Next-gen Mac Pro processors could arrive March 29

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
New Xeon processors widely believed to be candidates to power a next-generation Apple Mac Pro will go on sale in late March, according to a new report.



Fudzilla.com is reporting a Sunday, March 29th on-sale date, with the chips becoming more widely available the next day. While their report doesn't cite any sources, the news does seem to jive with an earlier story about the new Nehalem-based Xeon chips arriving in "early 2009".



As outlined in the November report, only nine of the new Xeon 5500 series chips (which Intel refers to as the "Gainestown" series) are quad-core, and only five would seem to be legitimate candidates to find their way into the new Mac Pro (Charts). These chips are the 3.2GHz W5580 ($1,600), 2.93GHz X5570 ($1,386), 2.8GHz X5560 ($1,172), 2.66GHz X5550 ($958), and 2.53GHz E5540 ($744).



At first glance, the new chips seem like a confusing choice, since they're more expensive at identical clock speeds than their predecessors. However, Intel claims dramatically improved performance thanks to a new architecture that puts the memory controller on the same die as the processor and introduces a new interconnect called QuickPath, which replaces the legacy standard Front Side Bus (FSB).



This image, taken from Intel's demo of the new technology, represents the complexity of legacy systems with four processors and lots of memory. | Courtesy of Intel



Instead of forcing a server or high-end workstation to use a single shared pool of memory connected to all the processors through FSBs and memory controller hubs, as seen above, most Nehalem processors can take advantage of their own dedicated memory that will be accessible directly through an Integrated Memory Controller on the processor die itself with QuickPath. To see this visually, refer to the below "before" and "after" schematics.



Before | Courtesy of Intel



After | Courtesy of Intel



The Mac Pro line of Apple's flagship desktop workstations was last updated more than a year ago when eight-processor cores and a new architecture combined to deliver up to twice the claimed performance of its predecessor.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 253
    These look like great chips, but what will the new mac pros cost?
  • Reply 2 of 253
    Cost will be the same.



    Intel is doing what AMD did years ago, integrated memory controller on the cpu's. This boosts performance GREATLY. On the windows server platform AMD will out score Intel Xeon's nearly 2:1 in raw performance and database performance. They also have downsides but this is a huge leap forward for Intel.



    When the portable versions show up expect your iMac/Laptop/Mini to LEAP ahead in terms of performance.
  • Reply 3 of 253
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post


    These look like great chips, but what will the new mac pros cost?



    If I'm Apple I keep the same pricepoint



    2.93Ghz Xeon Nehalem for $2799.

    The added advantage is that they can now claim 4-8 physical cores and 8-16 logical cores via SMT (simultaneous multi-threading)
  • Reply 4 of 253
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    I think the price points will stay the same.



    Common specs:

    • Dual socket Core i7 Xeon

    • 12 DIMM slots - DDR3, ECC, up to 48GB RAM (96GB with 8GB DIMMS)

    • 4 PCIe 2.0 x16 slots

    • Apple's first SLI implementation

    • SATA II only; no PATA

    • 2 Firewire 800; no 400

    • Built in hardware in RAID IHC10R



    Single 2.66GHz - $2,299



    Dual 2.8GHz - $2,799



    Dual 2.93GHz - $3,599



    Dual 3.2GHz - $4,399



    maybe a little less expensive due to the more basic RAM and standard x58 chipset:



    Single 2.66GHz - $1,999



    Dual 2.8GHz - $2,599



    Dual 2.93GHz - $2,999



    Dual 3.2GHz - $3,999
  • Reply 5 of 253
    tony1tony1 Posts: 258member
    Yay, just after I get laid off, so just in time to make me feel better.



    Can't wait.



    ...but wait...."Sunday"? Not a Tuesday?
  • Reply 6 of 253
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    While their report doesn't cite any sources, the news does seem to jive with an earlier story...



    I think you mean 'jibe.'
  • Reply 7 of 253
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Hey while were at it can I get SAS/SATA 6Gbps support?



    I figure now that SSD are taking off we needn't have the storage bus become the limiting

    factor for RAID systems.



    I'd love to see FW 3.2Gbps as well. Hell if i'm spending $4 grand for a nicely spec'd system humor me with excess please.



  • Reply 8 of 253
    ugh. I just bought an 8 core 2.8 system a few months ago. I know I'm dreaming, however I was hoping any new chipsets might "fit" the socket of the current system. It seems based on these specs the new Mac Pro's will have completely new logic boards corresponding with new processors. Oh well, you can't stifle technology just to keep yourself up-to-date. If the specs live up to their hype, I may have to bite the bullet and buy one (anyone interested in an 8 core Mac Pro with 8 GB's of RAM?).



