• Goin' Down to Gulftown: 6-Core Mac Pros Tuesday?

    A "tipster" has told ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes that Tuesday March 16 is the day Apple will release a new Mac Pro model with Intel's new Core i7-980X Extreme Edition "Gulftown" processor. The report comes as Intel is giving developers a preview of the new chip at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco. Though the anonymous tip should be taken with the customary grain (or bag) of salt, it's notable that Tuesday is the projected release data for the Gulftown chip as well, and that Apple has previously gotten first exclusive crack at Inter processors.

    if the report pans out, this new model would be Apple's first hexacore desktop. The 3.33GHz clock speed on the Extreme Edition is the same as that on the current top-of-the-line quadcore Xeon, but should cost less: the Core i7-980X is expected to cost less than $1000 US, and the 3500 series Xeons used in current Mac Pros are hundreds more. The Core i7-980X uses hyperthreading technology that allows the six cores to function as twelve logical cores, so a dual Gulftown Mac Pro would scream with twenty-four cores. The new chip also features TurboBoost, which can turn off some of the cores and give that power to the remaining cores if there's no software support for the additional cores, and can do on-demand overclocking to boost power when there's sufficient cooling.

    The high-end Mac Pro last saw a significant update over a year ago, before Apple introduced the Core i5/i7 line on the iMac. Last year, Macworld did a test that found the quadcore iMac beating some eight-core Mac Pros in head-to-head speed tests. But Mac Pros have traditionally used workstation-class Xeons, so adding Core i7 processors to the lineup would mean supporting two distinct chipsets in the same product line, with different memory requirements. And Tuesday's date is not necessarily notable for the Core i7 alone: Intel is supposed to be working on new 32nm "Westmere" Xeons for this month, and could decide to push them out the door next week as well.
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