updated 02:35 pm EDT, Fri October 5, 2007
Apple taking Penryn Xeons
Apple may be planning to consume the highest-end Penryn-based Xeon workstation CPUs when they launch in the fall, according to reported Japanese insiders. Although Intel has routinely demonstrated a 3.16GHz, quad-core Xeon model known as the X5482 since its spring Developer Forum in April, the company is said to be reserving this as well as some additional steppings of the 45-nanometer Xeon processors almost exclusively for Apple's Mac Pro systems. Dell, HP, and other top-tier workstation vendors will only get just enough processors at first to make their shipping claims honest, according to the sources.
The Mac designer is also allegedly considering a special 3.33GHz variant of the quad-core "Yorkfield" Core 2 Extreme processor, though its estimated high average power consumption of 130 watts would preclude the CPU from shipping in systems beyond the Mac Pro. Most other Apple systems use mobile Core 2 processors, which are not expected to share the advanced Penryn architecture until early 2008 or later. Intel has officially scheduled its first Xeon using the technology for November 12th.
Reports also allege that Apple's incentive to aggressively move to Penryn largely stems from Intel's inclusion of greatly increased memory bandwidth and SSE4, a new subset of instructions that should improve performance in optimized programs. Both would be especially useful for creative programs such as image and video editing tools, according to the insider.
Apple has largely left the Mac Pro's hardware untouched since its debut in August 2006, only adding a quad-core 3GHZ Xeon option in April of this year and making minor changes to storage options. The spring update effectively gave Apple exclusive access to the 3GHz processor until June, when Intel officially released the chip to all manufacturers.