Apple plans turbocharged Mac Pro speedster
Intel Gulftown chips to provide the horsepower
The Mac Pro is the Big Mac, with up to two Nehalem processors and 32GB of RAM producing great graphics processing performance.
But it's a pussy compared to what might be coming. Early next year we could see a 12-core Mac with 128GB RAM that just screams: a Mega Mac, if you will.
Currently Mac Pros use one or two Nehalem CPUs, 4-core Xeon 5500s, with up to 32GB of RAM.
Nehalem is built with a 45nm process. This is currently transitioning to Westmere, a 32nm process, and Gulftown is a six-core Xeon, or Core i9 in Intel's rebranding, built on the Westmere process.
It is said to feature integrated graphics, a new virtualisation engine and encryption support, with first ships occurring early next year. Generally it's expected that workstation and server suppliers would be introducing Gulftown products from the second quarter of 2010 onwards.
The scuttlebut is that Apple will introduce earlier, in the first quarter. It will reveal a new Mac Pro range with one or two Gulftowns, meaning 12 or 24 threads, up to 128GB of RAM - a 4x increase - through using new 8 or 16GB RAM modules and 10Gb/s Ethernet support. ®
The main reason why stuff like this gets bought...
Either as a business expense, or as purchased by someone who's self-employed and uses it for work.
If they're earning enough to put them in the higher tax bracket then they effectively get 40% off the shiny new gear. I'll consider one if I ever start earning that much, beats paying the 40%.
For recreational use though? You'd have to be nuts. Not that you're not permitted some recreational use out of a business purchase of course. :)
Im not going there!
I want one
OK - my old MAc desk top is a bit long in the tooth - a 533 MHz G4 (purchased new more than 8 years ago!) Given the way I use hardware - this could easily be the last desktop I would have to buy - and I am in my late 40s. In light of that a $3k+ purchase price would be easily justifiable.
(Think long term costs - or TCO.)
The other market is music
If you're running a DAW (Logic, Cubase, Pro-Tools etc) with a largish number of plug-ins you want as much CPU and RAM as you can throw at it. It's also a market where 64bit matters immensely. I've currently got a Mac Pro quad core 2.66 with 12 Gigs of RAM and it's pretty easy to max it out if I'm not careful with reverbs and plug-ins.
Re: What's the point?
I'm still using my 2006 (first edition) Mac Pro, and it still performs elegantly (and still boots as fast as it did on day 1!).
I use it almost exclusively for Final Cut Studio and some programming (tend to use a macbook more and more for the latter now), and I still can't see the day when I'll need more.
But as Edward Noad has pointed out, if I did get one (and sure, I'd love one), at least I can rest assured that it will last and last and last.
I will concur however, that machines like Mac Pros, they don't get used properly by the software that's out there, not outside the academia anyway.