prediction at this time, but are doubtful.
Entry level, single-socket
- Price range: Similar to, but possibly starting lower ($1,999 is a target frequently mentioned in roadmap documents), than current quad models.
- CPUs: 1-2 models (2.66 and 3.33GHz?) will utilize quad-core “Bloomfield” 45-nanometer Intel Xeon W3500-series processors similar to those employed in current Mac Pro quads, but at reduced pricing; possible single six-core “Gulftown” (32nm) Xeon model, likely utilizing the 3.33GHz W3680. This six-core model is anticipated by Apple to be one of the best sellers and best overall values since few users really fully utilize a dual-socket eight core system very often. Gulftown also offers a number of advantages beyond its core count: a larger 12MB L3 cache, more aggressive Turbo overclocking, faster QuickPath interconnects, and greater power efficiency due to its 32nm manufacturing process just to name a few.
- RAM: DDR3-1066 on Bloomfield, DDR3-1333 on Gulftown.
- Pricing: likely starting at $2,999.
- CPUs: 2 models employing twin quad-core 32nm Westmere-EP processors, likely at 2.4 (E5620) and 3.06GHz (X5667) respectively.
- RAM: DDR3-1066 on E-series, DDR3-1333 for X-series.
- Pricing: starting in the ballpark of $6,000.
- CPUs: 1-2 models employing twin hex-core 32nm Westmere-EP processors at clock speeds between 2.66 (X5650) and 2.93GHz (X5670).
- RAM: DDR3-1333.
Continue on to the next page for more analysis and the conclusion of this in-depth “Mac Roadmap 2010” report. (scroll past the ad)