updated 03:10 pm EST, Thu March 1, 2012
Intel Xeon E5 ready to go
Intel's elusive, publicly accessible Xeon E5 processor is now known through a preview on Thursday. Workstation builder Supermicro gave The Inquirer a look at an upcoming E5-based workstation with two of the processors. Performance couldn't be publicly disclosed, but the Boston PC builder proved that they weren't hot and were stable enough to be production-ready.
The new Xeon should get a hard launch, Supermicro said. Intel has reportedly been shipping the new processors to the channel for weeks, guaranteeing that many companies will be selling complete systems the day the chips are made official. An embargo on performance is due to expire next week, effectively confirming a launch for the first full week of March.
A launch of the sort raises the possibility of a Mac Pro update coming relatively soon afterwards, if not at the same time. Shipping times and supplies have been slipping for Apple's workstations, and could see Apple have upgrades as a possible prelude to the next iPad.
The E5 is based on the refreshed, 32 nanometer Sandy Bridge-E architecture from this fall. While not the new Ivy Bridge design, it should allow for eight-core processors in mid-range workstations with larger caches and all the benefits of a much newer architecture. Intel hasn't updated its mid-field Xeons since 2010, a core reason why the Mac Pro and other towers have often had only mild updates. in the past year and a half.