    Side note, a couple of questions:



    1. What is SATA II compared to SATA (assuming their is a difference)?



    2. What RAM will this new system accept? DDR3?



    3. With the new integrated system, what is the defining difference between the proposed new Mac Pro versus the current system?
  • Reply 9 of 253
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    The current graphics options are out of date. How about SLI support and new graphics cards such as the NVidia GTX 2xx series. Built in support for individual SAS drives without having to buy the $800 RAID card would also be nice.
  • Reply 10 of 253
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Hey while were at it can I get SAS/SATA 6Gbps support?



    I figure now that SSD are taking off we needn't have the storage bus become the limiting

    factor for RAID systems.



    I'd love to see FW 3.2Gbps as well. Hell if i'm spending $4 grand for a nicely spec'd system humor me with excess please.







    Yup, it seems like buses (storage buses as you point out) might become limiting factors this year. But other than that, I see unprecedented speed gains this year with Nehalem, super fast SSDs (which will only become cheaper by the end of the year), and Snow Leopard right around the corner.
  • Reply 11 of 253
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,658member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Hey while were at it can I get SAS/SATA 6Gbps support?



    I figure now that SSD are taking off we needn't have the storage bus become the limiting

    factor for RAID systems.



    I'd love to see FW 3.2Gbps as well. Hell if i'm spending $4 grand for a nicely spec'd system humor me with excess please.







    Don't we already have SAS for the Mac Pro?



    Is SATA 6 out yet?
  • Reply 12 of 253
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CJD2112 View Post


    ugh. I just bought an 8 core 2.8 system a few months ago. I know I'm dreaming, however I was hoping any new chipsets might "fit" the socket of the current system. It seems based on these specs the new Mac Pro's will have completely new logic boards corresponding with new processors. Oh well, you can't stifle technology just to keep yourself up-to-date. If the specs live up to their hype, I may have to bite the bullet and buy one (anyone interested in an 8 core Mac Pro with 8 GB's of RAM?).



    Side note, a couple of questions:



    1. What is SATA II compared to SATA (assuming their is a difference)?



    2. What RAM will this new system accept? DDR3?



    3. With the new integrated system, what is the defining difference between the proposed new Mac Pro versus the current system?



    1. SATA II has 3.0Gb/sec of bandwidth while SATA I has 1.5Gb/sec. SATA III will double it to 6.0Gb/sec.



    2. The Nehalem Xeon processors have triple channel DDR3 memory buses. ECC or non-ECC but the Mac Pro will likely demand ECC memory.



    3. Well the Nehalem Xeon will have 4 dual threaded cores so it can process 8 simultaneous threads per processor, or 16 in a dual system. Also, there is much less latency from memory to processor since the memory controller is on the processor die.
  • Reply 13 of 253
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    Don't we already have SAS for the Mac Pro?



    Is SATA 6 out yet?





    Looks like Mid Year



    SAS 6Gbps is early with Atto Technology offering int and ext 8-port

    608 and 680 cards



    http://www.attotech.com/sashostadaptertechnology.html
  • Reply 14 of 253
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,658member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CJD2112 View Post


    ugh. I just bought an 8 core 2.8 system a few months ago. I know I'm dreaming, however I was hoping any new chipsets might "fit" the socket of the current system. It seems based on these specs the new Mac Pro's will have completely new logic boards corresponding with new processors. Oh well, you can't stifle technology just to keep yourself up-to-date. If the specs live up to their hype, I may have to bite the bullet and buy one (anyone interested in an 8 core Mac Pro with 8 GB's of RAM?).



    Side note, a couple of questions:



    1. What is SATA II compared to SATA (assuming their is a difference)?



    2. What RAM will this new system accept? DDR3?



    3. With the new integrated system, what is the defining difference between the proposed new Mac Pro versus the current system?



    Sorry, this is an entirely new mobo.



    SATA I vs II is not what people think it is. It has nothing to do with the speeds per se, though it works out that way. It's other specs. But it just happens that SATA II is normally spec'ed at 3 Gbs rather than the older 1.5 Gbs. SATA 6Gb/s, which is what they want the latest to be called as a product name., is twice again as fast.



    Actually SATA I and SATA II are incorrect. It's really SATA Revision I.x, SATA Revision 2.x, SATA Revision 3.x, etc.



    Sorry you asked, right?



    DDR3



    The memory controller is in the cpu package, and on the die for much better performance, and lower total power draw, and heat. This results in much faster memory access, giving better performance for most all apps, some more than others.



    These new chips also go back to hyperthreading, which gives two threads per core, which can give up to another 30% performance increase for those programs that can use it, and very little penalty for those that can't.



    Also the memory controller uses a point to point wiring scheme instead of the frontside buss called "Quickpath".



    We can expect between 20% to 50% better performance on a GHz to GHz comparison.



