Lee Sherman is live at the WWDC keynote. Phil Schiller has good news regarding the new Mac Pro tower, singling out pro audio applications to demonstrate the new machine’s speed:

  1. Intel Xeon Woodcrest-based: Core 2 dual core CPUs up to 3GHz (that’s Core 2, not Core Duo, meaning the latest version of Intel’s Core architecture — and probably exactly what Apple was waiting for to go to Intel in towers); 64-bit, 4 MB shared L2 cache
  2. Good “performance per watt” (that’s not just Apple blowing smoke this time; PC press have confirmed that about Core 2)
  3. Quadruple your pleasure: Two dual-core CPUs, 2.1x faster than the existing top of the line G5 quad
  4. Faster audio performance: Logic Pro is 1.8x faster than the G5 quad; Soundtrack Pro 1.6x faster. (These are the first we’ve heard of Soundtrack benchmarks, but we verified the basic claims of the Logic benchmarks on the Intel laptops at Macworld)
  5. More storage: Finally, Apple is addressing the gripes about the G5 design: 4 hard drive bays for up to 2 TB of storage, a second optical drive, more front panel I/O and slots, but all fit in the same enclosure; thanks to the fact that there’s less need for cooling, there’s more space for expansion

  6. US$2499 buys you a single, standard configuration: dual 2.66 XEON, 1GB RAM (underconfigured there, but okay), and 250GB HD, plus SuperDrive
  7. “Highly Configurable”: You can configure options from there; NVIDIA Quadro graphics are available as an option

And so, Apple has “completed the Intel transition.” I have to say, it really sounds as though Apple has delivered here. I had hoped Apple would either go with a smaller case or deliver more storage options. The latter of these options is really ideal, given the pro market. The big question will be performance, as compared to the previous Power Mac G5s. The G5s perform so well, ironically, that unlike the laptops there may be less incentive to upgrade immediately if you have a late-model G5. But with Intel’s roadmap as healthy as it is, the long haul looks very good indeed, and if you’ve got an older tower that you’ve been waiting to upgrade, you may finally have a reason to spring. We’ll bring you more details on these machines as we get them. Now, since the case is the same, I hope we see more options for toting these giant towers on the road.

Now that Apple has delivered pro towers, you can also expect Digidesign will be making the TDM version of Pro Tools Intel-native very soon, too, so stay tuned for more on that.

Mac Pro [Apple.com]

  • bliss

    My old G4 dual 1.4 is still humming along (with the side door open — it's hot in there!) and now it is time for me to smile a big toothy grin because I'm gonna get me one of those dual Core 2 Duos. Oh yes I am! 😀

  • Adrian Anders

    The only major bit that REALLY blew my mind about the new Mac Pros is the option for 16GB of RAM (for the cost of a used car no less).

    16 gigs?!?!?! God I'm thinking you could run a software sampler with a whole orchestral collection entirely off the RAM, no streaming needed.

    Still terribly overpriced tho. C'mon MS, give us Vista already!!!


  • I don't think it's overpriced compared to other PC models with this architecture. It's best to buy RAM yourself, though, at a discount — skimping is a bad idea, because you can get unreliable memory, but you'd have to go out of your way for it to cost as much as Apple's config options cost. In fact, in general it's the custom config options that to me look pricey.

    The one thing I will criticize is that you're far more limited in choice with Apple than with a customized PC. So it's not necessarily a poor value for what it is, but you do get more options on the PC side.

    I'm going to disagree with you, though, Adrian: Microsoft, please, *please* take your time on Vista. Seriously. I want the thing working right before I start to use it. 😉

  • Dan Nigrin

    Peter, re: the RAM, what's this about the Apple-supplied on board heat sinks that they are supplying with the RAM if purchased from Apple? Is that too available from 3rd parties?

  • Zach

    Apple has offered max of 16GB RAM since the PowerMac G5 (the joys of 64-bit computing). Even more crazy: workstations from Dell with comparable Xeon processors can support up to 64GB of RAM. That's more than twice the hard drive of my girlfriend's notebook.

  • Dan, where did you hear that? Heat sinks on the RAM? Many RAM chips now come with onboard heat sinks; I just installed DDR (not even DDR2 RAM) in my own machine with some. I'm sure Apple must be using off the shelf RAM in their machines.

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  • Adrian,

    Unfortunately, just because you have 16GB of RAM in your computer doesn't mean it can use all of it. In the 32-bit realm, an app. can't use more than about 2.5GB of memory (sometimes a bit more if they're extremelly well-developed). Unless you use multiple hosts (say, for example, Logic + Rax + Plogue Pidule + …) it's very difficult to get all your samples loaded onto your sequencer.

    If you use Vienna Instruments, it's even harder (even impossible actually) because it uses it own "sample server" which run in the background and can't go over 2.5GB of used RAM. Doesn't matter how many host you'll run, they will all link to this "sample server".


  • Peter, some pictures of the Apple-supplied RAM are here:


    Not sure if this stuff is stock or not, can you tell?


  • Well, I haven't seen heat sinks like that, no. But that's specific to the RAM, not the computer. The RAM itself is from a known vendor:


    …which you can buy online, cheap. You can see the Nanya sticker right on there. So, again, there's really no reason whatsoever to buy from Apple, especially with all those free slots. And the slots themselves are standard, so you might get RAM from a different vendor with a different style of heat sinks.

    I definitely haven't seen a heat sink quite like that before, but hey, why not? It may improve the reliability of the RAM to have more efficient heat dissipation.