    A simpler mobo results, though much better on board power supply control is needed.
  • Reply 15 of 253
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,658member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Looks like Mid Year



    SAS 6Gbps is early with Atto Technology offering int and ext 8-port

    608 and 680 cards



    http://www.attotech.com/sashostadaptertechnology.html



    Oooh! Second quarter. It could just squeak in.



    I'm waiting for my new one too.
  • Reply 16 of 253
    Just FYI, the new architecture of the Intel's Nehalem platform aka Quickpath, Integrated memory controller/NUMA, Level 3 cache, revised TLB, SMT, etc improves performance relatively proportionally to the number of CPUs.



    What I mean is that single-CPU systems see the least amount of advantage from this new architecture, although they still can be 10-40% faster than equivalent Core 2 chips, particularly on highly-threaded apps that take advantage of the Hyperthreading (SMT). Dual-CPU (MP) systems like the Mac Pro and DP servers will see a much greater advantage, as has been shown by the mind-blowing SAP/VMware/etc benchmarks run on early versions of the quad-core "Gainestown" Xeon. I don't remember the details, but I believe some of the benchmarks had a dual-Xeon system besting quad-socket systems based on AMDs fastest Shanghai chip. Whether that type of performance is seen when they come out is not yet known, but suffice to say they will no doubt be screamers.



    Although Apple doesn't have 4+ socket servers (and they are only used in very expensive mostly-enterprise servers), It will be insane to see how they perform when the 8-core "Beckton" Xeon is ready. a 4P server will have 32 cores and 64 threads, with four independent pools of memory and absolutely enormous total memory and interprocessor bandwidth through the Quickpath interface. They should absolutely blow away anything from AMD.
  • Reply 17 of 253
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Outsider View Post


    1. SATA II has 3.0Gb/sec of bandwidth while SATA I has 1.5Gb/sec. SATA III will double it to 6.0Gb/sec.



    2. The Nehalem Xeon processors have triple channel DDR3 memory buses. ECC or non-ECC but the Mac Pro will likely demand ECC memory.



    3. Well the Nehalem Xeon will have 4 dual threaded cores so it can process 8 simultaneous threads per processor, or 16 in a dual system. Also, there is much less latency from memory to processor since the memory controller is on the processor die.



    Thanks for the replies guys, it definitely cleared a lot.



    So I assume the current Mac Pro's have SATA Revision 1.x, when is the speculative date for SATA 3.x?



    Four dual threaded cores processing eight threads? That's quite a boost from the current Xeon server grade chipsets. Hyper-threading, DDR3, Intel's memory controller utilizing point to point wiring, and obtaining these improved speeds while lowering overall power consumption is impressive. Unfortunately this means I will be drooling longingly at my local Apple store, while my mind quickly calculates the price difference between my current system and a new 8 core unit *sigh*. \
  • Reply 18 of 253
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CJD2112 View Post


    Thanks for the replies guys, it definitely cleared a lot.



    So I assume the current Mac Pro's have SATA Revision 1.x, when is the speculative date for SATA 3.x?



    Four dual threaded cores processing eight threads? That's quite a boost from the current Xeon server grade chipsets. Hyper-threading, DDR3, Intel's memory controller utilizing point to point wiring, and obtaining these improved speeds while lowering overall power consumption is impressive. Unfortunately this means I will be drooling longingly at my local Apple store, while my mind quickly calculates the price difference between my current system and a new 8 core unit *sigh*. \



    No, the Mac Pro out now do have SATA II.
  • Reply 19 of 253
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CJD2112 View Post


    ugh. I just bought an 8 core 2.8 system a few months ago. I know I'm dreaming, however I was hoping any new chipsets might "fit" the socket of the current system. It seems based on these specs the new Mac Pro's will have completely new logic boards corresponding with new processors. Oh well, you can't stifle technology just to keep yourself up-to-date. If the specs live up to their hype, I may have to bite the bullet and buy one (anyone interested in an 8 core Mac Pro with 8 GB's of RAM?).



    The problem is that Intel doesn't stick to a socket for very long, when they up the process technology, they often change the socket & bus along with it, this is especially so with Xeon processors. They'll offer the older chips for a while, but they don't often offer faster ones later.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Outsider View Post


    2. The Nehalem Xeon processors have triple channel DDR3 memory buses. ECC or non-ECC but the Mac Pro will likely demand ECC memory.



    Right, I don't remember any Xeon system using non-ECC memory.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Hey while were at it can I get SAS/SATA 6Gbps support?



    I figure now that SSD are taking off we needn't have the storage bus become the limiting

    factor for RAID systems.



    So far that I've heard about, SSDs aren't choked by the bus yet.
  • Reply 20 of 253
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    SSD drives connected directly to the PCIe bus are delivering excellent performance (700MB/sec reads and ~550MB/sec writes).



    Check out FusionIO. (PDF)
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